Thai-inspired curry meatballs are a flavorful new take on a classic comfort food. Red curry paste gives these meatballs a spicy kick that’s balanced out by creamy coconut milk and toasted coconut scattered over the top gives them a fantastic texture and toasty flavor.
This post was sponsored by the NY Beef Council
Earlier this Spring, the NY Beef Council invited me to go on a food tour of downtown Saratoga Springs. Beef Council events are always a great experience, and this one was no exception.
Like everyone else who attended, I showed up excited to try a bunch of new beef recipes. Imagine my surprise when I found out we were going to do just the opposite! This event was an exploration of flavor, and we were tasked with thinking about how flavors go together, how we could put new twists on old favorite recipes, and how we can incorporate beef into recipes that don’t traditionally include it. We had a ton of great food, from fish tacos to salty licorice, and I left with a ton of inspiration.
But the one thing I just couldn’t get out of my head were the peanut wings topped with toasted coconut flakes that we enjoyed at Comfort Kitchen. Toasted coconut isn’t something I think to use in savory dishes often, but it’s so delicious.
This coconut curry meatball recipe was inspired by the flavors of those wings. They have a similar sweet and spicy vibe with bold Thai flavors, and I love how the flavor of the beef adds depth to the sauce.
I’m a huge fan of curries but almost never pair them with beef, so the event really did succeed in getting me to think about beef in a new way!
- Easy Stovetop Recipe – No need to turn on your oven or pull out any fancy appliances. All you need is a skillet!
- Perfect for Meal Prep – This recipe freezes really well, so it’s great to make ahead of time for quick and easy dinners later on.
- Low Carb and Gluten Free – This nutritious recipe is low in carbs and is easily made gluten-free – just be sure to use gluten-free fish sauce (Red Boat is a great option)!
Ingredients for Coconut Curry Meatballs
- Ground Beef. I use 93% lean ground beef for these meatballs. It has the perfect balance of protein and fat so it’s flavorful without making the sauce too greasy.
- Bell Pepper. Red, yellow, or green — it’s your choice. I went for a green pepper this time because they tend to be more affordable than other colors.
- Onion. Just a standard yellow onion.
- Red Curry Paste. I always have a jar in my fridge. It’s os good, and most brands are gluten-free!
- Lime Juice. For a hint of acidity.
- Fish Sauce. Fish sauce adds umami to traditional curries. I added it for an extra savory flavor, but the beef in this recipe also adds umami so you can leave it out if you don’t have any.
- Canned Coconut Milk. This gives the sauce its rich creaminess. You can use full fat or low fat coconut milk in this recipe, but be sure to use canned coconut milk, not a refrigerated coconut milk beverage.
- Fresh Ginger and Garlic. Adds a great base of flavor to both the meatballs and the sauce.
- Fresh Basil and Cilantro.
- Toasted Coconut. Use store-bought toasted coconut chips or toast your own unsweetened coconut shreds.
How to Toast Coconut
Toasted coconut is so delicious, but it can go from toasted to burnt quickly, so it’s important to keep an eye one it.
To toast coconut in the oven: Spread unsweetened shredded coconut in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350ºF for 10 minutes or until it’s golden brown, stirring it every 2-3 minutes so it cooks evenly.
To toast coconut on the stovetop: Add the coconut to a skillet and cook over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. When the coconut is golden brown, immediately transfer it to a plate to stop the cooking process. Leaving it in the hot pan, even off the heat, can cause it to burn.
How to Make Red Curry Meatballs
Step 1: Prep your ingredients. Thinly slice the bell pepper and onion. Mince the garlic and ginger and finely chop the fresh herbs.
Step 2: Make and brown the meatballs. Season the ground beef with garlic, ginger, and salt. Roll into 1-inch balls. Brown the meatballs (dont’ worry if they aren’t fully cooked, they’ll cook more in the sauce.)
Step 3: Add the aromatics. Add the pepper and onion to the pan and cook, until softened. Stir in the red curry paste along with the remaining garlic and ginger.
Step 4: Make the curry sauce. Stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, and lime juice. Simmer until the sauce is reduced by about 1/3 and the meatballs are cooked through. Note that the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
Recipe Tips and Variations
- Save time by using pre-cooked meatballs.
- Instead of using a knife to mince your garlic and ginger, grate it using a fine grater.
- If your sauce is too thick, you can thin it out with a tablespoon or two of beef broth.
- As written, this is a fairly spicy curry. If you prefer less heat, add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar along with the coconut milk to help balance out the flavors. You can also reduce the amount of curry paste to 1 1/2 teaspoons for a less intense but still flavorful.
- Mix it up! Try this recipe with yellow, green, or Penang curry paste.
- For an extra veggie boost, stir 1 cup of shredded zucchini into your meatballs!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use precooked meatballs in this recipe?
Yes, pre-cooked fresh or frozen beef meatballs are a great timesaver. Saute your pepper and onion, then add the meatballs along with the coconut milk and simmer until heated through.
How should I store leftovers?
This recipe keeps so well, and it’s great for meal prep! Store your leftover meatballs and sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them for up to 6 months.
What should I serve with red curry meatballs?
For a main course, this recipe is delicious over rice, or with cauliflower rice for a low carb option.
It also makes a great party food! Add the meatballs and sauce to a slow cooker to keep them warm, and serve them alone like cocktail meatballs.
More Meatball Recipes
- 4 Ingredient Spicy Cranberry Meatballs
- North African Meatballs with California Prunes and Pine Nuts
- Meatballs in Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs
You can also find a ton of delicious meatball inspiration at Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner.
Coconut Curry Meatballs Recipe
- 1 pound 93% lean ground beef
- 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh ginger divided
- 4 cloves garlic minced, divided
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 green bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1 onion thinly sliced
- 2 Tablespoons red curry paste
- 1 lime juiced
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 2 Tablespoons toasted coconut
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef with 1 teaspoon minced ginger and ½ of the garlic. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Roll the meatball mixture into 1-inch balls.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until well browned, 2-3 minutes per side. The meatballs should easily release from the pan when they're browned.
- Push the meatballs to the edges of the pan and add the pepper and onion to the center. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Stir in the red curry paste and remaining garlic and ginger.
- Pour in the coconut milk, fish sauce, and lime juice. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by about ⅓ and the meatballs are cooked through.
- Stir in the basil and cilantro. Top with toasted coconut.