Thai Chicken Meatballs w/ Cabbage Salad (Paleo, Whole30)

I’m sorry for what I’m about to do, but…

This recipe invites you to have  ball with curry!

These tender, flavorful meat balls take the elements of Thai curry—coconut milk, fish sauce, curry paste, herbs—and roll them into a friendly ball that’s quick-cooking and fun to eat. The baking soda (mixed with the acid of the lime juice) acts as a leavening agent and replaces the starchy binders found in meatball recipes. This secret trick gives these meatballs an airy interior and a snappy exterior.

Thai Chicken Meatballs

Serves 2-4 | Total time: 30 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 4 scallions

  • 10-12 basil leaves

  • 1/4 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce

  • 2 tablespoons green curry paste

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 2 pounds ground chicken

  • juice of 1 lime

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Cabbage Salad:
  • juice of 1 lime

  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (omit for Whole30)

  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce or coconut aminos

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/2 small head green cabbage

  • 1 carrot

  • 2 scallions

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

  • small handful cashews


Get ready. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 400F.


Prep the meatball seasonings. Mince the scallions and basil; place in a large mixing bowl. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, curry paste, salt, ginger, and black pepper.


Make the meat dough. Crumble the meat into the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon or your hands until combined. In a small bowl, mix the lime juice and baking soda; it will fizz as the baking soda reacts with the acidic lime. Pour into the bowl with the meat and mix again.


Shape the meatballs. Roll about 1 tablespoon of meat into a 1-inch ball. I like to use a 1-tablespoon scoop to speed up the process. You can also opt to make the meatballs larger; they will be more tender, less crisp.


Bake the meatballs. Slide into the oven and bake 15-20 minutes, until browned and sizzling.


Make the cabbage salad: In a large mixing bowl, combine the lime juice, coconut sugar, fish sauce, and black pepper; stir with a fork until the sugar is dissolved. Shred the cabbage and carrot with a food processor or box grater and slice the scallions; place them in the bowl with the dressing. Add the cilantro and toss to combine. Coarsely chop the cashews and add to the bowl.


Serve the meatballs with cabbage salad on the side. Bonus points if you also make a batch of Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Rice; it can bake at the same time as the meatballs.

You Know How You Could Do That?

Replace the chicken with beef or pork. Try red or penang curry paste, in place of green.

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