Skip to main content

Dumpling-Style Meatballs

Updated: 8/14/21 2:00 amPublished: 12/28/18
By Catherine Newman

By Catherine Newman

Makes: 4 servings

Total carbohydrates: 2 grams per serving

Hands-on time: 20 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

The Asian seasoning of these meatballs makes them taste like the inside of a dumpling—which means they’re a huge hit with most of the kids we know. And the crumbled tofu subs in for bread crumbs here, keeping the meatballs moist and held together in a protein-rich, carb-poor way. If you don’t want a half package of tofu kicking around in your fridge, consider doubling the recipe—the meatballs keep for a few days, and reheat well, and the fact that they’re baked instead of fried means no messy stovetop. One more thing—you can add water chestnuts for crunch, if you like: 1 (8-ounce) can drained and finely chopped (this will add 16 grams of carbs to the total recipe, or around 4 per serving).


7 ounces/198 grams extra-firm tofu (this is half of a typical 14-ounce tub)

¾ pound/340 grams ground pork (or ground turkey)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon/15 ml vegetable oil (only if you’re using turkey)

1 tablespoon/15 ml toasted sesame oil

3 scallions, finely slivered

2 teaspoons/6 grams finely grated or minced ginger

2 tablespoons/10 ml soy sauce

½ teaspoon/1.5 grams kosher salt (or ¼ teaspoon/0.75 grams table salt)

Soy sauce and unseasoned rice vinegar, for serving


1. Heat the oven to 425°F/218°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Press and squeeze the tofu in a clean dish towel, then lay the dish towel flat and use your hands to crumble the tofu onto the dish towel, then squeeze it some more to get most of the moisture out it.

3. Put the squeezed, crumbled tofu in a mixing bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients and use your hands to gently mix everything together. This is not hard, but it takes a bit of time and patience, since it will seem at first like it won’t want to blend, but then slowly you will see the color getting more homogenous until – poof! – it’s mixed. (You can microwave a tiny bit of the mixture and taste it to see if it needs more salt or ginger or anything before you go to all the trouble of making the meatballs.)

4. Scoop up tablespoon-sized balls of the mixture (I use my cookie batter scoop for this), roll them into balls, and place them on the baking sheet. You should make around 20-24 balls, but this does not need to be an exact science.

5. Bake until the balls are deeply browning and cooked through (cut one open to check, if you like), around 20-25 minutes.

6. Serve with a dipping sauce made of equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar – 2 tablespoons/30 ml of each is a good amount for this many meatballs.

About Catherine

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. Last year they started the WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and are currently developing Seasoned, their senior version, commissioned by the AARP. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health and happiness at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.

[Photo Credit: Catherine Newman]

What do you think?

About the authors

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop... Read the full bio »