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  • Writer's pictureHeather

Chinese Lion's Head Meatballs

Hungry for more? This recipes was featured in a podcast episode!


These Chinese pork meatballs are delightfully light and moist, with the subtle crunch of water chestnuts. Steaming adds a little to your cook time, but they're worth the wait, we promise.

Tip: If you want to make Lions Head Sausage Rolls, set aside 1 Cup of the pork mixture before adding panko and egg.

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook time: 1 1/2 hr

Yield: 10 large meatballs, or more, depending on size


  • 1 pound (500 grams) ground pork

  • 4 tbsp Shaoxing wine (or Japanese sake)

  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce

  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce

  • 2 tsp salt

  • 1 tbsp sugar

  • 1 tsp ginger, grated

  • 1/2 cup scallion, minced (or green onion)

  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

  • 12 to 15 water chestnuts , finely chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 cup (100 grams) panko (or any breadcrumb)

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Add ground pork into a large bowl. Add 4 tbsp water. Mix well with a spatula until water is fully incorporated.

  2. Add Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, salt, sugar, grated ginger, cornstarch and scallion. Mix well.

  3. Add chestnuts and eggs. Mix a few times.

  4. Add panko. Mix well. Add sesame oil, mix until it forms a soft paste.

  5. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until warm.

  6. Use bare hands to scoop about 1/3 cup of the paste and shape it into a large meatball (or less for smaller meatballs). It should be a bit runny, barely able to hold its shape. If the meatballs cannot hold their shape, add a bit more panko and mix again. If the meatballs are still a bit tough, blend in more water and mix well, 1 tbsp at a time, until the paste turns soft. I've needed to add water every time I've made these.

  7. Carefully place 3 to 4 meatballs in the skillet and make sure to leave enough space to flip them. When the bottom side is just set, carefully roll the ball with a spatula to cook the other side. Transfer to a plate. Continue to brown the rest of the meatballs.

  8. Add water to a steamer and place the meatballs on the steaming rack. The meatballs can be stacked, but you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your steamer.

  9. Heat the steamer over medium high heat, covered, until the water begins to boil. Turn to medium heat. Put the rack over the steam and cook covered until the meatballs are cooked through, about 40 minutes.

  10. Serve warm.

  11. Store the meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Zhuzh it up!

  • I also created a Lion's Head Sausage Roll with a sweet mustard dip for this episode. Why not give it a try, for a different twist on this recipe? Just set aside 1 Cup of the pork mixture before adding panko and egg.

This Chinese Pork Lion's Head Meatballs recipe was written by Maggie Zhu. Find it on


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