One Pan Cilantro Chicken Meatballs in Mango Coconut Sauce
One pan cilantro chicken meatballs simmered in a creamy sweet mango coconut sauce! This one pan meal takes only 30 minutes, is packed with protein and veggies and will knock your socks off with flavor. Serve with rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice or over noodles! YUM.
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I’m bringing back a one pan meal everyone is absolutely obsessed with. It’s seasonal, perfect for summer, and PACKED WITH FLAVOR.
I’d like you to meet my cilantro chicken meatballs simmered in a easy, sweet mango coconut sauce. I’m in love and you will be too.
This recipe all started when I was digging around in my blog archives looking at some of my most popular dinner recipes. Most of them happened to be one pan meals: Mama’s Puerto Rican chicken and rice, Thai yellow curry chicken and rice and of course my tandoori chicken and rice.
Clearly I’m a one pan meal lover and so are YOU!
Ingredients in these cilantro chicken meatballs
These healthy cilantro chicken meatballs are packed with SO much flavor, herbs and spices that it’s guaranteed to be your new favorite recipe. Here’s what you’ll need to make them:
- For the meatballs: you’ll need lean ground chicken (or turkey), an egg, panko breadcrumbs, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and cayenne.
- For the mango coconut sauce: this creamy sauce is made with a can of light coconut milk, diced mango and a couple tablespoons of gluten free soy sauce.
- Mix-ins: simmer the meatballs up with red bell pepper and peas for a boost of veggies.
- To garnish: I love topping my plate with chopped honey roasted peanuts, green onion, fresh cilantro and some hot sauce.
Easy ingredient swaps
Customize your cilatnro chicken meatballs with any of our recommended ingredient swaps:
- Use chicken or turkey. Whether you use ground chicken or ground turkey I recommend using no leaner than 93% so that the meatballs aren’t too dry.
- Make them gluten free. Simply use gluten free breadcrumbs or 2-3 tablespoons coconut flour to help bind them together.
- Use frozen mango. Just be sure to thaw it first before adding it to the recipe.
- Choose your veggies. Feel free to use any veggies you have on hand! I think this recipe would be delicious with broccoli, edamame, snap peas or even spinach.
How to cook meatballs in sauce
We can’t deny the real star of this recipe: SWEET MANGO COCONUT SAUCE. After I spotted a juicy, ripe mango on my counter, I knew what was about to go down: a sweet and savory mango coconut sauce for the meatballs to simmer in. Here’s how to cook these cilantro chicken meatballs in the sauce:
- Brown your meatballs. Start by browning the meatballs in a pan with oil. No need to cook them all the way through.
- Add the sauce. You’ll then add the mango coconut sauce on top and cover the pan with a lid.
- Simmer & serve. Lastly, you’ll simmer the meatballs for about 20 minutes in the sauce, add your veggies and simmer for a few minutes more. That’s it!
Make the meatballs ahead of time
These flavorful cilantro chicken meatballs can easily be prepped ahead of time!
- Mix and form the meatballs as directed in the recipe.
- Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and then tightly cover the meatballs with plastic wrap.
- Put the meatballs in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. You can prep these meatballs up to one, or even two days ahead of time.
- Once ready to cook, simply follow the recipe as written.
Our favorite ways to serve these cilantro chicken meatballs
While the meatballs & veggies are delicious on their own, they’re even more amazing with a grain or noodle to soak up that delicious sauce. Here’s what we recommend:
- My go-to coconut rice or green rice
- Brown rice
- Forbidden rice (aka black rice)
- Sweet potato noodles or zucchini noodles
- My coconut cauliflower rice
Two amazing ways to freeze meatballs
- Cook first, then freeze: simply place your meatballs and mango coconut 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 + 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 cooking: 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. This is called a flash freeze. Then, transfer your frozen meatballs to an airtight, freezer-friendly bag or container and place 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 in the mango coconut sauce as directed in the recipe.
More healthy one pan meals to try
- One Pan Sazon Skillet Chicken
- One Pan Ginger Chicken Meatballs with Peanut Sauce
- One Pan Caribbean Jerk Chicken with Pineapple-Coconut Rice
- One Pan Thai Coconut Yellow Curry Chicken & Rice
- Sheet Pan Zucchini Chicken Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce
Get all of our delicious one pan meals here!
If you make these cilantro chicken meatballs, be sure to leave a comment below and rate the recipe below! You can also snap and picture and post it on Instagram using the hashtag #ambitiouskitchen. xo!
Cilantro Chicken Meatballs in Mango Coconut Sauce
- For the meatballs:
- 1 pound 93% lean ground chicken (or lean ground turkey)
- 1 egg
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs (or if GF sub 2-3 tablespoons coconut flour)
- 1/3 cup finely diced cilantro
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (or ½ teaspoon ground ginger)
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (can also use avocado oil or coconut oil)
- For the coconut mango sauce:
- 1 (15 ounce) can light coconut milk
- 1 ½ cup diced mango (can use frozen, just make sure you thaw it first)
- 2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
- 1 red bell pepper, julienned
- 3/4 cup frozen peas (or edamame)
- To garnish:
- Chopped honey roasted peanuts
- Diced green onion
- Fresh cilantro
- Hot sauce, if desired
First, make your mango coconut sauce. Add coconut milk, diced mango, and soy sauce to a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Next, form your meatballs. In a large bowl, add the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, cilantro, red onion, jalapeño, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, 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.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add your mango coconut sauce to the pan with the meatballs. Cover the pan, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove lid and gently stir in the peas and red bell pepper. Simmer for 5 more minutes uncovered.
Serve with brown rice, 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, cilantro, and top with hot sauce if desired. Serves 4
Feel free to use ground turkey instead of ground chicken in this recipe.
You can use ripe mango or frozen thawed mango for the sauce -- either will work!
It's important to use light coconut milk. Full fat coconut milk is too thick and won't create as nice of a sauce.
Recipe by: Monique Volz of Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
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