Learn how to make these versatile and healthy baked chicken meatballs with my step-by-step guide. Serve the meatballs over spaghetti, tossed with pesto, or as an appetizer with your favorite sauce. They’re also great for meal prep and served over salads, with roasted veggies and more.

Master this recipe then get creative and mix it up with your favorite spices and herbs!

Photograph of chicken meatballs in a white bowl with pesto pasta and roasted carrots

These baked chicken meatballs are:

  • Juicy
  • Flavorful 
  • Easy to make
  • Healthy 
  • Satisfying 
  • Versatile 
  • CHEESY 

3 steps to creating juicy chicken meatballs  

  1. Avoid over mixing, this will create a more tough meatball in the end (although that’s hard to do with this recipe). 
  2. Add fresh flavor. Instead of using spices and dried herbs I opt for fresh, and it’s well worth the extra bit work. Instead of garlic and onion powder I use fresh minced garlic and grated onion. And instead of dried oregano (or Italian seasoning) I use minced fresh oregano. You can, of course, use dried as well.
  3. Add a panade to the meat mixture, aka add some breadcrumbs and liquid, more on that below!
white bowl filled with bread, onion, salt, garlic, herbs, shredded cheese and an egg

What is a panade? 

Essentially, a panade is a mixture of starch and liquid. You’ll most often find dried bread crumbs, fresh bread crumbs or sandwich bread used in combination with milk, buttermilk or broth. 

A panade is generally used in ground meat recipes, such as burgers, meatloaf and meatballs, to add moisture and  help keep them from overcooking.

For this healthy baked chicken meatball recipe, use fresh whole-wheat sandwich bread (torn into pieces) and milk. Combine all of the spices and flavorings with the panade prior to adding the chicken. This will help to avoid over mixing the meat and also distributes all of the ingredients more evenly. 

How long to bake chicken meatballs at 400-degrees

As a general rule of thumb, cook chicken meatballs for 10 and 20 minutes. The size of your meatballs will be the deciding factor here. 

You’ll know your meatballs are done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165-degrees.

Here’s a guide for baking time: 

  • Small chicken meatballs (1 tablespoon) — 12 minutes 
  • Medium chicken meatballs (2 tablespoons) — 15–20 minutes 
  • Large chicken meatballs (3 tablespoons) — 25–30 minutes

How to use these baked Italian chicken meatballs 

  • Make it a meal and serve these meatballs with pesto pasta and roasted carrots!
  • Serve chicken meatballs in sauce such as alfredo, marinara, pesto, curry and more. 
  • Serve chicken meatballs in a meatball sub! 
  • Spaghetti and meatballs! Serve these chicken meatballs over spaghetti with your favorite marinara sauce.
  • Serve chicken meatballs in a teriyaki sauce as an appetizer.
  • Use chicken meatballs in a simple broth-based or creamy soup.  
  • I also like to make these chicken meatballs for meal prep.
    • Once baked, I let the meatballs cool on the sheet then transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid; store in refrigerator. Stored this way, chicken meatballs will last up to 1 week. 
Overhead photograph of baked chicken meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet

Can you freeze baked chicken meatballs? 

Yes! You can freeze baked chicken meatballs. 

For the best results, once the meatballs have been baked, let them cool completely on the baking sheet. 

Transfer baked and cooled meatballs to a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet and arrange in a single layer, making sure they aren’t touching each other. 

Transfer baking sheet with meatballs to freezer and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours. 

Transfer frozen meatballs to a resealable zipper-lock bag (I like to use my reusable bags) and store in freezer. 

How to reheat chicken meatballs:

There are a few ways you can reheat chicken meatballs. 

  1. Pop your bag of frozen meatballs in the fridge and let them defrost overnight. Then reheat them in a 350-degree oven until heated through, about 10 minutes. 
  2. Toss frozen meatballs (or thawed) into a pot of simmering sauce. 
  3. Combine meatballs with your choice of sauce in a slow cooker. Simmer on low heat for 1–2 hours, or until heated through. 
  4. Sauté thawed meatballs in a skillet with a splash of olive oil. 
  5. Microwave thawed meatballs for 1–2 minutes. 

Make it a meal!

Serve these chicken meatballs with carrot top pesto and roasted glazed carrots, or try my go-to Herb Pesto recipe.

And, if you like these meatballs, you might also like these Glazed Asian Turkey Meatballs.

Photograph of a white baking dish filled with pesto pasta, roasted carrots and baked chicken meatballs

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chicken meatballs on a plate with pesto pasta and roasted carrots

Healthy Baked Chicken Meatballs

  • Author: Lauren
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 40 meatballs (8 servings) 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Tender, moist and full of flavor, these healthy chicken meatballs are easy to prepare and super versatile, making them ideal for meal prep!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 pieces whole-wheat sandwich bread, torn into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons milk 
  • ⅓ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (Pecorino Romano or Manchego also work well)
  • ¼ cup grated onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons minced oregano 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground chicken

Instructions

Heat oven to 400°F with rack set to middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Mash bread and milk together in a large bowl to combine.

Mix Parmesan, onion, egg, oregano, garlic, oil, salt and pepper into bread mixture. 

Add chicken to bread mixture and, using your hands, mix just until combined. 

Using a 1 tablespoons measure, form chicken mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Arrange meatballs on prepared sheet spaced 1 inch apart. 

Bake meatballs until browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F, 10–12 minutes. 



Notes

Make meatballs dairy free: simply leave out the Parmesan, or use vegan cheese.

Make meatballs gluten-free: use gluten-free sandwich bread.

Flavors: mix it up with different herbs, try using minced fresh rosemary or thyme. Add some classic meatballs spices like fennel seed or ground fennel, red pepper flakes and/or Italian seasoning.

Make turkey meatballs: use ground turkey in place of chicken, or check out these Asian Turkey Meatballs


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 5 meatballs
  • Calories: 143
  • Sugar: 1
  • Sodium: 399mg
  • Fat: 6.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 6g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 15g
  • Cholesterol: 63mg

Keywords: Baked chicken meatballs, healthy chicken meatballs, chicken parm meatballs, ground chicken, meatballs,

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This recipe was originally published June 28th, 2019.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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