Ground chicken meatballs, coated in a Marsala cream sauce are by far our favorite dinner recipe. A healthy meal that feels decadent with this amazing sauce. Go ahead and make a double batch and freeze for later.
We developed this ground chicken meatball recipe earlier this summer while trying to find a new way to cook chicken, and it has been a favorite ever since.
I adapted it from one of Deb Perelman’s recipes. I don’t know how she comes up with so many show stoppers. You can find her recipe for Chicken Marsala Meatballs in her newest cookbook, but you can also check out her blog, Smitten Kitchen for more fabulous recipes.
What is traditional Marsala
Chicken marsala is a traditional Italian dish that can be served many ways, but typically it is thin chicken cutlets, served with a rich, creamy Marsala wine sauce. You can recreate all those great flavors by making ground chicken meatballs.
You’ll love this recipe for Chicken Meatballs
- This classic Italian-American dinner recipe is revamped in a delicious and simple meal you can enjoy in a new way.
- Meatballs are fun to eat over a bed of pasta or even on their own with a side salad!
- This is a healthy meal that you can feel good about serving your family.
- Meatballs freeze so well and are easily reheated for another meal.
Ground Chicken Meatballs Recipe Ingredients
- Ground chicken – a healthy protein. Ground turkey would work too, the butcher will grind chicken breasts for you in most groceries.
- Panko breadcrumbs – this will bind the ingredients.
- Marsala wine – good for all kinds of meals, you can store in your pantry.
- Chicken broth – the flavor will help build the layers of flavor in the sauce.
- Cream –you need this for flavor and texture.
- Egg noodles – these are a great option for soaking up the sauce.
- Chives – these are delicious as a garnish and add a pop of green
- Pantry staples: Egg, flour, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper and onion
How to make Chicken Marsala Meatballs
This recipe doesn’t take much time, it’s basically two steps.
Cook some onions.
Add them to ground chicken, an egg and panko.
Using a small ice-cream scoop to form meatballs.
Brown the meatballs and remove them to a plate. When browning chicken, the meatballs will stay together better if you let them brown on one side before trying to move them around. Once they have started to cook they’ll stay together better.
Make a béchamel sauce using Marsala wine, butter, flour and chicken broth. At the end add just a bit of cream. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more chicken broth.
Add the meatballs back to the pan and simmer. These are best served over egg noodles.
If you’re tired of chicken breasts, this is a great way to serve chicken, they are delicious all by themselves. If you can’t find ground chicken at the grocery, Fresh Market will grind it for you if you ask. We love this dish over egg noodles which is the perfect base for this amazing sauce. If you love a creamy marsala sauce as much as we do, try creamy pork marsala with mushrooms or steak marsala.
How long to cook Chicken Meatballs
It will take about 30 minutes to cook chicken meatballs, but only part of that time is for cooking the meatballs themselves. The rest of the time is spent cooking the onions and making the sauce.
How to serve this Chicken Meatballs Recipe
Serve this chicken meatballs recipe over egg noodles, pasta or rice so that you can sop up all the scrumptious sauce. Try keeping cooked pasta in the freezer to pull out for these meatballs. Follow this helpful tutorial on how to freeze cooked pasta.
Can you freeze Chicken Meatballs
Natalie loved these so much that she asked for a double batch when she was home last week so she could freeze the leftovers and take them with her to stock up her freezer in her new apartment.
In order to avoid freezer burn, I put a single serving with some sauce in a vacuum seal bag and flash freeze them. Once frozen, I vacuum seal them. This way you don’t have to worry about the liquid being sucked out. All she has to do is cook some egg noodles and she has a home cooked dinner. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, you can freeze them in an air tight container.
Are Ground Chicken Meatballs hard to make?
If you haven’t made chicken meatballs before, I think you’ll be surprised at how delicious they are even without a sauce. The only difference in making chicken meatballs is that you need to let them cook in the skillet without moving them around at the beginning. Once they have started to cook through a bit, you can move them and they will stay together. If you try to move them around before they have started to cook, they can fall apart.
If you like chicken meatballs, then try Chicken Parmesan Meatballs for more of an Italian flare.
I predict that once you try these, you’ll add them to your weekly rotation. I have to make a double batch every time either of the girls come home, one to eat for dinner and a batch for them to take home.
If you find yourself cooking with chicken a lot and want to know for sure that your chicken is cooked thoroughly, head to my informational page on ways to make sure your chicken is cooked all the way but still remains juicy and delicious.
Chicken Meatball FAQs
Marsala wine hails from Sicily, Italy and is a brandy fortified wine. It is excellent in the kitchen for creating a unique sauce. It will last indefinitely.
Nothing will give you the unique Marsala flavor, but Madeira or red wine could be used instead. Marsala is a fortified wine so it will last in your pantry for a long time. Go ahead and pick up a bottle, you’ll need it for all the batches of chicken meatballs you’ll be making. You can also use it for chicken marsala and steak marsala.
These are so good, you will want to double the recipe. You’ll either need a very large skillet or 2 ten inch skillets.
These meatballs freeze wonderfully. When reheating, add a little water or milk to the sauce to thin it. You can reheat in the microwave or oven.
If you can’t find ground chicken, ask at the meat counter and they can grind chicken breasts for you. You can also use ground turkey.
Since you don’t have the fat in chicken that you do with pork or beef meatballs, they can easily fall apart. To avoid this, let them cook without touching them for a few minutes. Once they have started to cook they will keep their shape and you can turn them to brown on all sides.
Chicken meatballs can get tough if you cook them too fast or if you don’t have an egg in the mixture to provide moisture while they cook.
To keep chicken meatballs from falling apart, do not move them once you place them in the skillet for 2-3 minutes. After that they will stay together when you turn them to brown the other sides.
More chicken dinners you’ll love
Chicken Marsala Meatballs
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup Marsala wine
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 ¼ cups chicken broth
- ¼ cup cream
- salt and pepper
- egg noodles
- chives chopped, optional
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add half of the olive oil and butter and once melted, add onion with a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
- Add ground chicken to a bowl with panko, egg, 1 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of pepper. Add slightly cooled onions to the mixture and combine. Using a 2 tablespoon ice-cream scoop, scoop out the meatballs forming them with your hands if needed into round balls and place on a plate.
- Add the other half of the olive oil and butter to the pan over medium heat, and when hot, add the meatballs. Let them cook without moving them for a couple of minutes. Once they have started to cook, they will hold together and you can turn them so that all sides are brown. You can use a meat thermometer to check when they are done. (They will cook a little bit more at the end but if you’re going to nibble on them, cook to 160º) Remove to a clean plate.
- Add the Marsala wine to the pan and scrape up all the brown bits. Cook until it has cooked off. Add butter to the pan and when melted whisk in flour, stirring for about a minute, then slowly add the broth whisking the whole time. It should be slightly thick. Add cream and salt and pepper to taste and then add the meatballs back to the pan and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes until your meatballs are heated through.
- Cook egg noodles per package instructions, Drain and toss with a little butter. Serve with meatballs and sauce and some chives.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- When browning chicken meatballs, let them cook without touching them for a few minutes, so that they are browned completely on one side before turning.
- You can substitute Madeira or red wine for Marsala but it will not have the unique Marsala flavor. Marsala can be stored for a long time after opening in the pantry.
- This can easily be doubled, you will just need a very large skillet or two 10 inch skillet.
- Chicken meatballs freeze very well. When re-heating, add a little milk, chicken broth or even water to them to thin down the sauce which will have thickened while frozen.
Glenn Yamagata says
Wonderful recipe! We have made it twice and everyone in the family loves it. First time we have made chicken meatballs and love the creamy texture of the meatballs. The sauce is amazing!
Barbara Curry says
Glenn, I’m thrilled that these were such a big hit. We can’t get enough of them.
Nancy Turner says
Happy New Year, Barbara!
Could you serve chicken marsala meatballs in chafing dish as an hor d’eouvre? Would they hold together to be toothpicked out?
Barbara Curry says
Yes, they are sturdy enough. I would leave out the milk to make them a bit sturdier if serving that way.
Lisa Ross says
Have you got a particular Marsala you like to use? I like the fact that you use higher quality alcohol in your recipes.
Barbara Curry says
I have to admit, I just picked up an inexpensive bottle at the wine store. The one currently in my cabinet is Taylor.
Thank you for the recipe. I’m definitely going to try it. One question: you say to cook off the marsala. Do you mean until the pan is dry again and only the brown bits remain?
Barbara Curry says
Yes, all the flavor will still be there.
Where does the broth come in to play?
Barbara Curry says
The sauce is added when making the sauce.
This recipe sounds and looks amazing…I can’t wait to try it when I have my family to dinner.
Barbara Curry says
I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love it.
Loved the recipe. I have a strict sodium restriction so I had to eliminate the salt in meatballs and sauce and added some garlic to the pan before I added the marsala and added a little extra marsala and used very low sodium chicken broth. Tasted great
Barbara Curry says
Great that is turned out with your adaptations.