Glazed Korean Meatballs (Wanja Jorim)

These Korean-style meatballs are glazed in a sweet and savory sauce. They are tender, moist and packed with lots of flavors! Great as cocktail meatballs for your holiday parities!
Korean meatballs glazed in a sweet and savory sauce

Every country has some sorts of meatballs. In Korea, meatballs are called gogi wanja (고기완자) and used in soups or hotpots, egg-battered and pan-fried (wanjajeon, 완자전), or braised in a sauce (wanja jorim, 완자조림). This recipe shows how to make wanja jorim. The meatballs are first pan-fried and then finished in a deliciously sweet and savory sauce. 

These Korean-style meatballs are tender, moist and packed with lots of flavors! They are child-friendly, great as cocktail meatballs for your holiday parties, or simply as a side or a main dish for any meal. In Korea, the meatballs are highly popular as a lunch box item. 

Cocktail meatballs served on bamboo picks

Traditionally, meatballs were an essential ingredient in Korean Royal Court dishes such as sinsello, an elaborate Royal Court hotpot. Today, wanja jeon, egg-battered and pan-fried meatballs, is highly popular for every day meals or for lunch boxes. Also known as dongeurangddeng (동그랑떙), they are commonly served on holidays and special occasions as well. These braised meatballs are enjoyed for the sweet, savory, and salty taste. 

How to make Korean meatballs 

For the meatballs, I like to use equal parts of beef and pork. Of course, you can use all beef or all pork depending on your preference or change up the ratio around to your preference. Pork will give the meatballs a softer texture, which some Koreans tend to look for in their meatballs. 

Korean meatballs garnished with chopped pine nuts and scallion

Typically, Korean meatballs also include tofu, carrots, mushrooms, onions and/or scallions. I used mushrooms, onions and scallions in this recipe. These vegetables add a lot to the flavor and texture of the meatballs. Whatever you use, take extra time to finely chop the ingredients for a smooth meatball texture. Then, your children will never know there are mushrooms and onions in the meatballs.

For a tender and moist texture, mix the meat with other ingredients by your hand. Using all your five fingers, move it around the bowl in quick circles until the mixture is well blended together. 

I pan fried my meatballs, but you can bake them if you want.

The sauce I used here is a soy based sweet and savory sauce (jorim jang, 조림장) commonly used in Korean cooking. You can add a little bit of gochujang for a little spicy kick if you want. 

The meatballs can be prepared ahead of time and pan-fried and braised on the day of serving.

Glazed meatballs served in a bowl

Have you tried this Korean meatball recipe? Please rate the recipe below and leave a comment! Stay in touch by following me on YouTubePinterestTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Cocktail meatballs served on bamboo picks

Glazed Korean Meatballs

5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 3
Print Recipe

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 4 to 5 fresh shiitake or any mushroom caps, finely chopped
  • 1/4 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 scallions finely chopped
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • salt about 1/4 teaspoon and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch or flour for dredging

For the sauce

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine or mirin
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup oligodang
  • 2 plump garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 1 inch piece ginger thinly sliced

Optional garnish:

  • chopped peanuts or pine nuts
  • chopped scallion

Instructions

  • Finely chop the mushrooms, onion, and scallions. Combine all the meatball ingredients well by hand until evenly blended.
    meatballs recipe 4 - Glazed Korean Meatballs (Wanja Jorim)
  • Shape the mixture into about 1 1/4-inch balls. Dredge the meatballs in the cornstarch or flour to lightly coat.
    meatballs recipe 5 - Glazed Korean Meatballs (Wanja Jorim)
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add half of the meatballs to the pan. Turning as necessary, fry until all sides are golden brown but not cooked through, about 5 minutes. The meatballs will finish cooking in the sauce. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining meatballs.
    meatballs recipe 6 - Glazed Korean Meatballs (Wanja Jorim)
  • Add all the sauce ingredients to another pan. Boil over medium heat until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 – 4 minutes.
    meatballs recipe 7 - Glazed Korean Meatballs (Wanja Jorim)
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer until the sauce becomes a thick glaze, turning to coat evenly, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the optional garnish. Serve warm with your choice of vegetables.
    meatballs recipe 8 - Glazed Korean Meatballs (Wanja Jorim)
Tried this recipe?Mention @koreanbapsang or tag #koreanbapsang!

This recipe was originally posted in March 2012. I’ve updated it here with new photos, more information and minor changes to the recipe.

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Comments

  1. Benjamin F Linduff says

    5 stars
    very good.

  2. Could these be made ahead of time, then warmed up in a slow cooker for a potluck?

  3. Wondering instead of frying the meatballs can they be baked in the oven And if I can can cornstarch be omitted – thank you

  4. I’ve been making this meatballs since last year and truly enjoy it. This past couple of weeks though i was too lazy to roll them into meatballs so I made the whole mix into a meatloaf (I used the Dakgangjeong (Sweet Crispy Chicken) for glaze) and OMG…it was sooo delicious! The prep time (with the help of my Ninja) was cut down to just 20 minutes. The meatloaf smelled sooo good too as it was cooking in the oven.

  5. My husband loooooved these when i first made them… today, i’m going to make them again!!

  6. Autumn | It's Autumn's Life says

    Yum! This looks so good and I love jorim jang. 😀 I’ve never eaten this in Korea which is a shame because it looks so delicious. Now I can make it at home!

  7. This is the second recipe I have made from your website and it was another hit! The flavors were so wonderful, especially with the addition on the chooped nuts as a garnish. We also added chopped scallions on top at the end for color and it was beautiful and delicious. We make and eat italian style meatballs very often, but now I feel like this dish is going to take over as our favorite way to use ground beef and pork to surprise and please our dinner guests. Thank you for this recipe!

  8. Hi Hyosun! These meatballs have the most incredible flavor. I will make a batch and store them in the freezer. Thank you for sharing your delicious recipe!

  9. Livia Ellis says

    My son just ate about twenty meatballs. He’s laying on the couch moaning ‘so good so good’. I think he just might like them. Thank you for this keeper!

  10. Maria Lourdes says

    Thank you for this recipe. I keep making them because both my son and I love them so much. Tomorrow I am making your beef with korean radish soup.

  11. Can i replace corn syrup for honey?

  12. this recipe reminded me of my grandmother’s cooking – it’s just like she used to make me except she made hers in hamburger patty shape and i made mine meatballs like yours! my kids LOVED it and there was not a meatball left and i enjoyed remembering a beloved dish from my past. thank you!!!!!!

    • That’s so good to hear this recipe is similar to your grandmother’s. Grandmothers are the best! Your kids will have fond memories of eating your meatballs when they grow up. So the tradition continues… Thanks for sharing your story, and happy cooking!

  13. I made this for dinner tonite and it was a succes. Thanks very much for this wonderful recipe. It came out very well and tasty. So easy to make too.

  14. This looks really delicious. I am actually going to attempt making it for dinner. Thanks for the recipe.

  15. Is there anything you would recommend as a substitute for the egg. Only I would REALLY like to make these!

    • You can use a little bit of squeezed tofu (2 – 3 tablespoons) or simply omit it. Thanks for trying out my recipe!

  16. Hello again,
    I appreciate your prompt response. And thank you for addressing my concern.
    The get together is this Sunday, so I’ll probably make the meatballs the day before and cook them the next morning.
    I love korean food since lot of flavor profile overlaps with Japanese dishes. And I like how Korean dishes incorporate a lot of veggies.
    I look forward to trying many of your other recipes! Thanks once again.

  17. Hi, I love your blog. Thank you for all these wonderful recipes. I can see how much attention you pay to the details. 🙂
    I was thinking of making these meat balls for a pot luck party. Would it still taste good at room temperature? And if I made a day in advance, would the texture get tough?

    • Hi Maho – Thank you so much for your kind words. The meatballs will be fine at room temperature. But, if you cook a day in advance, I think they will get tough. Can you just make the meatballs a day in advance and freeze them without cooking? See my mandu recipe for freezing tips. That way, you can simply leave them out to defrost and cook before taking them to a party. Not sure if this is feasible for you, but hope it helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  18. katherine Martinelli says

    I just made these and they are SO good!! Some of the best meatballs I’ve ever tasted 🙂

  19. Made these tonight. I only glazed half of them though. The other half went into a spicy Korean noodle soup. I normally don’t like glazes on meat, but these were fantastic! (They worked very well in the soup also)
    Thanks for putting up your recipes!

  20. nice! meatballs are made all over the world but always in a bit different way, thanks for this recipe!

    Life and travelling
    Cooking

  21. Anonymous says

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe (with exact measurements!). I plan on making these for our church’s Easter Sunday service. Just one question, I am a big fan of using tofu to soften up the meat even more. If I do use tofu, how much would you recommend for this amount?

    Thank you so much. I can’t wait to make these.

    • Hyosun Ro says

      I’d recommend 6 – 8 ounces. Squeeze out water well and adjust the seasoning. Hope this helps. Happy Easter!

  22. Made them tonight! They were perfect!

  23. They look so yummy!!! Do you think I can use turkey meat and still be okay? I know beef and pork are more traditional with Korean dishes…

  24. I adore the sauce…I bet I can still use this for my other dishes that seem to lack in taste. love multipurpose sauces. Thanks for sharing.

  25. These meatballs look really wonderful – so tasty! Great flavors – love these!

  26. Katherine Martinelli says

    These look so delicious and I can’t wait to try making them at home! Great choice for our inaugural World on a Plate! So happy to be in this group with you 🙂

  27. Food Jaunts says

    I love, love, LOVE Korean meatballs. Bookmarked so I can give them a shot soon!

  28. Nami | Just One Cookbook says

    I assume meatballs are more home dish in Korea? I haven’t seen it on the restaurant menus. Love the luster on meatballs – just perfectly cooked and I can totally eat 2-3 bowls of rice with them. Ok I’ll eat that broccoli too (just kidding I love veggies hehee).

  29. This is another bookmarked recipe! Your meatballs look extraordinary and your photos are as always so beautiful!
    I have never heard of Korean meatballs (not to mention seeing them in restaurants here).
    My mum has always used a mixture of pork and beef in meat patties, saying it gave the best results and I totally agree. (Of course when she did chicken or turkey meat patties, she didn’t mix different meats). Thanks for this terrific recipe!

  30. Jeannie Tay says

    Wow! I am so drooling here! Can tell they are delicious just by looking at the photos!

  31. angsarap.net says

    Happy to meet you as well! Look at those perfectly shaped meatballs and that glaze makes it more appetizing, I wanna grab a bowl now.

  32. Awesome! Loving your version of the meat balls. They look so juicy and sticky. Yum! Pass me that bowl.

  33. Oh yum, yum, yum! Why do you tease me so 🙂

  34. Wow these meatballs look seriously yummy! I love the sirupy soy sauce! I have to try this Korean meatballs!

  35. Sofie Dittmann @thegermanfoodie says

    Scallions & mushroms? I’m IN. I have on occasion added that to my German version of these. We never roll them in starch, though – that was new to me. These look SO GOOD, and I just told Katherine this group will make me gain a gazillion pounds if we keep going w/ entries like these!

  36. World on a plate sounds like a great project!

    Your meatballs look and sound wonderful!

    • Thank you, Andrea! This was the first round, but we’re already having so much fun and learning a lot from each other. Thanks for stopping by!

  37. Your meatballs look super delicious and tasty! We love meatballs and I can’t wait to give them a try.

    • Biren – Thank you! I think all the dishes came out really good this month. Thanks to you, I am so happy to be part of the group.

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