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Chicken Meatballs

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My go-to baked chicken meatballs recipe is easy to make and customize with your favorite seasonings.

Baked chicken Meatballs Recipe

Tens of thousands of you have made my favorite traditional meatballs since I first shared that recipe a few years ago. So I’m pleased to be back today with my favorite recipe for baked chicken meatballs! ♡

Let’s get right to the core issue of this recipe — chicken is a considerably leaner meat than pork or beef, which too often leads to sub-par meatballs that can be dry, tough, or disappointingly bland. Which, of course, will not do! So today, we’re going to employ a few easy tricks to make sure that your meatballs are 5-star winners every single time.

First off, you’ve gotta start with a panade (puh-NOD), which is just a fancy French word for a starch-and-liquid mixture (in our case, breadcrumbs and milk soaked together while you prep the other ingredients) that helps prevent the meat from shrinking and toughening during cooking. It requires almost zero extra time yet makes a huge difference in keeping the meatballs moist and tender, so don’t skip it! Second, we’re going to be extra-gentle when forming the meatballs, so that the mixture doesn’t get overworked and accidentally become too tough. We’re also going to bump up the oven shelf and cook the meatballs near the top of the oven so that they can brown more quickly during their short baking time. And finally, we’ll add a generous amount of seasoning to make sure each bite is legit-delicious and full of flavor.

I’ve included my favorite all-purpose seasoning for these meatballs in the recipe below (garlic, onion powder, smoked paprika, and Worcestershire), which honestly works with just about any type of recipe you may be craving. But please feel free to customize the seasoning to taste and add in whatever herbs, spices, or other flavor boosters that you love best. Then serve these meatballs up however you prefer — with Italian marinara and pasta, Swedish gravy, American buffalo sauce, Thai curry, Japanese teriyaki, Greek tzatiki, you name it. This chicken meatballs recipe is here for all occasions and is always a winner!

Chicken meatball ingredients

Chicken Meatball Ingredients

Here are a few brief notes about the baked chicken meatball ingredients that you will need for this recipe:

  • Ground chicken: We prefer to use ground chicken thighs for this recipe, which yields meatballs that are more tender and moist. But ground chicken breasts, which will be more lean, work well in this recipe too.
  • Panko breadcrumbs: We’ll briefly soak Panko in milk to create a panade, which will help to keep these meatballs moist and tender and bind all of the ingredients together.
  • Milk: Feel free to use your favorite dairy or non-dairy plain milk to soak the breadcrumbs.
  • Eggs: Eggs serve as our primary binding agent here to help hold all of these ingredients together.
  • Garlic: We recommend using a generous amount of minced garlic (pressed or minced) in these meatballs as the base seasoning.
  • Parmesan: Parmesan cheese adds a nutty, salty, umami-rich flavor to these meatballs that we love. For optimum flavor, we recommend freshly-grating the Parm with the fine edge of a box grater or a microplane just before using.
  • Seasonings: We use an all-purpose mix of onion powder, smoked paprika and Worcestershire sauce to season these meatballs, along with salt and pepper, which is incredibly versatile and works well with just about any kind of recipe. But please feel free to customize the seasonings however you love best!

How to make meatballs

How To Make Chicken Meatballs

Detailed instructions for how to make chicken meatballs are included in the recipe below, but here’s a quick overview of the process.

  1. Make the panade. First, we’ll stir together the Panko and milk until combined and then let the mixture soak for 5 to 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients. Prep and combine the remaining ingredients, as well as the panade, in a large mixing bowl. I find it’s easiest to just use your hands to mix the ingredients until combined, but you could also mix them with a large spoon or spatula. (I would not recommend using a food processor, as it tends to overwork the meatball mixture.)
  3. Form the meatballs. Using a medium cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop and roll the mixture into 2-tablespoon balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Mist the meatballs with olive oil spray and season with a few twists of freshly-ground black pepper.
  4. Bake. Bake for 15 minutes on the top rack of the oven (about 6 inches from the heating grates), or until an instant-read thermometer measures the internal temperature of the meatballs to be 165°F. Transfer to a wire cooling rack.
  5. Serve. Serve the meatballs immediately and enjoy!

Chicken meatballs

Chicken Meatball Tips

Here are a few additional tips for how to make chicken meatballs:

  • Don’t skip the panade. I’m a big believer using a panade when making all kinds of meatballs, but I find it especially essential when making chicken meatballs. It helps to lock extra moisture into the lean meat (which can be prone to dryness) and ensures that they stay nice and tender.
  • Season generously. The flavor of chicken is famously quite neutral on its own, so don’t hesitate to season these meatballs generously. If you have the extra time, you’re always welcome to cook a test meatball just to make sure that the seasoning is right where you want it (especially if you’re experimenting with different seasonings). But I do find that the recipe below is a reliable place to begin!
  • Mix gently. As always when making meatballs, you want to avoid overworking the mixture so that the meatballs are not overly tough. Mix all of the components just until combined, form the balls gently, and you’ll be good to go.
  • Use a scoop. I find that using an ice cream scoop makes the portioning part go much more quickly and tends to yield much more uniformly sized meatballs. Feel free to also weigh the meatballs on a kitchen scale if you would like to ensure that they all cook evenly.

Bowl of chicken meatballs

Recipe Variations

Here are a few additional variations that you’re welcome to try with this chicken meatball recipe:

  • Use ground turkey: Ground turkey can be easily substituted here in place of ground chicken.
  • Use different dried or fresh herbs: Add your favorite dried or minced fresh herbs to the meatballs — whatever will go well with the seasonings that you have chosen — such as basil, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, etc.
  • Add other seasonings: Add other types of seasonings that would complement the seasonings you have chosen, such as bacon bits, citrus zest, Dijon mustard, minced ginger, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.
  • Make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free Panko breadcrumbs and gluten-free Worcestershire to make gluten-free chicken meatballs.

Baked chicken meatball

Ways To Use Chicken Meatballs

There are endless ways that you can put these chicken meatballs to use, but here are 5 of our favorites:

  1. On their own (with a sauce!): Serve on their own as an appetizer or main course, either tossed with or served alongside your favorite sauce for dipping. Just about any type of sauce from buffalo sauce to curry, chimichurri, gravy, tzatiki, teriyaki, bbq sauce and beyond would be delicious with these chicken meatballs.
  2. Pasta: Serve with spaghetti and marinara sauce to make spaghetti and meatballs.
  3. Subs: Serve with a good crusty baguette, tomato sauce and melty cheese to make meatball subs.
  4. Soups: These meatballs would be delightful added to a number of different soups.
  5. Swedish meatballs: Serve with your favorite Swedish creamy gravy sauce over mashed potatoes for a spin on Swedish meatballs.

Baked chicken meatballs closeup

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Chicken Meatballs Recipe

Chicken Meatballs

  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 32 to 34 meatballs 1x


  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (1 1/2 ounces) freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon each: fine sea salt, onion powder, smoked paprika and Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Prep oven and baking sheet. Heat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Make the panade. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the Panko and milk until combined. Set mixture aside to soak for 5 to 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, eggs, garlic, Parmesan, salt, onion powder, smoked paprika, Worcestershire, black pepper and the panade. Use your hands to mix the ingredients until evenly combined, being careful not to over-mix the ingredients.
  4. Form the meatballs. Using a medium cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop and roll the mixture into 2-tablespoon balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. (I recommend greasing your hands with a bit of olive oil to prevent the mixture from sticking.) Mist the meatballs with olive oil spray and season with a few twists of freshly-ground black pepper.
  5. Bake. Bake for 15 minutes on the top rack of the oven (about 6 inches from the heating grates), or until an instant-read thermometer measures the internal temperature of the meatballs to be 165°F. Transfer to a wire cooling rack.
  6. Serve. Serve the meatballs immediately and enjoy!

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5 comments on “Chicken Meatballs”

  1. These meatballs are absolutely delicious! A keeper for sure.

  2. Hi Ali, I’ve been following you since your famous baked chicken days!
    I was wondering if I could substitute ground oats for the panko? Thanks!

  3. These were perfect!!! Into our regular rotation they go. 👏

  4. I normally don’t comment, but these were the most delicious and moist meatballs I’ve made! Super easy and quick to put together as well. Going in my regular rotation.