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Chinese Lion's Head Pork Meatballs - Instant Pot + Stove-top

These Chinese Lion's Head Pork Meatballs for the Lunar New Year, cooked in the Instant Pot or stove-top, are great if you need quick, easy recipes for the largest, worldwide Asian event. I cook Chinese food for the occasion, to make sure we invite good luck and good fortune into our homes. For these meatballs, combine the pork, rice wine, soy sauce, fresh ginger and seasonings. It's an easy recipe that involves braising the meatballs quickly and then steaming them till they are cooked. This recipe was inspired by the site Omnivore's Cookbook. My recipe version serves 2 to 4.
*I share 2 alternative ways to cook these meatballs: In the Instant Pot or stove-top. Cooking time below is for the Instant Pot.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Filipino
Keyword: Chinese Lion's Head Pork Meatballs
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 490kcal
Author: Asian in America


  • Instant Pot multicooker - 6 quarts or 8 quarts.
  • Standard steamer for stove-top
  • Large skillet or Wok: 12 to 14 inches diameter


  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 Tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • 4 Tablespoons toyo (soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 stalks scallions, chopped Divided, use whites for meatballs mixture; rest of greens for garnish
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup chopped water chestnuts, canned drained
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 cup bread crumbs regular, plain-flavored
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 whole white or yellow onion, chopped

For serving:

  • steamed rice


To cook meatballs stove-top:

  • In a large mxing bowl, combine the ground pork, rice wine, toyo, salt, sugar, ginger, cornstarch and scallion whites. Add the chestnuts and eggs. Add the bread crumbs. Pour the sesame oil. Blend ingredients well till all are incorporated.
    Shape meatballs into 2-inch sized balls. Set aside in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to firm up.
  • In a large skillet or wok, over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil. When oil is hot enough in 1 to 2 minutes, saute the onions.
    Add the meatballs to the skillet or wok. Brown the meatballs for 2 minutes till they are a light gold color.
    Remove the meatballs and transfer to a steaming rack.
    Steam inside a standard steamer over boiling water for 40 minutes.
    When meatballs are done, arrange on a serving platter. Garnish with scallion greens. Serve with steamed white rice.

To cook in the Instant Pot:

  • Combine ingredients for meatballs and shape into 2-inch balls. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up.
    Click the Saute function of the Instant Pot.
    Add the vegetable oil to the inner pot of the Instant Pot. When oil is hot in 1 to 2 minute, saute the onions till translucent, for 2 minutes.
    Add the meatballs to the inner pot with the onions. Braise the meatballs for 2 minutes till brown. Remove the browned meatballs and set aside.
    Click Cancel to turn off Saute function.
  • Let the inner pot cool down for about 5 minutes. Discard any leftover oil.
    Pour 2 to 3 cups water into the inner pot. Place a trivet in the inner pot, over the water. Water should reach the side of the trivet. Do not drown it.
    Place the pork meatballs in a round, 7-inch steaming pan that has holes. Put this steamer pan over the trivet.
    Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing.
    Click Manual + High Pressure and cook the meatballs for 20 minute.
    When buzzer sounds to announce cooking is over, do a Quick Release.
    Carefully unlock and open the lid. Set the lid on a safe, dry place of the counter.
    Using a large cooking spoon, transfer the meatballs to a serving platter.
    Garnish with scallion greens. Serve warm with rice.

Notes on the Instant Pot:

  • It takes about 17 minutes for the Instant Pot to preheat before the High Pressure cooking time begins. For other multicookers, please consult the product manual.
    Safety: Use metal or silicone accessories recommended for the Instant Pot. Do NOT use glassware. Read the manual for complete safety information.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 490kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 843mg | Potassium: 378mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 2mg