These Kung Pao Chicken Meatballs are a fun take on the wildly popular Chinese Kung Pao Chicken dish. The chicken meatballs are stir fried in a luscious aromatic sauce that’s perfect for those nights you are craving takeout.
If you’ve never had Kung Pao Chicken from a Chinese restaurant, I highly recommend you do yourself a favor and order it. Have it over white rice and you’re in for a treat! Trust me.
Confession: one of my favorite places to get it is Panda Express. I KNOW. I KNOW. But when I moved out to L.A. Panda Express reminded me of home and I’d always order it when I go home sick. I’m not ashamed.
Anyway, obviously I had to get into the kitchen to recreate one of my favorite dishes, but I wanted to keep it interesting and thus was born Kung Pao Chicken Meatballs.
There are so many reasons why I love this version, but mostly because you can make a huge batch of the meatballs, freeze it, and then whenever the craving hits, you can pull some out and make this dish! It’ll come together so much faster than ordering takeout!
Here are a few key things to ensure you get delicious Kung Pao Chicken Meatballs every single time:
- Don’t be alarmed by the amount of peppers used in this dish. You can discard all the seeds from the dried red chili peppers if you want and you can omit the fresno or serrano pepper. However, don’t skimp on the Szechuan peppercorns.
- Szechuan peppercorns don’t pack much heat. Instead, they give you this tingly numbing feeling when you eat them. They add a lot of flavor into the dish.
- Whether you use ground chicken or turkey, make sure you get dark meat or at least a mixture of dark and white meat. You don’t want your meatballs to dry out.
- This is not a super saucy dish. There will be enough to just coat the meatballs; however, if it gets too thick while cooking, start by adding 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet and continue to add if need be.
- If you’re freezing the meatballs, wait until they have completely cooled down, freeze in a single layer, and once frozen transfer to a ziplock bag or container. When ready to cook, thaw them for at least 10-15 minutes and then just add directly to the kung pao sauce and cook until they are heated through.
- Serve this over rice, cauliflower rice, noodles or with roasted veggies. It’s such a great main dish!
I hope you all enjoy these Kung Pao Chicken Meatballs as much as I do!
Kung Pao Chicken Meatballs (Paleo, Keto, Whole30)
Kung Pao Chicken Meatballs is a fun take on the classic Kung Pao Chicken. It's fragrant and slightly spicy Chinese dish that's easy to make.
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, add in all the ingredients for the meatballs and mix until well combined.
Using a medium size cookie scoop (or make golfball size meatballs), scoop meatballs onto baking sheet. You should get around 16 meatballs.
Round out the meatballs and then place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.
Prepare the aromatics while the chicken meatballs are cooking.
Cut a few of the dried red chili peppers in half and discard the seeds.
Roughly ground the Szechuan peppercorns in a mortar and pestle or roughly chop with a sharp knife. Don't grind into a fine powder, just enough so the whole peppercorns are broken.
Kung Pao Sauce
Mix all the ingredients but the water, avocado oil and cashews. Set aside until ready to use.
Preheat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot add in the avocado oil.
Add aromatics to the wok and stir fry for 30-45 seconds or until garlic becomes fragrant.
Next pour in the kung pao sauce and mix with the aromatics.
Once mixed, add the meatballs to the wok and combine it with the sauce. If the sauce gets too thick, add water to the wok (starting with 2 tbsp) until the sauce thins out a bit.
Cook until meatballs are heated through. Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped cashews.
Garnish with the green part of the green onions and then serve.