Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs recipe from justataste.com

Chinese takeout menus, prepare to step aside. Classic orange chicken is getting a healthier, fresher makeover in the form of extra-moist meatballs that are baked and then tossed in a sweet and tangy glaze.

Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs are the culinary counterpart to Baked Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs. Both are loaded with fresh garlic and ginger and baked to seal in the moisture and flavor, while each one stars a distinctly different glaze.

Best of all, these meatballs will be on your table in 30 minutes or less. They’re the perfect make-ahead weeknight meal, a school lunch standout, and the ultimate entrée to pair with homemade fried rice and chocolate-dipped fortune cookies. A fake-out for takeout has never been easier!

Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs recipe from justataste.com

Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs recipe from justataste.com

Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs recipe from justataste.com

Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs recipe from justataste.com

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Main Course

Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs

Chinese takeout menus, prepare to step aside. Classic orange chicken is getting a healthier, fresher makeover in the form of extra-moist meatballs that are baked and then tossed in a sweet and tangy glaze with this 30-minute recipe for Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs.
4.73 from 29 votes
Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs recipe from justataste.com
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 24 meatballs

Ingredients 

For the meatballs:

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground chicken
 (See Kelly's Note)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons minced scallions

  • 2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 3/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce

Instructions 

  • Make the meatballs:

  • Preheat the oven to 500ºF. Spray a mini-muffin pan or baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the milk and Panko breadcrumbs and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, garlic, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, salt, pepper and soaked breadcrumbs. Use your hands to thoroughly combine the meat mixture and then shape it into balls using 2 to 3 tablespoons of meat per meatball.
  • Place the shaped meatballs into the prepared pan and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the meatballs are fully cooked. While the meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce.
  • Make the sauce:

  • Add the sesame oil and olive oil to a small saucepot over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes until golden brown.
  • Add the red pepper flakes, orange marmalade and hoisin sauce, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  • Remove the meatballs from the oven and transfer them into a large bowl. Pour the sauce on top and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Kelly's Note:

  • If you can't find ground chicken at your local supermarket, feel free to use ground turkey, which is often easier to find.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!

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Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not republish this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.


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Nutrition

Calories: 82kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 145mg, Potassium: 163mg, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 50IU, Vitamin C: 0.7mg, Calcium: 11mg, Iron: 0.4mg

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I used ground turkey, and since I didn’t have the recipe with me at the store (just an idea to make teriyaki meatballs) I had to make a couple of substitutions. I had no scallions so I minced a little onion, had no hoisin so used a dab of fish sauce, and had no orange marmalade so used seedless raspberry jam and some extra ginger. Once I mixed the sauce and added the pepper flakes, no raspberry flavor remained, just a little sweetness that was wonderful with the hot pepper flakes. My husband and I loved it! We had peas on the side.

  2. The whole family loved it! I followed the recipe exactly as written and it turned out great. Thanks.

  3. 5 stars
    Over the top delicious…just made it and I really like that you suggested using a small muffin pan . Next time I will double the recipe. Thank you so much.

    1. These look amazing! Trying them this weekend! Is it possible to substitute the milk in the meatballs with heavy cream?

  4. 5 stars
    I have made this three times now, and it is one of our favorite dinners. I make rice bowls, using jasmine or brown rice, the meatballs with sauce, then add some riced broccoli, and sliced, grilled pineapple spears and zucchini. Delish. The only thing I do differently is that I add an egg to the (seasoned) panko and milk mixture, and use less crushed red pepper. Thanks for a lovely recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    Absolutley fantastic! I tweaked it abit for Weight watchers points and it still came out amazing! Nice work!

    1. It won’t be as thick so you may need to cook the sauce longer so it gets reduced to the thick/syrupy consistency!

  6. This recipe looks amazing!!! I would like to make it, but am on a low carb diet. I see the recipe makes 24 meatballs, but do you know the serving size that the estimated nutrition facts covers?

  7. 5 stars
    Delicious! I was close to ordering takeout and I remembered how good your recipes are. I added a in tad fresh squeezed OJ and zest. The sauce is scrumptious and rivals any takeout. I highly recommend making this easy meal.

  8. I made this recipe yesterday afternoon for lunch. Everyone loved them I was very tasty and delicious. We will certainly make them again.

  9. 5 stars
    I love this recipe!! I tweaked it and used a little less red pepper flakes. The only thing I found was that the meatball mixture was very sticky and hard to roll into balls. The flavor is delicious!!

  10. 5 stars
    These are so yummy! I make them with Orange Rice and steamed broccoli. They love it! Thank you for this recipe.

  11. Meatballs can’t n be frozen before baking or after baking. I usually bake mine than freeze. Thaw in refrigerator.

  12. 4 stars
    I love these meatballs and the sauce. However, I find that cooking at 500 degrees tends to be to high for my pans. How long can I cook them at a lower temp?

    1. Hi Laurie! Every oven varies in terms of actual temp and heat circulation. You could try 425F and start checking the meatballs around 20 minutes.

  13. 5 stars
    Would like to make meatballs ahead and freeze. Would make sauce later. Should i cook the meatballs before freezing?
    These were sooo good! I am going the make the balls a bit smaller for an appetizer.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Lisa! I’ve never tried freezing them so I can’t say with certainty how they’d turn out, but it should work to freeze the meatballs after forming them and before baking them. :)

  14. 5 stars
    This is by far one of my very favorite recipes, and I make this often. These meatballs freeze great (without the sauce), so it’s nice to take out just enough for a single serving if I want, and then I can also make the sauce in any amount too, based on whether I’m serving the entire recipe, or just 1 or 2 servings. Just delicious, and really easy to make too!

  15. 3 stars
    This made for a tasty and healthful change of pace. Everything came together simply and the sauce made the dish in both my husband and my opinions. We served it with Jasmine rice and sugar snap peas sautéed in olive and sesame oils, sprinkled with white and black sesame seeds. Next time I might tweak the seasoning in the meatball mixture somewhat. The beauty of this is the ability to customize per individual tastes.

  16. I did the equal parts molasses and ketchup, this recipe is delicious, thank you. I also subbed gf bread crumbs and liquid aminos to make it gluten free, also shallots for scallions because it’s what I had.

  17. I can’t have the milk or the breadcrumbs. Can I substitute almond milk or coconut milk? What can I use in place of the breadcrumbs?

    1. Hi Beth – Almond or coconut milk will work and you could use gluten-free breadcrumbs. Hope that helps!

  18. 4 stars
    Too sweet! Loved the meatballs but not the sauce. I’ll make the meatballs again but will change up the sauce.

    1. Hi there! I’ve never tried this, but I’ve read you can use equal amounts of ketchup and molasses as a substitute for hoisin sauce. Let me know if you give it a shot!

  19. Super tasty! I spiced it up quite a bit with extra red pepper flakes. Served it with sauted cauliflower rice to lighten up the dish even more. Thanks for the recipe!

  20. 5 stars
    I made these for dinner last night with a stir fry and egg rolls it was amazing. The meatballs are really flavorful and moist the sauce is so good. I used a small ice cream scoop and baked them on a parchment lined baking sheet super fast and easy cleanup. These will be made again and again. Thanks for such a great recipe

  21. 4 stars
    Hi If you don’t like the chilli flakes try a tablespoon or two of sweet chilli sauce.
    I like the heat, my wife doesn’t, the sweet chilli works for both of us

  22. 5 stars
    Loved these meatballs! Sauce was great, meatballs were flavorful! Served with rice and broccoli and garnished with sesame seeds and green onion! Love it!

  23. We love this recipe and have been making it for a couple of years now. The one think I changed was the way the meatballs are cooked. I use my ice-cream scoop and put the meatballs on a parchment lined sheet to bake them. Because, I find muffin tins are a pain in the patoot to clean out! So I avoid that part. And they turn out great! Thanks so much!❤❤

    1. Your comment put a smile on my face, Patty! I’m SO thrilled you’ve been enjoying the meatball recipe!

  24. 5 stars
    I totally loved the and so did my family. The best and easiest orange chicken recipe I’ve seen! Thank you.

  25. 4 stars
    We’ve made this recipe a few times and I love the flavor but I am not a big fan of the spice level. What would you recommend to reduce the heat? My husband likes spicy food so he’s fine with it. I actually dropped the red pepper flake to 3/4 tsp tonight and I think it turned out spicier than the last time he made it.

    1. Hi Adrienne – You could completely leave out the crushed red pepper flakes. I’m thrilled you’ve been enjoying the recipe!

  26. If I’m going to bring the meatballs somewhere do you think I should make them and then maybe put them in a slow cooker to keep him warm?

    1. Hi Joyce – Yes, that works great! You can make the recipe as instructed then keep them in the slow cooker on the “WARM” setting. They’ll last for several hours! :)

  27. 5 stars
    Can these be made ahead? Perhaps make the meatballs the day before then warm them in the oven while making the sauce?

    1. Hi Laura! The Estimated Nutrition Facts provides nutritional information for one meatball. Hope that helps!

  28. 4 stars
    Made these last night, they were wonderful. A big hit at our house. My two teens requested leftovers in their lunches today. That’s a win! Thank you for the recipe.

  29. 5 stars
    This one is a keeper! Soooo delicious!!!! Only had 1lb of ground chicken….just added some more Panko. And I added 1 egg. Made my own marmelade-that was easy and delicious too!!!!

  30. 5 stars
    Well wasn’t that a tasty dish to set upon my plate, and palate.
    I had to whip up a home made hoison sauce, subed a slice of white bread for the panko in the meatballs …. pretty much followed the recipe from there.

    Will definitely do that one again. Lovely balance of flavors.

    Thanks Kelly.

    Barb

  31. 5 stars
    Can’t wait to try the Orange chicken meatballs. They look so tasty in the picture. Thanks for all the great recipes.

  32. 5 stars
    Can these be frozen well? Would you freeze them after making the raw balls and unfreeze and cook them as needed or could I cook them and then freeze them with the sauce?

    1. Hi there, Susmitha – I’ve never tried freezing these meatballs, but if you do, I’d freeze them before baking them and without the sauce.

  33. I like these a lot but someone can not get the sauce right even though I consistently follow directions. It isn’t thick at all. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Kimberly! If the sauce is watery, chances are you didn’t cook it long enough or at a high enough temp. Hope that helps!

    1. Hi Elsie! Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention. It’s just a typo. No ingredients are missing. Fixing it now! :)

    1. That works great! Just make the recipe as instructed then keep them in the slow cooker on the “WARM” setting. They’ll last for several hours! :)

  34. I’ve made these three times, we really enjoy them. However, the sauce never seems to thicken even though I follow the directions. Any suggestions on what I might try to thicken the sauce?

      1. The commenter, Kim, on 22Dec2016; asks how to thicken the sauce and you mention cornstarch. There isn’t any cornstarch in the recipe ingredients nor in the directions. Did you forget it when you wrote this post? I’d like to make thus recipe, it sounds like something my family would enjoy.

      2. Hi there! The response to that comment was an error and referred to another meatball recipe. No cornstarch needed in this recipe! Enjoy!

      3. Apologies! The response to that comment was an error and referred to another meatball recipe. No cornstarch needed in this recipe!

  35. So can you make these ahead of time and freeze? or just make the meatballs ahead freeze them and then sauce later.

    1. Hi Debbie – I’ve never tried freezing these meatballs so I can’t say with certainty how they would turn out, but I think freezing the meatballs separately and saucing them later would yield the best results. Let me know if you give it a shot!

    1. That would work great! You could also bake them in a baking dish. Just make sure to cover either the baking sheet or pan with foil coated in cooking spray so the meatballs don’t stick. Enjoy!

  36. Dear Kelly!

    Me and my family love the chinese kitchen. I’d like o make this recipe for my mom’s birthday! BUT in Hungary is really hard to find hoisin sauce. Are there any replecement of it???

    Thanks for answering! :)

    1. Hi Eszter! Hoisin sauce has a very distinctive flavor so replacing it won’t be easy. However I did some research and found a homemade hoisin recipe on epicurious.com that combines 4 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons black bean paste or peanut butter, 1 tablespoon honey or molasses, 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 20 drops hot sauce and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for certain that it will work, but let me know if you give it a shot!

  37. Love the idea of using the mini muffin tin. Every time I make chicken meatballs, they always kind of spread out due to the fact that they are so wet and soft when raw. Will be trying this recipe soon!

  38. Yum! These were delicious. I didn’t have fresh ginger so I used powder and I actually just had the meatballs w/o the sauce since I didn’t have all those ingredients. Definitely a keeper for the meatballs. Will try the sauce another time.

  39. Rosemarie!! Thank you for the recipe. I made it tonight and it was great. I wouldn’t change a thing. The only thing I did different was after the baking, I put them under the broiler to get a nice color on top. My husband raved about the sauce and really enjoyed them. I made my own fried rice for a side. Yum!

  40. Do you happen to know the calorie count for this recipe? I’ve made it several times and my family LOVES it!!

  41. This sounds delicious but you mentioned bake and serve right away? What if you’re looking to make this recipe and take it to someone an hour or two later, would that be a problem? Thank you.

    1. Hi Rosemarie! I would then bake the meatballs and make the sauce but keep them separate. That way you can rewarm each then combine them prior to serving. Hope that helps!

  42. What can I replace Panko with, brown bread crumbs? My daughter is allergic to nuts and most Panko are manufactured in a possible nut facility.

    Thanks

    1. Hi there! You can make your own breadcrumbs very easily by toasting any type of bread then smashing it (or crushing it in a food processor) until it’s the size/texture of crumbs. Enjoy!

  43. I made these with some beautiful fresh local ground pork and added 2 Tblsp. Gojuchang Into the sauce-They were fabulous! Thanks!

  44. I have a a step grandchild visiting next week. Thought I would try these. I am going to make the meatballs ahead and freeze. I will make the sauce on the day. Hope they work out okay.

  45. An idea for replacing the soy is to use golden syrup (light treacle) with a little bit of salt – not sure whether you’d want to do 2 tablespoons, though, maybe try 1 tablespoon and see how it goes!

  46. Could this be adopted to a crock pot??? Planning a large party and need to make ahead. Assuming I can pre-make and freeze the meatballs. Could I put sauce & meatballs into a crockpot?

    1. Hi Kathy! I’ve never tried making this recipe in a slow cooker so I’m not certain how they’d turn out, but I imagine if you made the recipe, transferred it into the slow cooker and set it to “WARM” (rather than “LOW”), it could work!

  47. Great Morning!! First wanted to say thank you so much for creating recipes that taste great but are easy to make! I’m now cooking things I never thought I could cook. Quick question when making the sauce for the meatballs it comes out good as far as taste but it’s watery….should I increase cooking time?

    1. Thanks so much, T’Mia! This is what I love to hear! If the sauce it watery, chances are you didn’t cook it long enough or at a high enough temp. You can also made an additional slurry (cornstarch with water) and whisk that in. That’ll thicken it instantly as long as you then bring the mixture to a rolling boil.

  48. Hello I just love your recipes. I have had great success.
    My husband is allergic to wheat and flour and some of the Asian sauces have flour. Any suggestion to substituting the hoisin sauce?

    1. Thanks, Rita! I’m not sure of a goof gluten-free substitute for hoisin sauce, but you could try leaving it out and just adding a bit more of the other ingredients.

  49. If sodium is the issue, there are low sodium soys available. Another good one that has low or no everything is Bragg Liquid Aminos. It’s just like soy, without the bad stuff.

    1. Hi Margaret! I am not a nutritionist so I do not provide that info for my recipes, as I wouldn’t be able to guarantee it’s 100% accurate.

  50. I made these today with lean turkey and they were fabulous! I actually thought I had orange marmalade… but it turned out to be pineapple preserves in the back of my fridge – but the meatballs and sauce still turned out fantastically. Thank you!

  51. These look very tasty, and they have a beautiful shiny glaze to them. I can’t wait to try them.

  52. The recipe worked well except for the sauce. It didn’t turn out very thick. It wasn’t coating the meatballs and all the sauce fell underneath. I think if I make this again I might need to use cornstarch

    1. Hi Beckie – The jam should thicken the sauce enough so that cornstarch isn’t needed. What type of jam did you use?

  53. Good recipe. I did not have orange marmalade but did have canned mandarine oranges in light syrup. I drained the oranges and crushed them and drained them further. It worked very well in the sauce. My husband really liked it over brown rice. I also used the mini muffin pan but that proved to be a problem. I did not use enough spray and the meatballs stuck badly. Next time I am going to use a baking dish and a small portioning scoop. Thanks.

  54. I was actually going to skip this recipe as my son is allergic to Oranges, I’m so glad I didn’t it sounds amazing and will definitely give them a try

  55. Want to make your Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs, but have ground pork on hand. What do you think? Hopefully they’ll be just as good!

    1. Absolutely! That will be delish. You can follow the recipe exactly as stated but you may have to adjust the cooking time. Enjoy!

  56. Love your recipes but do NOT love the video ads that I cannot get to stop playing! Gonna take a break from your website until those get stopped. :( Not sure if it’s just Verizon ads or if it’s your ad provider but there needs to be a stop button! :( :(

    1. HI Tracey – Thank you so much for your feedback. This should definitely not be happening and I’ve notified my ad manager who will be solving this issue. Thank you and I really appreciate your readership!

  57. One of tge things i love love love about your recipes is the fact that you don’t use sugar in each one.
    I’m on a low carb diet, and while i know this recipe isn’t for me, i really want my kids and husband to eat healthy, and it sounds fab!
    I truly appreciate your “sugar only when needed” approch

  58. Would this still work without the soy? I can’t have soy and I love this sort of food. But all the recipes call for soy. This doesn’t have much soy in it , so I was wondering if it would make a difference. .

    1. Hi Sarah – I’ve never tried this recipe without the soy sauce, so I can’t say for certain what it would taste like. You could add a bit more jam, leave out the soy, and then just add more salt to balance out the sweetness.

  59. Hi! I made these last week and the meatballs were delicious but the sauce was not so good. I used an orange marmalade that didn’t have any added sugar from Whole Foods and I think that was the problem. What kind of orange marmalade did you use?

    1. Hi Maria – Yes, you’d want to use regular orange marmalade, as you’ll need the sweetness to balance out the saltiness of the other ingredients. I just used regular orange marmalade.

  60. I was looking for a different sauce to serve chicken with today’s dinner. Found it! Can’t wait to try this today.

    1. Hi Stephanie – Feel free to make the meatballs whatever size you prefer. You’ll just have to adjust the cooking time. These aren’t intended to be mini meatballs, so the 2 to 3 tablespoon reference is for an average meatball.

  61. These look incredible, Kelly! I see these appearing in a Chinese Rice Bowl dinner later this week. :)

  62. Look at the shine on those meatballs!
    Really looks delectable. I look forward to making these soon :)

  63. As much as I love meatballs, I always forget how versatile they can be. Maybe this can replace my mom’s go-to sweet and sour meatball recipe at the next family gathering. Hopefully we don’t run out of toothpicks…

  64. Anything Asian/Oriental Flavors…count me in…this looks and sounds amazing. Secondly, mini muffin pan to make the meatballs is beyond perfection. What a no brainer idea…thanks! Can’t wait to make this greatness.

  65. What a great spin on classic orange chicken! I love ground chicken and this sounds delicious. Love your use of the muffin pan, too. Very easy to do, which is always crucial. : )