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Sticky Ginger Chicken Meatballs Over Rice

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Dairy Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Low Carb/Paleo
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Let Your Friends Try This Recipe!

Why we love it:

This dish has it all - kids can help roll the meatballs and separate the pomegranate seeds, it can be made in full in advance and reheats in the microwave like a dream, and the sauce is familiar and delicious, yet has a hint of something special with the pomegranate juice. It is sure to be a new family favorite!


  • 1 cup Basmati Rice (White)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 114 cups Water
  • 1 pound Ground Chicken (or ground turkey)
  • 14 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 5 Green Onions (finely chopped, reserve some for serving)
  • 1 clove Garlic (minced)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger (about 1” knob, finely minced)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 13 cup Soy Sauce (or tamari)
  • 13 cup Pomegranate Juice (about 3 ounces)
  • 3 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional, to taste)
  • 1 English Cucumber
  • 1 Pomegranate (remove seeds, for serving)
  • 1 Tablespoon White Sesame Seeds (for garnish)

Cooking Instructions


    Line a baking sheet with parchment.

  • 2. RICE

    Combine the rice, salt and water in a small pot with a fitted lid. Bring to a boil over high heat, then stir well and reduce to low. Cover. Steam for 16 minutes or until the rice is tender and water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let it sit until you’re ready to serve.


    Place the chicken and black pepper in a large bowl.

    Mince the green onions (both green and white part - everything except for the roots!) and reserve a tablespoon or so for garnish. Peel and mince the garlic. Mince the ginger. You can keep the skin on the ginger if it’s soft, but peel it off with a spoon or peeler if it is dry and papery. Alternatively, both ginger and garlic can be grated on a microplane grater if that is easier.

    Add the minced items to the bowl. Mix until evenly combined. It’s easiest to do with clean hands.

  • 4. ROLL

    Wash your hands. Pour the oil in the center of the lined baking sheet. Coat your hands with a bit of oil, and roll the meat into tablespoon-size balls (will make 15 - 20 meatballs), placing them on one side of the prepared baking sheet. Re-dip your hands in the oil as needed to manage the wet mix and to thoroughly coat each meatball with oil. This will help it brown.

  • 5. BAKE

    Place the pan in your oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are crisp and cooked through. Stop at least once to shake the pan and roll the meatballs over.

  • 6. SAUCE

    Meanwhile, combine the soy sauce, pomegranate juice, hoisin sauce, honey, rice vinegar and red pepper flakes in a medium saucepan. Set over medium-high heat and bring the sauce to a boil. Boil 5 - 8 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the sauce thickens and reduces by about 1/3. Remove from the heat.


    Slice cucumber into thin rounds. Peel first if needed or just wash the skin if it’s a thin skin, unwaxed version.

    Remove the pomegranate seeds from the skin using your preferred method. Set aside for garnish.


    After 15 minutes in the oven, pour about ½ the sauce over the meatballs, rolling them around a bit to combine. Return to the oven for 2 - 3 minutes, until the sauce coats the meatballs.

  • 9. SERVING

    Serve the meatballs and sauce over bowls of rice topped with additional green onions, pomegranate seeds and sesame seeds. Serve the cucumbers on the side of the bowl.

Check out our new features!


    use tamari, which is GF soy sauce, and be sure your hoisin sauce is GF, if you can’t find that see the next sub listed
  • PALEO:
    use Braggs instead of soy sauce and maple syrup instead of honey and hoisin sauce. Add 1 teaspoon of corn starch plus 1 teaspoon of water while the sauce is boiling which will help thicken it up. Omit rice and consider serving over roasted veggie medley or over lettuce
    use 1 additional teaspoon of honey and 2 teaspoons of 5 spice powder. You could also use pomegranate molasses or oyster sauce too
    if you aren’t wild about meatballs, you can certainly roast a chicken breast or thighs and make the same sauce. Pour some sauce over the chicken near the end of cooking to help it coat well. Or, thinly slice a boneless breast like you’d see in stir fry and cook in a sauté pan until done, then pour some sauce in and toss to coat
    orange juice or apple juice
    apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • HONEY:
    maple syrup, agave or brown sugar
    canola, vegetable, peanut or other mild oil
    brown rice, quinoa or serve over noodles. Or serve over lettuces for a salad version
    steamed broccoli or green beans make a nice side dish as well

Kid Friendly Version

How to Tweak This Recipe for Kids:

  • Add a steamed vegetable, or more raw veggies

For Toddlers

  • Honey is ok under 1 when cooked like this, but if you prefer, swap for brown rice syrup or maple syrup
  • Mash up the meatballs with rice for a toddler-friendly consistency
  • Add chopped up cheese or other raw veggies

For Choosy Eaters

  • Roast some meatballs plain and serve sauce on the side for dipping if you suspect they like sauce on the side. Or serve with a sauce they enjoy, like hummus, ketchup or BBQ sauce
  • Omit sesame seeds
  • Add fruit and another veggie as needed

Prep Ahead & Use It Up

  1. Cook the sauce
  2. Mix up the meat and flavorings, roll and roast now or just leave the mixture overnight before forming and cooking
Rate this recipe:
2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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