MMM: Gyoza Meatballs

With Asian flavors in every bite — ginger, sesame, Shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, and more — these Gyoza Meatballs are as close as we can get to dumplings without getting gluten-ed. I promise, you’ll never miss the wrapper.

This recipe is part of March Meatball Madness; get all the recipes right here.

gyoza meatballs

Gyoza Meatballs from Well Fed 2

Serves 2-4 | Prep 10 min | Chill 20 min | Cook 20 min | Whole30 approved

  • 1/4 pound shitake mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped

  • 1/8 head cabbage, very thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos or homemade substitute

  • 1 pound ground pork

  • 1/2 cup water chestnuts, minced

  • 2 scallions, very thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)

  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives (dried or fresh)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 2 tablespoons warm water

  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Dipping sauce:
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar

  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos or homemade substitute

  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 scallion, very thinly sliced

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

    NOTE: Why cream of tartar and baking soda? Traditional ground meat recipes are usually tenderized with breadcrumbs. I use a cream of tartar/baking soda combo to keep the meat light and juicy, with a nice, crisp exterior.


Preheat oven to 400F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.


Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, cabbage, and coconut aminos to the pan; cover and steam until soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside until cool to the touch.


In a large mixing bowl, place the cooled vegetables, pork, water chestnuts, scallions, chives, salt, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, sesame oil, and garlic. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the water, cream of tartar, and baking soda with a fork until combined. When it fizzes, add to the meat and mix until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.  Place in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes or up to overnight. (Chilling makes the balls easier to roll. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip the chilling step.) Meanwhile…


Mix all the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl. Store in the fridge, but eat at room temperature for the best flavor.


Moisten your hands and a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon or scoop with cold water and shake to remove excess. Measure out the meat and roll into a ball between your palms. Line up the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart. Slide the Gyoza Meatballs into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Serve hot with dipping sauce for dunking on a bed of Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Rice… or drop them into this Gyoza Soup with Pork Broth.



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  • Beth says:

    I’ve been pondering something like this for a while, I really miss gyoza. Thanks so much for posting, they look amazing!

  • EmayinPA says:

    yum! I cry for happy at this recipe! I adore gyoza.

    I am also loving how the acronym for this month’s theme is MMM. (I actually hear MMMmmmmm in my head when I see each one. truly.)

    THESE I can make while I’m STILL waiting for a pastured pork shoulder to arrive (2 weeks already!) for carnitas.

    Assuming the steamed/sauteed goodies go into the meatball mix too, yes?

    Heart you completely, Mel!

    • Mel says:

      Yes, the veggies go into the bowl with the pork and the other ingredients. Thanks for catching that! I updated the recipe above.

  • EmayinPA says:

    Oh, and I finally got my copy of WF2 on Monday, but am still reading – I’ve got option anxiety with all the yumminess available, so a lovely, specific blog post is just what I need today!

  • Amy Drorbaugh says:

    Would it be totally sacrilegious to make these with beef instead of pork?

    • Mel says:

      It would not. They’re very flexible. In fact, I wanted to make a double batch and didn’t have 2 lbs. of pork, so I used half beef, half pork and they were AWESOME. Go for it!

  • Tori says:

    This is my very favorite recipe from either cookbook! My husband looooovvvveeess them too, which is always a bonus. 🙂 I was vegetarian for about 18 years, then started eating meat again when I went gluten-free almost two years ago, so it’s been a long gyoza dry spell for me! Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      YAY! Glad you like it! It’s become one of my favorites, too… I made it three weeks in a row, double batches every time, so we never really ran out 🙂

  • Terry says:

    Looks yummy! Can it be made ahead and reheated? Need to bring a whole30 dish to a potluck dinner but I need to work all day.

    • Mel says:

      Oven Reheat. Cover a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400F. Place your burgers, balls, or bangers on the baking sheet and cover lightly with foil. Bake 10-15 minutes until heated through.

      Stovetop Reheat. Place 1/4 cup water in a large, non-stick skillet. Bring to a boil, then add your burgers, balls, or bangers. Return to a boil, then cover and simmer 10 minutes until water is evaporated and the meat is hot.

      For transport and serving, after they’re cooked, you could keep them hot in a slow cooker/crockpot on low.

  • Amanda says:

    I made these two nights ago, and they are sooooooo delicious! Thanks so much for creating this recipe – I love Asian food and these definitely fill a void in my paleo repetoire 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    These look amazing! Would reconstituted shiitakes work just as well?

  • Annalisa Giust says:

    I just made these for the first time. I am on Day 6 of my first Whole 30 and still feeling a bit lost. Your website has become my go-to safe place when I am feeling overwhelmed by everything I’m learning right now. These are REALLY REALLY good! I’m interested to know how you came up with adding the baking soda and cream of tatar? This is some mad chemistry! Do you know what it is exactly that this combo does to the meat and does it work with any ground meat? Thanks so much for all the great recipes and overall guidance through this new food adventure!

    • Congratulations on Whole30-ing! Hang in there; it really does get easier and more comfortable as you get used to it. You can do it! I’m glad you liked these meatballs!

      Re: the baking soda + cream of tartar. Some old-fashioned meatball recipes use baking powder to add leveaning, but baking power almost always includes cornstarch, which makes it a no-no. Baking soda needs something acidic to act as a leavening agent, hence the cream of tartar, which is acidic enough to make it bubble. You can use this technique with any ground meat that you shape before cooking, like meatballs, meatloaf, burgers, etc.

      • Annalisa Giust says:

        YAY! That totally makes sense, I didn’t realize that cream of tatar was an acid! Thanks for responding, you must be up to your eyeballs in it right now Hopefully your move is going well, Vermont is such a pretty state. Looking forward to more posts once you get settled, Also, thanks for the encouragement, and on we go. Next on my list is the Chocolate Chili.

  • Erika says:

    These were amazing! !! Remind me so much of gyoza

  • betty says:

    Have you ever made these with ground turkey? I have a hard time finding good ground pork.

  • Alysha Jones says:

    So I had an ARGH moment last night as I was prepping ingredients for these last night (second time in 60 days making them). I forgot I had no cabbage! So I subbed in grated, squeezed zucchini, and they were still fabulous! Thanks so much!

  • Veronica says:

    These are delicious! I made a double batch and got a thumbs up from both my non-Paleo husband and sister. The only change is I didn’t have rice vinegar and subbed infused white vinegar, so the dipping sauce is a little tangy, but still very good. Definitely a keeper!

  • Alicia says:

    OMG these are to die for! I don’t eat pork so I used ground chicken…the best! BTW I love your blog and your food. I think Inhave pinned almost everything you post. Thanks!

  • Larry says:


    Awesome recipe! As I was mixing the thick, heavy mixture, I kept thinking why am I not using the food processor for this?


    • You can totally use a food processor. It’s not 100% necessary, however, so if recipe works without a piece of equipment, I default to the no-equipment approach. But when I’m making big batches, I usually use my stand mixer.

  • Vanessa says:

    Hey, these look great! I’m allergic to sesame oil–do you think I could sub in sesame seeds (which I am mysteriously not allergic to) instead?

  • Kim says:

    Delicious even though I had to use ground turkey instead. Yum! Thank you!

  • Clara says:

    Would like to know how many servings are in this?

    • General rule of thumb is that 1 pound of meat serves 2-4 people, depending on their appetites and size. I’m 5’4″ and my husband is 6’5″, so we usually get dinner for both of us and lunch for me out of 1 pound of meat.

  • Amy says:

    I just made these for the Super Bowl. Amazing!

  • Dana says:

    These are the best meatballs in the history of the universe.

  • Jen says:

    I did my first whole 30 in January and wouldn’t have survived without your blog & your cookbooks. I’ve loved basically everything I’ve made from your recipes, but..i am confused about the rice vinegar in the dipping sauce. I read on another one of your posts that rice vinegar is not paleo, assuming it’s not whole 30 either?

    • Congratulations on tackling the Whole30! Glad my recipes were helpful!

      Rice vinegar is not excluded from the Whole30.
      “Vinegar. Most forms of vinegar, including white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and rice, are allowed during your Whole30 program. The only exceptions are vinegars with added sugar, or malt vinegar, which generally contains gluten.”

      Also, all of the recipes in Well Fed and Well Fed 2 were reviewed by Melissa Hartwig and given official approval for Whole30, so unless a recipe in the books is marked as NOT Whole30 compliant, you can rest assured that it has the green light for eating during a Whole30.


  • jeanne says:

    I made these and the dipping sauce yesterday afternoon – soooo delicious! Thanks also for the tip about letting a stand mixer do the work. My Kitchen Aid hasn’t gotten much use since I went paleo, but it will now. My Sunday afternoon “get ready for the week” cooking sessions always include one meatball recipe. I’m working my way through WF2’s Burgers, Balls and Bangers and having huge fun – thank you!

    • I, too, was delighted when I realized I could find a new use for my Kitchenaid. It really does come in handy for making large/multiple batches — and they’re so smooth and delicious.

      I’m very glad you’re enjoying the Burgers, Balls, and Bangers recipes. Thanks for letting me know!

      • jeanne says:

        Mel, I think you’ve created a monster. I’ve made these twice more in the last two weeks – they’re so flavorful and crunchy and juicy, it’s all so extreme!

        For future batches, I’ve pre-cooked the mushrooms and cabbage, portioned it out, packed it up and put it in the freezer. When I feel a craving coming on, I’ll let one container’s worth defrost overnight in the fridge. They’ll be mixed and in the oven even quicker.

        I’ve missed traditional gyoza something fierce since going paleo. But now I can get that garlicky, crunchy goodness any time I want – apparently, I want it a lot!

  • Mixing them up tonight. I’m curious about the sesame oil. In such small quantities I wonder if it’s toasted sesame oil? Or regular? The rice vinegar I’ve seen is seasoned, which means sugar. I assume there must be a plain unseasoned rice vinegar?

  • Charlotte says:

    Soooo good! Got some leftovers (how is that possible) and had them for lunch today, even better!

  • Carolyn says:

    Love this and making it again! I want to double the recipe and freeze some of the meatballs for a rainy day. How can I go about doing it?

    • Meatballs do really well in the freezer/defrost. Make them completely and let them cool, them place in a single layer on a baking sheet in the freezer until they’re solid. Transfer to a Ziplock bag. When you want to eat them, defrost in the fridge and reheat in the oven, wrapped in foil, 350F until they’re hot or toss them in a skill with a few tablespoons water on high heat, covered. Let the water boil to steam the meatballs until they’re hot, then remove the lid to let any excess water evaporate.

  • Sasha says:

    Is there something else I can sub for the mushrooms?? Or will this recipe work without them? I have a mushroom allergy and I can’t eat them 🙁 but these look so good I want to make them!

  • janice says:

    can i omit the mushrooms and still have a good meatball?

  • Lisa says:

    Can’t believe it took me this long to make these (I’ve had your cookbooks for close to two years now). They are amazing! And without any prompting, my husband said they taste just like a dumpling. I swear we could have eaten the whole tray just the two of us!

  • elizabeth says:

    longtime lurker, just writing to say that this is my favorite recipe of yours.

    totally hit the spot when craving dumplings! many thanks!!

  • Tom H says:

    Another way to create a faux panade is to add a packet or two of gelatin to your sausage mix….it’s made from bones and holds moisture in.
    Thanks for the nice website.
    Day 1 of whole30 ?

  • Meg says:

    These are absolutely delicious ?! The only problem is I don’t want to stick to 1 or 2 “Palm sized portions”!!
    Oh, by the way, I ended up buying all 3 of your books! It was getting to be a pain to read from my phone all the time! ❤️

  • Anna says:

    So insanely delicious!!! I have made these multiple times for my holiday potluck at work and they are always gone super quick. My picky toddler loves them, and I love that I can sneak in extra veggies like zucchini and spinach. I cut back the spices by 1/4-1/2 and that seems to be about right for her new taste buds. Otherwise, it’s on point for adults.

  • Nicole says:

    Can the cream of tartar and baking soda be subbed for something??

    • You can just omit both… they’re used as a leavening agent to help lighten the meatballs (the way breadcrumbs do in traditional meatballs), but it’s optional. The flavor is exactly the same and because there are so many veggies in this recipe, the meatballs won’t be like hockey pucks if you leave the cream of tartar and baking soda out. Enjoy!

  • Kate says:

    This is by NO MEANS a negative comment. I love everything in your first cookbook. Your Meatizza got me through the darkest of days during my Whole 30! I made this and the meatballs came out with an overwhelmingly strong flavour. I doubled the batch so I may have mixed something up. But with 2 little kids destroying my house as I made them I could not bare to throw them away. I now have 30+ meatballs in my fridge any ideas on how I could use them or something I could add to calm them down?

    • Without being in the kitchen with you while you’re cooking, there’s no way for me to know what might have gone awry, but I have a few suggestions, if you’re willing to experiment.

      You can’t take the spices OUT of the meat, but you can try to diffuse the flavor by mixing the meatballs with other things to “spread out” the seasonings. If you decide to try this, I recommend you mix together a small portion–just a few bites–to make sure you like it before you mix the whole thing.

      1. Meat: Cook a pound of ground pork or chicken without any seasoning. Chop the gyoza meatballs very finely, then mix the new meat. That should distribute the seasonings. AGAIN, if I were you, I’d cook the new meat, take a few tablespoons of it, and mix it with one minced meatball, just to make sure you like it before you do the whole shebang.

      2. Cauliflower Rice: Grate a head of cauliflower, mince the meatballs, then mix with the cauliflower rice, place in a skillet over low heat, cover with a lid, and cook 10-15 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.

      Good luck!

  • Marcia says:

    These are SO GOOD and reheat like a dream in the microwave. Adding these to my permanent lunch rotation! Thanks for all your great recipes, Mel!