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

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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

 

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!

Ingredients

    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

Instructions

    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.

Notes

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

 

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






  1. Beth
    Beth04-22-2013

    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.

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny04-22-2013

      Thanks for that Beth! I forgot about the soy sauce, I’m going to adjust the post to reflect your suggestion! Enjoy!

  2. Sonia! The Healthy Foodie
    Sonia! The Healthy Foodie04-22-2013

    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!

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny04-22-2013

      Thanks for the reminder Sonia! As another posted mentioned, you can also use coconut aminos and I’m going to update the post. Hope you like these as much as I did! :)

  3. Alison
    Alison04-22-2013

    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.

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny04-22-2013

      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
    Heather May04-23-2013

    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!

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny04-23-2013

      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
    Kristyn04-23-2013

    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
    Amy S04-25-2013

    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. Ron
    Ron04-25-2013

    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
    Stefanie04-26-2013

    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!

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny04-28-2013

      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. foodie@foodieportal.com
    foodie@foodieportal.com04-28-2013

    I love your pictures and recipes. I’d like to inform you of a great new website http://www.foodieportal.com. I would like to invite you to come and join us and share your wonderful pictures with us. We are simply foodies and we are not photography snobs, so picture perfection is not important, all we care about is delicious food.

  10. Carol
    Carol04-29-2013

    I made these last night and they were delicious served over cauliflower rice!

  11. Raymond
    Raymond05-02-2013

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

  12. looseal
    looseal05-05-2013

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

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny05-06-2013

      Thanks, glad you liked it! This sauce would definitely work in ginormous quantities over anything – especially some kind of stir fry or veggie side dish!

  13. Beverly
    Beverly05-07-2013

    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!

  14. Cindy {crazloucreations}
    Cindy {crazloucreations}05-10-2013

    Just stopping by to let you know that I am featuring this on my PINTASTIC Friday blog post today, Friday, May 10th. Stop over and say hello!
    Cindy @ crazyloucreations.blogspot.com

  15. McDonna
    McDonna05-14-2013

    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

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny05-14-2013

      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
        shawna talkington06-16-2014

        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

        • Mellissa Sevigny
          Mellissa Sevigny06-17-2014

          You can use red pepper flakes if it’s easier!

          • Rachel Horowitz
            Rachel Horowitz06-24-2014

            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!

          • Mellissa Sevigny
            Mellissa Sevigny06-24-2014

            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! :)

  16. Laurie
    Laurie05-17-2013

    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!

    • Laurie
      Laurie05-17-2013

      oops I mean 1/4 tsp

  17. Renee Patrick
    Renee Patrick05-19-2013

    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!

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny05-19-2013

      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! :)

  18. Dawn
    Dawn05-20-2013

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

  19. E.
    E.05-21-2013

    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!!

  20. Bev
    Bev07-08-2013

    Delish…..thanks for sharing!

  21. rose54
    rose5407-09-2013

    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!

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny07-09-2013

      That sounds AWESOME! Wish I’d thought of frying some cabbage as a side, totally doing that next time!!!

  22. a
    a07-25-2013

    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 :)

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny07-25-2013

      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!

  23. Elyse
    Elyse07-26-2013

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

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny07-26-2013

      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!

  24. CJ Huang
    CJ Huang08-19-2013

    It’s a favorite around here, and now in meatball form! I’ll have to give it a try. :)

  25. Nancy
    Nancy08-30-2013

    These sound fantastic. I love the Generals Chicken.
    Cant wait to try them.

  26. Tessa
    Tessa11-08-2013

    These look great. How long would you bake them, do you think?

  27. Lynn
    Lynn12-15-2013

    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.

  28. Linda
    Linda01-10-2014

    Do you think the sauce would work on skinless and boneless chicken breast pieces?

  29. Mihir
    Mihir02-20-2014

    i just happened upon these yesterday and they look great! i’m wondering though, what are you using to do the nutritional analysis? when i use my analyzer, i get 13.3g carbs (12.5 net) per serving (4 meatballs).

    http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/recipe_analysis.php

    curious as to how you got the numbers you posted. thanks!

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny02-20-2014

      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
        Mihir02-20-2014

        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!

        • Mellissa Sevigny
          Mellissa Sevigny02-21-2014

          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
            Mihir02-21-2014

            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.

          • Mellissa Sevigny
            Mellissa Sevigny02-21-2014

            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
            Cathy03-18-2014

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

          • Mellissa Sevigny
            Mellissa Sevigny03-19-2014

            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!

  30. Christine
    Christine02-26-2014

    Did you use toasted sesame seed oil or plain?

  31. alana
    alana03-13-2014

    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!

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny03-17-2014

      Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know that you enjoyed the recipe Alana! Also I appreciate you sharing your Paleo substitutions!!

  32. Stacey
    Stacey03-18-2014

    Is the measurement for Ginger fresh or dried?

  33. Sori
    Sori03-26-2014

    Would coconut flour work instead of the almond flour in the meatballs? Or can I leave it out completely?

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny03-27-2014

      I would reduce it to 1 Tbsp, but sure you could use coconut flour instead!

  34. Mihir
    Mihir03-27-2014

    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!

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny03-27-2014

      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.

  35. Aaron C
    Aaron C04-02-2014

    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!

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny04-03-2014

      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!

  36. Stacey Bs
    Stacey Bs04-24-2014

    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!

    • Mellissa Sevigny
      Mellissa Sevigny04-25-2014

      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!

  37. Maxine
    Maxine04-29-2014

    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
      Mihir04-30-2014

      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.

  38. Rachel Horowitz
    Rachel Horowitz07-02-2014

    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 …

  39. Michele
    Michele07-15-2014

    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.
    Michele

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