Oil-Free Japanese Chicken Meatballs – Tsukune日式雞肉丸 (GF, Refined Sugar Free, Oil Free)


My memory as a child of good food always included our family vacations to Japan. Apart from being able to go to Disneyland, the second best thing about going to Japan was their food. As a kid my favorite meal consisted of Japanese curry, Japanese soba noodles, Japanese mocha, Japanese soft-served ice cream, Japanese chicken and egg rice…do you see the trend here?

I loved Japanese food. Especially when they are plated so carefully and neatly in those cute black, bento boxes.

Every Japanese restaurant always had a display glass with individual bento boxes or set lunches – each compartment would be filled with either salad, fish, rice, gyoza, sushi – just simply everything! My sister and I would spend so much time just staring and feasting on the gorgeous display glasses, simply in awe of how fine and exquisite they looked. We could never get enough of it.  Somehow it always looked so beautiful, so picturesque, and so real. We loved our Japanese bento boxes. Presentation always makes food more appealing. As wonderful childhood memories flooded in my mind, I felt nostalgic for a warm, home-cooked japanese meal. So here it is – authentic, healthy, Japanese meatballs on a plate!

I heard someone once say that a good cook is someone who knows how to present their food. I am definitely not one of those people. I’m learning though! Its always been such a difficult task for me to get creative especially being a college student. So bear with me!


Just one COOKBOOK – A fabulous Japanese blogger and cookbook author reveals the real trick of making this work! Kneading the meatball batter 30 times clockwise and 30 times anti clockwise. I was so afraid I would lose count I had to count aloud! My roommates were probably not impressed by that, but I was so excited and determined to make it work. And it sure did!

Don’t forget to dip it in that Yakitori Tare sauce that we adapted to make it alcohol free as well. It tastes so much better when you dip the meatballs with sauce to serve over rice (or even serve it as lettuce wraps)


Adapted from justonecookbook

Makes 14-16 meatballs


  • 1 lb. Ground Chicken
  • 1 tbsp organic white miso
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 10 shiso leaves (perilla), optional but recommended
  • salt

Yakitori Tare sauce:

  • 1/4 cup GF soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup mirin/apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp honey
  • Spring onion

How to Make:

  1. To Make the sauce: Place all the ingredient for the Yakitori sauce into a small pan. Bring to boil and decrease to low. Let it simmer and cook down or 30 minutes. The sauce should be thick and glossy. Set Aside to Cool.
  2. Heat nonstick pan to medium. Add in 1/3 of the chicken and brown. Cook until no longer pink and transfer to a plate to cool.
  3. In a bowl, mix together cooked and raw chicken. Add in the miso and mix well.
  4. Next add in the scallion and distribute well.
  5. Now this part is key! Use your hand and gently knead the chicken mixture 30 times clockwise and 30 times anti clockwise.This is important for texture and also if you want the meatballs to hold together!
  6. Using an ice cream scoop, portion out 14-16 meatballs. Wet your hands and gently shape the meatballs into a ball or a longer oval shape. Grease the pan slightly and place your meatballs on (we used parchment paper which burned).
  7. Set the broiler on high. Bake the meatballs for 6 minutes on one side. Flip and broil for another 4 minutes. (I would recommend doing it for less time to achieving a moist texture. The meatballs are very small, so try 3 minutes on each side and then adding more time if needed.)
  8. Brush the Yakitori sauce on the meatballs and broil for 30 secs. Flip the meatballs again! brush more sauce and broil for another 30-60 secs.
  9. Serve the meatballs, with the leftover sauce and steamed rice!


Watch the meatballs carefully. The original recipe only requires brushing the sauce one side of the meatballs. We wanted an even brown color and more pungent yakitori flavor so we decided to caramelize both sides, which is why it is important to reduce the cooking time so the meatballs are not overdone by the end.


Zoe & Mia


2 Comments Add yours

  1. So happy to know that you liked this recipe! It looks delicious! And thank you for linking back to my original post and for your kind mention of my blog. 🙂


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