Asian Pork Meatball Bowls

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One of the MOST frequent requests I get via Instagram or Facebook messages is for make ahead lunches. Recipes that can be prepped on a weekend and then used to take into work/school throughout the week. And my answer to that is always sort form of a bowl. Asian Pork Meatball Bowls this week to be exact!

Asian Pork Meatball Bowls from (@whatsgabycookin)

Why are bowls so great you ask? 1: These Asian Pork Meatball Bowls are easy to transport. 2: they are easy to prep ahead. 3: The base of most bowls can be made in a rice cooker, meaning you don’t have to pay attention to that! 4: you can really mix up the flavors depending on your mood.

Asian Pork Meatball Bowls from (@whatsgabycookin)

These Asian Pork Meatball Bowls have 4 components:

  1. The most delicious asian inspired meatballs! Also mega bonus – these are baked in the oven so you can spare your stovetop getting dirty.
  2. The coconut lime rice that we’ve been obsessed with ever since the Larb Bowls is used as a base!
  3. An easy sambal sauce goes on top and it keeps well in the fridge for DAYS so you can use it for other things too. It goes great on noodles, chicken, fish etc.
  4. My favorite herb salad goes top to give it a pop of brightness

It’s truly perfection. Grab all the ingredients, prep this weekend, and your lunch situation next week will be ON POINT!

Can I use ground chicken or beef?

You sure can, but the pork is more flavorful!!

Can I cook these asian pork meatballs on the stovetop?

yes you can, I would suggest using a high sided skillet to avoid splatter and cooking them for about 12 minutes on med/high heat.

Can I prep meatballs ahead of time?

You can! I like to assemble them, form them into the meatballs and then freeze. However make sure to avoid cooking them first and then freezing them.

Can I reheat these?

They are best when you eat them right away. If you need to reheat them, I just do it for 30-45 seconds in the microwave. You want to be sure not to re-heat them too much as it will make them tough.

Can I freeze these?

Yes! See the note above about forming them into the balls and then freezing. It’s best to cook these right before serving so just thaw the meatballs and then cook.

What else can you eat these with?

They go great on top of noodles, you can serve them as appetizers, you can use them in lettuce wraps etc!

Asian Pork Meatball Bowls from (@whatsgabycookin)

Asian Pork Meatball Bowls

4.9 from 13 votes
Asian Pork Meatball Bowls with juicy meatballs make the perfect take ahead lunch or savory dinner!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Servings 4 people


For the Meatballs

  • 1/2 yellow onion finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons ginger finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
  • 1 1/4 pound ground pork
  • 4 tablespoons cilantro finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chives finely chopped

For the Rice

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup coconut milk full fat
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 whole lime zested and juiced

For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ginger finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons sambal

For the Herb Topping

  • 6 green onions thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves stems removed
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves stems removed
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves (or regular basil leaves) stems removed
  • 1 red Fresno chili thinly sliced


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper
  • In a large bowl combine all of the meatball ingredients, mixing the meat and everything else together well. Form the meat mixture into 16 meatballs and place them evenly spaced on the prepared sheet pan. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes.
  • While the meatballs are baking whisk together the ingredients for the sauce and set aside. In another bowl, lightly toss together the Fresh Herb Salad ingredients and cook the rice
  • Dish the rice into bowls and add a heap of the fresh herb salad, a spoonful of the sauce and a few meatballs and serve immediately.

For the Rice

  • Combine the water, coconut milk, and salt in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the mixture starts to simmer. Add the rice and bring back to a low simmer. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and cook undisturbed for about 15 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the rice steam for another 5 to 10 minutes, until fully cooked and soft. Uncover, fluff, and toss in the lime zest and juice.


    1. Hi Gaby

      Wonderful sight.

      I’m looking for recipe to make a Sweet & Sour Sauce.

      Like the one that has a delicious “tang” to it in Chinese restaurants.

      recipes I find on the web do not do it.

      I asked the owner of a Chinese restaurant near me. He said there
      is a secret something they add, but would not tell me!

      Can you help please?


  1. Looks amazing! Help! I have a question.. In the past I’ve tried to double the delicious coconut lime rice and it comes out mushy? If I make it exactly like your recipe, it’s wonderful. But sometimes a girl needs more rice. What should I do differently to prevent the mush?

  2. The list of ingredients for the rice do not include sugar but the directions call for sugar as one of the ingredients for cooking the rice. ?

    1. same deal – put all the ingredients into the rice cooked minus the lime and cook until done. Add lime once cooked, fluff and serve!

  3. This. was. AMAZING. My husband and I grew up in Asia, and always have a special eye out for an interesting Asian recipe and this one measured up on all fronts: very flavorful, due to the fresh ginger, garlic and onions, delicious rice courtesy of the coconut milk and grated and juiced lime, fresh thanks to all the fresh herbs and chili, and the pork meatballs were firm on the outside and deliciously tender on the inside – even a feast for the eyes! We will travel to Vietnam in six weeks for our 30th wedding anniversary, and this could not have been a more fitting preamble. Thank you, Gabi!!

  4. for prepping ahead and using for work or school lunches – do you eat it room temp? And do you put everything in the same container, or does it get mushy/soggy if you do that?

    1. I portion out the rice, sauce and meatballs on Sunday and add the herb salad after I reheat!!

  5. Hi Gaby! Any substitutions for the Fresno chili? We have habanero and jalapeño and that’s it at my grocery store. Should I add some red pepper flakes!

  6. Gaby,
    I made this recipe yesterday for my work lunches. OMG, I just ate it and it is one of the best things I ever tasted. The meatballs were so tender and the sauce was delicious. I used brown jasmine rice and added a little more garlic chili paste because I like things extra spicy! I already shared this recipe with friends after I posted it on FB!

    Thank you!

  7. I loved this recipe! I made a few modifications based on what I had available. Replaced pork with ground chicken and swapped the jasmine rice for cauliflower rice. I followed the recipe exactly as wrote with my two ingredient swaps and it was DELICIOUS! Even my 6 and 4 year old daughters gobbled it up (hence why I sneak in cauliflower every chance I get!). Will definitely make this again – thank you!

    1. Great idea Bree! I was thinking about making it with cauliflower rice. Did you add the coconut milk and lime to the cauliflower? I have some frozen cauliflower rice that I’d like to use.

  8. This was pretty good – I adjusted the amounts in the sauce and used less garlic. I think you need to play around of it to suit your taste. Meat balls were really good! I liked cooking the rice in coconut milk. Nice flavor. Love all your recipes!


  9. I didn’t think this would be a kid friendly meal but made it anyway – low and behold my 3 and 5 year old INHALED the meatballs and rice with sauce. Like, I had to cut them off. The herb salad was my favorite part – so fresh. Keeper for sure and next time I’ll double the recipe. Thank you!

  10. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe! It was easy but still complicated enough that I felt challenged. It was very delicious and will be using the coconut rice recipe again and again.

  11. 5 stars
    This was really delicious. We have made it twice. My only complaint is that it takes a lot longer than 40 minutes for us to get this on the table. From start to finish, both times, it has taken closer to 90 min. The first time, I thought we’d made the meatballs too large so we had to cook so much longer than 25 min. But it happened again the next time. Anyway, we DO love it and so do our kids, ages 13 and 9. Just wanted to let others know to maybe plan for this to take longer than the estimate :).

  12. 5 stars
    I made this yesterday….. made the meatballs and sauce early in the day and made a cucumber salad and steamed brown rice instead of the recommendations above. Because we ate very late, the meatballs were microwaved. BECAUSE they were pork, they were just as moist and tender as when they came out of the oven.
    I followed the meatball and sauce recipes almost exactly (added cilantro to sauce) and it was EXCELLENT. I will make this again and again. It is so easy, delicious, different, pretty and flavorful. So happy to have discovered this recipe!

  13. Made this with my husband last evening. Delicious! I did not have sambal still thought the dressing was delicious. Used a mix of sturdy salad greens and basil. Hopefully, next time I make it mint will have popped in our garden.
    Rice was so good! Will use rice recipe with other recipes, grilled chicken, etc.
    Made brownie bites recipe for dessert. Served with vanilla bean frozen yogurt. Perfect ending to a fabulous meal. Another winning Gaby meal.

  14. 4 stars
    This was so delicious. The second time I made it, I sautéed the onion, ginger, and garlic before adding it to the meat mixture and they were even better (personal preference on texture)

  15. This recipe doesn’t call for salt in the meatballs. Does the soy sauce give the needed salt? I’m in the process of making them, not sure what to do ‍♀️

    1. yes the soy sauce is V salty but you can always salt more at the end once you can taste them! I always salt to taste when eating 🙂

  16. I haven’t made this yet but planning on it tomorrow. Sounds delish. For Peter, I have got a “Sweet and Sour” sauce recipe that I found in a Wok Cookbook by Gary Lee, published by Nitty Gritty in 1970! It is my go-to for anything sweet and sour.
    1 cup malt vinegar
    1 cup sugar
    1-1/2 T. Salt
    1/2 cup each orange and pineapple juice
    1/2 cup tomato paste
    Combine all ingredients in saucepan, bring slowly to boil, simmer 10 min. Thicken with cornstarch slurry to consistency of cream sauce. It will keep for a month or more in loosely covered jar kept in cool dark place. Don’t refrigerate!
    Happy cooking and eating

  17. 5 stars
    Excellent! I followed this recipe to the tee and it was delicious. After almost 12 years of marriage, my husband said it was the best thing I’ve ever served him. I will definitely be making this again!

    1. sure is! Sambal is an Indonesian chili sauce or paste typically made from a mixture of a variety of chili peppers with secondary ingredients such as shrimp paste, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, palm sugar, and lime juice

  18. Looks so delicious! I want to make it tonight ! Quick Question in regards to the sauce ,,, do you serve it on the rice or the meatballs ?

  19. I was also confused about what to so with the sauce. At first I though maybe throw the vegetables in it and use it as a dressing; which I guess in essence is what you’re doing anyway. Instructions are a bit confusing :

    4. Dish the rice into bowls and add a heap of the fresh herb salad and a few meatballs and serve immediately.

    It leaves out what to do with the sauce. It also precedes the instructions for actually the making the rice. It doesn’t really put a stop to the recipe, but does make you stop and have to reread it a few times.

    Overall looks good and will be making it tonight.

  20. Should you heat the sauce and then put over meatballs? Or keep sauce at room temperature.? Would it be good after you cook the meatballs in the oven to heat them in the sauce? I don’t see this in the recipe. Thanks

  21. 5 stars
    I actually get excited when this is on my meal plan for the week. It’s so fresh, but comforting. Nothing particularly difficult about it either, but looks intricate and impressive. Love this.

  22. 5 stars
    We’ve made these a few times now and every time they come out insanely delicious. Even my one-year-old said “mmmm” tonight while stuffing meatballs in her mouth. Thank you for another great recipe, Gaby!

  23. 5 stars
    This was BY FAR THE BEST RECIPE I have come across! Wow . I have tried so many recipes and now I have found THE ONE. The only difference I made was I added grated onion (about 1/4 cup) because I didn’t have onion powder. Thanks!!! ❤️

  24. 5 stars
    Omg- never gave I raved so much at the table about how amazing something was that I cooked. Don’t worry Gaby I have gave you all the credit :). This is INCREDIBLE. We added it to our “staple meals” list. Yum yum yum!!

  25. 5 stars
    Wow, we loved this bowl of goodness! It is restaurant worthy. Already looking forward to making it again. Thank you so much!

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