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Michael La Corte

Soy-glazed meatballs for the win

As an Italian-American cook, I always tend to filter meatballs through that cultural lens. Though, in actuality, I know there are slews of uber-famous meatball dishes from all over the world, from Sweden to China, not just meatballs slathered in red sauce and mozzarella like you might get in Italy — or New Jersey. 

As such, a few weeks back, I decided to experiment a bit and diversify my meatball stylings, and reach for soy sauce, sesame oil and fruit preserves. This turned into an "everything but the kitchen sink"-type scenario, in which I also tossed in some ingredients that wouldn't normally be included in a plain ol' soy-glazed meatball. I tend to like to gussy it up a bit.

Here, I opted for ground chicken — a personal preference — but free to swap in any type of ground protein or plant-based protein here, or even use a mix. You can also form large meatballs to make this an entree of sorts or form smaller meatballs and serve these on toothpicks if you're having pals over. It's all up to you!  

Also, it must be said: Even when making a decisively Asian-inspired meatball, I still threw Italian cheese into the meat mixture. I can't help it! 

Soy-glazed chicken meatballs

6 to 8 servings
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes


For meatballs:

Canola oil 

1/2 onion, peeled and finely minced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 pound ground chicken

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos

2 tablespoons grated Parm.

1 egg

Dash garlic powder

Dash onion powder

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Canola oil

Salt, optional 

For sauce:

1/3 cup soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon peach or apricot preserves, jam or jelly 

1 teaspoon honey (or more, if you like sweet)

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Dash garlic powder

Dash onion powder

Chili sauce or sambal oelek, optional

For garnish:

Toasted sesame seeds

Sliced scallions


  1. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm oil. Add onion, cook until translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes, then add garlic. Cook another minute or two, then turn off heat and let mixture cool slightly. 
  2. In a very large bowl, mix all meatball ingredients together until just combined. Do not overmix! (use a slotted spoon when adding onion and garlic).
  3. Wipe clean the same skillet in which you cooked the onion and garlic. Add oil and heat over medium-low heat until slightly rippling.
  4. Form a tiny tester patty to test for seasoning. Cook in hot pan, tossing often. When finished (should only take a few minutes), drain on paper towel and give it a taste. I omit salt in this recipe because the soy can be super salty, but if you think it needs some, feel free to add. 
  5. Form your meatballs into the desired size. Cook, in batches, until deeply browned and crisp. Drain on a paper-towel lined sheet tray.
  6. Discard used oil. Wipe out pan. Return to stove and heat over medium-low heat. Add all sauce ingredients, whisking gently to incorporate the jam, jelly or preserves. Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring often, until thick and rich. 
  7. Add meatballs back to sauce, stirring until coated and warmed. Serve immediately: If you're serving as an entree, serve with hot white rice. Otherwise, serve with toothpicks. 
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