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Thai Meatballs in Red Curry Sauce

Create a quick weeknight meal with ground pork, a jar sauce, and familiar Thai ingredients including garlic, ginger, coriander, and lemon.

ground pork meatballs in red curry sauce with white rice
Thai Meatballs in Red Curry Sauce

College basketball fans look forward to this month every year because of two words: March Madness. It’s a flurry of playoff and championship games that take over the entire month.

I thought it might be fun to play with our own “madness” in the kitchen (not the courts) and present four March Mashups beginning with Thai Meatballs in Red Curry Sauce.

I don’t know about you, but my weeknight menu could use a little help. Throughout winter we’ve eaten stews, braised meats, casseroles, and so on. But it’s too early for the crop of tender spring produce. What’s a home cook to do?

She (or he) breathes a little life into dinner by combining different flavors into familiar dishes known in the culinary world as “the mashup.” You’ve probably seen some outlandish dishes in recent years come across your social feeds under hashtags like #foodporn or #foodie (and so on). But food mashups aren’t new. Cathy Kaufman, a food historian from New York, has said this practice goes back hundreds of years. Spaghetti and meatballs, a staple in the American diet, resulted in Italian immigrants adding meatballs to pasta in the 19th century (in Italy, the tradition was to keep these separate), according to Kaufman. Celebrity chefs, including Wolfgang Puck, in the 1980s jumped on the fusion food bandwagon.

An article in Southern Living two years ago explained the brain science that makes many of these mashups so appealing to us. Basically, the familiar part of the mashup hooks us into wanting to try the dish and the unfamiliar ingredients that’s pleasing to our palettes release the dopamine “pleasure amplifier chemical,” into our system.

I guess that’s why I danced around my kitchen after tasting my Thai Meatballs in Red Curry Sauce! I mean, who doesn’t love a good meatball? But instead of our favorite Italian flavors, this recipe presents you with heat, acid, and sweet notes that are familiar in Thai cuisine. And the spicy red curry sauce (from a jar, by the way, which is an awesome time saver), a replacement for the traditional marinara, really elevates the meatballs. Plus, it’s ready in about an hour, which makes it a great weeknight dinner. I think you’re going to enjoy this recipe, so let’s get cooking!

To make Thai Meatballs in Red Curry Sauce, which yields 24 meatballs for four to six servings, you’ll need these ingredients:


  • 1 pound ground pork (80/20 fat content)

  • ¾ cup panko

  • 2 scallions (white parts), diced

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1½ teaspoons brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce

  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander

  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic

  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha

  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil

  • Green scallion tops for garnish


  • ¾ cup Thai Red Curry Sauce

  • 1 cup evaporated milk

jar of Clean Food Pantry brand Thai Red Curry Sauce

The Thai Red Curry Sauce is made by Clean Plate Pantry. Amanda Calvert creates the sauces for this St. Louis-based company. It’s won a Good Food award (in the culinary world, that’s like being handed an Oscar).

This recipe is very versatile. You easily can swap ground turkey or chicken for the pork. No Sriracha? Your favorite hot sauce will work instead. While fish sauce has a unique flavor and funk, you might not have it in your pantry. Soy sauce will be fine as a swap. And ground ginger is a good substitute for fresh.

Directions for Thai Meatballs in Red Curry Sauce

To make your meatballs, combine the ground pork, panko, scallions, egg, lemon juice and zest, brown sugar, fish sauce, coriander, garlic, Sriracha, ginger, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Gently combine all ingredients with your hands (don’t over mix). I like to use my left (non-dominant) hand like a pitchfork to mix ground meat.

Let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

This is a one-pan recipe, so use a large skillet that has a lid. Bring skillet to medium-high heat and add oil.

raw ground pork meatballs on board will be cooked in skillet on stovetop.
Partially pan fry the meatballs in batches. Move them to a plate to make the sauce and add meatballs to finish cooking.

Form meatballs by scooping a tablespoon of mixture and lightly roll it in your hands to form a ball. Place into hot skillet. I did this in two batches, removing the first 12 meatballs to a plate to rest.

To make the sauce, deglaze your pan with a few tablespoons of water and add your curry sauce. The world of curries can be complex, but generally speaking, green curries are the most mild and red the most wild. That was the case with the Thai Curry Sauce. Taste the sauce from the jar to decide how much heat you can handle, but I found my palate needed to tone down the heat with the cup of evaporated milk. I had a bit of evaporated milk and canned coconut milk in my refrigerator from making Simple Coconut Bread Pudding (a 50/50 mixture), which brought out the coconut flavor from the prepared sauce. You also could substitute cream or even 2-percent milk here.

Stir the sauce in your pan and add the meatballs. Cover and cook 8 minutes, turning meatballs halfway through to be sure they are well-coated in the curry sauce. I served the meatballs with jasmine rice and garnished each serving with the green tops of scallions.


Can I freeze the meatballs?

Absolutely, but I’d recommend freezing them before coating in the sauce. Allow the partially cooked meatballs to cool before placing them in freezer bag. When you’re ready to reheat them, defrost couple of minutes in the microwave before adding to the sauce.

If you mouth is watering for more Asian-inspired recipes, I’ve got you covered!

Juicy chicken is bathed in a sweet, spicy sauce, making Simple Asian Glazed Chicken a budget-friendly weeknight dinner.

Enjoy some of Korea’s favors in my easy Korean Beef Wraps.

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

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