1. Homepage
  3. Spicy Thai Meatballs in Lettuce Cups

Spicy Thai Meatballs in Lettuce Cups

  • recipe image cover





These Spicy Thai Meatballs are served in lettuce cups with fresh herbs that give this appetizer a delicious, fresh taste. The meatballs are rolled in gluten free panko breadcrumbs to keep them juicy and then broiled for just a few minutes. The citrusy cilantro ponzu sauce finishes it off.

Meatballs are a party favourite so I am not surprised when people ask for this recipe. I like taking a platter of them as an appetizer to a summer party.

This recipe is adapted from one of my all time favourite cookbook authors, Hugh Carpenter. He combines Asian flavours with everything and anything to create his unique style of Asian fusion. If you like this idea you can find his books on his Amazon author page.  He also hosts a fun cooking class definitely worth attending if he visits your area.

From Everyday to Gourmet – Spicy Thai Meatballs

This simple meatball recipe can certainly be served up as part of an everyday meal. My husband likes the leftovers as a midnight stack with sweet Thai chile sauce.

When the occasion calls for it make an impressive presentation. Line a platter with the green leaves of soft living lettuce then top them with meatballs and fresh herbs. Use toothpicks if you like and lots of fresh herbs. Serve the ponzu sauce on the side.

For a crowd you don’t need one meatball on each lettuce leaf. Just make a beautiful presentation and let your guests figure it out. For a smaller group you might assemble the little packages as I have in this photo and offer each person their own dish of cilantro ponzu sauce.

Cook One, Eat Twice – Thai Meatballs

Meatballs freeze well. I don’t always do it but making a double batch and freezing half is always a good idea. Maybe you like to make things ahead of time and freeze them, that’s smart too. Just pay attention to any ‘advance planning strategy’ that works for you and do it a little more often.

Whether it is a bag of meatballs in the freezer, a jar of sauce in the fridge or an individual recipe/recipe list taped to the inside of a cupboard door, these ideas make cooking, planning and shopping more enjoyable.

Let me know in the comments below what strategies you find helpful or what cooking problem you need a solution for.


2 Tbsp GF soy sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp Asian chile sauce (such as sambal oelek)
1 Tbsp finely minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1½ lb ground pork
2 green onions, finely minced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp finely minced orange zest
¼ cup GF soy sauce
1 Tbsp and 1 tsp Asian chile sauce (such as sambal oelek)
¾ cup GF Panko or regular breadcrumbs
1 or 2 heads living lettuce separated into cups
fresh mint or cilantro leaves for serving


In a glass measuring cup or jar combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use. Can be prepared a day in advance.
Line a baking sheet with foil and place a baking rack on top of it.
In a large bowl combine pork, onion, garlic, orange zest, soy sauce and chile sauce. Mix thoroughly then form into 48 meatballs about ½ inch in diameter. (see notes)
Roll the meatballs in gluten free breadcrumbs, place on prepared baking sheet and refrigerate.
Separate the lettuce into cups and snip the mint leaves off the stems.
Preheat the oven to 400°F, then turn the setting to broil.
Place the baking sheet of meatballs on the second rack under the broiler. Cook for 6-8 minutes without turning. If they brown too quickly place them on a lower rack until cooked through. Place meatballs on a platter or directly onto the lettuce cups and serve Ponzu Sauce on the side.


Join our community and see what’s cookin’ in my kitchen each week. Download the free ebook if you need some ideas for more everyday cooking at home.