A ceramic bowl is filled with gluten-free japanese chicken meatballs. The light blue bowl is resting on a bamboo place mat and wooden chopsticks rest on the side of the bowl. The meatballs have been sprinkled with seseame seeds.
This post may contain affiliate links. This means we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.

My toddler refused to eat mince in any form, but would devour chicken meatballs at our favourite Japanese restaurant. He’d discard the shitake mushroom they were served in of course, but it was all the inspiration I needed to develop a gluten-free version the whole family could enjoy and home.

If you’re also looking for a tasty, family-friendly meal, then these chicken meatballs, or tsukune, should be at the top of your list.

Jump to Recipe

What is Tsukune?

Tsukune is a Japanese dish made of minced chicken (or other meat) mixed with various seasonings and shaped into small, round or oval meatballs. The meat mixture may include ingredients such as grated onion, garlic, ginger, breadcrumbs, egg, soy sauce, and salt. Tsukune is usually grilled over charcoal, but it can also be fried or simmered in a broth.

Tsukune is often served on skewers (called tsukune-yaki) and brushed with a sweet and savory sauce made with soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar. It is a popular dish at Japanese izakayas and is often enjoyed with cold beer or sake.

Our recipe combines chicken mince (ground chicken) with sesame oil, grated ginger, soy sauce and mirin, to create gluten-free chicken meatballs that are a hit with young and old. We cook them in a non-stick pan and save time by serving them as individual meatballs, instead of threading them on skewers before cooking.

This recipe is also made with ingredients that are low FODMAP, meaning the meatballs are suitable for people with Irritable Bowel Sydnrome (IBS) who are following a low FODMAP diet. For more information about the low FODMAP diet and delicious recipes, visit our sister publication FODMAPPER Magazine.

For a main meal, serve them over steamed rice with a side of your favourite stir-fried vegetables, or roll them into smaller meatballs and serve them as canapes at your next event.

Leftover meatballs can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. The meatballs are delicious hot or cold and make a tasty addition to sandwiches or can be enjoyed straight from your lunchbox.

Japanese Chicken Meatballs

Cara Boatswain
If you're looking for a chicken meatball the whole family will enjoy – then look no further. These savoury gluten-free meatballs, or tsukune, are made with chicken mince (ground chicken) and a combination of Japanese flavours such as gluten-free soy sauce, ginger and mirin.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chill 15 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Servings 4


  • 500 g chicken mince
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 spring onions, green tips only plus extra to serve (optional)
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce, divided
  • 1/4 cup mirin, divided ensure gluten-free
  • 3 cm piece fresh ginger grated
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds to serve (optional)


  • Place mince, sesame oil, beaten egg, spring onion tips and 2 tablespoons each of soy sauce and mirin in a bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Roll mince into golf ball-sized pieces. Refrigerate for 15 minutes while you prepare the sauce.
  • In a saucepan place remaining soy and mirin, along with grated ginger, sherry, water and brown sugar. Stir over medium heat until sugar has melted. Bring mixture to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook meatballs for 3 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Then, use a pastry brush to coat with sauce and cook for a further 2 minutes or until sticky and sizzling. Serve immediately sprinkled with sesame seeds and spring onion tips (if desired) and drizzled with remaining sauce. Serve with steamed rice and your favourite stir-fried vegetables.
Hungry for more?Keep cooking with a subscription to AGFL Magazine. Over 50 allergy-friendly recipes in every issue, plus expert advice, tips and more.