Lemon Cilantro Chicken Meatballs

5 from 1 vote

Lemon cilantro chicken meatballs are juicy and full of Asian flavor. Make this ground chicken meatball recipe for a delicious, easy and healthy Asian dinner!

overhead image: plate of Asian lemon cilantro chicken meatballs served over white rice with lemon slices

Meatballs are a favorite of nearly everyone, and with good reason. They’re easy and relatively inexpensive to make, and because they freeze well, they’re fantastic for making meal prep easier.

Not only that, but there are countless ways to cook and flavor them. They can be made using any type of meat, too; from ground beef and pork to lamb, chicken or turkey. I even have a recipe for Palestinian fish meatballs!

This recipe takes the bright citrus flavor from one of my favorite chicken recipes, lemon cilantro chicken, and pairs it with earthy Asian flavors. The soy sauce, oyster sauce, and Chinese five spice add umami flavor to the ground chicken meatballs while fresh lemon peel and juice add bright tartness.

To finish the dish, a creamy lemon sauce is served over the Asian meatballs. There’s no doubt that this dinner will have your taste buds dancing!

platter of lemon cilantro chicken meatballs served over rice

Lemon Cilantro Chicken Meatballs

This is just a partial list of ingredients. You’ll find the complete list in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Ingredient substitutions

  • Ground chicken– Many people like to make Asian meatballs with pork. While you could certainly make this recipe with ground pork, using chicken lowers the fat and calories a bit.
  • Panko bread crumbs– Rather than using traditional bread crumbs, I use panko crumbs. I think it gives the meatballs a nicer consistency. If you’d rather use regular bread crumbs or even torn up pieces of day old bread, they’ll work as well.
  • Oyster sauce– This Asian condiment has umami flavor like soy sauce, but with a noticeable sweetness. The consistency is thick and syrupy. If you don’t have oyster sauce, you can make a decent substitute by combining equal parts soy sauce and hoisin sauce.
  • Water chestnuts– Despite the name, these aren’t nuts at all; they are tuber vegetables that grow under the water in marshy, swampy areas. Because they grow in the mud, if you buy them fresh, you’ll want to wash them well with water and peel them before you use them.
  • Fresh lemons– Obviously, this recipe is for lemon cilantro chicken, so you’ll need a few fresh lemons. If you need a substitute, the recipe will also work well with lime juice.

Cooking the meatballs

There are a number of ways to cook meatballs. Baked in an oven, pan-fried, and even Instant Pot meatballs. For this Asian meatball recipe, you’ll be steaming them.

Because they’re partially submerged in cooking liquid, steamed meatballs are incredibly moist!

I use the same concept in my recipe for Chinese steamed chicken. It’s a delicious meal too; give it a try!

dish of creamy lemon sauce next to platter of ground chicken meatballs

Tips for making juicy lemon cilantro chicken meatballs

There’s nothing enjoyable about eating a dried out meatball. In addition to steaming them, there are a few other things you’ll want to do to create tender, juicy ground chicken meatballs.

  1. Don’t overwork the meat mixture.
    You’ll be incorporating the ingredients together with your hands, so use a light touch. This will help prevent the mixture from becoming too dry.
  2. Use a cookie scoop to shape them.
    Again, to prevent you from handling the mixture too much, use a medium size cookie scoop to create the balls. Keeping them the same size also ensures that they cook evenly.
  3. Whisk the egg before adding it to the meat mixture.
    Many people believe that eggs in the mixture keep meatballs moist. In truth, eggs don’t create moisture at all; they’re actually included to help bind the ingredients together. Whisking the egg before you add it to the bowl of ingredients makes it a bit easier to incorporate.

Get more tips for making the perfect meatball in my Persian meatballs recipe post. It’s also another fantastic freezer friendly dinner!

overhead image: Asian ground chicken meatball dinner with white rice

Serving Suggestions

This Asian chicken recipe is great with simple sides of steamed rice or fried rice. Or, serve the lemon cilantro chicken meatballs over some rice noodles, like lo mein.

Some spring rolls or Chinese bbq pork buns would make a tasty appetizer, or go the soup route and serve some miso broth.

Want another easy Asian chicken recipe to try?

Gai yang chicken is a Thai grilled chicken recipe. It features a spicy lemongrass marinade that is out of this world delicious!

overhead image: plate of Asian lemon cilantro chicken meatballs served over white rice with lemon slices

Lemon Chicken Meatballs

5 from 1 vote
These ground chicken meatballs have a fantastic umami flavor blended with bright citrus from lemons. The creamy lemon sauce served over them is beyond delicious!
Servings: 4
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Freeze Time: 15 minutes
Total: 42 minutes


For the Meatballs

Lemon Sauce


Chicken Meatballs

  • Place ground chicken in a bowl and add the Panko breadcrumbs, water chestnuts, cilantro, egg, oyster sauce, soy sauce, garlic, ginger paste, Chinese Five Spice, white pepper and lemon zest. Using your hands to incorporate and mix well.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 15 minutes to firm up the meatball mixture.
  • Roll or scoop mixture into 12-16 meatballs. Transfer to a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1/3 cup water, bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to simmer. Steam the meatballs for 10 minutes (water should almost completely evaporate; add more as needed). Remove from skillet and transfer to platter. Tent with foil to keep warm.

Lemon Sauce

  • Place the juice from a large lemon (about 3-4 tablespoons), chicken stock, cornstarch, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and white pepper in a saucepan. Whisk together over medium heat until thickened.
  • Stir in the diced lemon pieces (optional) and pour the sauce over the meatballs. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with steamed rice or noodles.


Serving: 4meatballs | Calories: 298kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 139mg | Sodium: 877mg | Potassium: 831mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 158IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 3mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image shows closeup of ground chicken meatballs over white rice


I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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