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Thai Basil Beef Balls

thai basil beef meatballs

I am a cheap ass…well, that sounds bad. I don’t leave crappy tips or anything…so maybe I should rename myself thrift-ass. I don’t like to pay full price for clothes and I most certainly don’t want to spend more than I have to on good quality food. I understand “You get what you pay for.”, but that doesn’t mean I have to constantly pay for the pricer cuts of meat. Thai Basil Beef is usually made with flank steak, which, sure, it’s not the moooost expensive cut, at around $10-12/lb, but when you’re feeding 2 carnivores that try to eat mostly grass-fed animals, that sh*t adds up fast. So I’ve made a thrift-ass version of Thai Basil Beef using ground beef.


  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs ground beef (preferably 80/20)
  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 roasted red pepper, about 1/3 c, chopped
  • 1/4 c wheat-free soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 t fish sauce
  • 1 t sriracha, chile sauce or hot sauce
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 lime, zested
  • salt


Preheat your oven 400ºF.

In a small skillet, heat up a teaspoon or 2 of your fat of choice and saute the garlic until it’s golden, but not brown.

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients (except the beef). Now add the beef and mix well, making sure everything is thoroughly combined.

Portion out the mixture, using a cookie scoop, onto a parchment or silicone/silpat lined baking sheet.

Pop in the oven until cooked through, and the tops have slightly browned (you may need to switch to broil), about 20-30 minutes.

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  • Reply
    Linds Eats
    March 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    those look incredibly delicious! you guys make my mouth water!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    These look kick ass. My mental pantry inventory tells me I have everything I need for those.

    It just recently occured to me that any meatball I make can, sans binder, become a lettuce wrap. Like larb. Because they’re fun.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I’m having a hard time finding chili sauce or sriracha that does not have sugar in it. What brand do you use and where do you get it? Thanks! I really really really want to make these!

    • Reply
      megan keatley
      March 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      we don’t really worry about microscopic amounts of sugar, especially in things that don’t taste sweet–like chili sauce, hot sauce and the likes.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Holy balls these are good.

  • Reply
    March 8, 2012 at 2:07 am

    Had these tonight with the paleo pad thai and it blew my mind. You help make my life so much better!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    I made these last night with the Sunshine Sauce from the Well Fed cookbook, and they were ridiculously good. They’re definitely a new favorite. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Friday Five: big weekend | Video of Kittens
    March 9, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    […] via Emily on […]

  • Reply
    March 12, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Made these tonight and they are amazing!!!! Any reason though you suggest 80/20 ground beef? Mine were a bit fatty.

    • Reply
      megan keatley
      March 13, 2012 at 9:54 am

      i find (personally) anything leaner is just too dry.

  • Reply
    Rachel @ the minimalist mom
    March 13, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Yum. Made these up as a dinner with dip and veggies.Much like the Asian Pork Meatball recipe, this one is going into regular rotation.

    Oh yeah, with all that I have learned from your recipes here I whipped together a mayo dip with chili garlic sauce, wheat free soy sauce and a splash of fish sauce. So good with the meatballs and carrots celery and broccoli.

    I <3 Health Bent!

  • Reply
    gayle nadal-sims
    March 14, 2012 at 6:21 am

    my husband said they were the best meatballs he’s ever had! ever!!!

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    can i use turkey instead of beef, bragg’s amino acids and dried basil?

  • Reply
    March 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Made these last night, with a 50-50 mixture of grass fed ground beef (which is too lean by itself IMO) and ground pork (provides the fat needed to bind grass fed ground beef). I used a 1.5″ “dough” scoop which made made enough for 2 baking pans of meat balls (about 2 doz on each pan), which for our family of three is enough for a meal and plenty of leftovers. I used a Silpat on one sheet pan and a rack on the other. Both methods worked well.

    I also made a basil dipping sauce for the meatballs (can also be used as salad dressing). I already had some homemade mayo in the fridge (pure olive oil; whole egg; white wine, or rice vinegar and/or lemon juice; bit of prepared brown mustard; sea salt & pepper; dash of paprika), so I used about a half cup of the mayo, the juice of one lime, a quirt each of fish sauce and wheat-free raw & traditionally fermented tamari-soy sauce, 1/4 cup chopped and packed fresh basil leaves, a tiny bit of red Thai curry paste, and a clove of fresh garlic. I blended it in a tall narrow container with an (hand held) immersion blender until very smooth and creamy, adjusting seasonings to taste. I served the sauce in tiny Asian fish shaped Asian bowls and we ate the meatballs with chopsticks. It was a big hit.

  • Reply
    March 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm



    Love it.

    These look amazing. Will make this the next time I get a hankering for meat balls.

    Question for ya: what’s the purpose of coconut aminos or soy sauce? Can’t do soy sauce right now, and I’m not sure I could source coconut aminos without having to give up my first child.


  • Reply
    March 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Hi, I’m about to make these today only I’m wondering whether ‘t’ means tablespoon or teaspoon…

  • Reply
    March 27, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Um, just seen the answer to my question, lol. Cheers!

  • Reply
    megan keatley
    March 28, 2012 at 2:57 pm


  • Reply
    April 1, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Made these tonight, with half ground pork, they were freakin amazing! Will be making again and again. Thank you!!!!

  • Reply
    April 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    These are great. My (non-paleo) husband has even requested them multiple times. Kudos to you and THANKS for all your great stuff!!! 🙂

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm


    From the picture it looked so ridiculously tasty I had to have’m too. So I followed the recipe to the letter but the end result was rather bland tasting so obviously I must be doing something very wrong. Can someone clue me in on this?

    • Reply
      megan keatley
      April 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      i don’t usually discuss salt quantities, as it’s such a personal preference…but i’m guessing that may be the issue. it’s incredibly important in helping bring out/enhance the flavors in the meatballs.

  • Reply
    April 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    These look so good, I can’t wait to make them! I had a question about spice level. I love spicy food but the children can’t handle too much. Any thoughts? I can split the batch in two but will the recipe as written be too spicy for 6 year old’s?

  • Reply
    Bridget M.
    May 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    These meatballs are AMAZING! Vi gobbled them up (pretty good, considering her not-yet 5yo palate) and J. says he wants them in heavy rotation in our meal prep schedule. Thanks, Megan & Brandon!! Hope to connect with you guys IRL soonest!
    xoxo Bridget

    • Reply
      megan keatley
      May 10, 2012 at 9:14 am

      yay!!! i had to double check who wrote this after i read IRL. what a great surprise!

  • Reply
    May 31, 2012 at 11:46 am

    These were delish! I made these with some left over ground beef that I had in the fridge last week. I didn’t have any almond flour on-hand so I made them without flour. They stayed together really well and were extremely moist (yummm…).

    Served alongside the Paleo Pad Thai dish on this site and the two recipes blended perfectly together. Thanks! You guys make great food.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Holy wow! I had my 14 year old foodie daughter whip this up for dinner tonight. She opted to turn it into a loaf instead of balls, and it turned out amazingly yummy!!! We had some Thai basil that she used in it instead of the regular. This is totally going into our regular rotation! Thank you!!!

    • Reply
      megan keatley
      June 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      how awesome! thanks so much adronscatherine

  • Reply
    July 22, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Does the recipe call for adding lime juice as well as the zest?

  • Reply
    August 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    I added the lime juice, and they were still delish!

  • Reply
    Lisa H.
    August 18, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Best. Meatballs. EVER. These are so good! We’re thinking of baking up quadruple batches and freezing them so as to have some on hand at all times. So, so tasty.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    could I use tobasco sauce?

  • Reply
    Liz N.
    November 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    These were outstanding! I can’t wait for leftovers! I would definitely recommend serving with a Sriracha mayo dipping sauce. I think this is another entertaining-worthy recipe. The advice to stick to using 80/20 ground beef is true. Any leaner and it will taste dry. I love going through the recipe archives because there are so many great ones I haven’t tried yet! I just can’t wait for the cookbook to come out. Will it be available for pre-order soon?!

    • Reply
      megan keatley
      November 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      aw, thank you so much liz.

      we’ve turned in the manuscript. gotten great feedback, but still waiting on final info a/b release date and everything. a bit frustrating, as i’m just sitting here, twiddling my thumbs.

      • Reply
        Liz N.
        November 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm

        We’ll be waiting in anticipation, along with you and Brandon. I’ll need to figure out a way to have you guys sign our book when we get it. Do I feel a book tour coming to Colorado?! 😉

  • Reply
    December 4, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    I don’t normally comment on blog posts…ever, but I couldn’t let this one slide. I made these tonight with grass-fed beef from Whole Foods and OMG they were SO GOOD! I could taste every flavor perfectly and they all complimented each other so divinely. I look forward to making many more of your recipes and digging into the Paleo lifestyle!

  • Reply
    No more excuses. I will make good choices. | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page
    January 9, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    […] few balance poses, but overall I am pleased with my performance. Went home to the boy who had made these, which he is obsessed with. (I will convert him to primal….its already starting…) I skipped […]

  • Reply
    February 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    When you say roasted red peppers are you referring to red bell peppers? If not is there a particular place to get that or is there a substitute?

    • Reply
      February 2, 2013 at 12:35 am

      Yep, red bell peppers are the ones.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Paired great with the pad thai!

  • Reply
    February 27, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Hey there – making these tonight. Quick question – the lime, is it just the zest or the juice too!


  • Reply
    April 21, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Just made these last night and they were awesome!.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    So excited!! I just happen to have some fresh Thai basil on hand:). I know that I will love them… Hopping my 4, 3 and almost 1 year olds will too :)’

  • Reply
    May 9, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    My 4yo “momma, you can make these anytime…even when I’m growed up!”
    3yo cleaned her plate and 10mo old ate 3 meatballs

  • Reply
    October 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Could you tell me how much salt approx? I know its usually to taste but I can’t really taste it until its cooked 😀

  • Reply
    October 22, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    The biggest compliment I can give you is that my 6 year old ASKED for “1000” of these. My daughter is SO PICKY, so thank you so much for this recipe! I loved it too and will definitely be making these regularly. I made them with Mel’s Sunshine Sauce on the advice of a previous poster. Delicious!!

  • Reply
    January 25, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    About how many meatballs does this make? Trying to plan them for a party for 10 and wondering about whether I should double the batch (probably, so I have leftovers!)

    • Reply
      January 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Answered my own question by making the batch – without doubling it made about 55 meatballs – plenty as an appetizer for 10. Smells awesome – hope they taste as good as they smell!

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