Cilantro & Scallion Turkey Meatballs With Teriyaki

Cilantro and Scallion Meatballs
Stephanie Lang, MS, RDN, CDN
Total Time 30 min
Prep 15 min, Cook 15 min
Yield 18 balls + sauce (76 cals each)

Red meat, which refers to beef, lamb, and pork, is linked to colorectal cancer risk when consumed in amounts beyond 18 ounces per week. If you tend to eat a diet high in red meat, try swapping some of it out for a leaner protein like chicken or turkey.

Meatballs, especially turkey meatballs, are a great vehicle for getting in extra veggies and herby flavors. Here, we add finely grated carrot and chopped cilantro and scallion. Use both the green and white parts of the scallion. While the slim white bulbs have a stronger flavor, the green scallion leaves actually have a greater concentration of phytonutrients than the bulbs.

Instead of using a store-bought teriyaki sauce, make your own with a quick soy sauce and ginger-garlic base that gets cooked down with a little brown sugar and cornstarch to thicken. Serve this as a high protein appetizer or a main entree with stir-fried broccoli.


  • 2 medium scallions, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, grated on the fine holes of a box grater (about 1/2 cup finely grated carrot)
  • 1/2 medium bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, for pan-frying
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch


  1. To make the meatballs: in a large bowl, mix together the scallions, carrot, cilantro, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, black pepper, and ground turkey with a fork until evenly combined.
  2. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes to chill and firm up (can also do this ahead of time and let sit in the refrigerator overnight).
  3. Scoop out the meatball mixture by the heaping tablespoon and roll into balls.
  1. Heat a cast iron or heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil and drop in half of the meatballs. Cook 4 minutes per side or until golden brown on the outsides and cooked through on the inside. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and meatballs.
  2. To make the teriyaki sauce: in a medium saucepan, whisk together water, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar, and cornstarch. Heat over medium high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens. Turn off the heat and stir for another 30 seconds.
  3. Serve the meatballs with the teriyaki sauce.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

This recipe works equally well with ground chicken instead of turkey.

Don't like cilantro? Sub in Thai basil or fresh flat-leaf parsley.

Like spicy food? Add a few shakes of a hot chili garlic sauce to both the meatballs and the teriyaki sauce.

Cooking and Serving Tips

Food safety is especially important when preparing meat.

Purchase a meat thermometer so that you can be sure your food is cooked to the proper internal temperature to reduce risk of foodbourne illness. For poultry, the safe internal temperature is 165F.

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