These soft and juicy Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs are going to be your family’s favorite! It takes only 30 minutes to prepare.
These Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs are soft and fluffy, and my kids love them! What’s the secret ingredient to making them so fluffy? It’s tofu!
Actually, in Japan, we call this dish Tofu Hambagu (豆腐ハンバーグ) – “hambagu” as in Japanese Hamburger Steak. However, most tofu hambagu are made with tofu AND ground meat (usually chicken, sometimes a combination of beef & pork). To avoid misleading the vegetarian readers, I decided to simply call it chicken meatballs (with tofu, as the secret ingredient).
Why tofu? It’s because tofu makes the meatball texture very fluffy and soft. These teriyaki meatballs are especially great for all ages including toddlers and elders! If you increase the amount of tofu, it gets even fluffier and less calorie! My proportion of the meat and tofu in this recipe is pretty easy to form into meatballs. As you increase the ratio for tofu, it might become slightly difficult to maintain the round shape.
And please note that the meat acts as a binding agent here. As you knead the meat, it gets stickier and helps bind tofu and other ingredients very well.
Today I used colorful sweet bell peppers to add some color to these meatballs. You can add your choice of vegetables but don’t put too much in order to maintain the fluffiness.
Lastly, look at the delicious glaze on the meatballs! The sauce is everyone’s favorite, Teriyaki Sauce. If you cook Japanese food often, you noticed that we often use the same condiments – soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sake (I didn’t use it for this recipe). It’s very common to season Japanese food with these condiments (just slightly different ratios).
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- 14 oz ground chicken
- 5 oz medium-firm tofu (momen dofu) (about ⅓ of 14-oz tofu block)
- 3 oz sweet bell peppers (1 ½ peppers; I used 3 colors)
- 1 green onion/scallion
- 1 knob ginger (1", 2.5 cm; 1 tsp grated)
- 1 large egg (50 g w/o shell)
- ½ tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc.)
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp mirin
- 2 tsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)
- ½ tsp potato starch or cornstarch
- Gather all the ingredients.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
- Wrap the tofu with a paper towel and let it drain for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, remove sweet bell pepper seeds under running water and dry completely.
- Mince the sweet bell peppers, chop the green onion finely, and grate the ginger.
- In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, sweet bell peppers, and green onion. Break the drained tofu into small pieces.
- Add the egg and mix all together.
- Add the grated ginger, salt, and black pepper and combine well.
- Using two tablespoons or a cookie scoop, make small meatballs.
- Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and drop the meatballs, keeping some distance between each ball. Cook in batches if necessary.
- When the bottom is nicely browned, flip them over and cover with the lid to cook until inside is no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low heat if browning too fast.
- When the meat is cooked through, add the first batch back into the pan (if there are any).
- Pour the sauce over and reduce the sauce until it thickens. Flip the meatballs to coat both sides with the sauce.
- Keep the leftovers in an airtight container with the sauce, let cool completely, and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for a month.