These tender Fresh Herb Chicken Meatballs, with a delicious lemon garlic butter sauce, come together quickly and can be prepped early in the day!
Scott and I have been enjoying these Fresh Herb Chicken Meatballs on and off for the past few weeks as I've tested the recipe, tweaking it a bit here and there. It's perfect now and I made them one last time yesterday in order to shoot a few pics (to entice you). Throughout the photoshoot, our mouths were watering and we could hardly wait to finish up and enjoy the fruits of our labor for dinner. Once again, it did not disappoint!
Prep in the morning, enjoy that evening!
I love that these Fresh Herb Chicken Meatballs can be prepped early in the day and popped in the refrigerator until just before serving. A 15-minute stint in a hot oven is all that's needed to finish them off. While the oven does the work, you have time to make a quick lemon garlic butter sauce which is drizzled over the meatballs when served.
How to serve these Herbed Chicken Meatballs
I like to serve these Fresh Herb Chicken Meatballs with a big scoop of Israeli couscous on the side, lots of fresh herbs, a scatter of buttery, crunchy pinenuts and a bowl of shaved parmesan that everyone can help themselves to. Sometimes I add a handful of sweet, baby peas to the couscous right before I drain it. The peas unthaw quickly in the boiling water without getting mushy and add some fresh pretty color to the couscous.
Mashed potatoes, polenta and linguini, or fettuccini would also be delicious pairings with the tender, delicious meatballs.
A few other options for serving... I have warmed leftover meatballs and featured them on a Greek salad for a fresh, unique meal. Stuffing the meatballs into fresh flatbread with sweet cherry tomatoes, sliced crunchy cucumbers, crumbled Feta and a drizzle of Zoe's Copycat Dressing would be wonderful... oh, I think I just figured out what to have for dinner!
The pros and cons of ground chicken
I like using ground chicken for meatballs because it's a lean, healthy choice, but that very asset can mean that the finished product is dry and tough after cooking. Not these Fresh Herb Chicken Meatballs! The fresh herbs and veggies (green onion and bell pepper) keep them moist and the hot oven seals in the moisture. The finishing butter sauce is definitely the crème de la crème to ensure the meatballs stay tender and juicy when served.
Another con with ground chicken is that it can be quite pale and anemic-looking. Since I'm of the strong opinion that we "eat first with our eyes" that doesn't sit so well with me. And, if I'm going through the trouble of cooking dinner, it's disappointing to bring it to the table and have disinterest because of the way something looks.
A magic trick
But, no worries! I've got a super simple little magic trick that transforms chicken meatballs, from the pale image below on the left to... drum roll... the beautiful golden meatball on the right... without changing the taste or texture!
It's a two-ingredient trick, just a bit of melted butter and a pinch of mild paprika brushed on the meatballs before baking. The transformation truly is quite magical, don't you agree?
Plenty of herbs
The delicious flavor of these Fresh Herb Chicken Meatballs is right in the name - plenty of fresh herbs. I used fresh basil and fresh parsley and a sprig of rosemary this time but I've also thrown in some thyme, chives and even a little mint in past batches, all delicious!
Ready for dinner? Put these Fresh Herb Chicken Meatballs on your menu this week! You might want to make a double batch as they re-warm nicely and make fantastic leftovers!
Café Tips for making these Fresh Herb Chicken Meatballs
- I have used both ground chicken breasts and ground chicken thighs. Both worked well so it's up to you.
- This recipe calls for panko crumbs. Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb product. It's lighter, airier and crisper than regular breadcrumbs. I prefer using panko for meatballs as it helps give them a light, tender texture. Panko crumbs can be found at most larger grocery stores in the same area as regular bread crumbs. You can also purchase panko online.
- Feel free to use any color bell pepper in this recipe. I like to use yellow because it makes for a pretty presentation but orange or red would also work.
- This Fresh Herb Chicken Meatballs recipe comes together quickly but, as mentioned above, does call for some chopping. Bell peppers and green onion need to be diced small. I use my Vidalia Chopper to make quick work of this chopping. This is one of my favorite kitchen tools, a real workhorse for me. Anytime I need to dice a bunch of veggies, I pull out this little handy chopper. It's great for chopping peppers, onions, potatoes, summer and winter squash, carrots, cabbage, apples, cucumbers...
- Chicken meatballs are not as easy to roll as beef or pork as ground chicken is wetter and a little stickier. I find that very lightly wetting my hands when rolling these meatballs makes things much easier!
- I like to use a 2 tablespoon retractable ice cream scooper to scoop up the meat mixture for these meatballs if I'm serving them as a main course. If I'm using them as an appetizer, I use a 1½ tablespoon scoop. These scoopers are so handy for so many things besides ice cream. I use them for scooping cookie dough, meatballs, hummus, muffins, cupcakes, pancakes as well as scooping out pumpkin or squash seeds...
Thought for the day:
The Lord is a Refuge for the oppressed,
a Stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know Your name trust in You,
for You, Lord,
have never forsaken those who seek You.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
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- For the meatballs
- 1 pound ground chicken you could also use ground turkey
- ½ cup panko crumbs
- 1 large egg
- 4 green onions scallions finely chopped, finely chopped
- 1 large yellow bell pepper
- 4 medium cloves garlic finely minced
- ½ cup packed basil leaves, finely chopped
- ½ cup packed fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary and/or thyme optional
- finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
- 1 ½ teaspoon dry oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For brushing:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- For the sauce:
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 3 medium cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 medium lemon halved and sliced thin
- 3 2- inch sprigs fresh rosemary more for garnish, if desired
- Optional for serving:
- cooked orzo
- baby peas
- fresh herb leaves
- shaved parmesan cheese
- pine nuts
For the prep:
Preheat the oven to 400˚F (204˚C). Line a sheet pan with foil and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray or oil light. Set aside.
For the meatballs:
Combine ground chicken, panko crumbs, egg, finely chopped green onions, chopped bell pepper, garlic, basil, parsley, optional herbs (if using), lemon zest, oregano, kosher salt and pepper in a medium large bowl. Using a silicone spatula or your hands mix until combined but don’t over mix.
Scoop up the chicken mixture into 18 portions. With lightly wet hands, toll each portion between your palms into a round ball and place on the prepared sheet pan.
For brushing and baking:
Place the butter in a microwave safe cup or bowl, cover with a paper towel and microwave on high power for 30-45 seconds or until melted. Add the paprika and stir to combine.
Brush each meatball lightly but thoroughly with the butter mixture.
Place the meatballs in the preheated oven and bake for 14-18 minutes or until the meatballs are a nice golden color and feel slightly firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and tent with foil to keep warm.
For the sauce:
While the meatballs are baking, melt the butter in a large skilled until bubbly and just starting to turn golden brown. Reduce the heat and add the minced garlic. Stir to combine. Cook for 2 more minutes until the butter is nice and fragrant.
Add the lemon slices and rosemary sprigs. Cook for another 30 seconds then remove from the heat. Add the meatballs to the pan and spoon the butter sauce over the top. Serve with Israeli Couscous and baby peas or mashed potatoes, polenta, linguini, fettuccine, etc. Garnish with more fresh herbs and the lemon slices.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.
These look wonderful. Have you tried freezing them? I'd love to make a double batch and freeze some for later.
Chris Scheuer says
I think that would work well, Winnie!