Make Ahead

Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs

January 26, 2022
4.7 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

For the Super Bowl this year, my husband wanted to make some Korean chicken wings he had seen in a magazine. 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 it 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 it would work in meatballs, too (my recipe is adapted from a recipe from "Spoon Fork Bacon"). These meatballs are spicy and smoky and delicious. —foxeslovelemons

Test Kitchen Notes

If you're looking to impress a crowd (or just want a fun snack/appetizer to make), look no further than these gochujang meatballs. They are our new favorite cocktail party appetizer, with a kick of spice to keep things interesting. All you have to do is just mix the ingredients together, fry, bake, and brush on a sweet-spicy glaze. We know traditional meatballs are always a go-to 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. Besides the gochujang, the meatballs themselves are made with very meatball-y ingredients, such as scallions, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, and ground beef. You can use any type of ground meat you'd like—just keep an eye on the internal temperature as you're baking.

The glaze really puts these meatballs over the top flavor-wise. It features apricot preserves, gochujang, of course, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Just cook for about 5 minutes to thicken, and the glaze is ready to go. If you want to make this a meal, serve over some cooked rice or rice noodles. And to avoid washing an extra pan, it seems like a lot of commenters skipped the pan-frying and just baked the meatballs in the oven right away, which seemed to work pretty well. Feel free to adjust the ratios of the ingredients and experiment with whatever you've got in your fridge or pantry. We promise that whomever you serve these meatballs to are going to absolutely devour them! —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • makes 20 meatballs
Ingredients
  • Meatballs:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 scallions, very thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Glaze & Assembly:
  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds, for garnishing
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the beef, egg, scallions, garlic, panko, gochujang, ginger, salt, and pepper. The key to good meatballs is not to overmix. Just gently combine until everything is evenly distributed. Form the mixture into golf-ball sized meatballs.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Working in batches (do not overcrowd), brown the meatballs on all sides. Transfer the meatballs to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a meatball registers 160°F.
  3. Meanwhile, in small pot over medium heat, combine the preserves, gochujang, vinegar, and soy sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until slightly thickened.
  4. To serve, brush the meatballs with the glaze. Sprinkle with the scallions and sesame seeds.
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158 Reviews

TheBigVee July 9, 2022
Easy and delicious. I took advice of reviewers and skipped the pan browning, instead baking on sheet pan at 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
 
Emilio C. January 21, 2022
The pan frying step is unnecessary. Just put them straight on the sheet pan and into a 425° oven for 15-20 minutes.

This would also work great in a slow cooker for a party
 
Alsen January 14, 2022
I haven't made this recipe. Could I use oatmeal as a binder to make them gluten free?
 
robin L. January 14, 2022
I've made these meatballs several times. My guess is that if you normally use oats as a binder for meatballs, that would work for these. (The main difference between these meatballs and others is that they call for gochuchang.)
 
Lyngo March 9, 2022
Use gluten free panko.
 
Kidlit December 16, 2021
The meatballs are great! Good idea to keep of gochujang in the pantry, because the rest of the ingredients are staples we usually have on hand. We’ve discovered a terrific Korean BBQ sauce recipe at https://thecozyapron.com/korean-bbq-burger/
and I try to keep that in the fridge as well. Gochujang is magic! We served the meatballs with rice noodles, kimchi, and some sautéed red bell pepper.
 
smd222 December 12, 2021
Fantastic recipe, huge it! Made these for a party, doubled recipe, made 2 changes (pressed for time): subbed garlic powder for minced, made small (1” ish) meatballs and baked at 400° for 10 minutes, no frying, came out nicely browned, perfect. Will be making these again and again!
 
Janet M. December 12, 2021
This is very similar to a Korean style meatball recipe I've been making for several years, with a less sweet sauce--this sauce looks perfect for entertaining. I do, however, always use ground pork for mine, and add toasted sesame oil both to the meatballs and the glaze. LOVE gochujang! I discovered it about the time I was getting bored with sriracha. I never bother to fry meatballs, but put them on a sheet pan and into the oven. Once they are covered with a glaze the fact that they may not be uniformly browned is immaterial--and it saves a ton of time and bother. I usually make a lot, at least double this recipe, and pop some into the freezer for later. You can freeze them either cooked or raw, but I usually choose to bake them all at the same time, and that way when we want some, I just have to heat them in the sauce.
 
Chapman H. February 24, 2021
These meatballs are a spicy delight and I immediately saved the recipe- thank you so much!
 
Original_steve February 10, 2021
This was an excellent recipe. We did not have apricot preserves and green onions. But we substituted with a mix of peach rum jam and prune juice and chives. Turned out so delicious that I plan to make them again very soon.
 
Linda D. February 8, 2021
Absolutely fabulous! Thank you!
 
Avas January 25, 2021
I made this adhering to the recipe to a t and I loved it and would make again. Thank you.
 
Nicole January 18, 2021
I am able to use conserves instead of preserves for the apricot?
 
Kaite December 24, 2020
So tasty! It now holds a spot in my Favorites Collection. Quick and easy to put together. I used pork instead of beef and decided not to brown in a pan as I was feeling lazy. I baked them for roughly 15 minutes and then turned on the broiler to brown them a bit. Definitely see myself making these to eat with lettuce cups.
 
Kayaktal December 7, 2020
These are amazing! I think I may have made them a bit on the small side, as I had plenty for dinner but had leftover meat mixture. So I baked a mini meatloaf with a fresh batch of the sauce on top! Try it - you won’t regret it! Served with white rice & stir fried bok choy w/coconut aminos.
 
Karen S. April 20, 2020
These were so good! I made the recipe exactly as written and served them over veggie fried rice. Definitely recommend
 
Yuber21 April 4, 2020
A little late to the party here, but could I adapt this to a crock pot? I'd still brown the meatballs and then combine them with the glaze in the crock pot for a while?
 
Renee B. April 4, 2020
I made them for a big party and kept them warm in a chafing dish without any trouble. I think the crock pot would be the same.
 
Helen C. August 28, 2019
I make this for dinner as a meatloaf and triple the recipe. The only changes are swap ground turkey for beef and Bibigo's gochujang sauce for paste (this is milder). Bake at 375F for 1 hr 10 mins until reaches internal temp of 165F in metal loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Meatloaf gets nice and crusty on top and sides. Spoon glaze over slices. Serve with calrose rice and broccoli.
 
Lindsay S. May 10, 2019
I’ve made these a lot, I like to add sesame oil to the mixture
 
Josie A. March 9, 2019
I just found this recipe. I made it with ground pork, because that is what I had. These are DELICIOUS, thank you !
 
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.
 
savedbytheapron May 21, 2019
Did you end up trying this? I would be interested to hear how it turned out!
 
robin L. December 30, 2018
Several years after making these forvthe first time, they are still i
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!