Asian Meatballs + Carrot Rice


Article by Sara Welch

Photography by Sara Welch, Dinner at the Zoo

My girls will happily eat any and all meatballs. But the whole spaghetti and meatballs thing gets tiring after a while, so I’m always on the lookout for other variations. This recipe for Asian meatballs with carrot rice is definitely a unique take on meatballs.


This recipe uses ground turkey instead of beef to lighten things up a bit. These meatballs are not greasy at all. The meat is mixed with Panko and flavored with cilantro, soy sauce, garlic, and a touch of sriracha—not enough to make it super spicy, just enough to add flavor.

I always broil my meatballs rather than pan fry them; it’s so much easier, and the broiler browns the tops just as well as if you had seared them in an oiled pan. The great thing about meatballs is that they freeze beautifully, so you can even make a double batch of these and pop half in the freezer for another night. I typically freeze my meatballs after they’ve already been cooked. I think that yields the best result.

The Asian meatballs are great on their own, but what really takes this dish over-the-top is the carrot rice. It’s so simple and fun—make your rice (white or brown) as usual, then add some shredded carrots at the end and let it all sit in the covered pan for a few minutes. The heat of the rice lightly cooks the carrots, and the carrots turn the rice a fun orange color. It’s a great flavor combination and an easy way to convince your kids to eat their veggies.

The whole thing can be on your table in 30 minutes. Start by putting the rice up to simmer and then get the meatballs going while the rice is cooking. It’s a great choice for a simple and healthy weeknight meal.


For the rice:

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 carrots peeled and shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the meatballs:

  • 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs (regular or gluten-free breadcrumbs can be substituted)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground dark-meat turkey
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha (optional)
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • 1 egg
  • Cooking spray

For the honey garlic sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lime wedges for serving
  • Sesame seeds and chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)


Preheat broiler. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups salted water to a boil. Add rice and return to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the carrot on top. Let stand, covered, 8 minutes, then stir in carrot and fluff rice with a fork.

In the meantime, in a medium bowl, combine Panko breadcrumbs, turkey, cilantro, soy sauce, sriracha, egg, sugar, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 2 tablespoons of water. Gently mix to combine and form into tablespoon-sized meatballs.

Place the meatballs in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet that has been coated in cooking spray. Coat the tops of the meatballs with cooking spray. Broil the meatballs about 4-6 inches from the heat element for 10-15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

For the sauce: in a small bowl mix together the honey, soy sauce and garlic. Drizzle the sauce over the meatballs and toss to combine.

Top the meatballs with chopped cilantro and sesame seeds if desired and serve with rice and lime wedges.


Make Ahead: The meatballs can be made in advance and cooked, cooled and frozen in resealable bags. 

Little Helpers: My kids love to help grate the carrots, I supervise them closely to make sure that their little hands stay away from the rough parts of the grater.

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