Italian meatballs made with ground chicken and my secret ingredient chicken sausage. These meatballs are hands down the BEST Italian meatballs I've ever had. A bold statement I know, but when you eat one you won't disagree. These baked meatballs have a creamy bite enhanced with a sweet and spicy flavor all at once. Basically a party in your mouth 😉 Here is your next holiday appetizer!
First of all, these Italian chicken meatballs are one of the best meatballs I've ever had. Yes, that is a bold statement, and yes I stand behind it. They were super easy to make, like most of my meals are. I also baked them, which made for easy cooking and cleanup. They would make the perfect appetizer for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
If you want another holiday appetizer you should try my Easy Cheese Crostinis!
Ingredients to make these meatballs
You will need the following ingredients for these Italian meatballs
- panko breadcrumbs - I like using panko over breadcrumbs when I cook because panko is lighter and flakier than regular breadcrumbs. Panko also absorbs more oil and grease, which makes your final product less heavy.
- unsweetened vanilla almond milk - this is a staple in my home, but plain almond milk will work too or low-fat milk. You need some liquid when making meatballs to be sure they don't dry out. I like using almond milk over cow's milk because it is lower in carbs.
- finely grated parmesan cheese - parmesan cheese adds a great flavor to your meatballs. It has a fruity, nutty, bold taste that truly enhances the flavor of these chicken meatballs.
- finely chopped fresh parsley - you can always opt for dried parsley, instead of fresh parsley. Fresh is always best when it comes to flavoring. It also makes for a nice presentation when sprinkled on at the end!
- cloves of garlic - minced, my favorite way to cut corners is to use Spice World Minced Garlic. Another staple in my fridge.
- sweet Italian chicken sausage links - casings removed. To easily remove the sausage casings, you start by holding a sausage link in your hand and using your dominant hand you slice a line down the middle of the sausage vertically from top to bottom. Then, you peel back the casing and drop your sausage out into a bowl.
- ground chicken - using ground chicken over beef for Italian meatballs is lighter in taste, fat, and calories.
How to make these balls
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 375° and line 2 baking pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
Step 2 - In a large mixing bowl, combine your breadcrumbs and milk and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in the egg, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper into the breadcrumb mixture.
Step 3 - Break your sausage up into pieces and add the sausage and chicken to the breadcrumb mixture, and mix until well combined.
Step 4 - Using clean hands, form mixture into balls, about 1 tablespoon. I had my daughter, Taylor, help me with this part and she had a ball. Arrange the meatballs on the prepared baking pans and bake for 20 minutes.
Tip - Serve plain or with your favorite dipping sauce. At the moment, mine is Tesseamae's Classic Ranch 🙂 You can also make this into a large meatloaf. All you have to do is add another 12 oz of ground chicken and use a loaf pan to dump your mix. Cook at 400° for 1 hour.
Cookware for these baked meatballs
To make these delicious balls you will need the following!
- a large mixing bowl
- 2 baking pans
- parchment paper
- a metal spatula - I find the metal spatulas scoop the balls off the parchment paper easier.
Tips on your chicken labels
- Natural is regulated, but only indicates "minimal" processing and no artificial ingredients are added.
- No Antibiotics means the chickens are never given them.
- No Hormones, also regulated, is moot because their use isn't allowed for poultry.
- Free Range means the chicken had some daily access to the outdoors.
- USDA Organic means organic feed, no antibiotics and the birds lived by free-range standards. Other labels aren't regulated.
Here are some different swap ideas you can try for the ingredients listed below.
Ground Chicken - yes I know these are Italian Chicken meatballs, but you can always switch up the base and try ground turkey instead of ground chicken or even go back to the good ole' ground beef meatballs.
Chicken Sausage - as I stated above you can swap out the chicken for turkey or beef and you can do the same with the sausage. Try turkey sausage or pork sausage.
Egg - this is a swap I suggest in most of my recipes. If you don't want to use eggs in your meatballs, then you can always use a flax egg. To make a flax egg, you need 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed and 3 tbsp of water to make one flax egg.
Panko Breadcrumbs - if you are looking for a gluten-free Italian chicken meatball recipe then try swapping out the panko breadcrumbs for cornmeal. If you use cornmeal, only use a ½ cup.
How can the kids help
I love including my kids in all of my cooking! Here are some suggestions on how you can get them involved in making these delicious meatballs!
- Have your children help measure out all the ingredients! This is a great math lesson because you can teach them measurements.
- The above suggestion is also helpful with fine motor skills when pouring the ingredients into a bowl.
- Teach your older children how to form meatballs with their hands. Scooping out a tablespoon of mixture and rolling the mix to form a ball shape using 2 hands.
Tips and FAQ's
You want to make your meatballs all the same size. When they are uniform in size they cook the same, which is an important tip for baking meat. To help make them all the same size use a small ice cream scoop to scoop out the mix.
If you wanted to cook your meatballs on the stove instead of the oven here is how it's done. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil to a cast iron skillet. Add your meatballs in and brown on all sides. Then transfer your skillet to the oven set at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
Store your meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 5 months.
Other meatball recipes to try
If you give this appetizer a try don't forget to rate the recipe below! Always love hearing what you all think. You can also Stay in touch with me through social media on @Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Don't forget to tag me when you try one of my healthy recipes!
Italian Chicken Meatballs
- baking trays
- parchment paper
- metal spatula
- ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or low-fat milk
- 1 large egg beaten
- ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 large cloves of garlic minced
- 1 3 ½ oz sweet Italian chicken sausage link casings removed
- 12 oz ground chicken
- cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 375° and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. Spray with avocado oil cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine your breadcrumbs and milk and let sit for 10 minutes. This is done so that your breadcrumbs don't soak up all the moisture in your meatballs and your meatballs become moister.
- Next, stir in the ground chicken, Italian sausages, egg, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper and mix until well combined. Using clean hands scoop out the mixture in 1 tbsp increments and form balls or use a melon ball scooper and scoop out balls.
- Place balls on prepared baking tray. Continue until all chicken mixture has been used.
- Bake for 20 minutes and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.