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These Ground Chicken Meatballs are simmered in a marinara of your choice (your go-to jar or favorite homemade marinara sauce) and yield extremely tender and flavorful meatballs every single time. They’re perfect for pasta, meatball subs, or just on their own!

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

Eating less red meat shouldn’t feel like a punishment, and you certainly don’t have to avoid the meaty recipes you love. Just adapt! Ground chicken makes it easy (it’s been proven with my chicken burger recipe). Your whole family will love these ground chicken meatballs—even that one stubborn person that swears by beef.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s flavorful — if you were ever led to believe that ground chicken couldn’t be as flavorful as ground beef, this recipe will quickly change your mind. After being simmered in this easy marinara sauce, the meatballs come out tender and incredibly tasty.
  • You can prep it in advance — if you want to save on time make the meatballs and pop them into the fridge to set the night before. This will set you up for an efficient dinner the following day.
  • It’s versatile — you can enjoy the meatballs on their own with a nice salad tossed in homemade Caesar dressing, over pappardelle pasta, or stuffed into fresh buns with melty mozzarella.

Ingredients for Ground Chicken Meatballs

Ingredients for chicken meatballs on a light blue background.
  • Ground chicken — If your butcher has some at the counter, go for that. Otherwise you can just grab a package from the refrigerated section of the grocery store.
  • Marinara sauce — I always use my own homemade marinara sauce (it’s super easy!), but store-bought is fine.
  • Seasoning — My rule of thumb is 1 tsp of sea salt per pound of ground meat. In addition to that, I use onion powder for an extra punch of flavor.
  • Thyme — You could use fresh or dry, just keep in mind that the flavor of fried thyme is a lot stronger, so you’ll want to use a bit less.
  • Worcestershire sauce — This good stuff is a huge flavor enhancer and it works wonderfully in these chicken meatballs.
  • Binders — I use both eggs and panko breadcrumbs in my ground chicken meatballs to ensure that they stay together AND retain moisture.

A full list of ingredients and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

How to Make Ground Chicken Meatballs

Note: If you’re making my homemade marinara sauce or your own from scratch get that going first, then start on the meatballs. If you’re making the meatballs in advance, you can make the sauce when you’re ready to cook the meatballs.

Step 1. Place all of the meatball ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix with your bare hands until well combined. The mixture might feel sticky and wet, but that’s ok!

Baking sheet covered in parchment with raw chicken meatballs on top.

Step 2. Wash your hands, then lightly oil them with some olive oil. Scoop up about a heaping tablespoon-worth of the mixture and roll it into a ball (about 1 x 1 inch). Set it onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Repeat until done, then refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

Pan of chicken meatballs with hand pouring marinara on top.

Step 3. Place the meatballs into the pan one by one and let them simmer for about 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip the meatballs and let them simmer for another 3-5 minutes until the other side is golden in color. Add the sauce to the pan covering the meatballs, and let the meatballs simmer on medium-low, covered, for about 30 minutes.

Pan full of saucy chicken meatballs garnished with basil.

Step 4. When the meatballs are ready, garnish with chopped fresh basil and serve

Recipe Tips

  1. Don’t skip the fridge! 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. Grated garlic is better. Grating your garlic on a microplane results in better flavor distribution than simply mincing.

Recipe Variations & Modifications

  • You can bake your meatballs! 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.
  • Italian breadcrumbs work too. If you don’t have panko breadcrumbs, you can use Italian.

Storage, Freezing, & Reheating

  • These chicken meatballs can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Yes, you can store them with the sauce in the same container.
  • To freeze, let the chicken meatballs and sauce cool completely, then transfer them to a freezer-friendly container. They will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • The best way to reheat chicken meatballs in sauce is to pop them into a saucepan and heat them over the stovetop until heated through.

More Easy Chicken Recipes You’ll Love

Skillet full of meatballs and tomato sauce.

Let Us Know What You Think

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a STAR rating & commenting below with feedback!
You can also show off your creations on Instagram by tagging @killing__thyme

5 from 70 votes

Ground Chicken Meatballs in Sauce

These Ground Chicken Meatballs are simmered in an easy marinara and come out extremely tender and flavorful.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Setting time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 12 meatballs
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Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • If making the homemade marinara sauce, get that done first. When you're done, leave it on a low simmer and move on to the 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.

Notes

Don’t skip the fridge! 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.
Grated garlic is better. Grating your garlic on a microplane results in better flavor distribution than simply mincing.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving with sauce | Calories: 129kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 7g
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5 from 70 votes

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143 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    absolute banger of a recipe, made my girlfriend love me more. this isn’t a joke. she looked at me in ways she hadn’t before. these meatballs and chicken are relationship changing.