Pumpkin Week is HERE! Are you as excited as I am? Yes? Good.
We’re kicking this epic week off on a savory note and damn, this is a delicious one. I had to bring you guys another one pan meal and YES we’re making some incredible meatballs with an out-of-this-world amazing sauce. These chicken meatballs in pumpkin curry sauce are filled with wonderful flavor from curry powder, fresh ginger, red chili paste, coconut milk, peanut butter, and of course, pumpkin.
They remind me of my famous ginger chicken meatballs in peanut sauce but with a super unique, flavorful fall twist that you’re going to love.
If you’ve already been cooking or baking up a storm with pumpkin puree (homemade is the best!) this meatball recipe is the perfect way to use up the rest of the can or jar that you have. It’s Monday and it’s the perfect day to meal prep these babies to enjoy all week long. I’ve included the best sides to serve these meatballs with so be sure to scroll through and pick your favorites in the post.
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Everything you’ll need to make chicken meatballs in pumpkin curry sauce
Not only is that creamy pumpkin coconut curry sauce absolutely dreamy, but the chicken meatballs themselves are packing the flavor. Here’s everything you’ll need to make this one pan meal:
- Chicken: we’re using some lean ground chicken as the base for the meatballs. Feel free to use ground turkey if that’s what you have on hand!
- Egg: you’ll need 1 egg to help bind the meatballs.
- Panko breadcrumbs: using breadcrumbs also helps the meatballs stick together well. See below for gluten free options!
- Mix-ins: to add flavor to the meatballs we’ll mix them with a little brown sugar, some red chili paste, cilantro, green onion, garlic, freshly grated ginger, ground turmeric, and plenty of salt and pepper.
- For the sauce: this pumpkin coconut curry sauce is everything. To make it you’ll need a can of light coconut milk, pumpkin puree (canned or homemade using this tutorial!), natural peanut butter (Use the code ‘AMBITIOUS15’ to get 15% off my favorite brand, Wild Friends), low sodium soy sauce and yellow curry powder. You’ll only need 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree, so this recipe is perfect for using up extra pumpkin you might have leftover from making a different pumpkin recipe.
- Veggies: gotta have a boost of veggies! You’ll mix in carrot, bell pepper and some frozen peas.
- To garnish: I love topping this dish with fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts and scallions.
Can I make them without breadcrumbs?
Yep! If you’re trying to keep these pumpkin curry chicken meatballs gluten free, feel free to use your fav gluten free breadcrumbs. Otherwise, you can simply use 2-3 tablespoons of coconut flour in the meatball mixture. I recommend starting with 2 tablespoons and adding from there if needed to shape the meatballs.
How to make chicken meatballs in pumpkin curry sauce
That’s right, we’re cooking the meatballs right in the sauce to give them extra flavor and truly make this a one pan meal.
- Mix the meatballs. Start by adding all of the meatball ingredients to a large bowl and mixing them together with cleans hands. You’ll want to form around 16 golf ball sized meatballs.
- Brown them. Before fully cooking the meatballs in the sauce, you’ll want to brown them in a skillet in a little sesame oil so that they get those nice brown, crispier edges that provide flavor.
- Mix the sauce. Remove the meatballs from your skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in all of the ingredients for the pumpkin coconut curry sauce.
- Add the meatballs & veggies. Stir in the sliced carrots, then add your meatballs back to the skillet with the sauce and bring everything to a simmer. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and let the meatballs cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Finish with veggies & serve. After the meatballs are fully cooked, stir in the red bell pepper and peas and simmer for just 5 minutes more so that they don’t get mushy. Then serve with some of our fav sides below! I love to garnish with chopped honey roasted peanuts, scallions and cilantro as well.
What to serve with these meatballs
You’ll have plenty of delicious pumpkin curry sauce once the meatballs are cooked, so add one of our fav sides:
- My famous homemade coconut rice
- Regular brown rice or fluffy quinoa
- Stir in some rice noodles
- Go grain free with cauliflower rice
Make-ahead chicken meatballs
You can easily prep these chicken meatballs 1-2 days ahead of time so that all you have to do is brown them and simmer them in the sauce. Simply mix and form the meatballs, then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Tightly cover the meatballs with plastic wrap and place them in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
If you’re going to meal prep these chicken meatballs in pumpkin curry sauce, I recommend storing them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Yes, you can store them with the sauce and even with rice if you’d like! To reheat simply place your meatballs and sauce in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.
Two ways to freeze these meatballs
- Bake first, then freeze: simply place your chicken meatballs and the pumpkin curry sauce in a freezer safe, airtight container or bag and freeze it all for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy, let your container of meatballs and sauce thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, and then empty the contents into a pan on the stovetop. Heat them in your pan until they’re nice and warm, and then serve!
- Freeze before baking: you can also freeze these meatballs before cooking them! Form your meatballs as instructed, place them on a baking sheet, and put them in the freezer for 1-2 hours. Then, transfer your frozen meatballs to an airtight, freezer-friendly bag or container and place them in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw them, simply place them in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight and then cook them as directed in the recipe.
More ways to use pumpkin puree
Remember to get all of my tips, tricks and instructions for making homemade pumpkin puree here, then use it in these delicious recipes.
- Vegan Curried Pumpkin Lentil Soup
- Spinach Bacon Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- Brown Butter Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
- White Chicken Chili Pie with Pumpkin Cornbread Crust
- Nourishing Almond Flour Pumpkin Bread
Get all of our pumpkin recipes here!
I hope you love these one pan chicken meatballs in pumpkin curry sauce! If you make them be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked them. Enjoy, xo!
Oh So Good Chicken Meatballs in Pumpkin Coconut Curry Sauce
Oh so good one pan chicken meatballs simmered in a wonderful pumpkin curry sauce. You'll LOVE the amazing flavors from coconut milk, pumpkin puree, cozy spices and even a little natural peanut butter. The perfect weeknight dinner that's delicious with coconut or brown rice, or rice noodles!
- For the meatballs:
- 1 pound lean ground chicken or turkey
- 1 egg
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs, gluten free if desired
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon red chili paste
- ⅓ cup finely diced cilantro
- ¼ cup finely diced green onion (or sub red onion)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (or sub ½ teaspoon ground ginger)
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 (15 ounce) can lite coconut milk
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons natural creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
- 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks or julienned
- ½ cup frozen peas
- To garnish:
- Chopped peanuts
- Optional for serving:
- Coconut rice
- Brown rice
- Or rice noodles
In a large bowl, add the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, brown sugar, red chili paste, cilantro, green onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt and pepper. Use clean hands to mix and form into 16 golf ball sized meatballs.
Place a large deep skillet over medium-high heat and add in sesame oil. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides, about 5-6 minutes total. You may need to do this in batches, depending on how many meatballs you can fit in your skillet without overcrowding them. When the meatballs are done browning, transfer them to a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the coconut milk, pumpkin puree, peanut butter, soy sauce and yellow curry powder; whisk together until well combined. Add in carrots, then add the meatballs back in and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove the lid and gently stir in the red bell pepper and peas. Simmer for 5 more minutes uncovered. Serve with my coconut rice or brown rice, rice noodles, quinoa or with spiralized zucchini or sweet potato. There will be lots of sauce, which makes it delicious! Garnish with chopped honey-roasted peanuts, scallions, and cilantro. Serves 4.
To keep this recipe gluten free (or if you don’t have any breadcrumbs): you can simply use 2-3 tablespoons of coconut flour in the meatball mixture. I recommend starting with 2 tablespoons and adding from there if needed to shape the meatballs. If you don’t want to use coconut flour, then I suggest gluten free breadcrumbs.
To store: if you’re going to meal prep these chicken meatballs in pumpkin curry sauce, I recommend storing them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Yes, you can store them with the sauce and even with rice if you'd like! To reheat simply place your meatballs and sauce in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
This looks so good. One question, i often see recipes with sauces that call for sesame oil. Sometimes for sautéeing, sometimes in marinade. Can you tell me what sesame oil you think works well? I have some toasted and another that is not, i am never sure which one to use when a recipe calls for sesame oil. Wondered if you had any rules of thumb or advice? Thanks!
Hi, Lisa! So excited for you to try this 🙂 And good question! I usually use untoasted sesame oil for sauteeing because it won’t burn as easily at a high heat. I’d recommend that for cooking the meatballs, and the toasted kind in recipes where it doesn’t need to be heated up so much.
This looks delicious! I have nut allergies in my household. Can I omit the peanut butter and it still be successful? Thanks!
Are you able to have sesame seeds? If they’re ok for you, you could use tahini, a Middle Eastern sauce. I’m fine with nuts but I actually prefer tahini on my toast!
It’s my mom’s birthday today and this morning she saw this recipe, she immediately cancelled our family’s takeout plans and said “I want THIS.”
We were huge fans of your ginger chicken meatballs and so we were so glad that this new recipe is basically the fall-themed cousin of that dish.
It’s safe to say this recipe turned out to be so delicious in its own right too (and super simple for me to cook). I left the cilantro out of the meatballs since one person doesn’t like it but sprinkled it on the other bowls which worked well. I also decided to serve this with rice noodles which paired really nicely with this recipe’s abundance of delicious sauce. According to my mom, this was a 10/10 birthday dinner!
Aw that’s amazing! HBD to your mom! So glad to hear you guys all loved this 🙂
I could not recommend this meal any higher!! This was INCREDIBLE! A huge hit with my whole family!! Love the warm spices and perfect low heat but high flavor. I added extra red bell peppers and cut them super tiny. Served over jasmine rice. This was so good! Going in as a favorite. Thank you Monique!
Oh yay!! I’m so happy you and the fam loved it, Meghan 🙂 TYSM for the review!
Delicious and relatively easy to throw together. Great blend of flavors! I used regular coconut milk which made it extra rich and filling. Served with brown rice and a squeeze of lime. Loved the subtle pumpkin flavor to enjoy during the fall season.
Yay! So happy you tried and enjoyed this one!
This was incredible!! Just as saucy as described and went really well with jasmine rice. I added a tablespoon of fish sauce and doubled the carrot and pepper and it turned out absolutely delicious. Mild enough for my toddler to eat with lost of recognizable, favourite veggies.
Thank you for yet another yummy recipe, Monique!
Oooh bet it would be amazing with fish sauce! So happy to hear you guys loved it, Stef 🙂
Yes the fish sauce addition was key!! Adding a splash of lime juice at the end is essential as it is a lovely rich sauce. Very good!
Nice!! So happy to hear that 🙂
Needs salt. I made this following the recipe and found it needed about 5 more tblspoons of soy sauce. Other than that, it was as advertised.
Totally fine to add more! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂
Husband approved, 1.5 year old daughter approved. Pretty much anything Ambitious Kitchen I make is a thumbs up from my friends and fam.
Aw that is so nice to hear! I’m so glad you guys tried and enjoyed it 🥰
This was totally delicious! However, in my case there was almost no sauce at all – I might have had the simmer too high? I’d make again, but in future would probably add some chicken broth to make sure there’s a good amount of liquid at the end. Also, made double the meatball recipe and stuck half in the oven while the pan simmered. Excited to add leftovers to soup!
Strange! Yes maybe the liquid evaporated. Fine to add some broth or more coconut milk if you need to. Glad you loved it, though!
Do you have any suggestions to sub out the peanut butter? Do you think almond butter would work ok? We’re a peanut allergy household unfortunately! Thanks 😊
Hi, Lili! I think almond or cashew butter would work well in here. Not quite the same flavor, but you’ll still get that nice creamy texture!
Another home run recipe! My hubby and I loved it! I followed the directions and ingredients to a “T” and was happy to see my hubby go back for seconds AND use the last serving for his lunch for the next work day. He’s already talking about using the meatball recipe for other Asian inspired meals. Thank you for all you do!
Oh my gosh, this was incredible. I did find that the sauce needed a touch more salt, but that was easy to adjust. I also used 1 tsp salt in the meatball mixture instead of 1/2 tsp. I am so excited to eat this all week for leftovers! The meatballs were so tender and flavorful, and that sauce is rich, warm curried pumpkin fall comfort perfection – a big ol’ hug for your belly. This is going into my fall meal rotation for sure!
Love the one pan meals
I love all AK meatball recipes but especially liked the extra nutrition the pumpkin adds to this one. I didn’t have coconut so I mixed almond milk with a bit of lemon juice and a small amount of coconut flour to thicken the sauce. I even forgot to cook rice to go with it but it was perfect on its own. Overall great dish!
Just yes. I don’t like subbing on recipes like yours but I did have to only use carrot and peas as my veggies because my mom brain missed a few things at the store. Otherwise the sauce and meatballs to a T were copied and omg. As usual, amazing af.
This was so easy and delicious. Was in a time crunch and made the meatballs in the instant pot ahead of time and mixed with the sauce right before serving. Even my two toddlers loved this dish!!!!
Wow, absolutely phenomenal. I added some chili paste, ginger and garlic to the sauce and added red onions and peppers with the sauce, sauteeing them before simmering with the meatballs. This recipe is an absolute keeper and company worthy for sure!!
Nice!! So happy you loved it, Katie!
This was absolutely delicious! The meatballs are so flavorful, and I plan to make this sauce to put on everything. Will definitely make again. The whole house is so fragrant. Great recipe!
Yay!! I’m so happy you loved it, Michelle! Thank you ❤️
I followed the directions as indicated and the results were awesome. This is my second time to cook with curry. Since I don’t know much about the different characteristics of this spice, what additional ingredient(s) can you suggest to add or increase to give the sauce a little more kick.
Thank you very much for this recipe and all your instructions – these were extremely helpful.
Just delicious. I made this for meal prep, and my partner loved it so much that he decided to make it for his own meal prep the following week!
Woohooo! Happy you guys are enjoying it so much 🙂
Fun spin on meat balls! Loved that the recipe called for chicken or turkey. Very filling and satisfying. First off, I doubled the recipe. I used red curry paste instead of red chili paste because it’s what I had. Not certain if it made a big difference. I didn’t have panko so I soaked a couple of slices of whole wheat bread in the egg mixture (coupled with a splash of milk.) When I re-read the recipe before writing this review, I realized I didn’t use the soy sauce! That likely accounts for the need to salt at the table! Otherwise a fun, flavorful recipe. Very tender meatballs. Next time, I intend to add some heat since we have no kiddos living here. And I’ll use more vegetables in the sauce.. Might even use the sauce as a starting point for a veggie meal! Thank you, Ambitious Kitchen, for a wonderful recipe!
Thanks for sharing all of this, Barbara! So happy you enjoyed it 🙂
I made this recipe with regular fat coconut milk and it was the perfect dinner for my boyfriend and myself. I would have added a little more grated ginger to the meatballs, otherwise it was so perfect. I had it just by itself for lunch today but next time will try making it with coconut rice perhaps adding in broccoli too.
Amazing dinner! Even my two year old loved it! I added spinach instead of peas because that’s what I had and it was bomb! Thanks again 😘
This was so good! Thank you again!
I’m wondering how this would be with meatless meatballs? I have the frozen ones from Trader Joe’s, I don’t think they have a flavor profile like Italian. I’m trying to eat less meat and I think it could be a good way to make this more quickly, but should I add the spices in the meatballs as written to the sauce?
I love that idea!! Yes, feel free to add the spices into the sauce 🙂
Loved this recipe! The perfect saucy meatball dish for fall! The first time I mixed up high and low on my stove (I don’t know either) and burned it, and it was still good! Although it was even better after the second/correct cooking! I didn’t have red chili paste so I used sriracha, but might add a little more next time!
Oh no, glad it came out better the second time and that you loved it, Hayley!
Just didn’t have as much flavor as anticipated- good consistency for meatballs and nice creamy sauce. Not sure how to make it more flavorful because the ingredients sound amazing!
Strange, lots of people find these super flavorful! Did you follow the recipe precisely?
This meal was DELICIOUS! Most of these ingredients are typically outside of my wheel-house, but I’m so glad I was able to bring some new flavors to my home. I followed the recipe exactly and feel like a chef now. Definitely adding this to my list of dinner recipes. Thank you 🙂
Omg YAY I’m so glad you loved it, Michelle!!
What brand of red chili paste do you use?? And is it spicy??
I want it to have the flavor but not super hot. Thanks.
I like this one from Thai Kitchen!
I really want to make this, but my husband is one of those people that can’t the flavor of cilantro! Do you think it would still taste ok if i omitted it? Or do you have a recommendation for a substitution?
Hi! I hear it’s genetic haha! I think they should be fine without it, or you could substitute chopped parsley.
Man oh man! Those are some tasty meatballs and my fave AK meatball recipe yet! I’ll make year-round!
Yaaay! Happy you loved them, Amanda!
Delicious! The whole family loved it. Will be making again.
I’m so glad you all loved this one, Amy! Yay!
This was very good. The sauce is really similar to the slow cooker chicken in yellow curry. The meatballs by themselves are simply outstanding. We served this over white rice. I think I will try the rice noodles next time.
I’m really happy you loved this one, Alyssa — thank you!
Yet another showstopper! We have been loving trying all of Monique’s meatball recipes, and this one definitely goes in the win column. Made as is and served with rice and zucchini noodles.
Wow this is fantastic! Amazing flavors and my husband and I loved everything about it. Incredible as always 😍
AHH this is amazing! SO glad you loved this recipe ❤️
Wow these are so amazing! Super comforting meal and the flavors of the pumpkin/peppers/peas mesh so well. I added this on top of a bed of arugula. Highly recommend this recipe!
YAY! Happy to hear it came out great. SO glad you enjoyed ❤️
Excellent recipe! Soo good! Will definitely be making again. Since I only had full fat coconut milk, I added 1 cup of broth to thin the sauce a little bit. I also cooked the meatballs in my air fryer for 15 minutes on 400 degrees before putting them in the sauce.
Thank you so much, Julie. So glad you are loving them!