These are the most delicious baked chicken meatballs I’ve ever had! Packed with flavor, baked, and then brushed with a lemony garlic herb butter for even more flavor, they’re lighter-tasting than many meatball recipes. Enjoy them with your favorite pasta, zucchini noodles, or all on their own! You won’t regret making a double batch and freezing half for a future meal.
While I’ve become an expert at blocking out the temptation that comes along with the constant presence of sweet baked goods in my kitchen (hazard of the job!), a new temptation has been calling my name from the refrigerator, in the form of these savory baked chicken meatballs.
Lunch, dinner—I’ve been all about this chicken meatball recipe. I’ve been making some variation of them for years, but this recipe you see below is my favorite, and my family (kids included!) enjoy them too. Pair with spiralized zucchini noodles tossed in a zingy lemon-herb butter, and you have a super springy, fresh-tasting main dish that’s a far cry from the heavier meals we typically crave in the winter months.
Why This Will Be Your New Favorite Chicken Meatball Recipe
- No cooking apart from 20 minutes in the oven—just mix, shape, and bake.
- Lemony, garlicky, herby butter “sauce” is a fresh, flavorful finishing touch.
- Delicious on their own, or smothered in a marinara or pesto sauce.
- You can swap ground turkey for the chicken, if preferred.
- Make them gluten free by using GF bread crumbs.
- You can also shape them as patties, and grill them to make chicken burgers.
Best Ingredients to Use & Why
- Ground Chicken: Or use ground turkey, if you can’t find ground chicken.
- Egg: 1 egg works to bind the ingredients together.
- Olive Oil: For flavor and moisture.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Just a small amount provides big flavor, just as it does in crab cakes, black bean burgers, and beer cheese dip. Versatile!
- Breadcrumbs: Another binding agent. You can use panko, regular, whole wheat, Italian seasoned, or even gluten free.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese: More delicious flavor! Feel free to omit.
- Garlic: Mince 4–5 cloves; you’ll use some in the meatballs and some in the garlicky herb butter sauce.
- Seasonings: Salt, pepper, onion powder, dried oregano, and fresh parsley flavor these chicken meatballs from the inside out.
And, optional… a red pepper flake garnish for some kick!
How to Make Baked Chicken Meatballs
The first step is to simply mix all the ingredients together. Yep, all together all at once, in 1 bowl! You can use a big spoon or rubber spatula for this.
Scoop a portion of the mixture (about 2 Tablespoons’ worth, or 30–35g) and roll/shape into a ball with your hands. This part can get a little messy, so have some paper towels nearby to wipe your hands as needed. Or do what I do and have someone spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray before you begin!
Do I Need to Pre-Cook These Chicken Meatballs?
No. Unlike with many homemade meatball recipes, like these crockpot turkey meatballs, there’s no searing/stovetop step in this baked chicken meatball recipe. You can place the shaped meatballs right on a lined baking sheet and they’ll be ready to eat in less than half an hour.
Fresh Lemon Garlic Herb Butter Sauce
While they bake, make the simple sauce on the stove. This “sauce” gives these flavorful chicken meatballs even more moisture and flavor—I don’t recommend skipping it! It’s not so much a sauce as it is simply melted butter flavored with fresh lemon, garlic, and herbs.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter with some fresh-squeezed lemon juice, then add the minced garlic and cook briefly, until nice and fragrant. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped herbs.
Brush or spoon it on the warm meatballs when they’re done baking, and spoon any extra over the pasta or zucchini noodles you’re serving the meatballs with. The texture is light enough that it can be layered with another, thicker sauce, like marinara or homemade pesto, but that’s totally up to you!
My favorite way to enjoy them is with some zucchini noodles (aka “zoodles” or “courgetti”)—which I also love in this bruschetta chicken recipe—tossed in the herb butter sauce. See recipe Notes for how to cook zucchini noodles.
The meatballs could be over-baked, but it’s also likely that they were packed too tightly when shaping. Meatballs can taste rubbery and tough if they’re formed too tight. Roll the mixture gently, just until it comes together to form a ball.
The meatballs only take about 20 minutes in the oven. Bake them just until an instant-read thermometer reads the internal temperature as 165°F (74°C).
What to Serve With Chicken Meatballs
- Your favorite variety of pasta; or zucchini noodles (pictured) or spaghetti squash
- Your favorite pasta sauce, like marinara or homemade basil pesto
- On their own, on a platter with toothpicks, as a party appetizer
- Alongside zucchini casserole or baked sweet potato fries
- In a hoagie roll, as a meatball sandwich
- Alongside olive bread, or these homemade breadsticks or garlic knots
- Or try shaping the mixture into patties and making chicken burgers with it. Top with fresh mozzarella, a slice of tomato, and a swipe of pesto on a bun for a caprese-style chicken burger!
How to Freeze Chicken Meatballs
I have these instructions below, but can briefly explain here as well. You have 2 choices here: (1) you can bake and then freeze them or (2) freeze them raw. To freeze after baking, let the meatballs cool completely, then place in a freezer-friendly container and freeze up to 2 months. To freeze before baking, form meatballs, then space apart on a lined plate or baking tray and freeze for 1–2 hours or until they’ve “set” and will no longer stick together. Then you can place them in a freezer-friendly container and freeze up to 2 months.
Reheat: Heat oven to 400°F (204°C). Bake frozen fully cooked meatballs for 15–18 minutes. Bake frozen raw meatballs for 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
Easy Baked Chicken Meatballs
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: about 35 meatballs
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Cooking
- Cuisine: American
Packed with flavor, baked, and then brushed with a lemony garlic herb butter for even more flavor, these chicken meatballs are lighter-tasting than many meatball recipes. No need to pre-cook, and you can easily freeze them before or after baking. Enjoy them with your favorite pasta, zucchini noodles, or all on their own!
- 2 pounds (907g) ground chicken (I usually use 94% lean)
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- 3/4 cup (84g) breadcrumbs*
- 1/2 cup (50g) grated parmesan cheese*
- 2–3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Lemon Garlic Herb Butter Sauce
- 1/4 cup (56g; 4 Tbsp) unsalted butter
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
- pinch of salt
- optional for serving: crushed red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- With a large spoon or spatula, mix together all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl.
- Scoop a portion of the mixture, about 2 Tablespoons (30–35g) in size, roll into a ball with your hands, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture. You should have around 35 meatballs.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Insert an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness; the meatballs are fully cooked when an instant-read thermometer reads the internal temperature as 165°F (74°C).
- Make the sauce: Place the butter and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the butter is fully melted. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (about 1 minute—don’t let the garlic brown). Remove from heat and stir in the chopped fresh herbs. Brush or spoon the buttery sauce onto the meatballs when they come out of the oven. You will have some extra for serving. If desired, sprinkle meatballs with crushed red pepper flakes.
- Serve warm meatballs with remaining herb butter sauce, over your choice of pasta or zucchini noodles.
- Store leftovers covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead Instructions: To make ahead, you can complete steps 2 & 3, then cover the unbaked chicken meatballs tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 day before baking.
- Freezing & Reheating Instructions: You have 2 choices here: (1) you can bake the meatballs and then freeze them or (2) freeze the meatballs raw. To freeze after baking, let the meatballs cool completely, then place in a freezer-friendly container and freeze up to 2 months. To freeze before baking, form meatballs, then space apart on a lined plate or baking tray and freeze for 1–2 hours or until they’ve “set” and will no longer stick together. Place in a freezer-friendly container and freeze up to 2 months. To reheat either, preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Bake frozen fully cooked meatballs for 15–18 minutes. Bake frozen raw meatballs for 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Instant-Read Thermometer | Basting Brush | Spiralizer (to make zucchini noodles)
- Ground Turkey or Beef: You can substitute ground turkey or beef for the chicken.
- Breadcrumbs: You can use panko, regular, whole wheat, Italian seasoned, or gluten free.
- Parmesan Cheese: Feel free to skip the cheese (it does give a lot of flavor, though!), or replace with another shredded or crumbled cheese of your choice. Give the shredded or crumbled cheese a quick chop before using.
- Herbs: You can replace any of the fresh herbs with dried, if desired. General rule of thumb is to cut the amount in half; so 1 teaspoon of fresh oregano = 1/2 teaspoon dried.
- Zucchini Noodles: If you’d like to make the zucchini noodles as pictured, here is how I cook them: Add a splash of olive oil to a skillet, followed by the zucchini noodles. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and carefully drain off most of the liquid, if any has accumulated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with the meatballs and a little of the sauce.
- Serving Size: 5 meatballs with sauce
- Calories: 333
- Sugar: 1 g
- Sodium: 584.9 mg
- Fat: 16.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 9.8 g
- Fiber: 0.8 g
- Protein: 34 g
- Cholesterol: 142.7 mg
Keywords: baked meatballs
Reader Comments & Reviews
I made these for the first time Tonight and they were delicious. I served them with zucchini noodles. I am freezing the
I made these for the first time tonight and they were delicious. I baked all of them and am freezing the leftovers for later.
Delicious! Definitely making again.
Great recipe: quick, light, easy and delicious! Served over zucchini noodles for a wonderful, low carb, medley of flavors. Next time, I will double or triple the amount of sauce.
Great recipe: quick, light, easy and delicious! Served over zucchini noodles for a wonderful flavor m
We loved these meatballs! I doubled the sauce as others suggested to serve over brown rice. Froze half the recipe of meatballs and sauce and they were just as good the second time. I imagine they would be delicious with red sauce as well. My husband enjoyed them so much . . . he said not to bother beef meatballs again. Thanks Sally!
Can I halve this recipe? If so, does the baking time change?
Hi Sue, absolutely. Baking time will be the same.
We loved this recipe! It was so simple and delicious. I used ground Turkey and they were so moist and flavorful. Will definitely make these regularly.
We eat mostly vegetarian meals with fish and occasionally chicken when my husband craves it. So I am pretty picky about which chicken meals to prepare. This one is definitely worth waiting for and repeating over and over! Ditto to all of the compliments folks have written . They are all true!! A fan, Judith
So glad you loved this recipe, Judith!
These were absolutely delicious (I made it with turkey instead of chicken). Grating the parm & mincing fresh herbs, however, meant the prep was not quick. I especially appreciate that the parm included gram weight. Definitely double the herb butter sauce :-). We found it best served over zoodles mixed with thin spaghetti (and sauté the zoodles for only *2* minutes, not 3).
I made these for dinner with my friends, served over roasted spaghetti squash, and got rave reviews. The meatballs were flavorful, and the lemon butter really amped that up. I know what I’m having for leftovers for the next couple of days. ☺️ Thanks for another great recipe, Sally!
This is amazing! The meatballs were easy to prepare and so so good. The sauce….I doubled it and will probably triple it next time (and there WILL be a next time). It was the magic that completed the dish!
OMG! These are fabulous little bites of awesomeness!!!! I am in love with these meatballs. I served them with orzo and it was amazing (next time I need to double that garlic herb butter sauce though!) Some days I get so sick of making the same old recipes for dinner so when I saw these I knew I had to try them. And I was not disappointed! Everyone in my family loved them! Thanks Sally!
I wasn’t so sure about these savory dishes popping up on my favorite baking site but OH MY GOODNESS these meatballs are AMAZING! so quick and easy to make. I have a new favorite weeknight dinner. Thank you!
SALLY! This recipe is perfect – the flavors, the texture, the EASE, the QUICKNESS – it’s gonna be my new go-to! Thank you!
I typically buy frozen meatballs because I have never found a recipe that yields a product worthy of the messy hands. HOWEVER, I love your recipes so I tried this for dinner and was so thrilled with the results. It was incredibly easy to assemble, plus baking instead of pan frying makes the process so quick. I used ground turkey instead of chicken but otherwise changed nothing about the recipe. The buttery lemon herb sauce was the perfect touch to finish the meatballs and coat some pasta. I served with a side of roasted broccoli and dinner was done in a jiff. Thanks for helping me feed my crew so well, Sally!
So happy to hear that you loved this recipe, Emma!
My grandsons loved this recipe!!! It is a keeper!
Love this recipe! So quick to make and absolutely delicious…served it up with some sweet potato mash and garlic bread – everyone loved it. Definitely becoming a weeknight staple!
Really great recipe. I could only find one pound of ground chicken, so I halved the meatball recipe, with the exception of still using one whole egg. I made the entire batch of sauce, and we had quinoa on the side and put the extra sauce on it. My family raved, and we will be making these again!
This was delicious and easy! I thought my husband might find them a little bland because he usually doesn’t really like chicken chili, etc., but he thought it was very flavorful! I made pasta to go with them and tossed with the rest of the herbed butter. I added a little more butter to the sauce along with some olive oil. I will be making these again!
Hubby loved these healthy meatballs! I doubled the recipe and am so glad I did. Served with zucchini noodles and a salad for a super healthy and filling meal.
Thanks for another great recipe, Sally.
Great flavor and very easy to make!
What can be used instead of breadcrumbs to make this low carb? I see that many recipes done this way use pulsed pork rinds. Will this work?
I love all of your sweet treats, but equally love your savory recipes! I’m am looking forward to giving this one a try soon!
Glad to read that, Nichole, thank you! These make a great (and easy!) dinner. Hope you enjoy.
This looks so good. Can it be made with pork mince ?
Only because that’s what I have in the fridge and can’t wait to try the recipe.
Hi Dee, the meatballs will be a little more textured, and may taste dry. I have not tested it, but you can certainly try it and report back!
I keep kosher, so I don’t mix meat with dairy. What do you think of subbing the parmesan with nutritional yeast?
Hi Amy, you can use nutritional yeast, but I would reduce the amount by about half.
I don’t eat pork or beef so I am super excited to try these!! They look delicious, I’ll update when I make them.