Spicy Korean Meatballs with a Gochujang Glaze

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Spicy Korean Meatballs are ideal as a simple midweek meal or a crowd-pleasing Super Bowl snack. Hearty, spicy, sweet, and tangy, they are a great introduction to the Korean spice paste, gochujang, which will quickly become a new pantry staple.

spicy korean meatballs on white plate with red napkin

Gochujang Meatballs are a Super Bowl Snack Win!

I’d like to wax poetic about creating these spicy korean meatballs because of my husband’s Korean heritage. I’d like to say I was exploring a new way to use the Korean spice paste called gochujang.

gochujang spice paste in red container with a wooden spoon

But really, it was my friend’s gorgeous photo on Facebook and her description of eating these delectable bites that inspired me to check out Foxes Love Lemons recipe (which also won Food52‘s “Best Spicy Recipe” contest). Once you make these, you’ll know why.

I gravitate to recipes I can throw together quickly on a weeknight and double easily for leftovers or to feed a crowd. This dish satisfies those requirements. Plus these little gems are perfect as a game day snack.

What is Gochujang?

A little backstory on the Korean spice paste called gochujang. Most cuisines have their go-to spicy condiment. In Korean cuisine, gochujang is it. Gochu means pepper and jang is the fermented soybeans.

It’s spicy and sweet — made from chile peppers, glutinous rice (also known as sticky rice), fermented soybeans, and salt with some sweetener generally added as well.

gochujang spice paste on wooden spoon with red container in the background

You can order it online (see below for some options) if you don’t have an Asian market or Korean grocery nearby. It’s usually sold in rectangular tubs. It is not a finishing sauce like a sriracha. Use a tablespoon or two as an addition to sauces, soups, stews and marinades to add a spicy depth of flavor, umami, and color. 

What Kind of Meat is Best for Korean Meatballs?

When Cathy Barrow prepared them for my friend Carol, she used half beef and half lamb and loved it. I used half pork and half beef and we were very happy with the result. I think dark meat chopped chicken or turkey would work really well too.

spicy korean meatballs on white plate with red napkin

How to Serve Spicy Korean Meatballs

I prepared a recipe and a half but you could easily double the recipe. Serve these meatballs with some extra glaze on the side for dipping. We ate them for dinner the first time I made them so I served the meatballs with broccolini and steamed rice. As an appetizer, they will be the first dish gone from the buffet.

By the way – the glaze calls for apricot preserves. Running low on apricot, I threw in some fig preserves as well. Worked perfectly so don’t be afraid to be creative with the jam.

gochujang meatballs on white plate

What to Serve with Korean Meatballs

Serving them as a main course? Try this broccolini recipe – the technique would work just as well with regular broccoli or chinese broccoli or even bok choy. Or roast some vegetables – this cauliflower recipe is a great place to start.

Serving them as part of an appetizer buffet? Here are some other appetizer recipes:

White Bean Hummus Style Dip

Shrimp and Crab Dip

Sweet and Spicy Pork Egg Rolls

Want to stay on the Korean theme? Purchase kimchi, quick pickle some sliced cucumbers, buy some frozen dumplings and pan fry them. Combine some home-cooked items with purchased items and you’ll be all set!

beauty shot of meatballs on white plate and broccolini on white plate with red napkin

Supplies for Making Korean Meatballs with a Gochujang Glaze

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These Spicy Korean Meatballs with Gochujang Glaze work perfectly on a busy weeknight or your SuperBowl buffet. Inspired by a Foxes Love Lemons recipe on Food52
5 from 7 votes
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Spicy Korean Meatballs

These spicy Korean meatballs with a gochujang glaze are bursting with flavor. The recipe ramps up easily to feed a crowd and works just as well for a weeknight meal as it does as an appetizer for a casual party. Once you try the Korean Gochujang spicy paste, you'll be grabbing it as a pantry staple for a long time to come.

Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Keyword appetizer, korean food, meatballs
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Calories 106 kcal

Ingredients

Meatball Mixture

  • 3 green onions very thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 pound ground beef or mix beef with pork or lamb
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang Korean chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil for pan-frying

Glaze:

  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang Korean chili paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Garnishes: sliced green onion and toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients except oil. Some notes here: Don't overmix the ingredients - it will make your meatballs tough - just gently combine until everything appears evenly spread around. Form the mixture into golf-ball sized meatballs - or you can make them smaller or larger as fits your use.
  3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. In batches without crowding the meatballs in the pan, brown the meatballs on all sides (ok, they are round so technically there are no sides.) I turned them once and it did the trick. Transfer meatballs to a rimmed baking pan and transfer to oven.
  4. Bake 10 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160° F.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small pot, combine all glaze ingredients. Don't be afraid to experiment with different jams other than apricot. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened.
  6. To serve, brush meatballs with glaze and sprinkle with green onion and sesame seeds. I had extra glaze and served it alongside as well.

Recipe Notes

  • The glaze calls for apricot preserves. Running low on apricot, I threw in some fig preserves as well. Worked perfectly so don't be afraid to be creative with the jam.
  • If you are pressed for time, you can cook the meatballs in the oven up to internal temp of 160° F, skipping the pan browning. If I were to do this, I would brush on the glaze when they are almost done and do a quick run under the broiler to get a similar searing effect as you would get from the pan browning.

  • Closely adapted from a Foxes Love Lemons recipe.
These spicy Korean meatballs with Gochujang work perfectly on a busy weeknight or your SuperBowl buffet. Inspired by a Foxes Love Lemons recipe on Food52

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38 Responses to Spicy Korean Meatballs with a Gochujang Glaze

  1. Laura January 21, 2020 at 2:48 pm #

    5 stars
    Those meatballs look incredible! I love that you use apricot preserves for the sweetness. Can’t wait to try it!

    • Beth Lee January 21, 2020 at 4:08 pm #

      I bet your kids will love these!

  2. Jane January 18, 2020 at 10:34 am #

    5 stars
    What an amazing recipe to make for game day or any party! The perfect appetizer to whet everyone’s appetites!

    • Beth Lee January 20, 2020 at 5:01 pm #

      Exactly and a step away from the more common flavor profiles

  3. Jenni January 16, 2020 at 4:41 pm #

    5 stars
    These sound fantastic, Beth, and I haven’t even made them yet. That ingredient list is Right On!! Thanks for sharing these little numbers. It’s never about the game for me on “game day,” it’s all about the snacks!

    • Beth Lee January 17, 2020 at 1:43 pm #

      Right? Gives the whole event a tasty dimension 🙂

  4. Sandi January 16, 2020 at 11:50 am #

    5 stars
    These look perfect for game day. I love you used a combination of meats to get the best flavors!

    • Beth Lee January 16, 2020 at 2:08 pm #

      It’s fun to experiment and to be able to use what’s around the house or meet dietary requirements. Some people will eat chicken but not pork and beef. People have told me ground chicken works really well!

  5. Dini December 29, 2018 at 8:13 pm #

    5 stars
    I looooove Korean cuisine! We recently discovered a Korean restaurant in our area, and have already been there about half a dozen times! 🙂 These meatballs sounds amazing, and I’m really excited to try this at home now, thanks so much for sharing!

    • Beth Lee December 29, 2018 at 9:28 pm #

      Don’t you just love the banchan? So fun to eat all the little dishes!

  6. Nellie Tracy December 29, 2018 at 7:18 pm #

    5 stars
    Okay these look amazing and will be happening for New Years!

    • Beth Lee December 29, 2018 at 9:27 pm #

      They are a great party dish!

  7. [email protected] February 3, 2017 at 2:06 pm #

    I have no idea how to pronounce that Korean spice paste, but I figure I can find it in the local Asian store. And once I get that, I’m almost all the way to meatball heaven:) Love your idea of mixing meats too.

    • Beth Lee February 15, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

      Go Chew Jong 🙂 These are really yummy – I’ve been craving them ever since I posted them that day for social sharing!!!

  8. Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen January 19, 2017 at 8:06 am #

    LOVE Korean food – this looks perfect for game day!

    • Beth Lee January 19, 2017 at 8:09 am #

      Yes! that’s why I was inspired to share them again! Tis the season … and thanks for dropping by Ashley.

  9. Lisa @ Panning The Globe November 4, 2016 at 7:06 am #

    I love meatballs and these look amazing. I can’t wait to try the recipe!

    • Beth Lee November 4, 2016 at 8:31 am #

      So yummy – I can’t wait to make them again myself!

  10. Erin November 3, 2016 at 8:50 pm #

    Wow! This looks perfect. I’m making this for Friday night dinner and serving it with crispy broccoli!

    • Beth Lee November 4, 2016 at 8:29 am #

      That’s perfect! What time should I be there :-)!

  11. Little Cooking Tips March 24, 2016 at 12:56 am #

    It’s been a while since our last visit, and we’re so glad coming back here and finding such an amazing recipe! This is very different from what we’re used to having here in Greece;we bet it’ll taste fantastic though and it’s perfect for an “Asian” dinner with friends:)
    Thank you for introducing us to so many new things dear Beth, we loved learning about gochujang! And you’re right; every national/regional cuisine has its own spicy condiments. One of our favorites ones here, is tyrokafteri, made usually with feta and chili peppers.
    Off we go to see the rest of your posts!:)
    Panos and Mirella
    xoxoxo

    • Beth Lee March 28, 2016 at 7:08 am #

      Dear Panos and Mirella, You make my day every time you visit. I learn something from you – (tyrokafteri) and you really engage with the content. What a lucky person I am to have met you both online and have this virtual friendship. These flavors are indeed probably quite different from what you are used to in Greece but would make an exciting and easy centerpiece for a meal with friends. And luckily, these days, you can always order interesting ingredients online, even if they are not so easy to find close by.

  12. Carol Borchardt February 10, 2016 at 11:36 am #

    My mouth is watering just thinking about these meatballs! I can’t wait to try gochujang. Yum!

  13. Lori @ Foxes Love Lemons February 7, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    I’m so glad these turned out well for you, Beth. I’m kind of wishing I had a batch of these for the Super Bowl tonight, but we’re doing ribs and tostada pizza instead. Have a great rest of the weekend!

    • Beth Lee February 7, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

      Wow – that sounds like a great spread Lori. Thanks again for the inspiration and terrific recipe. I’m also excited to be thinking more about Korean ingredients as well. Enjoy the Big Game!

  14. Deb|EastofEdenCooking February 6, 2016 at 6:02 pm #

    I also find myself scouting the web for fast and easy dinner ideas. This recipe sounds like a winner, I’ll try them soon Beth! (need that gochujang!)

    • Beth Lee February 6, 2016 at 6:15 pm #

      Yes – get the gochujang – I know you’ll love it – you are such creative cook!

  15. susan / the wimpy vegetarian February 6, 2016 at 8:48 am #

    I’m making these for Super Bowl tomorrow!!! Thanks so much for posting them – I’d forgotten all about this lovely recipe!

    • Beth Lee February 6, 2016 at 6:14 pm #

      Me too! Requests are in – they are on the menu!

      • susan / the wimpy vegetarian February 7, 2016 at 10:49 am #

        I’m just about to start them now. My mouth is already watering!

        • Beth Lee February 7, 2016 at 1:01 pm #

          This is fun – almost like cooking together – I’m starting mine now!

  16. Liz Schmitt February 5, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    5 stars
    I desperately need my meatball recipes updated – perfect!

    • Beth Lee February 5, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

      Thanks Liz – these are really a winner. How’s the hand? When will you be back in the kitchen on full throttle?

      • Liz Schmitt February 5, 2016 at 4:30 pm #

        Six weeks. But so happy to have both thumbs fixed!

  17. Hannah February 5, 2016 at 11:22 am #

    You are always inspiring me, Beth! And I can see how you were moved to make these meatballs-I am seriously hungry seeing them. I’m going to make these for a birthday party potluck next week. I was just wondering what to bring so thank you! I’ve been making more Korean dishes and gochujang is a staple in my fridge now. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    • Beth Lee February 5, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

      Perfect for a potluck and it doesn’t surprise me at all that you already have gochujang in your fridge!

  18. Sarene (FringeFood) February 5, 2016 at 10:08 am #

    These look great! Will definitely have to seek out gochujang and try the recipe!

    • Beth Lee February 5, 2016 at 2:59 pm #

      And I think you can get away with either chicken or turkey. And you’ll love having gochujang in your staples pantry!

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