Meatball Banh Mi! A fun variation on the traditional banh mi. This sandwich is easy to put together and while I use ground turkey for this recipe, really you could use any ground meat you have on hand!
This recipe is nice because you can always mix and roll out your meatballs a day ahead of time so that it’s a quick meal the day you’re having it. The Meatball Bahn Mi is also like a one stop shop for me. You have your carbs, meat, veggies and herbs all in one spot so a side dish isn’t really necessary. Of course always welcome if you’d like one.
Why should you make Meatball Banh Mi?
Well for starters because they’re delicious! Have you ever had a traditional banh mi? If not, you need to. And if being delicious isn’t reason enough to make something, here are a couple more:
- The meatballs, sauce, slicing of veggies and the pickling liquid can all be made the day before for time saving purposes. I don’t know about you but that is high up on my love list!
- This meal does not require a side dish because you have your carbs, meat and veggies all in one spot
- It is dairy free, which I like to do often.
- It can easily be vegetarian by swapping out the meatballs for eggplant or tofu. Just use the same marinade that would go into the meatballs and let it sit for about an hour before searing in a medium high heat pan for 1-2 minutes each side. (The marinade does contain fish sauce however so if that’s a no go for you just leave that out as well.)
- Like I said before, it’s delicious!
Tips for Meatball Bahn Mi
- Marinate your ground turkey for 24 hours ahead of time. This helps the flavors to really come through stronger.
- Only toast your bread if you want that crunch. Some people prefer a softer bread in which case you could still warm the bread either wrapped in foil in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes or in the microwave for a quick 10 seconds. If you use the microwave you do not want to go any longer than that or your bread will have a chewy undesirable texture.
- Really load up the herbs. Think of it as an herb salad on top. SO MUCH fresh delicious flavor.
- Don’t be shy about the sweet chili sauce either. There is a decent amount of bread with this banh mi so the more sauce the better is what I say!
Let’s talk about fish sauce
I think fish sauce is an ingredient many people are very scared of, disgusted by or just think is down right weird. I will say I have a love/hate relationship with fish sauce. I absolutely loathe the smell of it (yet I smell it every time before I use it haha, along with everything else. I’m definitely a smeller) but LOVE the flavor it brings to dishes. So basically what I’m saying is just use it. Don’t smell it ahead of time, just add it in the dish and you’ll thank me later.
24 hour ahead prepping
24 hours ahead of time you can make your marinade for your meatballs. Mince your fresh garlic and fresh ginger. Add those into a bowl with your sriracha, fish sauce, lime juice and 2 pinches of salt. Stir it up and it’s ready to go.
Dice your zucchini in a small to medium size dice. Put that into a bowl with the ground turkey. Add one egg and add the marinade. Mix thoroughly. Roll into balls and store until next day.
Make your sweet chili sauce 24 hours ahead of time also. Simply mix the mayo together with the sweet chili sauce and it’s ready to go!
Slice your cucumbers. I prefer mine on the thinner side but whatever size you like is just fine. Set those into a container with your shredded carrots. Slice your fresh jalapenos and store them in a small covered container.
Make your pickling liquid. Use hot water. Add your salt and sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the vinegar and crushed red pepper. This is now ready to go as well. I only leave my cucumbers and carrots in the liquid for about 2 hours. If you like a stronger taste you could leave them for a longer amount of time.
All of this can be done the day before but it is not an absolute must. If you’d like to do it all the day of that is fine as well.
Cooking and putting it together
Now we’re getting to the good part! Dump the pickling liquid into the container with the cucumbers and carrots and let sit for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a pan with non stick spray and fill it with your meatballs. Place them in the oven for about 20 minutes on 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Check with a meat thermometer and take them out when it reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Let them rest for about 5 minutes and the temperature will continue to rise to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the meatballs are cooking, pick all of your basil and mint off the stems. Tear the cilantro near where the leaves end. I always leave part of the stems in my cilantro for most dishes.
Cut your bread and pull a little of the inside of the bread out to make more room. Toast it or warm it if you’d like.
Once the meatballs are done resting start building your sandwich. Layer both sides with the sweet chili mayo and sriracha sauce. Place the meatballs on the bread and top with basil, mint, cilantro, fresh jalapeno and pickled veggies. Enjoy this super flavorful sandwich!
For more delicious dinner ideas check out my Dinner recipes!
Meatball Banh Mi
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1/2 zucchini, diced small to medium zucchini
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger minced
- 1 tbsp sriracha plus extra for topping the sandwich
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 tbsp kosher salt plus a couple pinches, divided
- 1 egg
- 1.5 cups hot water
- 1.25 cups rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper
- 1 cup matchstick carrots
- 1 cup english cucumber sliced
- 1 fresh jalapeno sliced
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 4 oz maeploy sweet chili sauce
- 12-16 fresh basil leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh mint
- 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
- 1 baguette Italian or French
- Marinate your meat 24 hours ahead of time. Place your ground turkey into a large mixing bowl. 2. Dice your zucchini and add it into the bowl with the turkey.3. Make your marinade. Mince your garlic and ginger and place them into a small to medium sized bowl. Add in your sriracha, fish sauce, lime juice and a couple pinches of salt. Stir well and add that marinade to the bowl with the ground turkey. Add 1 egg. Mix well and roll into balls. About 2 oz each. Store these in your refrigerator until cooking time.4. Make the picking liquid. This can be done anywhere from 2-24 hours ahead of time. Add your hot water to a medium container. Stir in the sugar and salt until dissolved. Add your vinegar and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. You'll want your veggies to soak in this liquid for around 2 hours so whether you've made it the day before or the day of just pour it over the top of the cucumber and matchstick carrots a couple hours before serving.5. Slice 1 cup of english cucumber as thick or as thin as you'd like. I prefer on the thinner side. Add that to a container along with 1 cup of matchstick carrots. Cover them with the pickling liquid 2 hours ahead of serving time.6. Slice 1 fresh jalapeno and set to the side for topping the sandwich. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours ahead of time.7. Make the sweet chili mayo. Mix your mayo and sweet chili sauce together and store for up to 7 days in the refrigerator. 8. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 9. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and spray with a non stick cooking spray. Add your meatballs to the pan. Cook for 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Let them rest 5 minutes after coming out of the oven.10. While the meatballs cook, tear the basil and the mint off of the stems. Rip the cilantro where the leaves start to end. I almost always use part of the stems of cilantro in all recipes.11. Slice the bread and rip a little of the insides out to make more room. Toast your bread for a couple minutes in the oven if you like a crunch on your bread. If not, you can either wrap it in foil and place it in the oven for 5 minutes, microwave it for 10 seconds or just leave it as is.12. Once the meatballs are done resting, start building your sandwich. Spread sweet chili mayo and sriracha sauce on both sides of the bread. Add your meatballs, basil, cilantro, mint, pickled veggies and fresh jalapenos. Enjoy these flavor packed sandwiches!