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!
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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.
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.
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.
Healthy Baked Chicken Meatballs: FAQs
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
- Veggie Packed Chicken Tetrazzini
- Sheet Pan Honey Garlic Chicken and Vegetables
- One Pan Teriyaki Chicken Bake
Healthy Chicken Meatballs
- 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!
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