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A platter of Whole30 and Paleo-friendly tsukune, Japanese ground chicken meatballs.
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5 from 5 votes

Tsukune (Whole30 Japanese Chicken Meatballs)

These Whole30-friendly Tsukune, a savory Japanese grilled ground chicken meatball, can easily be baked at home in the oven!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Asian meatballs, gluten-free, low carb, nomnompaleo, paleo, Whole30
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 309kcal


  • pounds ground chicken thighs
  • teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt  use only ¾ teaspoon salt if using a fine grain salt
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 scallions minced
  • 1 medium shallot minced
  • 1 dried shiitake mushroom
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or high temperature cooking fat of choice
  • cup All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds optional


  • Combine the ground chicken, salt, sesame oil, scallions, and shallot in a large bowl. Use a microplane to grate the dried shiitake onto the meatball mixture.
  • Knead the mixture very thoroughly with your hands. The final texture should be sticky and tacky.
  • Fry up a tiny patty and taste it for seasoning. Adjust with additional salt if needed.
  • Cover the bowl and chill the meatball mixture in the fridge for at least an hour and up to a day. Chilling the mixture will make it easier to roll out your meatballs, but if you don’t have time, just make them right away.
  • When you’re ready to cook the meatballs, turn on the broiler and arrange the oven rack so that it’s 6 inches from the heating element. While the oven heats up, brush a rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan with avocado oil.
  • Scoop out 24 meatballs with a #40 disher (~1½ tablespoons) and roll them into uniform size balls with your hands. Arrange the chicken meatballs evenly on the greased baking sheet.
  • Broil the meatballs for 2 minutes, and then brush them with All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce. Rotate the tray 180 degrees.
  • Repeat the above step twice more so that the meatballs are cooked for a grand total of 8 minutes and the meatballs are basted with the sauce three times.
  • The meatballs are finished cooking when the tops are browned and cooked through. Make sure they don’t burn or get overcooked. (The final internal temperature should be 165°F.)
  • Top with toasted sesame seeds if desired. Serve immediately!



  • Depending on how hot your broiler is, the meatballs may take longer or shorter to cook. Just keep an eye on them and stab them with a meat thermometer to double check that they are done.
  • You can cook the meatballs in an air fryer at 400°F following the directions in step 7 onward.
Tried this recipe?Mention @nomnompaleo or tag #nomnompaleo!


Calories: 309kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 20g | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g