Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: For the Super Bowl this year, my husband wanted to make some Korean chicken wings he had seen in a magazine. When I saw the recipe, I wasn't expecting gochujang (Korean chili paste) to be an easy ingredient to find (or pronounce), but it turned out it was incredibly painless to locate at my local big-box store. The wings turned out great, but I now have a pretty sizable tub of gochujang sitting in my fridge.

Not one to let food go to waste, I've made it my mission to use that stuff up. It's actually pretty versatile, and has a nice spicy and smoky flavor. A little bit goes a long way toward giving an otherwise boring dish a little Korean flair. Along the lines of "party food" like chicken wings, I thought this stuff would work in meatballs, too (my recipe is adapted from a recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon). These meatballs are spicy and smoky and delicious.

Food52 Review: WHO: Foxeslovelemons is a food writer from Detroit.
WHAT: Our new favorite cocktail party appetizer, with a kick of spice to keep things interesting.
HOW: Just mix, fry, bake, and brush on a sweet-spicy glaze.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We know they're a classic, but let's face it: your meatballs are probably stuck in a white-bread rut. This is how you break them out of it.
The Editors

Makes: 20 meatballs
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 15 min



  • 3 green onions, very thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 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


  • 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
In This Recipe


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. In large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients except oil. The key to good meatballs is not to over mix them. Just gently combine the ingredients until everything is evenly distributed. Form the mixture into golf-ball sized meatballs.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. In batches (don't crowd the pan!), brown the meatballs on all sides. Transfer meatballs to rimmed baking pan and transfer to oven. Bake 10 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160° F.
  3. Meanwhile, in small saucepot, combine all glaze ingredients. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened.
  4. To serve, brush meatballs with glaze and sprinkle with green onion and sesame seeds.

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Reviews (135) Questions (1)

135 Reviews

Julie January 7, 2019
Could this be made into a meatloaf? If so, what alterations would need to be made?
Joan H. January 7, 2019
I was recently thinking the same thing. I’ve made the meatballs many times and I don’t see why the recipe couldn’t be made into meatloaf. I’ve been planning on doing just that. The glaze would be perfect poured on top of the meatloaf.
robin L. December 30, 2018
Several years after making these forvthe first time, they are still i<br />one of the best appetizers to bring to a party! We brought them (a double batch) to a holiday party recently, and they were devoured within an hour. The host loved them so much that he grabbed someone else's standard cocktail meatballs and tossed them into the yummy sauce left over from these!
Renee B. December 21, 2018
We are hosting a party tomorrow and have so much to do that day. To save time (and sanity) can these be baked the day before then rewarmed and topped with the marinade at the party? We are quadrupling the recipe and will place them in a chafing dish. I plan to make them 2/3rd size for appetizer portion.
LeAnn November 4, 2018
This is now a weeknight favorite—hubby asks for it at least once a week. I’ve shared it with friends who say exactly the same thing.
Ann B. June 9, 2018
These are full of flavor, easy to make and have just a bit of zing.
lbn March 7, 2018
These were fantastic. Huge hit at the party I made them for. I also skipped the browning step and just baked on wire racks in the oven for 20 minutes at 350. I made the meatballs the day before, and then the day of I just tossed all the glaze ingredients and the cold meatballs in a pan and heated everything through and let it cook a bit. Easy peasy and extremely delicious
boymeetsgirlmeetsfood February 4, 2018
I made this a few weekends ago with a few tweaks, and they were a hit at our potluck! I upped the ginger in the meatballs and also added birds eye chillies, used chicken instead of beef and blitzed up fresh mango instead of apricot preserves because they’re in season in AUS right now. Will definitely be making this again, loved it!!
Therese August 6, 2017
They were good but nothing beyond. I doubt I'll make them again.
Transcendancing March 19, 2016
Goodness these were so amazing! Love at first bite! I cooked these under the grill instead of in the oven, they were done in a total of 7 minutes and so tender!
Carolyn V. March 6, 2016
I've made these several times now. They are always a hit. Next time, I think I will try making them about half the size for easier appetizer grazing and more meatballs to go around!
Bevi February 8, 2016
These are awesome! I did not have apricot jam and made a substitute of mango chutney for the glaze. It was yummy. These are quick to put together and we made meatball "sandwiches" using Boston lettuce leaves as the "buns".
pottsy.1990 February 26, 2018
Thanks for the mango chutney suggestion! I didn’t have apricot preserves either but the mango worked great! <br />I used lean pork instead of beef and loved the flavour and simplicity.
Joan H. February 4, 2016
I made these tonight. I can't even describe how good they are. I think I will become addicted to gochujang.
Joan H. February 2, 2016
I bought gochujang. If I follow the directions how hot are these?
robin L. February 2, 2016
I brought a double batch to a potluck and they flew off the table, so the heat level must be pretty generally tolerable...
Joan H. February 2, 2016
Thank you for commenting. I will definitely try them.
MrsWheelbarrow December 29, 2015
I've had these several times now, both made by others (Hello Linda R!) and made by me, but today's batch was particularly lovely. I used a blend of 50/50 beef and lamb. YUM. Highly recommend.
leigh F. December 20, 2015
We have a great Korean grocery store. The gochujang paste they sell has a heat meter drawing on it. It's a chili pepper. The brand is in Korean.
FJT December 8, 2015
I've had this recipe bookmarked for a while and finally got round to making it yesterday for a pot luck. No issues with overly spicy gochujang because I made the paste myself to ensure it was gluten-free. These were delightfully zingy and were polished off in no time at all. I skipped browning them and baked them on a rack over a sheet pan as recommended below. So easy! I'll be making these again for sure.
Monte D. November 18, 2015
Awesome site!<br />
Brooke July 16, 2015
Could I just bake the meatballs instead of sauteing and then baking? (Less fat, less splatter, less mess).
Melissa July 23, 2015
Hey Brooke- I just finished making these and I baked them instead for the same reason, on a wire rack above my baking pan. If I was making them for a party, I might fry them to get the golden fried crust and a better looking meatball without the markings of the metal rack! But they turned out great in the oven.
Burnt O. December 4, 2015
Me too. Just made 6 dozen of them using a 50/50 mix of beef and ground pork belly. They took 20 minutes to cook and browned nicely in the oven. much less mess and fat.
WoooPigSooie December 4, 2017
Hi - I was thinking of making these for a holiday cocktail party. Did you bake at 350 for 20 minutes? I too am hoping to avoid the frying....
Bridget March 8, 2015
This dish sounds awesome, I'm going to make it but unfortunately I can't use beef for the crowd I'm serving. Do you think chicken or pork would work and if so which sounds better to you?
Author Comment
foxeslovelemons March 8, 2015
Hi Bridget! I think either of those would work here, but I would probably choose pork :)
Bridget April 3, 2015
Thanks for the advice! I made a triple batch for a big party using ground pork. I added some sticky rice to the mixture (a la Mark Bittman's asian-style meatballs). and adjusted the glaze to taste (a little more rice wine vinegar, a little less chili paste). Making these a week in advance, I cooked and froze the meatballs in saran wrap and freezer bags. I made the glaze the day of. The garnish was key for presentation because even though the glazed meatballs taste great, they look a little sad without some fresh spring onion and sesame seeds.
amy May 23, 2015
Bridget, to which recipe of Mark Bittman's are you referring? I tried to do a google search, but didn't come up with anything. I was also thinking of making these for a crowd - probably a quadruple batch(!) - how did you defrost and hold the meatballs? Was thinking of using the slow cooker to keep them warm, but I'm not sure if I should worry about adding some liquid? Or just put them in there with the glaze?
Bridget May 29, 2015
Hi Amy,<br />The recipe is in his How to Cook Everything book, but I cannot find a copy of the recipe online. I believe it is "meatballs three ways", he gives a variation on the traditional meatball using pork and some white rice as a binder instead of breadcrumbs. <br /><br />As for freezing and defrosting: I wrapped handfulls of 5-8 meatballs in saran wrap, then put all of the wrapped meatballs into freezer bags. I took it out of the freezer the day before and placed it in the fridge to defrost. I made the glaze the day-of, put cold, defrosted meatballs into a casserole dish, poured glaze on top, and put into a low oven (325) for about 15 minutes to warm through. They are small so they do not take long to warm.
robin L. March 7, 2015
absolutely the best appetizer i've ever made/brought to a dinner party/pot luck.
Author Comment
foxeslovelemons March 8, 2015
Aw, thanks so much, Robin. Glad they were a hit for you!