Spicy Korean Meatballs

These Spicy Korean Meatballs are award-winning and will be a huge hit at any party! Or, serve them over rice for a tasty dinner.

Overhead shot of Korean meatballs with toothpicks in them, sprinkled with green onion and sesame seed. Bowl of fried rice in background.

And now, for some more “man food.” Leave it to men’s magazines to help me out in the kitchen – just like Men’s Health has some great recipes, GQ does too! For the Super Bowl this year, my husband wanted to make these K-Town Pantry Wings.

When I saw the recipe, I wasn’t expecting gochujang (Korean chili paste) to be an easy ingredient to find (or pronounce), but it turned out it was incredibly painless to locate at my local big-box store. The wings turned out great, but I now have a pretty sizable tub of gochujang sitting in my fridge.

Not one to let food go to waste, I’ve made it my mission to use that stuff up. It’s actually pretty versatile, and has a nice spicy and smoky flavor. A little bit goes a long way toward giving an otherwise boring dish a little Korean flair.

Along the lines of “party food” like chicken wings, I thought this stuff would work in meatballs, too. A quick trip to the store later, and I was a meatball-making machine.

Side view of roasted balls of ground meat glazed with gochujang on rectangle platter, with bowls of fried rice and extra green onions in background.

The only bad thing? An unfortunate meatball assembly incident: I was making meatballs while happily listening to my kitchen radio. But then, it happened – Nickelback came on. “Noooooooo! Please noooooo!” I cried to myself.

With my hands covered in meatball stuff, I had no choice but to attempt to use one of my feet to turn off the radio. This only resulted in me almost falling over, and having to grab the counter with dirty hands, which only made a bigger mess. Lesson learned: ALWAYS plug in your Ipod when you are doing a messy kitchen task. Never trust the regular radio.

You’ll notice some fried rice lurking in the background of these photos. I made it with kimchi. Click HERE for that recipe!

Update 10/2/13: These Korean Meatballs are Award Winning! 

This recipe was chosen as the winner of Food52′s “Your Best Spicy Recipe” contest and professionally photographed by James Ransom.  I’m so happy and proud of my little meatball recipe that could. 

Click here to read my Winner’s Q & A.


Korean meatballs on gray plate with gold fork.

Yield: About 20 meatballs

Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs

Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs

These Spicy Korean Meatballs are award-winning and will be a huge hit at any party! Or, serve them over rice for a tasty dinner.

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


For the Meatballs:

  • 3 green onions, very thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, for pan-frying

For the Glaze:

  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

For the Garnish:

  • Sliced green onion
  • Toasted sesame seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients except oil. The key to good meatballs is not to overmix them. Just gently combine the ingredients until everything is evenly distributed. Form the mixture into golf-ball sized meatballs.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. In batches (don’t crowd the pan!), brown the meatballs on all sides. Transfer meatballs to rimmed baking pan and transfer to oven. Bake 10 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
  3. Meanwhile, in small saucepot, combine all glaze ingredients. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened.
  4. To serve, brush meatballs with glaze and sprinkle with green onion and sesame seeds.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

5 meatballs

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 613Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 147mgSodium: 1876mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 2gSugar: 22gProtein: 37g