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Celebrate the vibrant flavors of Vietnam with these delectably tender Vietnamese meatballs. Combine fragrant aromatics with fresh herbs and umami-rich sauces to make these juicy balls of deliciousness that are bursting with flavor. They're also a breeze to make: you'll be in flavor town in just 30 minutes!
Craving more Vietnamese-inspired recipes? Try this Vietnamese lemongrass chicken next.
Vietnamese food is renowned and celebrated for its fresh and vibrant flavors, fragrant herbs, and delicious balance of flavors. These Vietnamese meatballs are no exception, loaded with flavor with fresh herbs, savory sauces, and zesty aromatics, then pan-cooked until golden.
What are Vietnamese meatballs?
Vietnamese meatballs are called Bún Nem Nướng and are seasoned balls of pork often served with rice noodles and pickled vegetables. They are made with ground meat and other ingredients popular in Vietnamese cooking, like lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and cilantro.
Is this an authentic Vietnamese meatball recipe
Our Vietnamese meatball recipe is made with flavors that we associate with Vietnamese cooking: lemongrass, fish sauce, ginger, soy sauce, and pork. We've taken these flavors and transformed them into meatballs that we know you will love to eat. If you are looking for an authentic Vietnamese meatball recipe, we suggest that you try this Bún Nem Nướng.
This Vietnamese meatball recipe celebrates the essence of Vietnamese cuisine with these delicious, simple, and fresh ingredients:
- Onion: Adds moisture and a sweet undertone.
- Lemongrass: A hallmark ingredient of Vietnamese cooking! Use the white part of three lemongrass stalks for a citrusy note.
- Cilantro: Brings a fresh, herbal punch – save some for garnish.
- Sriracha: For a subtle kick of heat.
- Brown sugar: To sweeten out the savory and spicy elements.
- Fish sauce: The deep umami flavor with a salty undertone.
- Soy sauce: Get gluten-free if needed.
- Aromatics: Garlic and ginger.
- Ground pork: Forms the base of our meatballs. Beef or chicken also taste great!
- Oil: Use your preferred oil to cook the meatballs.
How to make Vietnamese meatballs
These Vietnamese pork meatballs contain so much flavor for such a simple recipe! These are the instructions:
- Make a flavorful paste: Place the onion, garlic, ginger, cilantro, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, siracha, and lemongrass stalks in a food processor and whizz until it makes a paste-like consistency.
- Mix and shape: Add the ground pork to a large bowl and mix the lemongrass paste into it. Form the mixture into balls. The mixture will be soft, which means the meatballs will be succulent!
- Cook and serve: Heat up a large frying pan and add the meatballs, cooking them until they're browned. Serve with fresh cilantro over top!
Ideas for using Vietnamese meatballs
These Vietnamese meatballs are so packed with flavor that you can seamlessly use them to build other recipes. Here are our top picks:
- Make it an appetizer by serving them alongside your favorite dipping sauce.
- Cook the meatballs, then place 3-4 on a skewer to make a Vietnamese meatball skewer, perfect for dipping!
- Serve them over rice or vermicelli noodles as we do in our banh mi noodle bowls, or add them to a stir fry.
- Make a banh mi sandwich by placing the meatballs in a crusty baguette with pickled vegetables and cilantro.
- Fill lettuce cups with your meatballs alongside rice vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, and a sauce.
- Add them to a soup, such as a flavorful pho to make a Vietnamese meatballs pho.
- Or make a batch for these awesome winter rolls.
What to serve with Vietnamese meatballs
Keep it simple and serve alongside a simple dipping sauce. We like combining mayo, a squeeze of lime juice, and sriracha. Or you can make our peanut satay sauce or bang bang sauce – neither are traditionally Vietnamese, but they are delicious and go well with the meatballs!
Carry on with the Vietnamese and lemongrass theme and serve with our Vietnamese lemongrass chicken, then cut through the lemongrass with a creamy dessert. Try this orange blossom panna cotta or lemon coconut ice cream.
Can I make these gluten-free or dairy-free?
These Vietnamese meatballs are already gluten-free and dairy-free! Just be sure to double-check the labels on everything in case there are additives and use a gluten-free soy sauce.
Can I make these with another type of meat?
Sure, while juicy pork is our first choice, these flavors will taste good with other meats, too! We've enjoyed them with ground beef and chicken, and you can also use ground turkey. If you're swapping the pork for chicken, you may want to add a bit of breadcrumbs of almond flour so they are not too soft.
Is the meatball mixture meant to be soft?
Yes! Once you combine the pork and paste, you'll have a soft mixture that will stay together when you form the balls. A soft mixture is the reason why the end result is so tender and delicious! Be careful not to over-blend when making your paste. If you're after a firmer texture, add almond flour, breadcrumbs, or oats to the meatball mix, however, this will change how juicy the end result is.
Can I store leftovers?
These are too good to leave any on your plate! But if you do find yourself with leftovers, you can store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- ¼ cup EACH: minced onion and cilantro
- 2 tablespoons EACH: brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce (gluten-free if needed)
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 3 stalks lemongrass (white part only)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 inch piece of ginger
- 1 lb ground pork (beef or chicken)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Cilantro (for serving)
- Place the onion, cilantro, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, sriracha, lemongrass stalks, garlic, and ginger into your food processor and process on high until smooth and almost paste-like.¼ cup EACH: minced onion and cilantro, 2 tablespoons EACH: brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sriracha, 3 stalks lemongrass, 3 cloves garlic, 2 inch piece of ginger
- Add the ground pork to a large bowl, pour in the lemongrass paste, and mix everything together.1 lb ground pork
- Use a medium-sized cookie scoop to scoop the meat and then form it into balls. Place the balls onto a baking sheet.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook them, turning a few times, until they are well-browned and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.1 tablespoon oil
- Serve the meatballs with some cilantro over top.Cilantro
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.