Love cashew chicken? These Cashew Chicken Meatballs are full of nutty cashews and savory chicken and then slicked in an easy homemade sweet and sour sauce. A fun riff on a classic dish.
Cashew Chicken Meatballs Recipe
My cashew meatballs recipe takes the best parts of cashew chicken and combines them into bite-sized meatballs that are pan-fried until nicely browned and slightly crisp and then finished to perfection in the oven. Fresh herbs and orange zest play off the cashew nuts and a bit of cream cheese helps the meatballs hold together. The simplest homemade sweet and sour sauce adds even more depth of flavor.
This dish is all about contrast, so I suggest serving the meatballs on a pile of fluffy white rice. Add some lightly sauteed vegetables like green beans and garlic or broccoli to round out the meal.
What You’ll Need
You won’t need any complicated ingredients to make this recipe – even the homemade sauce is composed of pantry staples. Check out the recipe card at the bottom of the post for full ingredient amounts.
For the Meatballs
- All purpose flour
- Vegetable oil
- Ground chicken
- Plain panko crumbs: Don’t use flavored bread crumbs.
- Salt and pepper
- Onion: Use a small onion.
- Fresh herbs: Basil and parsley.
- Orange zest: From a small orange.
- Cream cheese
For the Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Brown sugar
- White vinegar
How to Make Cashew Chicken Meatballs
These meatballs will come together quicker than the time it takes to order takeout! You can start making the sauce while the meatballs finish cooking in the oven.
For the Meatballs
- Heat oven. Preheat oven to 400°F and place the flour in a shallow dish.
- Combine ingredients. In a large mixing bowl place the ground chicken, panko crumbs, salt, pepper, onion, basil, parsley, cashews, orange, and cream cheese. Mix until fully combined.
- Form meatballs. In a skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Roll the meatballs into 1-inch balls, lightly coat in flour, and place in the skillet.
- Cook meatballs. Cook meatballs for about and turn for 2 minutes, or until a little browned on all sides.
- Bake meatballs. Transfer meatballs and hot oil to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Place in oven and bake until cooked through, about 18 minutes.
Make the Sauce
- Make the sauce. Place the brown sugar, white vinegar, and water in a skillet. Whisk to combine then cook over medium-high heat, whisking frequently, until sauce reduces by one-half.
- Serve. Remove meatballs from oven. Pour sauce over meatballs and serve hot.
Tips for Success
This is definitely not a complicated recipe, but there are a few things you can do to help it turn out the best.
- Cook meatballs all the way through. The best way to tell if meat if thoroughly cooked is to use an instant read thermometer. Meatballs will be done when they reach 165°F on the thermometer.
- Use a store-bought sauce. I really think you should try my homemade sweet and sour sauce! But if you want to save a few minutes, feel free to use your favorite store-bought sweet and sour sauce.
- Serve with extra cashews. As you can see in the photos, I like to scatter extra cashews on top of the finished dish. Cashews are so crunchy and hearty and they will add even more texture and flavor.
These meatballs are versatile as well as flavorful. Read on for a few ideas on how to serve them.
- With rice. The obvious choice, cashew chicken meatballs are great served on a bed of fluffy white rice. You could also swap for brown rice for more nutritional impact. Try my Instant Pot Jasmine Rice for a quick, perfect rice every time.
- With noodles. Instead of rice, try rice or egg noodles. Cook noodles according to package directions, then toss with meatballs and some cooked vegetables like green onions, slivered carrots, or broccoli. Or you could pair these meatballs with my Teriyaki Noodles recipe!
- As an appetizer. At a cocktail party or just as a pre-dinner snack, cashew chicken meatballs are sure to please. Place meatballs, covered in sauce, on a plate and serve with plenty of toothpicks.
How to Store and Reheat
If you end up having leftovers, it’s easy to save them for another time.
- Cooled meatballs and sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. To reheat, place in a skillet, spoon some sauce over, and cook over low heat until warmed through. You could also reheat the meatballs in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave until hot.
- To freeze meatballs, set some aside to cool after they come out of the oven. Then place the meatballs in a freezer-safe bag and store them in the freezer for 3 months. Don’t cover the meatballs with the sauce before you put them in the freezer bag; you can make a fresh batch of sauce if you like later on. To reheat, defrost the meatballs in the fridge overnight, then proceed with your recipe.
TOOLS AND INGREDIENTS USED IN THIS RECIPE
Cashew Chicken Meatballs
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 lb ground chicken
- ½ cup plain panko crumbs
- Salt and pepper , to taste
- 1 small onion , finely diced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/3 cup chopped cashews
- Zest of one small orange
- ½ cup cream cheese , room temperature
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Place the flour in a shallow dish and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl combine ground chicken, panko crumbs, salt, pepper, onion, basil, parsley, cashews, orange, and cream cheese.
- Mix until everything is thoroughly combined.
- In a skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat until hot.
- Roll meat into 1 inch meatballs, place in flour, turn to lightly coat on all sides, and add to hot oil.
- Cook and turn for 2 minutes, or just until a little browned on all sides.
- Transfer meatballs and hot oil to a 9 x 13 baking dish.
- Bake for 18 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.
- Prepare the sweet and sour sauce by combining all ingredients in a skillet.
- Bring to a boil; whisk frequently and continue to cook over medium-high heat for 4 minutes or until sauce is reduced by 1/2.
- To serve, remove meatballs from oven and pour the prepared sauce over meatballs.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.