Butter Chicken Meatballs

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

To make that happen, I’m channeling a favorite curry recipe — Butter Chicken– into these irresistible Butter Chicken Meatballs. Tender and flavorful chicken meatballs are tossed in a rich and creamy curry sauce. 

We love these meatballs served over basmati rice with lots of fresh cilantro and naan bread. If you’ve got a few minutes, the cucumber raita from these Ground Beef Naan Tacos makes a refreshing and delicious topping as well.

 

View of a plate with Butter Chicken Meatballs on a bed of rice, garnished with cilantro and naan bread on the side.

Butter Chicken Meatballs

Butter Chicken is one of my family’s favorite meals and when I found myself with some ground chicken intended for these Chicken Parmesan Meatballs but was missing some staple ingredients, I decided to create Butter Chicken Meatballs instead.

These meatballs are bursting with flavor! They’re tender and juicy with crisp exteriors, bathed in the most luxuriously creamy and intensely flavored curry sauce. 

Butter Chicken Meatballs do require a bit of work, so while I don’t necessarily recommend them as a weeknight meal, these meatballs are a dish dressed to impress! If you have company coming, or when you’ve got some extra time on hand and are feeling ambitious in the kitchen, this is the dish to consider. Truthfully, though, we love them so much I make sure to carve out some extra time some days, anyway.

Process shots: combining the seasoning ingredients; adding to the the meatball ingredients; knead to combine everything.

Double-Purpose Spice Blend

Many Indian dishes call for one group of seasonings for the chicken and different ones for the curry. I’ve combined the two processes, so you only have to make one spice blend. Half goes in the meatball mixture and the rest goes in the sauce. 

One of the best things about these Butter Chicken Meatballs is that the ingredients are very easily accessible. No need to go to a specialty store or order anything online; you should be able to find everything at your local grocery store!

Process shots: sauté onion in butter until golden; add sugar and sauté; add seasonings and tomato paste; sauté until fragrant.

Butter Chicken Meatball Tips

  • Don’t overwork the meat mixture. Stop mixing as soon as all the ingredients are incorporated into the ground chicken.
  • Keep the ground chicken cold. The colder the ground chicken, the easier these meatballs are to roll and shape.
  • Roll small, even-sized meatballs. In order for Butter Chicken Meatballs to cook through in time and evenly, be sure they’re all roughly the same size. This recipe makes about 32-34 meatballs that are all 1 tablespoon in size

QUICK TIP

Invest in a meat thermometer — you’ll be amazed how handy it is! The meatballs need to be cooked to 160 degrees F (carryover heat takes them to 165 degrees F). Since cooking time will vary due to several factors, I always recommend using a digital meat thermometer to remove any guesswork on your end. Undercooked chicken meatballs aren’t safe to consume and overcooked meatballs will be dry and flavorless.

Process shots: add crushed tomatoes to the sauce; add in cream, stir and simmer; transfer sauce to a blender and process; combine the sauce with the cooked butter chicken meatballs

Faster Butter Chicken Meatball preparation

Meatballs are one of my favorite meals and since I make them so often, I’ve found that preparing the meatballs in stages saves time. Here’s what I mean by that:

  • Start by scooping out even amounts of the meatball mixture. Use a lightly greased 1-tablespoon measuring spoon with nonstick cooking spray; press the measuring spoon into the meatball mixture and against the side of the bowl to get an evenly packed amount.
  • Using your index finger, scoop the mixture out of the measuring spoon on to a prepared plate. Repeat with the remaining meat.
  • Now, roll all the sectioned meat into even-sized, round meatballs.
  • Finally, roll all the meatballs into the flour.

QUICK TIP

It may not seem like it saves a lot of time, but it’s loads quicker than individually measuring out, shaping, and rolling one meatball at a time. If the meat mixture gets too sticky, chill it in the fridge or lightly spritz your hands with cooking spray.

Process shots: portion out meatballs; roll into balls; toss to coat in flour; brown meatballs; transfer to a plate for these butter chicken meatballs.

What to serve with Butter Chicken Meatballs

Below are the three accompaniments we like with Butter Chicken Meatballs and I provide details to explain.

  • We love Butter Chicken Meatballs served over basmati rice (or plain cooked white rice). I have a foolproof way to prepare nice and fluffy basmati rice every single time! See below.
  • Serve naan bread on the side to scoop up the meatballs and sauce. We love toasting the naan bread; more on this follows.
  • A very common accompaniment to Indian dishes is an easy cucumber and yogurt salad called raita. I’m sharing my raita recipe and it adds such a nice lightness and freshness to the rich curry.

Cooking basmati rice

Here’s how I cook the basmati rice:

  • Measure the rice and rinse it in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear.
  • Place the rinsed rice in a bowl and cover it with water to soak for about 5-10 minutes.
  • While the rice soaks, fill a large pot with water and set to boil.
  • Once the water is at a rolling boil, drain the rice and add it to the pot.
  • Cook, without reducing the heat, for 5 minutes (taste and ensure the rice is tender; add another minute if not) and then drain and fluff with a fork.

Toasting naan bread

If serving naan bread alongside these Butter Chicken Meatballs, I recommend charring it before serving. To do this, spray both sides of the naan with olive oil cooking spray and “grill” the bread on the stovetop over the open flame until slightly charred. Alternatively, warm the bread (covered with a damp paper towel) in the microwave.

We like Stonefire® naan bread best, but if you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can also make your own naan bread!

Homemade Raita

  • 1/2 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt (we love Greek Gods®)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped English (or Persian) cucumber
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin, ground coriander, fine sea salt

Add all the sauce ingredients to a medium-sized bowl. Stir until combined and then refrigerate.

Process shots: add cilantro to the sauce; toss meatballs in the sauce; serve on rice and with naan.

Spice Levels

Butter Chicken is typically a much milder curry when compared to other Indian curries, so it’s very family friendly. My kids inhale my regular Butter Chicken and these Butter Chicken Meatballs are no different! You can certainly add more spice to this dish, but as written, it is mild with a tiny kick.

To eliminate any kick at all, leave out the cayenne pepper. To increase the amount of heat, increase the amount of cayenne pepper to 1/4 teaspoon.

Overhead view of a plate of Butter Chicken Meatballs on a bed of rice.

More delicious curries

FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content.

Butter Chicken Meatballs

0 from 0 votes
I'm channeling a favorite curry recipe -- Butter Chicken into these irresistible Butter Chicken Meatballs. Tender and flavorful chicken meatballs are tossed in a rich and creamy curry sauce. 
Print Recipe

Butter Chicken Meatballs

0 from 0 votes
I'm channeling a favorite curry recipe -- Butter Chicken into these irresistible Butter Chicken Meatballs. Tender and flavorful chicken meatballs are tossed in a rich and creamy curry sauce. 
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword butter chicken meatballs
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4 -6 servings
Calories 898kcal
Cost $6.72

Ingredients

Spices

  • 2 tablespoons EACH: ground cumin, garam masala
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons EACH: ground turmeric and paprika
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons EACH: finely minced garlic, finely minced ginger (~4 cloves; ~1 inch piece)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional

Meatballs

  • 1 pound (16 oz.) ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup (111g) yellow onion grated on a box grater
  • 1/2 cup (44g) panko (See Note 1)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/3 cup (46g) white flour
  • 1/4 cup (43g) coconut oil (measured when solid)

Curry

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (225g) finely diced yellow onion (~1 very large onion)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.; 411g) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (274g) heavy whipping cream
  • Serve with: cooked basmati rice, toasted Naan bread, and fresh cilantro (optional) (See Note 2)

Instructions

  • SPICE MIX: In a small bowl measure out and then stir together all the spices, garlic, and ginger (You can peel the ginger with a spoon or vegetable peeler and then finely mince it).
  • CHICKEN MEATBALLS: In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, grated yellow onion (peel and then grate on large holes of a box grater then measure to get a lightly packed and leveled 1/2 cup), panko, egg, cilantro, and lemon juice. Add 1/2 of the spice mix from step #1 (just eyeball out half of it) and season meatballs with salt and pepper to taste (I add 1 teaspoon of each). Knead the ingredients together until evenly combined. Do not overmix or overknead; stop as soon as ingredients are combined. Cover tightly and refrigerate this mixture until step 5.
  • SAUCE: While meatball mixture is chilling, make the sauce. Heat the 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet; add in the 1 and 1/2 cups finely diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 7-9 minutes. Reduce the heat if it begins to burn/brown-- we're looking for a golden color. Add in the 1 tablespoon sugar and continue to sauté until onions are lightly caramelized, another 3-5 minutes. We're adding layers of flavor, so don't rush this sautéing. Add in the other half of the spice mix and 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Stir for 2-3 minutes or until very fragrant. Reduce heat if the mixture begins to burn.
  • SAUCE CONT.: Add in the fire-roasted crushed tomatoes and saute for 1 minute. Add in the 1 and 1/4 cup heavy cream and add salt and pepper to taste (I add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper). Stir, and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce has thickened and is fragrant.
  • ROLL MEATBALLS IN FLOUR: While sauce is simmering, work on the meatballs, starting by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Add the 1/3 cup flour to a bowl and set aside. Here's my process for meatballs: Line a large plate or sheet pan with parchment paper. Lightly spritz a 1-tablespoon measuring spoon with nonstick cooking spray and then use that to portion out meatballs to the parchment paper-lined plate. Portion out all the meat onto the plate without rolling into balls. Once all the meat is portioned out, then roll each portion into a ball. Once all the balls have been rolled, give them all a quick roll in the flour. Tap off the excess flour and return the meatballs to the plate. By doing everything in a batch instead of one at a time, you'll find it goes so much quicker.
  • SEAR MEATBALLS: Heat 1/4 cup of the coconut oil to medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add in half of the meatballs. Sauté for 4 minutes, turning with tongs after 2 minutes, until the meatballs are browned on the outsides, but not cooked through. Discard the parchment paper and return the meatballs to the plate (without the parchment paper)
  • BAKE MEATBALLS: Repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding extra coconut oil if needed. Transfer meatballs to the plate and quickly rinse or wipe out the skillet. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Return the rest of the meatballs to the oven-safe skillet. Place the skillet in the oven and bake 7-15 minutes or until the meatballs are completely cooked through (160 degrees F). I check the meatballs with an oven thermometer at 5 minutes and then check every 3 minutes after that. It usually takes about 12 minutes in my oven.
  • FINISHING SAUCE: Meanwhile, transfer the simmered and thickened sauce to a blender. Blend until completely smooth and return to skillet. if desired, stir in some chopped cilantro here (I add about 1/3 cup). Once meatballs are cooked through, add them into the sauce and stir to coat.
  • SERVE: Serve saucy meatballs over cooked basmati rice (See Note 2) and garnish with additional cilantro leaves (optional). Serve with toasted naan bread (See Note 3). Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb found near other breadcrumbs or in the Asian food aisle of your store. 
Note 2: Here’s how I cook the basmati rice:
  • Measure the rice and rinse it in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear.
  • Place the rinsed rice in a bowl and cover it with water to soak for about 5-10 minutes.
  • While the rice soaks, fill a large pot with water and set to boil.
  • Once the water is at a rolling boil, drain the rice and add it to the pot.
  • Cook, without reducing the heat, for 5 minutes (taste and ensure the rice is tender; add another minute if not) and then drain and fluff with a fork.
Note 3: Here's how I toast naan bread: Spray both sides of the naan with olive oil cooking spray and “grill” the bread on the stovetop over the open flame until slightly charred. Alternatively, warm (covered with a damp paper towel) in the microwave.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 898kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 63g | Saturated Fat: 39g | Cholesterol: 268mg | Sodium: 401mg | Potassium: 1021mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1578IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 152mg | Iron: 4mg

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

More Recipes You'll Love

Butternut Squash Curry

50 mins

Butternut Squash Curry

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Chicken Curry

30 mins

Chicken Curry

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Grilled Curry Chicken

2 hrs 40 mins

Grilled Curry Chicken

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Soup (With Chickpeas!)

1 hrs 35 mins

Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Soup (With Chickpeas!)

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

FREE BONUS

FREE BONUS

EASY MEAL SECRETS:
How to Make Mealtime Hassle Free!

5 secrets to easy, fast and delicious dinners.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




0 Comments

Never Miss a Recipe

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.