These easy Ground Chicken Meatballs in Sauce are so tender, flavorful, and obviously saucy! You’ll be hooked.

Pan full of marinara and chicken meatballs garnished with fresh basil.

Ground Chicken Can, in Fact, Make a Damn Good Meatball.

Eating less red meat doesn’t have to feel like punishment, and you certainly don’t have to avoid the meaty recipes you love. Just… adapt! Because anything ground beef or pork can do, ground chicken (or turkey) can do, too. These gloriously tender and flavorful meatballs are a stand-up example of that! (And so is this popular turkey burger.) It’s all in the spices and binding agents, my friends. I’m thrilled to share these tricks with you, because seriously, these saucy and nutritious meatballs are a treat—and we can all use a little treat right about now.

The Ingredients That Bring the Taste and Texture.

Lots of garlic. Fresh herbs. Worcestershire sauce. The right amount of salt. Creating the perfect ground chicken meatball comes with a few more steps than your usual beefy, porky meatball. But my gosh, it’s worth it! Here’s a list of everything you’ll need to make these delectable ground chicken meatballs:

  • Ground chicken
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic cloves
  • Fresh thyme
  • Sweet/yellow onion
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Egg
  • Panko breadcrumbs

Process shots of ingredients for chicken meatballs.

Ingredients for the Marinara.

Making this from-scratch marinara is optional. If you prefer to keep things super simple and use your favorite jar sauce, you can do that—that’s exactly what I do when I’m in a pinch or, let’s face it, feeling lazy ;) Luckily this marinara is as simple as it is delicious. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh oregano
  • Fresh basil
  • Bay leaf
  • Red pepper flakes

Here’s How to Make Chicken Meatballs in Sauce.

First, it’s important to note that you can totally make these chicken meatballs on their own. But in this recipe I’m including the red sauce; it’s our favorite way to enjoy them! It sets you up for the perfect pasta dinner or, better yet, messy meatball sandwiches. Cooking meatballs in sauce also infuses the sauce with extra flavor. My go-to sauce for this recipe is this quick and easy marinara, which I’ll provide here for your convenience. But if you have your own go-to recipe, or you’re short on time and are using jar pasta sauce, that’s fine! Here’s the gist on how to make these chicken meatballs in sauce:

Make the sauce.

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Pop the onions into the pan and sauté for about a minute. Add the garlic and sauté for another few minutes, or until the onions are tender and fragrant. Stir occasionally to prevent the garlic from browning.
  2. Dump the crushed tomatoes into the saucepan and bring the sauce to a simmer. Sprinkle in your salt, then stir in the herbs and the red pepper flakes.
  3. Partially cover the pan, bring the heat down to low for a low simmer, and let the sauce simmer until you’re ready to add it to the pan of meatballs.

Make the chicken meatballs.

  1. Line a baking sheet with some parchment paper and set it aside. Make some room in your fridge, because you’ll be popping the baking sheet full of meatballs into the fridge to set.
  2. Place all of the ingredients for the meatballs into a large mixing bowl and, with clean hands, blend the mixture until it’s cohesive. (Using hands guarantees a much more thorough blend.) The mixture will seem wet and trickier to work with than beef and pork meatballs, but that’s normal.
  3. Wash your hands and lightly oil them with olive oil. I find this helps form the meatballs much better. Take a heaping scoop of the mixture, roll it into a ball that’s about 1 x 1 inch, and place the meatball onto the parchment paper. Repeat this until you’re done—there should be about a dozen meatballs.
  4. Place the tray of meatballs into the fridge and let them chill for at least 30 minutes.
  5. When it’s time to cook the meatballs, heat a bit of olive oil in a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan.
  6. Gently place the meatballs into the pan one by one, and let them simmer for about 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Carefully flip the meatballs and let them simmer for another 3-5 minutes until the other side is golden in color.
  7. Add the sauce to the pan, covering the meatballs, and let the meatballs simmer on medium-low, covered, for about 30 minutes or until cooked through. You’re looking for an internal temperature of 165º F.
  8. When the meatballs are ready, garnish with chopped fresh basil and serve them with pasta or on fresh hoagies with mozzarella cheese!

Pan of chicken meatballs with hand pouring marinara on top.

Equipment You’ll Need:

Recipe Tips + Tricks:

  1. Letting the meatballs chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes is really important. It helps them set and will keep them from falling apart when you’re cooking them.
  2. If you want to bake your ground chicken meatballs, you can skip the step of chilling them in the fridge and just pop them straight into an oven preheated at 400º F. Bake them for 25-30 minutes. They should be golden in color and register an internal temperature of 165º F.
  3. Grating your garlic cloves offers much better flavor distribution than simply mincing them. A microplane is the perfect tool for grating garlic!
  4. If you don’t have panko breadcrumbs, you can use Italian.Pan full of saucy chicken meatballs garnished with basil.

More Easy Chicken Recipes:

Have You Made This Recipe?

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Pan full of saucy chicken meatballs garnished with basil.

Get the Recipe:

Ground Chicken Meatballs in Sauce

These easy Ground Chicken Meatballs in Sauce are so tender, flavorful, and obviously saucy! You'll be hooked.
5 from 5 votes

Ingredients

Ground Chicken Meatballs.

  • 1 TBSP Olive oil
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

Easy Marinara.

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and grated to a paste (or minced)
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, more to taste
  • 3 TBSP chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes, more to increase heat if desired

Instructions 

Easy Marinara.

  • Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Then, add the onions and sauté for about a minute. Stir in the garlic, and sauté everything for a minute or two, until the onions are tender and the garlic is fragrant.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes to the saucepan and increase the heat to medium-high; bring to a simmer. Add the salt, oregano, basil, bay leaf, and chili flakes. Partially cover the pan and simmer on low until you're ready to add them to the meatballs.

Ground Chicken Meatballs.

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set it aside.
  • Put all of the ingredients for the meatballs into a large mixing bowl and blend the mixture thoroughly. The meatball mixture will seem wet and tricky to work with, but that's normal.
  • Lightly oil your hands with a bit of olive oil and start forming your meatballs into balls that's measure about 1 x 1 inch, then carefully place the meatballs onto the parchment paper.
  • Put the tray of meatballs into the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.
  • When it's cook time, heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan. Gently place the meatballs into the pan one by one, and let them simmer for about 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Carefully flip the meatballs with tongs and let them simmer for another 3-5 minutes or until the other side is golden in color.
  • Add the sauce to the pan, covering the meatballs, and simmer on medium-low, covered with a lid, for about 30 minutes or until cooked through to an internal temperature of 165º F.
  • When ready, garnish the meatballs with chopped fresh basil and serve them with pasta or on fresh hoagies with mozzarella or provolone cheese.