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Healthy Chicken Meatballs Recipe


These Healthy Chicken Meatballs not only have an amazing texture and flavor, but they also have 3 different veggies that pack in the nutrition! They are delicious with red sauce and pasta, but are actually amazing all on their own!

baked chicken meatballs on a white plate with marinara sauce healthy chicken meatballs on a white plate with fresh basil

Healthy Baked Chicken Meatballs

When I think of meatballs, I think beef…… which is delicious. But guess what else is JUST as delicious, has amazing texture, protein, and lower saturated fat? CHICKEN meatballs! And becomes sometimes it is easier, and tastier, I added veggies right in the meatball.

One great strategy to expand your kid’s palates is to make small, individually sized portions. These Pesto Chicken Meatballs are the perfect all-in-one perfect portion for kids and adults.

You can for sure serve these with a steaming pile of pasta smothered in your favorite sauce, but my favorite way is to serve them with toothpicks and a dollop of our favorite pizza sauce on the side.

healthy baked chicken meatballs on a plate with fresh basil on top

Ingredients for Healthy Chicken Meatballs

  • Ground Chicken. If you can’t find ground chicken, you can make your own by pulsing chicken breasts in a food processor fitted with a metal blade until they’re quite smooth and no large pieces remain. Ground turkey also works in this recipe.
  • Veggies – grated carrots and zucchini are mild but delicious in this recipe. Finely diced bell pepper gives a yummy and interesting bite. You can leave the bell pepper out if its too much for your kids.
  • Pesto – basil pesto gives these meatballs the best savory flavor.
  • Breadcrumbs – holds the meatball together and help them stay moist when they cook. You can use regular breadcrumbs or panko.
  • Oil – this is optional, but you can spread a very thin layer of oil on your pan before baking to prevent the meatballs from sticking as they bake. Olive oil or avocado are my preference.
ingredients for baked chicken meatballs, ground turkey, carrot, zucchini, breadcrumbs, pesto, salt, olive oil

Tips for Making the Best Healthy Chicken Meatballs

  • Don’t overwork your meatballs. If your meatballs are packed too tightly they will be tough and rubbery.
  • Keep your ingredients cold. You want to prevent the fat from breaking down before you cook your meatballs. Use cold ingredients and mix in a chilled bowl.
  • Add moisture. When protein (especially a low fat protein like ground chicken) is cooked, it shrinks and can result in tough meatballs. Breadcrumbs, fat, and veggies all help keep meatballs tender and moist.
steps for making healthy chicken meatballs

Healthy Baked Chicken Meatballs: FAQs

Can I freeze chicken meatballs?

Yes! These meatballs freeze really well. You can freeze two different ways.
1. Freeze raw after formed into balls. Freeze right on your baking sheet until hard and then transfer to an airtight container. When you are ready to cook, place frozen meatballs on a baking sheet and add 5 minutes to your baking time.
2. Freeze after baked. Let your meatballs cool and then transfer to an airtight container. When ready to reheat, place on a baking sheet and cook for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees F or until heated through.

Can I use ground turkey?

Yep! Ground turkey is similar in fat and protein. The texture and flavor may differ just a bit from ground chicken, but will still be great!

Are chicken meatballs healthier than beef?

Ground chicken is a very lean meat with lower fat and calories than ground beef. Ground chicken is typically 95% lean when purchased at the store. You can buy ground beef at 90% lean making it very comparable in fat and calories to ground chicken. The difference then comes down to taste and texture preference.

How do you know when chicken meatballs are done?

Ground chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees F. Using a meat thermometer is the best way to determine if your meatballs are done without overcooking them.

How do you keep ground chicken moist?

There are two ingredients that are important to add to chicken meatballs to help them stay moist. The first is fat which in this recipe is oil and pesto. The second is breadcrumbs or panko. These help to prevent some of the proteins from binding together and tightening the mixture up.

More Favorite Chicken and Veggie Recipes

baked chicken meatballs on a white plate with marinara sauce in bowls
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3.7 from 247 votes

Healthy Chicken Meatballs

These Healthy Chicken Meatballs not only have an amazing texture and flavor, but they also have 3 different veggies that pack in the nutrition! 
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 215kcal



  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Grate zucchini and carrots. Gently pat the zucchini dry with a paper towel or clean dish towel (no need to squeeze all the liquid out of it, just pat off some of the extra moisture). Add to a large bowl with the diced bell pepper. Add in the pesto, bread crumbs, salt, olive oil and stir to combine.
  • Fold in the ground chicken or turkey using your hands or a large fork, and toss together the chicken and vegetable mixture until it's well-combined. Try not to over-work the mixture.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or a slipat.
  • Using a 1″ scoop or a Tablespoon, make small (1-1 1/2″) meatballs and place them on the baking sheet. (you can also just use your hands to roll them out)
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. For a bit of browning, broil the meatballs an additional 1-3 minutes. If browning isn't important, continue baking meatballs another 2-3 minutes, or till cooked through.
  • Serve with your favorite sauce, pasta, or on a sandwich. Enjoy!


Serving: 5meatballs | Calories: 215kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 605mg | Potassium: 520mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2259IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword : chicken meatballs


Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie

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Recipe Rating


I found it difficult to fold the whole zucchini into the minced chicken. Are you supposed to grate it? Might want to specify that. What’s a “slipat”? Maybe an editor could help you polish it up.

Justin – Yes, the zucchini is grated. Somehow that got missed in the directions. Thanks for the clear-up. As for the silpat, you’ll see a link and photo to one under the recipe. It’s a silicone baking mat. Hope that helps!

This was great! I’ve been having trouble getting my 14 month old to eat much meat, but he gobbled this up! I omitted the pepper because I haven’t introduced that yet. I also just tossed the carrot in the food processor as well as Chicken breast. Super simple! Thanks!

Hi I made these they were lovely only one thing I would like help with is…after cooking they were a little dry inside how could I make them more moist

This is the first recipe I have tried from this site…it was a hit! I grated the carrot along with the zucchini, the peppers have a slight crunch to them, I think the chopped carrott would have been a little too crunchy for my liking. I also used ground turkey cause it’s what I had on hand. Delish, and I will def make it again.

I am so confused…ok, so the comments say raw meat, but that isn’t specified anywhere. Are we also using raw veggies? It sounds like the zucchini is supposed to be chopped and cooked? What about the carrots and peppers? Would love to try this weekend. Please clarify.

My 10 month old loved these!!! I didn’t have zucchini so I added extra carrot and 1 stick of celery. I also added 1 egg yolk, bread crumbs, and mozzarella cheese and they stuck together well and were very moist!

Hi – I don’t want to sound alarmist, but I would not recommend any parent of a toddler serve these with toothpicks as is suggested in the directions. These can be swallowed by very young children and are therefore dangerous. You should really rethink and alter the serving suggestions. The recipe itself sounds great but I would not serve these with toothpicks unless the children were 4 and up!

Made them today they are fabulous! We will see at dinner if my son will eat them. He helped with the veggies, I cute them up and he put them in the bowl. Even if he likes them or not I will made again for myself. Great to freeze and eat later too!!

These were really good! Better than I even thought they would be! Whole family loved them. I put them in sauce and served them over pasta. I made them exactly as the recipe states and they were great! Might add some onion next time though.

Just wanted to let people know my experience. Followed the recipe as best as I could understand it, but meatball stuff ended up way too mushy. I’ll call that first experiment sloppy joe medallions. I then proceeded to add bread crumbs to the rest of the batch, until the consistency seemed right. Second batch ended up way better and actually resembled meatballs.

4 stars
These taste good but how are you supposed to know when the chicken is cooked? I baked mine a lot longer than suggested because I could not tell.

5 stars
Made the Chicken Pesto Meatballs – yummy & my 1 year old grandson ate them right up! Substituted onion for red pepper and used ground turkey instead. Also, I sautéed carrots, zucchini & onion first, then put in my food processor to make chop up finely. Made little meatballs for him and big meatballs for the adults!! Served with rotini pasta and homemade spaghetti sauce.

Hi Julie! Yup, these freeze well. You can put them right in the oven from frozen to warm them back up.

4 stars
I used turkey mince and red pesto (and the last scrapings of a jar of green pesto) and cut the peppers (she’s not a fan)
My 17month old gobbled them!
I did have to give them 20 mins and bigger ones still needed a little longer but otherwise very successful

5 stars
I made these last night and bub went for it with so much gusto! It was so yum that hubby and I also had it for dinner! Perfect recipe, I added spring onions to the mixture for extra flavour, but other than that it was delicious!

5 stars
My one year old daughter and I love this recipe. I love it because it has both protein and veggies so I know my daughter is getting a nutritious meal. However, I found that the recommended baking time is leaves the meatballs way under some. I had to cook them and additional ten minutes and turn them over half way through so one side wasn’t overdone. So I think the recommended cook time should be between 20-22 minutes turning over halfway. You are making chicken here and if its undercooked you run the risk of salmonella poisoning.

5 stars
My 4 year old daughter and 16 month old son love these. They are delicious! I’m not sure why there is so much confusion on how to make these…

4 stars
This recipe was delicious, but I think the carrots should be sauted a bit as they still had a crunch. Some modifications I used to make it dairy-free and gluten-free – almond meal instead of bread crumbs and non dairy pesto made using nutritional yeast instead of cheese. If you make the balls the size recommended in the recipe they are done after 13 min (see directions about it being 10 min + time for broiling or staying in over a few more minutes). These are delicious and will make them again and again.

Super yummy – my husband, 1 year old son, and I all enjoyed these over whole wheat fusilli with pasta sauce! Not sure what I did, but this made way more than 12-1 inch meatballs for me. Also agree that they need to be cooked longer than the recommended time. But huge winner in our house for sure! Will be making again 🙂

1 star
This recipe was a failure. The dryness of the chicken (because it’s white meat) really made it that my kids didn’t like them at all. I made sure to not overcook them. Maybe I will try with brown meat next time…

5 stars
My kids love these. I’ve been making them for 2 years now. I make a big batch and freeze them. Nice to have these on hand because I know my kids will devour them!

How are these dairy free with breadcrumbs? Every breadcrumb I have found contains milk. I’m substituting oatmeal for the breadcrumbs, hope it works