General Tso’s Meatballs (Low Carb & Gluten Free)

General Tso's Meatballs Low Carb and Gluten FreeIf you’ve hung around IBIH long enough, you know I loves me some meatballs!  They are super versatile, easy to eat, and taste great hot or cold.  They are, to me, the perfect low carb food.  Some of my favorite low carb meatball recipes are the Bourbon Cider Turkey Meatballs, the Low Carb Meatballs alla Parmigiana, and of course, the wildly popular Buffalo Balls.

I have lots more low carb meatball recipes in the queue, so many in fact, that for the foreseeable future I’m going to be doing a Meatball Mondays feature here on IBIH!  To kick it off, I’m starting with one of my new favorites, the low carb General Tso’s meatball!  This one is sure to become another IBIH favorite!

General Tso’s Chicken is a popular Chinese takeout dish that consists of fried chicken chunks in an addicting sauce that is both sweet and spicy.  I’ve taken all the flavors of the classic dish and jammed them into these little balls of poultry bliss!  You can use ground chicken or turkey for the most authentic flavor, but ground pork would also work well.  Also, I was reminded that traditional soy sauce is a no-no for Paleo and Celiacs, so you can substitute a tamari-based gluten free soy sauce, or coconut aminos for the soy sauce in this recipe as well.

Low carb and gluten free meatballs

[pinterest text=”Low Carb and Gluten Free General Tso’s Chicken Meatballs –” layout=”horizontal” image=”×950.jpg”]


Typically, General Tso’s chicken contains blisteringly hot dried peppers, but if you can’t get them, or you don’t like it too hot, you can use fresh chili’s instead and adjust the amount to your preference.  Also, if you are Paleo, you can substitute honey for the sweetener, and arrowroot powder (or another preferred thickener) for the xanthan gum.  I don’t recommend omitting the thickener altogether, because the sauce won’t adhere as well to the meatballs, and it won’t have that authentic sticky feel -however, the flavor will be just as good!

General Tso’s Meatballs (Low Carb & Gluten Free)

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 4 meatballs

General Tso’s Meatballs (Low Carb & Gluten Free)

A low carb meatball with all of the flavors and textures of the classic Chinese takeout favorite!


    For the Meatballs
  • 1 lb ground turkey or chicken
  • 2 Tbl minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • light flavored oil for frying (olive, grapeseed, etc)
  • For the Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbl rice wine vinegar (unseasoned - sugar free)
  • 3 Tbl soy sauce (tamari based for GF, or coconut aminos for Paleo)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbl sugar substitute (honey for Paleo)
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (or arrowroot powder)
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 4 - 5 small dried chilies, seeded and chopped


    To make the meatballs:
  • Combine all of the meatball ingredients and mix thoroughly. Form into 16 balls and saute/fry in oil over medium heat until cooked through and crispy. Alternatively you could bake them but they won't get the crunchy exterior.
  • To make the sauce:
  • Combine the sesame oil, vinegar, GF soy sauce, water, sugar substitute, and xanthan gum in a small saucepan and whisk until combined. Add the scallions and chili pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer for five minutes until thickened and remove from heat.
  • To serve:
  • Add the cooked meatballs to the thickened sauce and stir to coat. Garnish with more chopped scallions and chilis if desired.


Approx nutrition info per serving: 322 calories, 25g fat, 3.75g net carbs, 23g protein

To lower the fat and calories, use extra lean ground turkey, and bake rather than fry them.

Please do feel free to tweet, like, share (links only please), and Pin this recipe with reckless abandon!

General Tso's Meatballs
[pinterest text=”Low Carb and Gluten Free General Tso’s Chicken Meatballs –” layout=”horizontal” image=”×950.jpg”]


For more great recipes, including more meatballs, download The Gluten Free Low Carber today!


  1. Beth says

    Sounds awesome!! I can’t wait to try these, as I love me some meatballs. I just wanted to point out another paleo substitution – for the soy sauce, coconut aminos can be used.

  2. says

    Oh my goodness me, Mellissa, this looks so good!

    And I so happen to have chicken in my fridge right now, how wonderful is that!

    Looks like this one is in my near future… as in VERY near future!

    Can I lick the screen in the meantime though? ;)

    oh, and ps… soy sauce is also out for us paleo folks!

  3. Alison says

    Just an FYI, this is not gluten free if you are using soy sauce. Soy sauce contains wheat. The instructions need to say something about using gluten free soy sauce.

    • says

      I’m so used to using Tamari which is gluten free that I don’t even think about it anymore and forget that not everybody uses it exclusively! Thanks for reminding me, I’ve updated the post!

  4. Heather May says

    This sounds really awesome. I do not need to worry about gluten so what could I sub for the almond flour (regular flour or bread crumbs?) and the xanathan gum? I love meatballs as well as General Tso so the two combined would be a winner!

    • says

      Japanese panko breadcrumbs would be perfect in these if you aren’t worried about gluten or a few more carbs. The easiest substitute for the xanthan gum would be cornstarch, though you may want to increase it to 1.5 teaspoons and dissolve it in the 1/4 cup (cold) water before adding it to the sauce so it doesn’t clump up. Enjoy!

  5. Kristyn says

    Tried this last night, and it was delicious and so satisfying! The xantham gum really does give that stickiness that makes a good chinese dish saucy. I added a couple shakes of fish sauce, as well as a Tb of gin, since I had no sherry (which is a common flavoring for this dish) and poured it on some steak-chicken-broccoli stir fry, then served that on some cauliflower rice.

    Thanks for all of the work you do on this site! Your recipes are head and shoulders above the crowds.

  6. Amy S says

    I LOVE meatballs! In fact, I am adding this recipe to my Meatball Madness Pinboard. Thanks for a recipe that my family is sure to enjoy.

  7. says

    These look fantastic. I’ll be trying them out this weekend. Looking forward to seeing the meatball recipes and trying them out too.

  8. Stefanie says

    Hi Mellissa! For those of us that are new to cooking, how long do you think it’ll take the meatballs to cook through if we shallow fry in olive oil? I know you probably can’t say exactly but is it closer to 10 minutes or 40 minutes? Thank you!

    • says

      Great question Stefanie – depending on their size the meatballs should take about 6 – 8 minutes to cook through! I would test one before removing them all from the pan, just to be sure! Enjoy!

  9. Raymond says

    I made this last night. Can you say, “Party in my mouth?!” My wife and I enjoyed it with jasmine rice and broccoli.

  10. looseal says

    Awesome! Made this tonight with broccoli. Next time I am going to double the sauce to have over Asian vegetables.

  11. Beverly says

    These are in the oven right now! I am a lazy pants, so I pretty much just guesstimated amounts of everything, but it smells delicious!

  12. McDonna says

    These were easy to prepare and – my OH my! – so delicious! We are in Atkins Induction right now, so I left out the almond flour, and used ground beef and minced onion since that’s what I had on hand. Scooped the meat mixture up by the tablespoonfuls and fried them in coconut oil.

    For the sauce, I used olive oil and apple cider vinegar, along with Bragg’s Aminos instead of regular soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Also used organic stevia as the sweetener. Was pretty sure the whole thing was going to taste as amazing as it smelled, and it did NOT disappoint!

    This was my first experience working with chilies. **What an adventure!** Next time I will wear gloves to handle the dried chilies, as two days later my finger tips, cuticles and hands would still “light up” every time they came in contact with water! And should I mention that – of course – my nose started itching while preparing the chilies, and somehow – still don’t know how – the membranes of my nose came in contact with airborne chilie dust or something! My whole head tingled and my nose BURNED! LOL Then when we ate the meatballs, I definitely realized that the chilies I bought from my Asian market were still the fiery kind…not the flavorful-but-not-too-hot dried chilies I was trying to buy! In all fairness, my husband said the chilies were plenty warm but not hot, according to his tastes. But my lips, tongue, throat and stomach…all the way through…were keenly aware of a chilie pepper invasion!

    The meatballs were too delicious to let a bit of fire keep me from enjoying them, however. Glad I made a double recipe. Hubs had them for both breakfast and lunch the next day! Will definitely make these again, this time with more respect for the red chilies and their fire! LOL

    • says

      I probably should have put in a warning about handling the chilis – I learned that the hard way myself after the first time! Glad you all liked the recipe though, and thanks for taking the time to comment! :)

      • shawna talkington says

        I have never worked with dried chili’s give me some pointers and what to look for at the store and how to prepare them please

          • Rachel Horowitz says

            I was wondering if one could substitute red pepper flakes. How much do you suggest? I realize that spicy is subjective, though.

            Additionally, do you think these would turn out well with a meatloaf mix (pork, veal, beef)? Obviously, I’d have to figure out the nutritional info for myself, but I do that all the time with recipes. (I’m on the Atkins Diet)

            This looks like a really tasty recipe!

          • says

            I would start with a 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes and go up from there depending on how spicy you want it Rachel! And I think pretty much any ground meat would work in these! Enjoy! :)

  13. Laurie says

    These were very tasty. The sauce was too gelatinous for me though so I will use 1/2 tsp xanthan gum next time. I look forward to making some of your other meatball recipes next week. Thank you!

  14. Renee Patrick says

    I’m making this recipe today. I’m so siked, especially after the Parmigiana ones came out perfecto. I’ve been addicted to your Asian meatballs forever so now I’m venturing out. Can you tell me how to determine the sugar sub amounts? Is it 1 to 1? So I can use 3 TBl stevia? or equal? Thanks for your time and amazing recipes. Love them!

    • says

      Hi Renee, yes you use a one to one ratio of anything that measures cup for cup like sugar. You can also find out on the website of whatever sweetener you are using – for example the equal site if you enter 2 Tbsp of sugar it will tell you how much equal to use in the recipe. Hope you like them! :)

  15. Dawn says

    I can’t find the Asian meatballs that Renee mentions that she is addicted to. They sound really good…

  16. E. says

    I made these for dinner tonight and they were so good! I didn’t have chilies on hand but I had a jalapeno so I just used one instead and it worked great. I also loved your parmigiana meatballs…buffalo balls are next!!

  17. rose54 says

    Loved these! I made extra sauce and flash fried a bag of cole slaw – added the extra
    sauce to it and had chinese “spaghetti” and meatballs! Delish!

  18. a says

    These look amazing! Although, we have someone allergic to sesame seeds in the family so I was just wondering if it would be ok to leave out the sesame oil or is there anything it could be replaced by? Thanks :)

    • says

      It will have a different flavor, but should still taste great without the sesame! I can’t think of what you could replace it with since the flavor is so distinct though. Just omitting it should be fine!

  19. Elyse says

    Can you just use regular flour if you don’t have almond flour on hand? (I not necessarily need it to be gluten free)

    • says

      I wouldn’t Elyse, it would be too dense – if you aren’t worried about gluten free, try bread crumbs in place of the almond flour – panko would be awesome if you have it. Enjoy!

  20. Lynn says

    I had pinned this months ago, and my sister and I made them for our birthday dinner tonight (we’re twins). Even the picky 8-year-old tried the sauce and LOVED it! I think that this sauce would be good on chunks of skinless/boneless chicken breast.

    • says

      I’m not sure what went wrong but there is no way the ingredients in this recipe would net what you are describing unless there was a major error. I use calorie king, and I never input everything into a recipe analyzer program because it’s always way off. I’m confident in my numbers because I enter each item individually, write down the info for each ingredient, and then tally up the nutrition info myself and check it twice. The problem with sites like the one you linked to is that they guess when they don’t recognize something, and they also use an average of all listed brands – including those with sugar, etc. Sites like that recipe analyzer just aren’t reliable – sorry.

      • Mihir says

        i figured the site i was using wasn’t correct. the reason i asked is because i was looking for a new site to use.

        also, a friend entered the info into myfitness pal (makes you enter ingredient individually) and got 22g carbs per serving. looking at the ingredient list, neither of us can figure out where it could possibly get 88g carbs for the whole recipe.

        either way, these look awesome and i’m making them!

        • says

          I’m not a huge fan of MFP for calculating nutrition info either – though it has other great uses. I do like Calorie King but even with them I have to be brand specific and rarely use their “average” numbers for an item because it’s so far off sometimes. It’s helpful to keep a spreadsheet of nutrition info as a reference for items and brands that you use all the time for that reason too. Curious if you put an actual sugar substitute brand (ie Splenda, Truvia, etc) in the recipe when entering it – if not could it be reading it as just sugar? The only other thing I can think of is that it wasn’t subtracting the fiber from the carbs in the almond flour, but even that wouldn’t give you as high a number as you got – I don’t think. Oh well! Either way I hope you like these! :)

          • Mihir says

            i did put in Splenda as the brand name. meh. i think i’ll just look at the labels for the brands i have and do the calculations on my own. curious as to which brand of rice wine vinegar you are using. the one we have at home has a whopping 14g carbs per serving! time to hit the store and see what other brands are available.

          • says

            Definitely use “unseasoned” rice wine vinegar or it will have tons of sugar in it! You can usually find kikkoman brand even in the grocery store. Maybe that was the source of the carbs in the calculations! I just checked the recipe and I never specified to use the unseasoned, which is a major error on my part. Thanks for catching that, I just fixed it!

          • Cathy says

            I was wondering about the fat content in the nutritional numbers ? Is this correct ? Or is there a decimal point missing ?

          • says

            This is calculated using regular ground turkey and yes it is correct. If you are on a low fat plan, you can use lean ground turkey or ground chicken and it will lower the fat grams – you’ll have to calculate the difference yourself though as I don’t have those numbers. Enjoy!

  21. alana says

    I haven’t left a recipe review in a long long time, but these meatballs were just delicious I have to thank you so much for coming up with this recipe! I have been eating gluten/dairy free for about 6 months now, but I’m experimenting with Paleo and it’s hard to transition my cooking skills. However, this recipe (with honey, coconut aminos, tapioca starch and apple cider vinegar as substitutes) was so unbelieveably satisying and tasty and really gave me the taste of my previously legume and wheat filled chinese takeout. Hardly made any subs, except to add a splash of OJ and make twice as much sauce! Also used turkey because I love ground turkey.

    Anyways, thanks for such a delicious recipe!

  22. Mihir says

    i made these last weekend and they were delicious!

    the only issue i ran into was how wet/sticky they were. i even added in extra almond flour but it didn’t seem to help. it was actually quite difficult to form them into meatballs. did you run across this at all? i used ground turkey.

    either way, i’ll definitely be making these again!

    • says

      Some brands of ground turkey add a lot of moisture and I find them difficult to work with too – this is most true in the extra lean turkey. When you use a full fat ground turkey it’s not usually as wet – but the addition of 1 Tbsp of coconut flour should absorb it and make it easier to work with next time you run into that problem.

  23. Aaron C says

    I made the sauce tonight (not the meatballs) and it tasted wonderful! I added 1/2 tsp of garlic chili paste instead of the Chilis and a little cornstarch because xanthan gum is a bit out of my price range. It was excellent! I used half the “dressing” on my chicken, and the tossed the rest -still hot- into a little kale, cabbage, and carrot salad as the dressing. Probably a salt overload but it was great to have spicy crunch. Thanks for sharing, and I’ll try the meatballs the next time!

    • says

      Glad you liked the sauce Aaron! I use it for all kinds of things too – one of my favorite easy recipes is to throw a bag of broccoli slaw into some hot oil, add some cooked protein (chicken, shrimp or pork work great) and then a bunch of this sauce! Hope you like the meatballs too if you try them!

  24. Stacey Bs says

    Hi, Melissa!
    These look delicious. I have zero experience with chilies. What is the type of chili you are using exactly? Also, when you say to remove seeds and chop, is that the dried chili you are chopping, or should it be re-hydrated? Sorry for all the questions, but I want to make this recipe correctly. Thanks so much! Can’t wait to try them!

    • says

      If you can find the tiny whole dry chilis, you can just use them whole and toss them in, they tend to break up a bit anyway in the sauce which is fine – larger dried chilis I sometimes break open and just shake out some or all of the seeds before using them – they aren’t pleasant to bite into, like little chunks of cardboard! If you’re using fresh red (or green serrano in a pinch) chilies, I would remove the seeds from those and chop them up! Hope that helps – it’s going to taste good either way, and a few seeds won’t hurt you if you miss some. Enjoy!

  25. Maxine says

    I made this today and I liked the meatballs but thought they need a little more flavor but I don’t know what they needed. I see from one of the reviewers that they only needed to cook about 6 to 8 minutes. I cooked mine longer than that. Maybe I cooked the taste out of them???? The sauce was excellent. Can you tell me the reason to use xanthan gum or arrow root power instead of using cornstarch?

    • Mihir says

      xanthan gum has incredible thickening power in a very small amount. so, it will be negligible as far as carb count.

      i think the arrow root was given for people doing paleo.

  26. Rachel Horowitz says

    I’m in the midst of making these right now, and just noticed there’s no salt in the recipe, and am trying to fight the urge to toss in just a pinch. I realize that the tamari provides the salt in the sauce …

  27. Michele says

    I made these two nights ago with a minor amount of dubious skepticism, and shame on me for that! THIS RECIPE IS AMAZING!

    I served it over steamed veggies, and Konjac noodles. My husband, who was slightly reluctant to join my low carb life, is all in, and said this dish is in his top favorites.

    Thank you so very much for sharing.

  28. Tracy says

    This look wonderful. I am looking for recipes I can make in bulk to freeze for later, will these work for this? Thanks!

  29. Christine says

    Hi and thanks for this recipe! I am going to make it tomorrow. I went to the grocery to buy the ingredients but couldn’t find rice wine vinegar. I found red and white wine vinegar and I found rice vinegar but not rice wine vinegar. I went ahead and bought the unseasoned rice vinegar. It’s got a slight yellowish color to it. Is this going to work or do I need to go find something else?

  30. says

    I have to say it again – this is a fabulous recipe, we made it last night for Chinese New Year. I substituted white wine vinegar for the rice wine vinegar and it worked a treat. Thank you xx

  31. kara says

    Made these for dinner tonight with ground chicken and they were delicious. Next time I will double the sauce recipe so that the meatballs are more coated and have extra to pour over with zoo del chow me in or cauliflower rice. Thanks for the recipe! !

  32. Tammy says

    Oh my goodness gracious me oh my! This was delicious! I subbed pork rind flour for the almond flour since I have an allergy. I served over House Foods Tofu Shirataki noodles. The whole family loved it! If you don’t like too much zing, just add 2 peppers. Yum~Thanks for such a great recipe!

  33. StephG says

    Just made these for dinner. YUM-O! I didn’t have scallions so added a smidge dehydrated onion to both balls and sauce. Only had coconut flour it worked well. Omitted thickener because I didnt have any. We like spicy so I also added extra red pepper flakes to sauce. I also uswd inly ground beef. Delicious. Served them with some steamed broccoli. The picky kid raved. Thanks a trillion!

  34. Matthew Underbrink says

    Hi Mellissa. These were OK. I really liked the sauce, but I used ground turkey for the meatballs and they just seemed really bland. Do you think adding a 1/4 tsp of salt to the mixture would make them a little better? I also think the turkey wasn’t fatty enough. Is ground chicken very fatty? I might try that next time.

  35. Cynthia M says

    These look amazing, on my list to make. Just a note, if you bake the meatballs and use your Convection function on your oven you will get crispier meatballs. I know a lot of people have convection ovens these days and never use the convection part – such a mistake.


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