Orange Glazed Meatballs

Since orange chicken is right up there as one of Brian’s favorite meals in the history of ever, I suppose it was only a matter of time until something else orange-glazed arrived at the dinner table (and in the interest of full disclosure, he loves, loves, loves the stuff at Panda Express, even if I do not, and since we’ve lived many years without it until just recently, he’s been reunited and it feels so good).

The next great orange-glazed thing just happens to be meatballs.

Orange Glazed Meatballs

They are quick and simple and terribly delicious. Plus, I learned a trick that makes me want to make meatballs every single day of my life. Bake them in a mini muffin tin.

Orange Glazed Meatballs

Brilliant, right? Not only do they hold their shape, but they are a bit smaller than I’d probably normally make them and are just plain adorable. You know, if meatballs cared about being adorable. Of course you don’t have to use a mini muffin tin (see the notes in the recipe) but if you have that type of pan, you should try it because it could bring you a lot of happiness like it did to me. Simple pleasures.

The meatballs are tender. The orange sauce is flavorful. The combination is delicious.

What To ServeBaked Brown Rice or Perfect Stovetop Brown Rice
Steamed or Roasted Broccoli (to roast, drizzle broccoli with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; bake on a sheet pan at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes)

Orange Glazed Meatballs

Baked Orange Glazed Meatballs

Yield: Makes 20-24 small meatballs; serves 6

Baked Orange Glazed Meatballs

Ground chicken or lean ground beef can be subbed for the ground turkey. I always buy chunks of ginger and cut them into 1-inch pieces, toss them in a freezer ziploc bag (unpeeled) and then when a recipe calls for fresh ginger, I grab a piece straight from the freezer and grate it on the small holes of my box grater or on the microplane.

If you don't have a mini muffin tin, scoop the meatballs onto a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet and bake that way.

Finally, if you like a little heat with your sweetness, try adding a little chile-garlic sauce or red pepper flakes to the sauce.


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (see note above)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (panko, homemade, or storebought)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cloves garlic (about 2 teaspoons), finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1-2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (see note above)
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts finely chopped
  • Orange Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh orange zest
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic (about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon) finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and lightly grease a mini muffin tin (see note above if you don't have that kind of pan).
  2. For the meatballs, combine all the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl and mix until combined (you might need to just get your hands in there and go to town).
  3. Shape the meatball mixture into small balls, a couple tablespoons each, and place into the prepared mini muffin tin. The meatballs will shrink down a bit while baking.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
  5. Immediately (but carefully) spoon the meatballs out of the tin and onto a layer of paper towels to drain any excess grease (you may not need to do this if the meat was extra lean).
  6. For the glaze, whisk together all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Cook until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve the meatballs with the glaze (either poured over the meatballs or served separately for each person to drizzle on as they like).

Recipe Source: inspired and adapted from this recipe at Just a Taste (altered a few ingredients in the meatball recipe and created a simple, homemade orange glaze instead of using orange marmalade) 

47 Responses to Baked Orange-Glazed Meatballs

  1. Tiffany says:

    These sound delish!! You have the best meatball recipes ever, Mel!! I don’t know about using the mini muffin tin, but I’ll consider it!

  2. Sara says:

    Is the orange juice fresh squeezed or from a bottle

  3. Rebecca says:

    Well, I just made it to my recipe half a year after it was posted because I read about it in your family favorites of 2015 post (which was so awesome). This one looks great!

    Gotta say, I also love Panda Express’s orange chicken. There’s a Panda less than half a mile from my house. I drive on a major road next to it nearly every day, and for three months this last year they had a billboard up with a giant bowl of orange chicken on it. It was so beautiful; it took all of my willpower not to go there every dang day. The only thing that saved me, I think, is that this particular Panda doesn’t have a drive thru, and it’s too hassly to get my kids in and out of the car. I only gave in twice.

  4. Shannon says:

    Made these tonight and the whole family loved them! Thanks for the recipe. The orange sauce was delicious!

  5. Carrie says:

    These meatballs and orange glaze are soooo good! This is probably the 6 or 7th recipe I’ve used from your site and we have loved everything! Also, I LOVE that you have the “What to serve with this” suggestions! And your menu plans! And your side-dish matrix. Your site has helped me tremendously!! Thank you!

  6. Tiffany says:

    How essential is the sesame oil? Any suggestions on a substitute?

  7. Liz says:

    I have been “afraid” of ground turkey … just the very low fat and thinking anything would be too dry. But these sounded so good and the Asian flavoring appealed in this heat wave so I made them. Holy cow – they are wonderful and I wish I’d doubled the recipe and it is just me.

    Because I was baking on a half sheet instead of muffin tin, i.e. the little bit of fat not contained … I added an egg and also 1/2 of a medium zucchini shredded. The egg for some fat and the zucchini because I add it to my fav beef-pork meatballs. At any rate, the meatballs are moist and tender and delicious. That orange glaze is wonderful also.

    This will be repeated often and next time a double batch!

    • Liz says:

      Ok…I made a double batch for getting me through the 4th AND I made your cranberry jalapeno salsa thinking the salsa with corn chips for snacking, but then…the thought of the cranberry salsa and turkey meatballs … kind of the flavors of fall adjusted for the heat of summer. I had a lightly dressed cole slaw so put all in a tortilla for a cool, refreshing, flavorful wrap.

  8. JC says:

    Really sorry; wanted to love this recipe, but it just didn’t go in my house. LOVE the idea of meatballs in minicupcake tins, though, and will be using that from now on. Thanks, Mel!

  9. Melissa says:

    Had this tonight for dinner. SOOOOO yummy. And my 3 year old was a pro at helping roll meatballs. Love your food!

  10. Anissa says:

    Another very yummy recipe!

  11. Sheila says:

    These are indeed scrumptious. The meatballs were flavorful and the sauce . . . oh, that sauce was simply delightful.

  12. Peggy says:

    My husband made these last night and they were fantastic (I provided the recipe so I get some credit for the meal right?). We were fighting over who got to have the leftovers. I heard him sneaking them for breakfast so I took the rest to work for lunch!

  13. Nicole Miller says:

    If you like mini muffin meatballs, you should try regular size muffin meatloafs. You can “frost” them with mashed potatoes and “sprinkles” (chives). even get all fancy with piping the potatoes if you want to really wow the kids. Or trick them which is also fun!

  14. Gyna says:

    These were indeed yummy and easy! Thanks again for making dinner delish without fuss.

  15. Teresa says:

    I made these tonight for dinner and they were fantastic. I was so excited to try the frozen ginger trick that I actually froze my ginger and grated it like you said–perfection. The meatballs were so tender and the sauce was delicious. I served them with some brown rice and green beans and spooned the sauce over the rice. I also baked them on a cookie sheet at 400 for 15 minutes because of the size of my meatballs. Thanks so much. Another great meatball recipe on your site (I love all of them but especially the pineapple ones and now these).

  16. Ma says:

    I love all things meatball. This is fantastic! Pinning for later 🙂 Yummmmmmm

  17. Teresa says:

    I made this last night, and it was a HUGE success. Every member of my family loved it. My husband, 12-year old son, and 10-year old daughter all loved it. I loved using the mini muffin tin, too. I highly recommend this recipe. It’s my new favorite. I love Chinese food so much, but I don’t like greasy Chinese food so I’m trying to make my own. Thank you!

  18. Cammee says:

    My teenage son thinks Panda Express orange chicken is the best thing on earth. I don’t get it. I think he will love this meatball version even better. Thanks Mel!

  19. Sheree says:

    Hi Mel, my girlfriend told me about your site. I just had a baby and she made me your creamy white chicken chili and it was the best chili I had ever had. My husband loves it too and I’m going to make it again this week. I love your recipes and I’m going to make these meatballs sometime this month, they look delicious! I’m also going to make your Lemonies today for a recipe club I’m going to tonight. I’ll let you know how they turn out. Thanks for making my life easier with all your easy, amazing recipes!

  20. Oh my goodness!!! The idea of using a mini muffin tin is pure genius! I love it!!!
    I make mini meatballs all the time as finger food and this is such a great idea!

  21. Caren says:

    I saw this post this morning and decided to make it for dinner. Absolutely delicious! The whole family loved it. Thank you!

  22. Hcoxmom1 says:

    You have done it again. Gone and made my life easier. The 6 boys (hubby included) that live under my roof go crazy for meatballs, so when I make them I always quadruple the recipe.. Mix it in the Bosch with the cookie paddles.. then bake them and freeze 1/2 of them and they pretty much eat all of the rest. I always hate the baking part because even when I spray the foil lined pans they still seem to stick (I mostly use ground turkey). I have 2 of those mini muffin pans and I will be switching methods .. TODAY!! Can’t wait to try the new baking method and this amazing looking Orange sauce. I, like you, am not a fan of Panda Express. I do however LOVE orange chicken. Another life changing post .. Thanks!!

  23. Kim in MD says:

    Yum! I love Asian favors. I’ve never had the orange chicken at Panda Express, but I’ve made a copycat version that was delicious. I can’t wait to try your recipe with meatballs!

  24. These look amazing! I make my meatballs in muffin tins as well. It helps them stay super moist! I LOVE orange sauce and these meatballs just look so adorable. Pinning to try ASAP!

  25. Jessica W says:

    these sound amazing! always looking for a new meatball recipe!

  26. Stacey says:

    I didn’t know you could freeze fresh ginger! What a great tip. I often need it….like tonight…and now I can keep it on hand. I’m curious though…you said you freeze unpeeled. Do you peel before grating while it’s still frozen?

    • Mel says:

      I grate it frozen, peels and all. I was skeptical about it at first but had read in a cooking magazine that you don’t need to peel ginger before grating and after trying it, the peels really are undetectable. I still peel it if it’s fresh because some habits die hard but not if it’s frozen.

  27. Sara says:

    These meatballs look great! Quick question regarding the use of the mini muffin tin – do you use your 48 cup mini muffin tin? I’ve seen you mention that fabulous 48 cup mini muffin tin in other recipes and wasn’t sure if you used it for this meatball recipe as well.


    • Mel says:

      Hey Sara, the few times I’ve made these I actually do double the meatball part of the recipe and use my huge mini muffin tin (and freeze the unglazed meatballs to use later). I love that thing!

  28. Laurel says:

    Yay!! I’ve been waiting for you to post this since I saw you pin it. No offense to them but it was kind of awful. I knew you would turn it into something incredible that we would all just devour in one second flat.
    I keep your sweet and sour meatball recipe(turkey&porkmix) on hand in the freezer at all times. It’s very basic and goes with everything. I’m totally pulling some out today! Gotta try the muffin tin idea. Genius. you’ve knocked it out of the park again!

  29. Kristin says:

    Hi Mel! This looks great, but the real reason I’m commenting is to tell you I am very sad that you stopped posting your menu for the week at the bottom of your blog. I loved it! I used a couple ideas from it every week. So just in case you’re debating bringing it back, I just wanted to throw my vote in. Bring it back!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Kristin – thanks for the comment! Don’t worry! It’s coming back. It disappeared after a little update a few weeks ago and it’s just a matter of me finding the time to get it added again (it most likely will be in the sidebar this time). I’ll keep you posted!

  30. Liz says:

    These sound so good. Thank you Mel and have a good week!

  31. I’ve never tried baking meatballs in a baking tray but its such a great idea! I love the fruity orange flavour!

  32. Barb says:

    what is is with husbands and orange chicken! My guy has wanted me to try and duplicate the orange chix at the mall- I think its oriental express- but I bet its really close to this. I am definitely going to give it a try. I was thinking about adding orange juce and zest to the glaze that goes over your sweet and sour chix and see how that works.

  33. Sheila says:

    Oh, forgot to mention. . . .kids really like making ground beef into “little balls”. So my meatballs never come out looking anything like the “perfection” of the above picture.

  34. Sheila says:

    Thank you, Brian! 🙂 I freeze my ginger too. But I take ever short cut there is in the kitchen so I won’t be using the mini muffin tins. They are so hard for me to clean even when coating them well. I have even tried sticking them in my Bosch dishwasher which cleans everything so well but not these tins. It’s parchment paper for this lazy dazy clean up person. I love the changes you have made to this recipe. I don’t keep orange marmalade on hand.

    • Joy says:

      Amen on the cleaning of the mini muffin tin! Why is it such a pain?! I just use my cookie scoop- it goes super fast and they’re a uniform size, a little flat on the bottom but who cares? Meatballs do that anyway.

      • Mel says:

        I have this little round brush that’s the perfect size to whip in and out of the mini muffin making cleanup a breeze but you’re right, like I mentioned in the notes of the recipe, these can definitely be baked on a baking sheet, too!

  35. Hmm not had meatballs for a good while, gonna give this a try, can’t wait to try your orange sauce 🙂 Thanks

  36. Teresa says:

    You have the best meatball recipes on your site, and this one looks like perfection. I am just curious on the ginger. That is a great idea to freeze it unpeeled, but when you grate it in the dish from a frozen state, do you end up peeling it, or grating it unpeeled? Thanks.

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