Baked Parmesan Chicken Meatballs in a flavorful marinara sauce and topped with mozzarella are great for a healthy weeknight dinner. Coated in panko crumbs for that crispy exterior you love in Chicken Parmesan.
After all the wonderful food over the holidays, we needed something simple and less rich for dinner, like chicken parmesan meatballs. While I love pork and beef meatballs, I wanted a ground chicken meatball and I’ve eaten too many Marsala Meatballs.
I got the idea for chicken parm meatballs from Alton Brown’s cookbook (affiliate) but some of his suggestions, while I’m sure they would add more flavor, were more work than I wanted to take for a weeknight dinner, so I came up with a recipe for chicken meatballs that you can easily make on a busy weeknight.
Parmesan Chicken Meatballs[/caption]
What you’ll need
- Ground chicken – if you can’t find this packaged, the meat department in most groceries will grind it for you.
- Panko breadcrumbs – these are super crunchy
- Parmesan and mozzarella cheese – you’ll need both
- Egg – to hold things together
- Seasoning– dried basil, parsley, oregano and garlic salt.
- Canned tomatoes – San Marzano are the best
- Anchovies – these really up the flavor for the marinara sauce
How do you make this chicken meatball recipe
Step 1: Make the chicken meatballs. Combine ground chicken with an egg and part of the panko and parmesan. Form into balls and roll in a mixture of panko and parmesan cheese. Brown in a skillet and remove to a plate.
Ground chicken is a little more delicate than beef or pork, so you need to be careful when cooking the meatballs themselves so they stay together. The goal is to just brown them but don’t worry about cooking them all the way through, you’re going to bake them and they’ll finish cooking in the oven.
For chicken meatballs, I’ve found that if you leave them alone in the skillet until they start to brown then they’ll stay together. If you try to move them before they have browned on one side, they can easily fall apart.
Step 2: Make the Marinara sauce. The skillet will have lots of flavor from the chicken meatballs you just cooked so add some San Marzano Tomatoes and crush them with your hands and add a couple of anchovies. Add the meatballs back to the skillet and then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
Step 3: Bake this amazing dish in the same skillet for about 10 minutes to finish cooking the meatballs and melt the cheese.
What’s the difference between MARINARA Sauce and TOMATO Sauce
For this recipe, I used a marinara sauce with a couple of anchovies thrown in. A marinara sauce is a quick cooking sauce made with canned San Marzano tomatoes that you crush with your hands and cook for just a few minutes for a chunky sauce. While a tomato sauce can have meat or meat stock, cheese, olives or capers and is cooked slowly to develop more complex flavors.
For a weeknight meal, marinara is the way to go. For why you should use San Marzano tomatoes, check out Lidia’s video and while you’re there, she gives tips for the day! I love her restaurant in NY, Becco, check it out next time you go to a show, it’s in the theater district.
Most of the time when you make meatballs the panko or bread crumbs is mixed with meat like in Chicken Marsala Meatballs and Swedish Meatballs. But for these tasty chicken parmesan meatballs, they are also rolled in panko mixed with parmesan which gives them a crispy texture on the outside.
These healthy chicken meatballs are then nestled on top of the marinara sauce and sprinkled with cheese before baking in the oven.
If you love crispy chicken parmesan, then you’re going to love ground chicken meatballs. Easy enough for a weeknight meal but perfect for dinner with friends.
FAQs and Tips
Each golf size meatball has a little over 100 calories and about 4 gms of carbs. Not too bad in my book.
Whether you’re making meatballs or fillets, you want to use parmesan cheese for the flavor and crispiness and mozzarella for the gooey topping.
Add them to a skillet and don’t move them for a couple of minutes. This will allow one side to brown and that will help hold them together.
More recipes that use MARINARA Sauce
- Mini meatloafs are even yummier with marinara on top
- Combine marinara and cream cheese and make baked ravioli
- Or try it with Spinach stuffed shells
- Perfect to top a skillet pizza
If you’re looking for more CHICKEN recipes, you’ve got lots to choose from, but here are some favorites
- Easy chicken & tomatoes made in one pan
- Try a creamier dish with sun dried tomatoes
- Make it savory with Marsala and prosciutto
- Roast it with dates
- No time, try easy queso chicken
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Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
- 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- 2 cups parmesan cheese grated
- 1 ½ lbs ground chicken
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 28 ounces canned whole tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 anchovies
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese shredded
- Preheat oven to 400º.
- In a small bowl, combine ½ cup of panko with ¾ cup of parmesan.
- In a large bowl, combine chicken, egg, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 cup of panko, 11/4 cup parmesan, and seasonings. Using your hands, gently combine until incorporated. Using an ice cream scoop, form into 28 golf size balls. Roll each into panko parmesan mixture.
- In a large oven proof skillet, Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides, about 5 minutes, working in batches if needed. Remove to a plate.
- In the same pan, add some additional oil if needed and add the canned tomatoes and salt, crushing the tomatoes with your hands. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until they are soft. Reduce heat and add anchovies and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add meatballs back to the sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Place in oven and bake for about 10 minutes until chicken has cooked through.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- When cooking chicken meatballs, place in the hot skillet and leave them alone for a couple of minutes. This will help them stay together.
- Try using San Marzano tomatoes if you can find them.
- Leftovers freeze great, just thaw and reheat in the oven.
- You can use ground turkey or ground chicken.
If you make this recipe be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! I would love to see your creation.