Chinese Pearl Meatballs

Pearl meatballs 珍珠圆子 are a traditional Chinese dish commonly eaten during Chinese New Year. These meatballs are covered with sticky rice, then steamed. The sticky rice resembles small pearls after the meatballs are steamed, that’s why we name them pearl meatballs.

Similar to tang yuan 汤圆,pearl meatballs also implies “reunion and happiness“. They are very easy to make, yet delicious. I’m sure these meatballs will make perfect crowd pleasers!

Ingredients (Makes 10 small meatballs):

  • 160g ground meat
  • 25-30g water chestnuts
  • 8 pieces raw white shrimps
  • 1 tbs cooking wine
  • 1 tbs oyster sauce
  • ground pepper to taste
  • (optional) 1 tsb black sesame seeds
  • 70g sticky rice


Substitute glutinous rice with regular white rice if you can’t find glutinous rice.

Ground pork (with about 20-30 percent fat) works the best for making meatballs. Use chicken breast for healthier meatballs.


  1. Soak the rice with water for about 2 hours.
  2. Combine ground meat, chopped shrimps, chopped water chestnuts and ingredients for seasoning in a bowl.
  3. Stir the filling in the same direction until it becomes cohesive and sticky.
  4. Form the meat filling into a ball, coat the meatball with glutinous rice (drained)
  5. Repeat step 4 until meat filling is used up. The recipe makes about 10 ping pong ball sized meatballs.
  6. Steam for about 20-25 min, adjust duration according to the size of your meatballs.

Serve immediately, sprinkle with chopped scallions if desire.

Flavorful, juicy and tender. Adding chopped water chestnut just adds more layers of flavor to the meatballs.


More Chinese food:

[Happy Chinese New Year] Easy Hongshao Meatballs

Chinese Traditional Mao Er Duo Pasta

Pan Fried Chinese Buns with Pork and Shrimps (Shengjian Bao)

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