Sweet and Tangy Korean Style Meatballs

Sweet and Tangy Korean Style Meatballs
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I’ve had the urge to travel across the world lately. My Facebook feed is full of friends exploring so many fascinating places, and my bother is currently traveling and having the time of his life. Since I just made some Korean BBQ pizzas the other day, I thought I would continue with those flavors and turn them into meatballs!

These Korean-style meatballs are incredibly moist and are infused with lots of garlic, ginger, and onion. Making meatballs with gluten free breadcrumbs can be challenging, but it’s all about finding that secret ingredient that keeps them tender and makes your mouth water.

Korean Style Meatballs

Most people make Korean meatballs with Gochujang, or a red chili paste. But not me. I would say it’s because I don’t want to look for a gluten free version… but I would be lying. It’s really because I can’t handle spice. Wait, seriously?? Yep. I literally cannot handle any type of spice (cue the sad violin music). My family jokes about it all the time – I’ve got two bothers who have an incredibly high spice tolerance, and another who used to be like me (but I don’t think so anymore). Whenever my mom would tell me that something “is barely spicy,” I knew that meant it would be too much for me. Because to me, even if it’s just a slight spice, I end up focusing on how my mouth is burning versus actually enjoying and tasting my food. I know, I know, I am sooooo boring.

Korean Style Meatballs

ANYWAY, since I don’t like spicy food (and since I need a gluten free option), I went with something that had fairly similar flavors to what I was trying to accomplish. I took a shortcut and used my bottle of San J Sweet and Tangy Polynesian sauce. If you haven’t tried their line of certified gluten free sauces yet, I highly recommend you buy the whole lot!! These sauces and marinades have been a lifesaver to me. I don’t always have the time or the ingredients to make everything from scratch, and quite frankly I don’t always want to. Sometimes, I just want to make stir fry and dump sauce on it and call it good! I think we have all been there.

Back to the sauce. It’s a Tamari-based sauce, has a sweet note to it from a blend of honey and fruit juices, and is loaded with spices like ginger and garlic. Basically, it goes super well with these meatballs.

Korean Style Meatballs

And are you ready for my secret ingredient that keeps these meatballs super moist?? Here it is…. gluten free matzo meal. Never heard of it? Well now you have. I have tried a few different versions of gluten free breadcrumbs, and have never had any luck. They always taste terrible or leave my meatballs tasting dry or falling apart. Then I happened to find a whole line of gluten free breadcrumb products in my local Fresh Thyme grocery store! And let me tell you, Matzo meal is the way to go. It’s basically made from grinding gluten free matzo crackers into breadcrumb-like consistency, and it’s like gold! It has soon much flavor, absorbs moisture like normal breadcrumbs would, and leaves these meatballs tasting incredibly moist and juicy. I also use this stuff to bread chicken and shrimp, and it works so well. If you aren’t gluten free, you could definitely get the regular version in a specialty food store.

This recipe is easy to make and has no frying required! Just form your meatballs and pop them into the oven to cook. When done, simply toss them in the sauce and that’s it! Serve with a side of rice and veggies for a meal, or have toothpicks ready for a delicious appetizer. You might even need to make more, because they will be gone before you know it.

Sweet and Tangy Korean Style Meatballs

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Author: Zest and Lemons

Yield: 20 meatballs

Sweet and Tangy Korean Style Meatballs

Tender Korean-style meatballs flavored with ginger and garlic, and glazed with a sweet and tangy sauce. Perfect for a make-ahead appetizer or as a meal with rice and veggies.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 + 1/8 cup gluten free matzo meal
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp granulated garlic
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp gluten free Tamari
  • 2-3 dashes sesame oil
  • 1/4-1/2 cup San J Sweet and Tangy Polynesian sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 400℉
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients together and mix with your hands until everything is evenly distributed. Form meatballs into 1 inch balls, and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until just cooked through on the inside, and browned on the outside.
  4. Place the sauce into a bowl and roll each meatball in the sauce, coating them to your liking. Serve with rice as a meal or as an appetizer.

Gluten free Korean-style meatballs!

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