Chicken/ Gluten-Free/ Stews & Braises

Turkey Meatballs With Japanese Gravy

Instant Pot Japanese Turkey Meatballs (Gluten-Free, Real Food)

These delicious Instant Pot turkey meatballs are inspired by the classic Japanese teriyaki chicken dish.  Instead of using chicken, I opted for simple and affordable ground turkey. The meatballs are cooked in a savoury broth full of umami flavours. And unlike the teriyaki sauce, this gravy is a little lighter in colour and milder in flavour (as in not as sweet).

You can serve these turkey meatballs with a side of steamed or stir-fried vegetables, white rice or cauliflower rice, or some buckwheat or rice noodles. The meatballs are great the next day too, so you can pack them into kids lunch boxes. I also like to dice up the leftover cooked meatballs and throw them in a stir-fry or a simple chicken soup. Some people even add them to sandwiches or wraps. Which ever way you like to eat your meatballs, this is a great pressure cooker recipe to try.

Instant Pot Japanese Turkey Meatballs (Gluten-Free, Real Food)

Before you start cooking

Ground chicken meat can be used instead of turkey. The sauce would also work well with fish cakes or mixed seafood balls.

Mirin is a sweet cooking rice wine commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It’s fantastic in stir-fries, where you would add a little honey or sugar, and it adds a little more depth and some acidity as well. You can use it in salad dressings and marinades for the meat or seafood, too. If you can’t find mirin, simply add a little more honey or brown sugar to this recipe. Try to buy decent quality mirin, such as this brand.

Tamari is a wheat-free (gluten-free) naturally brewed soy sauce. It’s a slightly healthier version and I love using it in Asian cooking. It can be purchased on most large supermarkets health food stores and online. I use Kikkoman brand.

Arrowroot starch (or tapioca starch) is used to thicken the sauce. This gluten-free and grain-free starch flour can be purchased from most health food stores and online. Both can be used in baking or to make gravies with. We use this brand quite a lot. Of course, regular soy sauce can also be used.

Paleo version: use a little more honey instead of mirin and coconut aminos instead of tamari or soy sauce.

Japanese Turkey Meatballs - Instant Pot
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 3-4
For the meatballs
  • 500 g / 1.1 lb ground turkey meat (I used 2% fat mince)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • ½ long red chilli, finely diced
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper (black is okay but white has a more oriental flavour)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅔ teaspoon onion powder (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari or soy sauce (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
For the sauce
  • ½ brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • ⅔ cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch or tapioca starch (see notes)
  • Black and/or white sesame seeds for garnish
  1. Add the meatballs ingredients to a bowl and combine together using your hands. Make sure to mix the meat through really well to incorporate all of the flavours.
  2. Wet your hands and roll the mixture into small meatballs (about 12-14 balls). Set aside.
  3. Turn the Instant Pot on and press Sauté function key (it should say High, 30 mins). Add the onion and coconut oil to the pot and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened slightly. Add the garlic and ginger and stir through for 30 seconds to a minute. Then turn the Sauté off by pressing the Keep Warm/Cancel button.
  4. In the meantime, combine the chicken stock with the Tamari, fish sauce, lime or lemon juice, sesame oil, mirin and honey in a small bowl and whisk together. Add to the onions, garlic and ginger in the pot. Add the meatballs and stir through gently through the sauce, bathing the meatballs with the liquid using a spoon.
  5. Place and lock the lid, make sure the steam releasing handle is pointing to Sealing. Press MANUAL (High Pressure) and set to 7 minutes. After 3 beeps the pressure cooker will start going.
  6. Once the time is up, let the pressure release naturally for 2-3 minutes, then use the quick release to let off the rest of the steam.
  7. When it’s safe, open the lid and remove the meatballs to a bowl. Press the Sauté function key again and cook the sauce, stirring frequently, for 6-7 minutes. This will thicken the sauce and make it nice and glossy. Press Keep Warm/Cancel.
  8. Add a few tablespoons of the sauce to a small bowl and whisk in the arrowroot starch or tapioca starch until dissolved. Return this liquid to the pot and stir through. This will further thicken the sauce and turn it into a gravy. Return the meatballs to the sauce and stir through.
  9. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds, and a side of white or brown rice or your favourite steamed vegetables.

Instant Pot Turkey Recipe

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Japanese Turkey Meatballs (Instant Pot , Gluten-Free, Real Food)

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