Chicken Meatballs (The BEST!)

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Chicken Meatballs are a tasty and nutritious alternative to traditional beef and pork meatballs. They’re packed with flavor and easy to make–the perfect weeknight dinner option! Even better, there’s no need to slave over browning meatballs on the stovetop—these meatballs are baked all at once. Serve them with our favorite Pesto Pasta for a delicious, satisfying meal that will become a new family favorite!

Overhead image of Chicken Meatballs on a plate ready to be enjoyed

Our Favorite Chicken Meatballs

Meatballs are one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. What I don’t love, though, is the tedious task of browning them on the stovetop, especially when they need to be done in batches. It’s way too easy to overcook or undercook them.

But fear not, because with the baking method I’m sharing today, you’ll still get those gorgeous caramelized edges, a soft and chewy interior, and the perfect internal temperature. Plus, with baking, you can cook all the meatballs at once, making it a hassle-free process. 

Besides being so easy to prepare, Chicken Meatballs are bursting with flavor and have the perfect tender texture. We combine grated onion, Italian seasoning, and chicken bouillon powder to give them asatisfying flavor that’s perfectly balanced with the subtle hint of garlic and savory Parmesan cheese. When baked in the oven, the meatballs become caramelized and slightly crispy on the outside, while the inside remains juicy and tender.

And while these Chicken Meatballs are stellar on their own, nothing beats them served over a bed of Pesto Pasta! Don’t worry — it’s just as easy to make as spaghetti and marinara!

Ingredient shot-- image of all the ingredients used in this dish

Chicken Meatball Ingredients

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key ingredients in these delicious Chicken Meatballs:

  1. Panko breadcrumbs are lighter and crispier than regular breadcrumbs. They give the meatballs added texture while binding them together.
  2. While not a traditional meatball ingredient, chicken bouillon powder adds a rich, meaty, savory flavor that takes these gems to the next level!
  3. Parmesan cheese adds a savory and nutty flavor. Be sure to use the right type to keep your meatballs from getting too salty or developing an odd flavor. Shelf-stable grated Parmesan doesn’t have the same flavor as freshly grated cheese. I suggest using fresh (refrigerated) grated Parmesan, or a block of Parmesan that you grate with a microplane.
  4. Olive oil adds a nice richness and moisture to the meatballs.
  5. Fresh parsley adds a bright and fresh herbaceous flavor. 
  6. The egg helps bind the ingredients together and gives the meatballs a really great texture.
  7. Using ground chicken thighs instead of ground chicken breast results in flavorful, moist meatballs. This meat also has a higher fat content; this helps keep the meatballs juicy and tender during cooking. Don’t be afraid to ask your store’s butcher for help in finding and grinding the right chicken cut.

Process shots of Chicken Meatballs -- images of all the meatball ingredients being combined and then the meatballs being rolled out

How To Make Chicken Meatballs (Tips)

  1. Grate the onion. While it may be a tedious step, grating the onion gives these meatballs the best possible taste and texture. Grating means all the great flavor will be dispersed throughout without any large chunks of uncooked onions.
  2. Keep the ground chicken as cold as possible. Ground chicken is easiest to form into meatballs when it’s cold, so take it out of the fridge right when you need it and handle it as little as possible to keep it cold.
  3. Don’t overwork the meat. Be careful not to over-knead or overwork the meat mixture. That can lead to tough and dense meatballs. Gently knead until the ingredients are fully combined.
  4. Keep your hands moist. To prevent the meat mixture from sticking to your hands while shaping the meatballs, lightly moisten your hands with water or cooking spray.
  5. Make sure the meatballs are evenly sized. Use a measuring spoon to scoop out the same amount of meat mixture for each meatball. This will help ensure that they cook evenly.
  6. Flip the meatballs halfway through cooking. This allows them to evenly brown on both sides.

Process shots of Chicken Meatballs being baked

STORAGE

How To Freeze And Reheat Chicken Meatballs

To freeze cooked meatballs:

  1. After baking, allow them to cool completely.
  2. Place meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze the meatballs for 1-2 hours or until they are frozen solid.
  4. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag, removing as much air as possible.
  5. Label the container or bag with the date and contents, and return to the freezer.

To reheat frozen meatballs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Remove the frozen meatballs from the freezer and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake the meatballs for 15-20 minutes or until they are heated through.
  4. Once the meatballs are heated through, they’re ready to serve.

[quicktip] To prevent freezer burn, it’s important to make sure that the meatballs are well-wrapped and stored in an airtight container or freezer bag. Also, be sure to use frozen meatballs within 3-4 months for best results. [/quicktip]

Images of the Pesto Pasta being prepped as a base for the meatballs

Serve Meatballs Alongside

There are many side dishes and serving options that go well with Chicken Meatballs. Here are some ideas:

  • Pasta: Serve the meatballs over a bed of pasta (like spaghetti or linguine) with your favorite sauce. 
  • Salad: Serve with a side salad, such as Caesar salad, a quick garden salad, or Caprese salad.
  • Vegetables: Add a side of steamed or roasted vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, or green beans.
  • Sandwiches: Make a Chicken Meatball sandwich by stuffing them into a hoagie roll or a pita pocket, and topping with your favorite vegetables, sauces, and condiments.
  • Appetizer: Serve meatballs as an appetizer (either on their own or with toothpicks) alongside other party foods.

Overhead image of Chicken Meatballs on a bed of pasta ready to be enjoyed

More Chicken Recipes

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Chicken Meatballs

5 from 6 votes
Chicken Meatballs are a tasty and nutritious alternative to traditional beef and pork meatballs. They're packed with flavor and easy to make-- the perfect weeknight dinner option. Plus, there's no need to slave over meatballs browning on the stovetop—these are baked all at once! Serve them with our favorite pesto pasta for a delicious and satisfying meal that will become a new family favorite!
Print Recipe

Chicken Meatballs

5 from 6 votes
Chicken Meatballs are a tasty and nutritious alternative to traditional beef and pork meatballs. They're packed with flavor and easy to make-- the perfect weeknight dinner option. Plus, there's no need to slave over meatballs browning on the stovetop—these are baked all at once! Serve them with our favorite pesto pasta for a delicious and satisfying meal that will become a new family favorite!
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Healthy
Keyword chicken meatballs
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 30 meatballs
Chelsea Lords
Calories 46kcal
Cost $12.13

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 large red (or yellow) onion, peeled and grated on large holes of cheese grater
  • 1 pound ground chicken (preferred: ground thighs)
  • ½ cup Panko (Note 1)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese grated (Note 2)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: fine sea salt & pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each: chicken bouillon powder, onion powder, garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 large egg

Optional Serving Suggestion (Pesto Pasta)

  • 1 lb spaghetti, plus reserved cooking water
  • 1 cup fresh basil pesto (Note 3)

Instructions

  • MEATBALLS: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a large dark-colored sheet pan with sides, using cooking spray; set aside. (Don't line sheet pan with foil or parchment). Peel the outside layers off the onion. Using a cheese grater with large holes, grate the onion until you have ½ cup of grated onion and add it to a large bowl. Add remaining meatball ingredients. Gently knead the ingredients until integrated, being careful not to overwork the meat.
  • MEATBALLS CONT.: Use a tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop a heaping tablespoon of meat mixture, and roll it into an even-sized ball. It may be helpful to lightly grease your hands with cooking spray to make rolling the balls easier. Repeat this step with the remaining meat mixture, aiming to get about 28-30 evenly-sized meatballs.
  • BAKE: Evenly space the meatballs on the prepared sheet pan, allowing plenty of space for each meatball, and generously spray with cooking spray. Bake the meatballs for 17 minutes. Then, use a sharp metal spatula and your fingers (be careful, they're hot!) to gently flip them over to the other side. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes (I do 8 more minutes) or until golden brown and cooked through.
  • SERVE: If desired, prepare pesto pasta for serving with these meatballs! Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add 1 tbsp fine sea salt. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Before draining, scoop out and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain pasta, shake off excess water, but do not rinse. Meanwhile, measure out one full cup of pesto and add to a large ceramic/glass bowl. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, dump it on top of the pesto in the bowl. Drizzle on 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and use tongs to toss the pasta in the pesto. Continue to toss until the pasta is evenly coated. Add more pasta water if needed to make it cohesive and creamy. Add meatballs on top and spoon some extra pesto on top if desired. Drizzle on some lemon juice and Parmesan cheese and enjoy promptly!

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Panko: Panko breadcrumbs are lighter and crispier than traditional breadcrumbs, which gives these meatballs a great texture. You can find them next to regular breadcrumbs in the baking aisle. 
Note 2: Parmesan: It's important to use the right type of Parmesan cheese to ensure that your meatballs don't end up too salty or with an odd flavor. Avoid using shelf-stable grated Parmesan--it doesn't have the same flavor as freshly grated cheese. Grab freshly grated (refrigerated) Parmesan here.
Note 3: Pesto: To make sure your pesto pasta is bursting with flavor,  use a high-quality pesto. You can of course make your own pesto, and if you choose that option, you've got to try my pesto recipe. (It's the best I've ever tried!) However, if you’re looking to save some time (you did make those meatballs after all!), I recommend picking up a refrigerated, freshly-made basil pesto from your local grocery store. Look for it near the refrigerated fresh pasta and gourmet cheese. Rana's® Basil Pesto is hands-down our fave.
Nutrition information is calculated for one meatball with no sauce.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 46kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 156mg | Potassium: 96mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 66IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 0.3mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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5 from 6 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Cant wait to make this soon for me can I use mushrooms / vegan cheese and vegetable bouillon perfect for my after office meals love your recipes as always brightens up my day everyday after work

    1. No it’s 46 kcals per meatball.
      Calories and kcal are used interchangeably and refer to the same amount of energy

  2. 5 stars
    Another winner! We keep making these for dinner! We have used ground chicken breast instead of ground thighs and they are still tender. Love your recipes Chelsea!

  3. 5 stars
    These meatballs are amazing! I have made them several times and they turn out perfect every time. They are so versatile. One time I baked them for 10 mins then finished cooking them in marinara and they were delicious and so tender. My husband said they are better then regular beef meatballs. Thank you for such a great recipe!😊

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