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Hambāgu Meatballs

Total time: 3 hours (includes prepping, assembling, and baking)

Yield: About 50-60 meatballs (2” inch balls)

Hambāgu meatballs are a very special food to me because my grandma has been making these meatballs for my sister and me since we were toddlers. It’s her original recipe that she made for us because she loves cooking for us, and our food allergies won’t stop her from doing so! She made it possible so that the meatballs were free from the top 9 allergens. Every time she makes them for me, it’s a treat! I personally enjoy eating these delicious meatballs with mashed potatoes. I worked with my grandma to write this recipe, and we both hope the food allergy community gets to enjoy this tasty hambāgu recipe and share it with others!

Allergy Information

Free of: milk, egg, wheat, fish, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, soy, sesame

Contains: none of the top 9 allergens (contains egg if you choose the option with egg)


  • 2 pounds of ground beef

  • 1 big bulb of garlic

  • 1 ½ big red onions

  • 20 big brown mushrooms

  • 1 bunch of red Swiss chard

  • ½ cup of plain Cheerios (crushed), ⅓ cup of cooked rice (any rice), OR 1 large egg

  • ½ teaspoon of salt (or more/less)

  • ½ teaspoon of pepper (or more/less)

  • Canola or vegetable oil (for sautéing)

  • 1 tablespoon of vegan butter


Step 1: making the vegetable mixture

Heat a medium-sized pan on the stove over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Wash and mince the garlic and coat the pan with canola or vegetable oil right before you sauté the garlic in the pan. Wash and dice the red onions, then add them to the pan. Wash the mushrooms and cut off the stems if they’re dirty. Cut each mushroom into quarters and slice each one into about one-centimeter strips. Add the mushrooms to the pan. Wash and stem each leaf of chard, separating the leaves and stems. Add only the stems to the pan. Put the chard leaves in a separate bowl for later. Keeping the pan over medium heat, stir the mixture in the pan for about 10 minutes. Now, add the chard leaves to the pan. Add the salt and pepper to the pan quickly after you add the chard leaves. Reduce the heat to low heat and stir often for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside for about an hour to cool down.

Step 2: adding the meat

Once the vegetable mixture cools down, transfer the vegetable mixture into a big bowl. Then, add the ground beef to the bowl. Use your hands or a wooden spoon to mix the vegetable mixture and the ground beef together. Add the crushed Cheerios powder, any type of rice, OR an egg to the bowl. If you add an egg, whisk the egg in a separate bowl, then add it to the mixture. Continue to use your hands or a wooden spoon to mix the vegetable mixture, ground beef, and power/rice/egg together in the bowl.

Step 3: molding the meatballs

Place a large plate near the bowl of hambāgu mixture. Use a spoon to scoop a handful of the hambāgu mixture onto your hand. Mold each spoonful of hambāgu mixture into about a 2” diameter ball and set the meatballs onto the big plate. Continue this process until you have used all of the hambāgu mixture.

Step 4: cooking the meatballs

Heat another pan (or wash the pan you used before) over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the vegan butter and let it melt in the pan. Put as many meatballs as you can on the pan without stacking them on top of each other. Let the meatballs cook for about 5 minutes or until they’re brown on each side. Transfer the cooked meatballs onto a large plate. Continue this process until all of the meatballs have been cooked. If there’s no more butter on the pan as you cook the meatballs, add more so that each batch of meatballs soaks in some butter as they cook.

Step 5: serving suggestions and storage instructions

Serve warm right away or let them cool down for about 30 minutes and store in the refrigerator. Lasts in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Serving suggestions include putting the meatballs together with mashed potatoes or rice. Enjoy!


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