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Thai Basil Meatballs with Thai Pesto Sauce Recipe



Thai Basil Meatballs with Thai Pesto Recipe

We were starting to sweat again as the Bangkok heat wrapped its arms around us while we stood outside the doors of our Bangkok church, Newsong. During the church service our thoughts had drifted back to how we had fallen in love there, and all those magical memories. Now we were making plans for when to hang out with our friend Dwight while we were in Bangkok.

“We can’t meet on Thursday because that’s when we have a Thai cooking class at our home for disadvantaged girls,” he said.

Thai Basil Meatballs with Thai Pesto Recipe-Thai-Foodie

I told him we would love to go to the Courageous Kitchen cooking class, if that was ok. Then he said it would be great if I wanted to teach the kids a Thai dish, and be the instructor that day. I was excited, but also a little nervous about what to teach them.

Thai Basil Meatballs with Thai Pesto Recipe

But after brainstorming with Dwight over what the kids have cooked already and Thai recipes I want to share with you all, we decided on making a fusion dish—Thai Basil Meatballs with a Thai Pesto Sauce. I had never made Thai pesto, or Thai basil meatballs, but knew we could make it work.

It was a true Thai-style cooking class since it was laid back—we changed the menu as we started cooking—and no A/C, so Dom was sweating like crazy while he sat in front of a fan trying to help by holding Rocco, so I could teach.

At the start of our class, we sent two of the girls, still wearing their cute WorldFoods (a great company that helps sponsor the class) black aprons, ran to the Tesco Lotus nearby to get some more ground meat for us. While they were gone, I helped show two other girls how to start chopping carrots and tomatoes to add to the Mama Noodles and Fusilli noodles to go with our Thai Basil Meatballs.

Thai Krapaw Meatballs with Thai Pesto Sauce

Then I zoomed over to Dwight to try to figure out the Thai pesto sauce. The girls had already chopped up the Thai basil, Thai chili peppers and garlic, so we threw it in their mini blender with olive oil and started tasting, and adding more lime, peanuts, salt and oil.

Once the girls were back with the meat, we put it all in a huge metal bowl, added garlic, Thai holy basil, and Thai chili peppers, fish sauce, Thai black soy sauce, eggs, tapioca starch and four of the girls gathered around the huge metal bowl and started squishing it all together, giggling with glee as fragrant meat oozed between their slender, tan fingers.

Thai Krapaw Meatballs with Thai Pesto Sauce

I showed them how to roll the meat between their hands into little balls and placed it on a pan. They kept forming the Thai basil meatballs while I got two other girls to help drain the noodles, and start getting out a pan to cook the meatballs.

It felt like I was on a cooking show with so many little chefs working, pans simmering, knives slashing, smells rising, food flying all at once. But out of what looked like chaos, beauty was rising as I watched the smiley girls learning together and laughing over the joys of cooking Thai food.

Finally all our dishes were completed, as we wiped the sweat from our brows, the girls brought a huge stack of plates to the long table, and a clatter of forks and spoons. They poured into little cups a fresh watermelon juice Dwight had concocted, while I ladled onto each plate Mama Noodles with Thai Basil Meatballs simmered in WorldFoods Thai Penang Curry Cooking Sauce and Fusil Noodles with Thai Basil Meatballs and a Thai Pesto Sauce.

The girls cleaned their plates quickly, and asked for seconds of the Mama Noodles, and Rocco couldn’t get enough of the Thai Pesto Noodles that left a bright green mustache around his little lips.

Thai Basil Meatballs with Thai Pesto Recipe

But my favorite part of the whole night was after dinner, with our stomachs full, and the girls sang melodic songs in their native language while they all followed Rocco as he took their hands and lead them up and down the stairs as he explored the house.

I love how Courageous Kitchen teaches these beautiful girls how to cook every week and brings routine and purpose to their chaotic lives. If you want to be part of the fun, please support a Courageous Cooking class here and help these beautiful girls continue to learn how to make beauty out of chaos.


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Thai Basil Meatballs with Thai Pesto Recipe

Thai Basil Meatballs with Thai Pesto Sauce Recipe

  • Total Time: 42 minutes


Try out our easy Thai fusion dish, Thai Basil Meatballs with Thai Pesto Sauce!



Thai Basil Meatballs

  • 34 servings of pasta of your choice
  • 1 c. Thai basil leaves
  • 37 Thai chili peppers (depending on spice tolerance)
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp. Thai black soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1.5 pounds ground meat (beef, chicken, pork or turkey)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • 3 tsp. tapioca starch or corn starch

Thai Pesto Sauce

  • 2 c. Thai basil leaves
  • 1/2 c. cilantro
  • 1/2 c. roasted peanuts
  • 35 Thai chili peppers
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • juice from 3 limes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. olive oil


  1. Start with making the meatballs. Place basil leaves, Thai chili peppers, and garlic in food processor. Pulse until finely ground.
  2. In a large bowl, add the meat, egg, bread crumbs, tapioca starch, basil-chili mixture, fish sauce, Thai black soy sauce and sugar.
  3. Mix together.
  4. Form small meatballs and place on a broiler-safe cooking sheet.
  5. Turn broiler on high and cook meatballs for about 10-12 minutes, depending on your oven. Cook until browned on outside and not pink inside.
  6. While meatballs are cooking, cook the pasta according to box directions.
  7. You can also start the Thai pesto sauce. Put all Thai pesto ingredients in the food processor.
  8. Pulse until fine. Taste and add more oil, peanuts, salt and lime to your liking.
  9. Once meatballs are done and pasta is drained, add the meatballs to the pasta and mix in the pesto.
  10. Enjoy!


Everyone has their own preferred method of cooking meatballs, but we like broiling them because it’s quick, and it makes them taste almost like luk chin ping, grilled meatballs from the streets of Bangkok.

We like to just put a light coating of the pesto sauce on our noodles, but feel free to double this recipe if you like having a lot of pesto on your noodles.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes


  • Serving Size: 3-4


  • michelle

    This sounds so amazing! I love the story, but I also love the inventiveness behind the pesto. Definitely going to have to try this!

  • Sherri Pengjad

    Thanks for your kind words Mich! I can’t wait for you to try it and tell me what you think 🙂