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Best chicken meatballs recipe

This is hands down the best baked chicken meatballs recipe I’ve ever made. Flavored with garlic, herbs, and Parmesan cheese; they are great on their own, on top of pasta, or tucked into a sandwich. The recipe makes about 3 dozen meatballs – perfect for meal prepping.

I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.

You may also be interested in my easy ricotta meatballs and my Greek chicken meatballs recipes. For ease of browsing, you can find all of my meatball recipes in one place.

Baked chicken meatballs on a white plate with a small bowl of marinara sauce on the side.

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Why you should make this recipe

  • Quick and easy – This chicken meatball recipe will take you just over 30 minutes, from start to finish, and requires only a bowl and a sheet pan.
  • Versatile – The herb and seasoning combinations for these meatballs are endless, and they can used in everything from soup to sandwiches.
  • Make ahead – Meatballs are great for making ahead of time. You can reheat them for weekday lunches, or get a jump on dinner for the week.
Close up of baked chicken meatballs on white plate sprinkled with herbs and Parmesan cheese.

Chicken meatballs recipe

These oven baked chicken meatballs are my new “go-to” meatball. It has taken a few tries to achieve the perfect taste and texture, but I finally did it. Because ground chicken doesn’t have much flavor on its own, I’m fairly aggressive with seasonings.

I used dried spices in this recipe to streamline the process. The whole endeavor should take just over 30 minutes from start to finish, so you can get dinner on the table without much hassle, but still get a big flavor payoff.

Baked meatballs with marinara on a white plate with a blue and white tile background.

Ingredients

To make these easy ground chicken meatballs, you’ll need some pantry basics, most of which you likely already have.

Ingredients for baked chicken meatballs on a light gray marble background.
  • Ground chicken – Ground chicken is the perfect blank canvas for these flavorful meatballs.
    • Substitutions: You can use ground turkey instead, if you prefer.
  • Parmesan cheese – Buy a small piece and grate it yourself, it’s less expensive in the long run.
    • Substitutions: Pecorino Romano is also a terrific option, and one I use often.
  • Panko breadcrumbs Also known as Japanese breadcrumb, it is coarser than the fine Italian breadcrumbs.
  • Egg Provides moisture to the mixture and also helps bind the meatballs.
  • Olive oil Ground chicken is very lean and a bit of olive oil gives them much needed fat to keep them juicy.
  • Seasonings – Salt, pepper, garlic, onion, paprika, oregano & parsley. If you prefer to add in fresh garlic, onion and herbs, that’s a great option!

How to make baked chicken meatballs

Here’s a quick summary of how to make chicken meatballs. Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full recipe. 

Step by step photos showing how to make this chicken meatballs recipe.
  1. Prep – Preheat oven to 400°F // 200°C. Add everything except ground chicken to a bowl. Mix everything together with a fork.
  2. Mix – Add ground chicken to mixture and gently fold ground chicken into the breadcrumb mixture until it is fairly uniform.
  3. Roll – Scoop the meatballs and gently roll into balls. Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
  4. Bake – Bake for 20 – 22 minutes. Do not overbake them, otherwise they will become tough.
Inside of chicken meatball on small white plate with two meatballs behind it. A fork is on the side of the meatball on the plate.

Chicken meatballs recipe FAQ’s

Can I freeze these chicken meatballs?

Absolutely. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

How long will they last in the fridge?

You can keep your cooked chicken meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 or 5 days.

Can I use Italian breadcrumb instead of panko?

Yes, you can. I would use slightly less of the Italian breadcrumb because the panko is lighter and not as compact in the measuring cup.

Tips and tricks for success

When mixing meatballs, you want to handle the ground chicken as little as possible. This is why I mix everything up first, then add the chicken. Working the ground chicken too much will make the meatballs rubbery, and we want light and fluffy.

I use my hand to fold the mixture together, starting from the side, then folding from underneath and over the top – just like you would fold cake batter in a bowl. I don’t mash it all up with my hands because this tends to start packing it together, and will make dense meatballs. Again, we want light and fluffy.

When rolling the meatballs, use your hands to smooth them into balls, not to pack them tightly. When I’m shaping the meatballs, I am barely applying any pressure at all. What does this mean? You guessed it – light and fluffy chicken meatballs.

Finally, lightly oil your hands, or use damp hands to roll. This will keep the mixture from sticking to you.

Baked chicken meatball recipe on white plate with a small bowl of marinara sauce on the back side of the plate.

Variations and substitutions

  • Spicy – Add in a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to give it a bit of a kick.
  • Gluten-free – Swap out the panko for gluten-free breadcrumbs.
  • Turkey – Swap ground chicken for ground turkey, if you prefer.

Serving suggestions

This chicken meatball recipe is an obvious match for a plate of pasta & sauce, but don’t stop there!

Make them even smaller to use in my Italian wedding soup, or stuff them into a roll with some sauce and cheese for a delicious sandwich. They are good enough to eat as is, with some veggies and rice, or with one of these salads.

Plate of meatballs with marinara sauce on a white plate, with a small bowl of grated Parmesan cheese on the side.

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Plate of chicken meatballs on a white background.

Chicken meatballs recipe

Cheryl Bennett
Tender and juicy, this quick and easy baked chicken meatballs recipe will be your new favorite.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Meatball recipes
Cuisine Italian-American
Servings 35 meatballs
Calories

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic / garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. granulated onion / onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs / 120ml
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese / 120ml
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs. ground chicken / 680g

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F (375°F with convection fan) / 200°C / Gas mark 6. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, then set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients except the chicken. Use a fork to mix everything together.
  • Add ground chicken to the breadcrumb mixture and gently fold the chicken in until it is uniformly combined.
  • Use a small scoop (or a tablespoon measure) to portion out the meatballs – you should have about 35. Using your hands (*see note) very gently shape the meatballs. Do not pack them when rolling, use as little pressure as possible. Place the rolled meatballs onto the prepared sheet pan.
  • Bake meatballs for 20 – 22 minutes. Remove from oven and let them rest on the hot sheet pan for a few minutes before serving.
  • Store leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 or 5 days.

Notes

  • When rolling meatballs, wet your hands with water, or lightly oil your hands to keep the meat from sticking to you. When the meat sticks to your hands, the meatballs won't be smooth on the outside. I can usually roll about 5 or 6 before I have to add a few more drops of oil to my hands.
  • Also, when shaping meatballs, do not pack them in your hands. Use the lightest touch possible. When you pack them as you roll, you're making the mixture more dense and compact. This will yield heavy meatballs, instead of light and fluffy ones. You are merely shaping the meatballs to make them smoother. The lighter your touch, the lighter the end result will be.
  • I use a small scoop to make sure that all of the meatballs are the same size. This ensures that they will cook evenly, at the same rate.
  • The meatballs will be cooked through in about 20 minutes. Do not overcook them, they will dry out and become tough. Let them rest for a few minutes on the hot sheet pan before serving. Those few minutes help the juices to redistribute giving you tender, juicy meatballs.
  • You can store the leftover meatballs in the fridge for 4 or 5 days. You can also store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • You can freeze the uncooked meatballs for up to 3 months, then thaw overnight before baking.
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