Turkey Teriyaki Meatballs

5 from 2 votes

Saucy teriyaki meatballs are moist and tender. Even with all the moisture on the inside, we’re going to add even more with a savory homemade teriyaki sauce that coats and sticks to the pan-fried meatballs, hiding all of that juiciness inside a thick glaze — all in 30 minutes!

closeup: several teriyaki meatballs on top of a bed of white rice with fresh parsley on top

You’ve had plenty of teriyaki chicken, so why not mix things up for dinner tonight with this teriyaki meatball recipe?

These tender meatballs are made with ground turkey — a good, heart-healthy protein with a rich flavor — and coated in a thick, glossy teriyaki glaze that’s sweet, savory, and tangy. Altogether, they’re just a touch spicy, plump, and absolutely gushing with juicy Asian flavors!

side view: a plate of turkey meatballs with white rice

It’s easy enough to take any sauce, like the homemade teriyaki sauce in this teriyaki meatball recipe, and turn it into a glaze for meats and vegetables. Try it with some of your favorites!

And next time you’re in the mood for some Asian-flavored meatballs, check out these tangy lemon chicken, Kung Pao chicken, and pork ramen meatball recipes.

Tip From Kevin

Sauce or Glaze?

A classic teriyaki sauce is made with only 4 simple ingredients: soy sauce, sake, mirin and water. For these teriyaki glazed meatballs I also add brown sugar for the sweet glaze effect and the cornstarch to thicken and make glossy.

closeup: cooking my teriyaki meatball recipe in a skillet

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Ground Turkey – Because of the binding and extra moist ingredients in this teriyaki meatball recipe, it’s safe to use considerably lean ground protein. I use 93/7 ground turkey. You can also use ground chicken.
  • Egg & Panko Breadcrumbs – To bind the turkey meatballs together. I prefer panko breadcrumbs in my Asian-style recipes, but any breadcrumb will do.
  • Water Chestnuts – These tangy vegetables are pretty common in Asian cooking, especially in dumplings, for moisture and texture — almost like an apple! The closest substitute is raw hazelnut.
  • Sesame Seeds – Toasted inside the turkey meatballs, sesame seeds become satisfyingly crunchy and nutty. Poppy seeds are the best alternative.
  • Red Pepper Flakes Use cayenne instead for spicier teriyaki meatballs. And if you don’t want spice at all, you can safely leave it out entirely. 
  • Soy Sauce – For a more intense “soy” flavor, use dark soy sauce — but if you do, use less salt!
  • Cilantro – Replace with parsley if cilantro’s not to your taste.
  • Teriyaki Glaze A simple teriyaki sauce — made with mirin, soy sauce, sake, and water — thickened with cornstarch and sweetened slightly with a bit of brown sugar. If you don’t have sake, you can substitute with Chinese cooking wine, a dry sherry, or white grape juice (for a non-alcoholic substitute).
overhead closeup: a plate of teriyaki meatballs with white rice

How to Make Teriyaki Meatballs

  1. Prepare the Vegetables. Chop up the cilantro and divide into ¼ cup for the meatball mixture and a little left for garnish. Set aside. Drain and dice the water chestnuts. Set aside.
  2. Mix the Meatballs. Add the turkey, egg, breadcrumbs, ¼ cup cilantro, diced water chestnuts, sesame seeds, soy sauce, salt, and red pepper flakes. Combine with your hands until just combined — don’t overmix.
  3. Shape & Chill. Scoop the meatballs into 1-2 tablespoon portions and roll into balls. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  4. Make the Sauce. While the turkey meatballs chill, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients. Begin heating the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Brown. Add the chilled meatballs to the skillet and brown, rolling over to cook on all sides, for 5 minutes.
  6. Glaze. Add the sauce to the skillet and toss the meatballs to coat. Cook for another minute or two, shaking to keep the teriyaki meatballs coated, as the sauce thickens and glazes the meat.
  7. Serve. Spoon the teriyaki meatballs hot over rice, garnished with the rest of the cilantro and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
  • Tablespoon Scoop – Use either a 1-tablespoon or 2-tablespoon scoop, depending on how large you’d like your teriyaki meatballs to be.

Storing and Reheating

Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated. Stored properly, they can be reheated and enjoyed for up to 4 days! 

To reheat, toss them back in a saucepan or skillet with a bit more teriyaki sauce or glaze to re-introduce some moisture. Reheat on medium, stirring and tossing until warmed through.

You can do the same thing in the microwave, coating them in sauce and reheating in 30-second intervals until warm.

closeup: turkey meatballs with glaze on top of white rice

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you keep meatballs from falling apart?

It’s all about the binder and moisture. This is harder with chicken or turkey, which are leaner than beef or pork.

They can’t be too dry or too saturated. Use just one egg and some sort of starch in the meatball to help it hold together. I use panko breadcrumbs, but regular bread can be broken up and soaked in milk to serve the same purpose.

Can I make teriyaki meatballs with bottled sauce?

Any sauce can be thickened with cornstarch and cooked down into a glaze. 

I do recommend making your own so that you know exactly what’s in it and can get the flavor just the way you like it! Bottled sauces always contain preservatives and other seasonings, like ginger or vinegar, that give the dish a different flavor than you’re going for.

Can I make this teriyaki meatball recipe in the oven?

Absolutely, though the glaze won’t be quite as thick and “sticky”, and the meat won’t have that charred texture you can only get from frying.

Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes until browned and cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.

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Turkey Teriyaki Meatballs

5 from 2 votes
These teriyaki meatballs are tossed and glazed with sticky, savory teriyaki and stuffed with Asian herbs, spices, and seasonings.
Servings: 4
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 35 minutes



Teriyaki Glaze


Teriyaki Glaze

  • In a small bowl or directly in a small saucepan, mix together all the teriyaki glaze ingredients with a whisk until cornstarch is absorbed and there are no lumps. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until thickened and it turns into a glossy sauce. Set aside.

Turkey Meatballs

  • Chop cilantro leaves and set aside. Drain the water chestnuts and dice small. Set aside.
  • In a bowl mix together the ground turkey, egg, Panko, water chestnuts, sesame seeds, soy sauce, kosher salt, red pepper flakes and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.
  • Using a small scoop (1-2 tablespoon) make the meatballs and roll into balls with your hands. Place on a baking sheet or plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes while you make the teriyaki sauce.
  • Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add all the meatballs and cook, rolling until brown all over, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir teriyaki glaze and add to skillet, being sure to coat the meatballs. Cook for a minute or two shaking skillet to roll meatballs in the teriyaki glaze.
  • Serve over rice, garnished with remaining chopped cilantro and sesame seeds (optional).



Substitute sake with Chinese cooking wine or a dry sherry.


Calories: 320kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 1491mg | Potassium: 538mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 223IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 54mg | 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 dishes
Cuisine: Japanese
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): turkey teriyaki meatballs


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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