Updated February 2021
Hidden Veggie Teriyaki Meatballs are one of those perfect, kid-friendly dinner ideas that are sweet, savory, and secretly good for you! These Asian- inspired meatballs bring big flavor to a simple 30-minute meal. Your kids will love the child-friendly flavors of the meatballs in a teriyaki sauce, which is packed with pineapple! And you’ll love that you’re encouraging them to eat more veggies without any argument.
Where Did This Teriyaki Meatball Recipe Originate?
There are several staple foods in our home: anything pizza-related, tacos and quesadillas, meatballs and pasta, and Asian food (most preferably rice). If you have or had a three-year-old, you can sympathize with how limited children’s palates can be. But my oldest will try just about anything when you put it into these forms.
A few weeks ago, I was trying to figure out what on Earth to make for dinner when I got a random craving for hibachi, the Japanese steakhouse restaurants that cook your meal right in front of you. It’s seriously my favorite and I always request it for my birthday dinner.
Given that it was a random Wednesday, there was no way I was going to pack up two hangry kids, beg the husband to go, and spend an ungodly amount of money on dinner. Not going to lie, I did consider it for a moment. So I needed a way to make something to quash the craving at home. preferably in a quick, healthy, kid-friendly fashion.
Enter these amazing and healthy teriyaki meatballs.
Did I mention that I snuck in veggies to add some extra goodness to these teriyaki meatballs? My kids didn’t even notice, which is why I love hidden veggie recipes.
What Do You Need For Making Teriyaki Meatballs?
Just a handful of simple ingredients are needed to make this teriyaki meatball recipe. Many of these items can be found already in your pantry.
- Ground turkey or other lean meat
- Plain bread crumbs
- Freshly grated ginger or ground ginger
- Soy sauce
- Pineapple juice
- Yellow squash
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Pineapple chunks
- Baby carrots
- Sesame oil
How To Make Teriyaki Meatballs
Making this teriyaki meatball recipe is so simple! It will be one of your new go-to meals because of how easy and delicious it is.
Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees and prepare a large oven-safe skillet with some olive oil.
Combine all ingredients except for the meat and oil in a large bowl until everything is moist. Add ground meat to the mixture and mix well.
Portion the meat mixture into small meatballs, about 1 tablespoon each in size. Place them into the skillet. You can use a tablespoon measurement or an ice cream scoop here to make sure the teriyaki meatballs are uniform.
Bake the meatballs in the skillet for 20 minutes, flipping at 10 minutes in. Meanwhile, as the meatballs are baking, remove the pineapple from the juice (save the juice!) and chop to your desired size.
Remove the meatballs from the oven. Also, remove the teriyaki meatballs from the skillet and transfer them to another plate. Place the skillet on the burner over medium-high heat.
Add the chopped garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
Next, add 1 cup of the chopped pineapple and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for another minute before adding the meatballs back in.
Cook for yet another minute or two until the sauce is thickened, and then remove from the heat. Serve over rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped cilantro or green onions, if desired.
This recipe is an amazing, updated way to serve meatballs to your kids!
What Goes Well With Teriyaki Meatballs?
Try any of our delicious recommended recipes to accompany this teriyaki meatball recipe.
- Oven Roasted Green Beans with Spicy Tahini – Roasted veggies meet a spicy tahini sauce in this simple yet flavorful side dish.
- Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts – Sweet and smoky Brussels sprouts are topped with a balsamic glaze that will make your mouth water.
- Mixed Nuts with Za’atar and Lemon – Thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds make up this flavorful spice mix, which is used to top crunchy nuts for a healthy snack.
FAQs And Tips For Successful Teriyaki Sauce For Meatballs:
How Should I Grate My Veggies?
Grate your hidden veggies on the finest shred to hide them best.
What If My Kids Hate Green Stuff?
If you plan on using something like zucchini but think your kids will be put off by the green, try peeling it before you shred.
How Can I Get More Veggies Into My Kids’ Diet?
Try hiding pureed veggies in things that are already family favorites. Adding peas and spinach to my family’s favorite creamy pesto pasta sauce or mac-and-cheese is always a win! Also, I highly recommend this book about sneaking more vegetables into your kid’s food. It’s written by Jerry Seinfeld’s wife too!
How Can I Integrate More Veggies On My Kids’ Plates Slowly?
When serving hidden veggies, I like to also serve a small portion of one of the same veggies in plain view. If they don’t eat it, that’s fine, but it helps them to expect a veggie with every meal, and you also have the chance for an added exposure to that vegetable.
What Other Veggies Hide Well In Dishes?
You can hide so many different veggies in so many dishes. I like to add pureed butternut squash to mac-and-cheese because kids cannot tell the difference. I also like to add zucchini and carrots to baked goods such as muffins and cakes.
Can I Use This Teriyaki Sauce On Chicken?
This homemade teriyaki sauce recipe goes well with any protein. You can even serve it on tofu or veggies for a vegetarian dinner. My family likes it on these meatballs, but this sauce recipe is very versatile.
Are Teriyaki Meatballs Healthy?
Yes! This is a very healthy dish to feed your family in just 30 minutes. Because the meatballs have freshly grated veggies inside, these meatballs are healthier than a standard meatball recipe.
Hidden Veggie Teriyaki Meatballs – Kid Friendly Dinner Ideas
These teriyaki meatballs are one of my favorite kid-friendly dinner ideas. The kids love the meatballs and the sweet flavor of the pineapple sauce, while you can enjoy the fact that the meatballs are packed with veggies. Customize them to fit your family’s needs and wants. You can use zucchini or shredded carrot in place of the yellow squash. Instead of turkey, try using ground chicken, pork, or beef. The shredded vegetables help keep the meatballs super moist, so they are more forgiving to overcooking than lower-fat meats.
Hidden Veggie Teriyaki Meatballs - Kid Friendly Dinner Ideas
For the Meatballs:
- 1 lb ground turkey or other lean meat
- 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup onion finely chopped
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger or 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1 garlic clove finely minced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp pineapple juice
- 1 small yellow squash grated and squeezed to remove water (about ½-¾ cup squeezed)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp oil I used olive
For the Sauce:
- 1 clove of garlic finely minced
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger or 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 20 oz can of pineapple chunks in juice
- 1 cup steamed baby carrots
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil optional
- Preheat oven to 400 and prepare a large oven safe skillet with the oil.
- Combine all ingredients except for the meat and oil into a large bowl until everything is moist. Add meat and mix thoroughly.
- Portion into small meatballs, about 1 tbsp each in size. Place into the skillet.
- Bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. While they are baking, remove the fruit from the juice (save the juice!) and chop to your desired size. Remove the meatballs from the skillet and set them aside, then put the skillet back on the stove over medium-high heat.
- Add chopped garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add 1 cup of the chopped pineapple (save the rest for on top of yogurt or in smoothies!) and saute about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for a minute before adding the meatballs back in.
- Cook another minute or two, and then serve over rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped cilantro or green onions if desired.