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Favorite Baked Chicken Meatballs (Easy)

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.

chicken meatballs in a pile topped with lemon butter herb sauce with red pepper flakes.

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.
close-up of a chicken meatball with bite taken out of it sitting on a bed of zucchini noodles.

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!

ingredients in bowls on gray backdrop including breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper, herbs, egg, and olive oil.

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.

meatball mixture ingredients in glass bowl with spoon about to stir together.

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.

unbaked meatballs on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
baked chicken meatballs on parchment paper.

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.

lemon, butter, garlic, herbs, and salt on plate and pictured again melted together as a sauce in a saucepan.
meatballs on platter with spoon drizzling herb butter sauce on top of one.

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.

Why Are My Chicken Meatballs Tough?

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.

How Do I Know When The Baked Chicken Meatballs are Done?

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!
chicken meatballs with herbs on top on a plate with zucchini noodles and lemon slices.

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. Place 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 is 165°F (74°C).