Banh Mi Bowls with Lemongrass Meatballs

Lemongrass Meatball Bowls? That’s right: quinoa or rice topped with quick pickled carrots, herbs, peanuts, and easy lemongrass pork meatballs all covered with spicy mayo. <– this is a thing.

Banh mi bowl with a fork.

Guys. I am so digging the bowl lifestyle!

You probably had no idea though because I hardly ever post bowls. (I always post bowls.)

Today’s meatball bowl is inspired by a banh mi (traditional sandwich style), which I’ve only ever eaten once, which makes me a banh mi loser. I acknowledge this fully.

But I loved it so much that I needed it even more. Gimme the stuff that has tons of flavor – the meatballs, the pickled vegetable salad, the herbs, the spicy mayo, the pate – except no pate on this homemade bowl version, srsly WHO DO YOU THINK I AM? – all of these ingredients are mostly what I’m wanting to eat when I think about a banh mi.

Watch How To Make Our Lemongrass Meatball Bowls:

Banh mi bowl with a drizzle of sauce.

Bowls in general are all about layers. So let’s start with the base layer to this bowl: you can choose to build your bowl on rice, quinoa, rice noodles, or I guess just lettuce if you want it to taste like heartbreak (but don’t do that). Some kind of basic carb situation would be my suggestion. I chose black/red quinoa – mostly because it’s all I happened to have on hand at the moment.

Exhibit A with the red quinoa stand-in: bowls are extremely versatile.

Next layer: on top of the quinoa base, we’re going for a pickled vegetable salad which sounds totally intimidating and really just means shredded or julienne cut vegetables soaked in rice vinegar and sugar for about an hour. That will do it, friends.

Close up of carrots.
Jar of organic coconut palm sugar.

I should mention that we are using coconut palm sugar in this recipe which is a big time bonus because it’s a delicious, unrefined brown sugar that doesn’t taste like coconut (that might get weird) – instead it has a deep caramel-lush-ous flavor that is just begging to be featured in Asian sauces of all sorts.

Also lovable: this sugar is actually made by the cooperative farmers in Indonesia who tap the nectar of the coconut palm trees, kind of like you might imagine a northwoodsian tapping a maple tree for syrup. The nectar gets heated over fire until it reduces down to granulated sugar, because OBVIOUSLY. It just had to be that cool.

Guys. I love Wholesome! I loved them before they were trendy and now – bonus – they’re trendy! so you can buy their organic, fair trade products at non-exotic locations, like, for example, Regular Person Target. THANK YOU LIFE.

Coconut palm sugar in a jar with a spoon.

Next layer: over the quinoa and pickled salad, let’s throw a handful of crushed peanuts and every possible herb that you could ever have in your fridge ever. I went crazytown with green onions, cilantro, basil, and mint. I did not regret it.


Next layer: now we come to the crown jewel of this recipe, the thing that carries most of the flavor: THE MEATBALLS.

Can I just tell you this? My sister, who used to be a vegetarian, is working with us this summer. On the day I made these, she sampled one out of the fridge after I left and she specifically sent me a text to tell me how good they were. Former vegetarian, guys. Loving the meatballs. These are really really good meatballs. They are little crispy gems of pork, lemongrass (I just buy that paste in a tube from the produce section – my life has no time for locating and deconstructing fresh lemongrass sorry not sorry), sugar, and fish sauce which sounds totally scary but it’s so utterly life-changingly delicious. Please try.

Hands holding a banh mi bowl with a fork.

Final layer: spicy mayo // mic drop.

I am totes making this for dinner club this month. Bring on the lemongrass meatball bowl party.

Close up of a banh mi bowl with meatballs.

Source notes: This recipe was previously titled “Banh Mi Bowls” but was updated in August 2021 to better reflect and respect the cultural origins from which this dish came from. The name Banh Mi directly translates to “bread.” A Banh Mi is a short baguette with thin, crisp crust, filled with all sorts of delicious things like meat, pickled vegetables, herbs, and mayonnaise. In a word: it is GOOD.

Banh Mi Bowl in a bowl with fork.

Lemongrass Meatball Bowls

  • Author: Pinch of Yum
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: enough meatballs / carrots for 4 bowls


Lemongrass Meatballs Bowls! A quick and easy meal featuring quinoa or rice topped with quick pickled carrots, herbs, peanuts, and easy lemongrass pork meatballs, all covered with spicy mayo.



Quick Pickled Carrots

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Wholesome! coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 68 carrots, cut into thin ribbons (I used a peeler to make those curls)


  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 12 tablespoons lemongrass paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste (like Sriracha or Sambal Oelek)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Wholesome! coconut palm sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • quinoa, rice, or noodles
  • herbs: cilantro, basil, mint, green onions
  • crushed peanuts or sesame seeds
  • spicy mayo (just mayo with a hit of sriracha)


  1. Quick Pickled Carrots: Whisk the rice vinegar, palm sugar, sesame oil, and salt together. Soak the carrots in the mixture for one hour.
  2. Meatballs: Mix all ingredients. Roll into small meatballs with your hands (they might feel wet and heavy – pop them in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to get them to hold their shape a bit better). Heat a little bit of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the meatballs and fry until golden brown on the outside and fully cooked (not pink) inside.
  3. Bowls: Layer the carrots and meatballs over quinoa, rice, or noodles. Top with herbs, peanuts, sesame seeds, and/or spicy mayo. I would feel happy for you if you also added an avocado.
  • Prep Time: 1 hour (for pickling!)
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese-Inspired

Keywords: meatball recipe, bowl recipe, banh mi, pork recipe, lemongrass recipe, how to use lemongrass

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Nutrition information is for 1 out of 4 bowls (meatballs, veggies, and rice using a total of 1 cup uncooked rice) and does not include spicy mayo sauce.

Thanks to Wholesome!® for partnering with us for this post! And for being a brand that we love and respect. 

And thanks to you, readers, for supporting the brands that do food right.

One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our collection of best healthy bowls. Check it out!

The post Lemongrass Meatball Bowls appeared first on Pinch of Yum.

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