Instant Pot Chinese Pork Meatballs (Lion’s Head meatballs). Quick pressure cooker pork meatballs, Chinese style, and named after Foo Dogs. What else could you want in a recipe?
Sometimes you just feel like a meatball, you know?
I went looking for ideas, and these Chinese meatballs jumped out at me. They are called “Lion’s Head” because they supposedly look like the heads of the stone guardian lions used in Chinese architecture. Which are also called Foo Dogs. How could I not make a meatball named after a guardian lion, with a nickname like Foo Dog?
So, I read up on the recipe. They all use what I think of as the basic Chinese/Cantonese flavor profile. Scallions, garlic, and ginger make up the aromatics; soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and toasted sesame oil add the sauce. The only difference is, instead of stir frying with them, I’m mixing them straight into the meatballs. Great! I have everything I need in my pantry.
Now I did add one ingredient that I didn’t find in most of my research - bread crumbs. It seems that bread crumbs are a controversial ingredient; most recipes don’t have it, using cornstarch instead. My meatballs were too soft without bread crumbs, so I added a few tablespoons to tighten everything up. I can see why the few recipes that do use bread crumbs add them, to hold everything together.
The rest of the recipe is straightforward, and follows my Italian Instant Pot meatballs - the meatballs don’t need browning, just 10 minutes under pressure, with a natural pressure release. An alternative I add in the notes: traditionally, the meatballs are simmered on top of a layer of shredded cabbage. It’s not necessary, but if you want a simmered cabbage side dish, add a layer of shredded cabbage to the pot before you add the meatballs. (If you're looking for an American version, here's how to make bbq meatballs in an instant pot.)
My son particularly loved this recipe. He’s a pot sticker fan; he judges Chinese restaurants on the quality of their dumplings. His review? “This tastes like the inside of a pot sticker!”, said while shoveling more meatballs onto his plate. High praise indeed!
Inspired by: Lucky Peach Presents: 101 Easy Asian RecipesPrint
Instant Pot Chinese Pork Meatballs (Lion’s Head meatballs)
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 12 meatballs 1x
Instant Pot Chinese Pork Meatballs (Lion’s Head meatballs). Quick pressure cooker pork meatballs, Chinese style, and named after Foo Dogs. What else could you want?
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 scallion, minced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- ¼-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons bread crumbs (preferably Panko bread crumbs)
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry, mirin, or sake)
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup water (or low sodium chicken broth)
- Thin-sliced scallions and sesame seeds (optional, to garnish the meatballs)
- Shape the meatballs: Put the ground pork in a large bowl, Sprinkle the scallion, garlic, ginger, bread crumbs, corn starch, sugar, and salt over the meat. Drizzle the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and toasted sesame oil over everything, then work the ingredients into the pork. Once everything is evenly mixed, put the egg on top and work it into the pork. Form the mix into 12 golf-ball sized meatballs, each about 2 inches in diameter.
- Everything in the pot: Place the meatballs into an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, setting them in a single layer on the bottom of the pot. Pour the water over the meatballs.
- Pressure Cook for 10 minutes with a Natural Release: Lock the lid and pressure cook at high pressure for 10 minutes (Use “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot), or for 8 minutes if using a stovetop pressure cooker. Let the pressure to come down naturally, about 15 minutes. (If you’re in a hurry, let the pressure come down for 10 minutes then quick release any remaining pressure.)
- Serve: Scoop the meatballs out of the pot with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle with the sliced scallions and sesame seeds, serve and enjoy!
- Cooked on a bed of shredded cabbage: Traditionally, these meatballs are simmered on top of a layer of shredded cabbage. If you want stewed cabbage as a side dish, seasoned by cooking with the meatballs, add a layer of shredded cabbage to the pot before you add the meatballs. A Napa cabbage, or other Chinese style cabbage, is the traditional choice, but I usually cheat and use a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw for the cabbage.
- Browning the meatballs: I found it to be more effort than it was worth; it added a little bit of flavor, but the meatballs were more tender without browning. If you do want to brown them, heat a tablespoon of oil using Sauté mode and cook the meatballs, without moving, until they brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Then, flip them and brown them on the other “side”. After browning, add the cup of water to the pot and continue with the pressure cooking step.
- 6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot 6-Quart Pressure Cooker)
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Sunday Dinner
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: Chinese
Keywords: Instant Pot Chinese Pork Meatballs, Instant Pot Lions Head Meatballs, Pressure Cooker Chinese Pork Meatballs, Pressure Cooker Lions Head Meatballs
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Instant Pot Red Braised Pork Belly
Pressure Cooker Chinese Kale
Pressure Cooker Chinese Red Cooked Chicken Thighs
My other Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipes
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I use the meatball recipe for pork ball porridge and the verdict is ‘its very good.’
on rotation at my house - use impossible meat. Yum! Thanks!
Mike Vrobel says
Mike from Austin says
I've been looking for something new and relatively quick with rich Asian flavors. This recipe delivers! I used 3/4 of a head of regular cabbage and a couple of carrots on the bottom to provide some vegetables for the side. Next time, I'll just use the entire head. When braising something like that, I don't think that the type of cabbage matters that much. I didn't add onion to the veggies, as I think it would overpower the scallion flavor of the meatballs. As has been mentioned, your measurements were spot on. Thanks for another winning recipe!
Mike from Austin
Mike Vrobel says
You're welcome - glad you enjoyed it!
I've made these a couple of times. One of my colleagues, who hails from Hong Kong, loves them and says they are authentic. It's a fair amount of prep, and I found that I couldn't "guess" the ingredients - as always, Mike, your quantities of spices are precise. But for authentic tasting lion's head meatballs, these were amazing.
Mike Vrobel says