baked-chicken-meatballs Recipes

baked chicken meatballs

As it turns out, I’m a sucker for a good meatball. It’s a funny thing because ground meat has rarely done it for me; I’m certain I’m the lone American who doesn’t get in a frenzy over hamburgers or meatloaf. But something happens when you mix otherwise dull ground meats up with softened bread, herbs, seasonings and bits of extra ingredients, oof — I will swat your fork away to get at them first.

onion, garlic, pancetta
meatballs, ready to mix

I’ve found some good ones over the years, such as the only ones you should ever serve with your spaghetti and these guys, which, if you have not already, you should not wait until next summer to try, not to mention the ones I sneak into sliders and soup. But as I hadn’t tried these before, my meatball recipe collection — and possibly even my life — was woefully deficient.

brushing with tomato paste

Now I’m going maintain this space as a complaint-free zone, so I won’t tell you how long it took me to tackle this recipe or how many times we bought the ingredients and they went bad before I could even find a window of naptime to make them, and how even when I made them, I borked so many steps I had to do it again. It’s hard to step around the whining trap door sometimes, but I will because it’s not the point, which is that these are crazy good. They’re kick your heels up good.

They’re the best, and really only, reason I’ve found to enthusiastically welcome the purchase of ground chicken. So hurry. Get to this.

baked chicken meatballs
i snuck one

One year ago: Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
Two years ago: Cranberry, Caramel and Almond Tart
Three years ago: Bretzel Rolls

Baked Chicken Meatballs
Adapted from Gourmet

These were unbelievably good, quite possibly my new favorite meatball recipe; they pack a lot of flavor from a few ingredients and can I say this? I hope it sounds as good to you as it does to me: They taste … cheesy. Like you’d snuck a whole lot of melty goodness in there, even though there is none. In my book, that’s a high compliment.

These make for an excellent main course, but I will definitely be making miniature versions of them for a party, hopefully one day soon.

Gourmet suggests you serve these with pepperonata, a marinated roasted red pepper antipasto. We enjoyed it, but don’t think it’s in any way mandatory to get the most out of your meatballs. One cooking note, should you choose to make it at home: I’d suggest roasting the peppers whole — rather than in strips — and peeling them before slicing them for the dish. Perhaps it’s just a personal preference, but I found the strips of still-attached roasted pepper skin annoying to eat, and easily avoided. You can find the pepperonata accompaniment over here.

Serves 4, or more as appetizers or sliders

3 slices Italian bread, torn into small bits (1 cup)
1/3 cup milk
3 ounces sliced pancetta, finely chopped (you can swap in Canadian Bacon if you can’t find pancetta)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large egg
1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons tomato paste, divided*
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about four minutes.

Cook pancetta, onion, and garlic in one tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. (Alternately, as in “I thought of this after the fact”, I’d bet you could render the pancetta for a couple minutes and cook the onions and garlic in that fat, rather than olive oil.) Cool slightly.

Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, pancetta mixture, bread, and parsley. Form 12 meatballs and arrange in another 4-sided sheet pan (I used a 9×13 roasting dish).

Stir together remaining tablespoons of tomato paste and oil and brush over meatballs (the paste/oil does not mix in any cohesive manner, but just smoosh it on and run with it) , then bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes (though mine took a good 5 minutes longer).

* I accidentally added a heaping tablespoon of the tomato paste into the meatball mixture the first time I made it, and ended up liking it better than without it. I’d use the tomato paste on top too. It’s good both places.

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363 comments on baked chicken meatballs

  1. I am so excited about these meatballs. They are going to be great!! I have looked for a good recipe forever. I bet this will be the one. I will be anxious to make these. Thanks for such good recipes. Will be trying these out for my food’s class.

  2. Jeni

    I actually don’t like ground beef either! But ground chicken, I might give it a try! Thanks for the recipe and baby legs. My little girl just turned 3 (and has the attitude of a 13 year old!) and I’m missing my tiny baby leg fixes!

  3. I’ve never ever purchased ground chicken. I don’t know why, but it has always seemed so weird to me. Ground turkey too. I am a pork meatball kinda girl, but these have pancetta which totally sealed the deal for me.

    ps: Is that an Ikea knife? I think I have the same one :)

  4. So YUM! What a great meal idea for this cool weather we’re having and I’ve never eaten ground chicken meatballs. They sound very healthy! Gonna have to make ’em this weekend. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Now I have to admit, I usually don’t eat meatballs since I don’t eat red meat. But chicken meatballs? Those sound RIGHT up my alley! Now just to find ground chicken…

    And I love those little kicking feet!

  6. Jennifer

    My guy loves meatballs, but I do not eat beef. Unfortunately, I also do not eat pork. I am afraid that this recipe might turn out a little too bland, and a little too much like chicken meatballs in a bad way without the pancetta. I wonder what your opinion might be.

    Also, the little one is cute, and I am so happy that you are still finding time to delight and inspire us out here in internet land.

  7. Low and behold, I recently wrote about these on my own blog! And they really are that good. Shockingly good, in fact. I did sneak in a little cheese (just a little parmesan) and loved it.

  8. The tomato paste sounds like a good call… I’m never sure how to feel about ground chicken (it’s just so darn tasty roasted whole, you know?) but these do sound yummy.

  9. Liz C.

    thank you for a chicken recipe that’s different! i’m always racking my brain to figure out what’s new i can do with chicken!

    To Jennifer: maybe you could try using turkey bacon instead of pancetta?? just a stray thought…

  10. i never buy ground chicken. i’m a bit wary of it. (not sure why, there’s no reason.) but! but! you make this look so irresistible that i might have to try it. after i finish my cleansing fast in a few days.

  11. Sarah

    I make a similar recipe with ground turkey, curry, and raisins, served with a yogurt/chutney/scallion dipping sauce. A favorite from childhood!

  12. Chaitali

    I don’t eat red meat anymore but I love meatballs. I’ve never found ‘the’ recipe for chicken meatballs. I’m going to try this out tomorrow, hope this is the one.

    On a totally different note, I love pics of Jacob. He is so adorable!

  13. Robby

    While I do eat various forms of ground meat, I have never found a meatball to swoon over. Until I made the Barefoot Contessa Chicken Meatballs – hubby and I stood around just eating them off the baking sheet until we realized we should have something more for dinner. Time for a comparison of recipes, I do believe.

  14. cck

    I am so glad you made these! I saw the issue of Gourmet and bookmarked the recipe, but I was worried they’d be dry – or flavorless. Can’t wait! Thanks!

  15. this looks like some serious yum going on!!!! i’m so going to have to try it! my mom’s meatballs are the best (my opinion), and usually i don’t eat anyone’s but hers. i’m going to break my rule with these babies!!!! can’t wait to try!!!

  16. These sound similar to the way I’ve tweaked Ina Garten’s chicken meatball recipe for her Italian Wedding Soup. I’m a sucker for a good chicken meatball… might have to bust some out this weekend….

    And seeing those sweet little kicky legs makes me want to birth a human, dress him/her in bright colors and chocolate browns, plunk him/her in the autumn leaves, and take a gazillion photos.

  17. If it makes ground chicken palatable, I’m all for it! The Italian bread in milk thing is the real Italian way to make meatballs – the way you make them when you call all pasta “macaroni” and the red sauce is “gravy”. Which means that it is The Right Way. (I actually never do it that way b/c I am lazy).

  18. THANKS FOR THIS!! and for your true confession that you don’t get in a frenzy over hamburgers and meatloaf. i just for some reason don’t like ground beef much. but this not only looks truly flavorful but MUCH more appetizing to me than meatballs made with ground beef etc. can’t wait to try it.

    recently made your stuffed bell peppers by the way. they so were great.

    ironically i added ground beef. took one for the hubby.

  19. I am more than super excited to try these. I blogged about some baked chicken meatballs of Ina’s earlier this year, and felt pretty meh about them. (Perhaps one of the very few Contessa recipes I’m not gaga about. Well, that and her Easy Sticky Buns, which looked pretty on my blog, but not my favorite to eat.) My boyfriend has also been begging me to make meatballs as of late, and I should, perhaps, give in to his culinary requests. At least this one time. (Those boiled, frozen bussel sprouts? You’re on your own, mister.)

  20. Emily

    These sound great! Just wondering — did you use ground chicken thigh, or ground chicken breast? I’m thinking the thigh would have more flavor, but if these could be delicious with ground breast meat, all the better!

  21. Man, could I get mine with a delicious side of baby thigh, too? I’m sure the meatballs are delicious, and I do plan on trying them, but the baby legs are truly distracting.

  22. I love making chicken taste really good :) I made buffalo chicken meatballs a few months ago and they were a HUGE hit (with blue cheese mashed potatoes). Gave me a renewed love for chicken :)

  23. piba

    these look yum – thanks for posting – and I hear you cooking in between nursing sessions and toddler owies is certainly “exciting” still fun though – my oldest didn’t want to go to sleep tonight so he suggested that we cook together (Since he knows how I love to cook and cook with him) wise little guy – just you wait I bet Jacob will outdo him:) thanks again!

  24. Susan

    Oh good! A new chicken meatball recipe..and it sounds delicious and perfect as an appetizer too. I make a chicken meatball and sauce recipe that my kids liked alot when they were young. It sounds odd, but it’s really good. It has All Bran cereal instead of the bread and lemon zest and is sauced with a lemon yogurt sauce. It’s really tasty. I found it in BHG mag ages ago, but it’s in a lot of places on the net now.

    Your little guy looks like he’s getting more active. I love those little leg creases.

  25. Linda

    I will definitely try these chicken meatballs…

    My husband and I are transitioning to vegetarians and are down to fish and chicken. I’d love to have some vegetarian recipes that include making “meat-like’ food, as we can’t find much where we are. We love meat and miss the tastes, but are doing this for ethical reasons. We miss bacon, steak, pork chops and sausages. Any recipes that simulate these things would be very welcome… thanks.

    Love this blog… thanks for doing it.

  26. Rola

    looks yummy but i have a problem that y husband doesnt like “dry food”, he likes saucy stuff mostly with rice …..any suggestions how i can use these meatballs with a sauce as a main course?
    lovely baby feet :)

  27. Hello again ! Stopped by to see if you had any recipes for granola bars – thanks for that. I have a great soup recipe – easy and savory. Will send it if you like. Gave up eating chicken years ago but do eat minced beef from time to time – will use your recipe and use blah, blah beef – served over fresh pasta with some tomato-ie sauce and mushrooms. oh yummy !

  28. Beth

    Looks delicious! I’m also wondering about what ground chicken you used, since my market has various fat percentages in its ground chicken. Thanks!

  29. Louise

    Had some awful chicken meatballs a long time ago and just never tried again, will trust you on this one and actually try again. And Jacob’s little legs are just gorgeous.

  30. jen

    @ Jennifer, comment #8 – i also don’t eat beef or pork and in the past have used turkey bacon as a sub for pancetta. i’m sure foodies worldwide balk at the idea but it might help. i believe pancetta is kind of salty so I’d also add a bit extra salt. if i make these that’s what i’ll do.

  31. Really rich and hearty looking meatballs! I love the color you got on them.
    I remember how hard it is to work between naps. (I always wanted to nap myself to make up for the lack of sleep at night.)

  32. alex

    i’d like to add my name to the list of the “what if you don’t eat pancetta?” people. i’m a little skeptical that turkey bacon would serve the same salty/greasy/flavor purpose. deb, any ideas?

  33. I make a similar recipe with ground turkey. In fact, I’m making them later on this afternoon because I’m having people over for dinner tonight! I usually wait until people have eaten four or five before I reveal to them that it’s ground turkey they are eating and not beef.

  34. Kate

    Deb, you’re a lifesaver! I just bought ground chicken because it was super cheap and I’m a bit compulsive about buying stuff on sale, but I had NO IDEA what to do with it. Hello, awesome chicken meatballs! And also, kudos to you for keeping up with your culinary activites AND your blogging, all while caring for your little one. There’s a word for people like you: inspirational. Thank you!

    1. deb

      Chicken types — I don’t remember what I used, but these would be great with dark, light or a mix of meats. Personally, I love the dark and/or mix, and I like higher-fat blends, but use whatever you like.

      Pancetta subs — Sorry, I’m stumped. The only thing I can think of is turkey bacon but other commenters are right — it is not the same. Plus, the idea is not really to crisp the pancetta (as you would turkey bacon to cook it); it’s more like sauteed and rendered a little with the onions.

  35. I can only imagine how good these must be. I’ve been making these things called Sweet and Sour Pork Patties for a years now. They are pretty much bland as all get out ground pork with a bunch of seasonings and sweet and sour sauce poured over them. The right ingredients really bring out the awesome in ground meat.

  36. I saw this recipe over the summer, flagged the page, and then never made them; I think I even threw the issue away. Thanks for trying them, and convincing me to make them!

  37. Emma

    I just wish i could find minced chicken in the supermarket. Would turkey be any good as a substitute?

    Also on a completely unrelated post I just realised I’ve been reading your blog for a year now as the Peanut Butter Crispy Bars were the first recipe I tried

  38. Raquel

    Recently the whole meat loaf/ball thing has come back to my mind too. Maybe it’s fall, maybe it’s having a little one myself, but recently I was served meat loaf with roasted a red pepper sauce that set my heart to flutter. I’m going to try these little yummies tonight.

    Thanks for the recipes, and for being so thorough and clear. Yours instructions are absolutely perfect every time. Wonderful job! I can’t wait until you come out with a book that I can hold in my hot little hands.

    PS How do you get anything done when all I would want to do is zerbert those sweet chubby little legs all day long?

  39. I have a couple Jewish and Muslim friends who don’t eat pork, so to replace bacon or pancetta in recipes I’ve made them, I use this little trick: Finely dice one portobello mushroom cap and saute in a mix of butter and olive oil (1-2 tbsp of each) with a heaping teaspoon of sweet smoked Spanish paprika (not the spicy) and a generous hit of salt. Sometimes (if I think about it) I add in a drop of “liquid smoke.” The result is little bits of smoky and salty mushroom with the “meatiness” of the mushroom that really mimics the flavor and texture of real bacon or pancetta. I cool and then use just as I would diced pancetta or bacon (in pasta or on pizza or over soup as a garnish, for example). Perhaps that would work in this recipe for folks who don’t want to (or can’t) use pancetta?

  40. You’re not the only American that doesn’t get excited about hamburgers or meatloaf, I cringe whenever I think of the huge amount of ground beef being molded and baked like a cake. This looks like an excellent recipe. Thanks for the suggestion to make mini versions of this meatball, it does look like a great party appetizer.

  41. Chicken meatballs is a common dish served at Japanese Yakitori restaurants. Its called Tsukune and you can have it just salted or with a tare (which is a teriyaki like sauce). I made some a couple months back but I am yet to post it on my blog. But if you really want to try a really delicious one, you must try Yakitori Totto or Tory’s in NYC. So unreal juicy!

  42. Great photos! Even the raw eggs and chicken somehow looks a little appetizing. Ok, maybe not, but these meatballs look killer. I’m going to try these out, I could use something different from the regular meatballs I’ve been making lately. Thanks!

  43. Stoich91

    Can you take all the DELICIOUSNESS (and CUTENESS!). Love the baby and meatballs (where else than SK do you leave a comment like THAT?). :)

  44. Lisa

    OMG – these are my favorite too! I made them three times since I read the issue, — where does the pancetta go??? It seems to just meld into the flavor. I almost ate the entire batch myself!!!

  45. Don’t worry. I can’t stand ground meat; I recall reacting in utter bafflement upon the discovery that some considered meatloaf a comfort food. If there are kaiser rolls on the table, they’d better be topped with chicken breasts – or, if we’re feeling indulgent, chicken thighs.

  46. Lacey

    I made these after getting that issue of Gourmet and they were great. I’ll be making a tomato sauce to go alongside of them next time though – we had garlic bread and the peperonata with them and really missed the sauce.

  47. Jessica

    looking forward to trying. Cooks illustrated has a Meatball recipe that can be used for chicken, beef or a beef pork mix. Instead of milk it uses buttermilk which I think adds to the flavor. It also has parmesean cheese in it. Those are delicious! I use the same recipe for meatloaf, more because I’m too lazy to make little balls..

  48. Marci

    I’m going to have to try these… I’d also highly recommend trying Giada’s turkey meatballs sometime – they are so good, I didn’t even tell my Italian NYer in-laws that they were turkey until after they ate them and no one knew. My father-in-law gave me the best meatball award for those, much to the dismay of my very Italian mother-in-law.

  49. Anna

    If you ever make Swedish meatballs you should try it the traditional Swedish way with cream gravy, boiled potatoes and “Lingonberry” jam ( its like cranberry jam and can be found at all, drumroll please…, Ikea shops :) It’s Yummy!
    Thanks for a great site with beautiful images!

  50. jbrown

    OMG! Look at those cute little chubby baby legs! He’s growing up fast!

    Got to try the chicken meatballs soon! They sound wonderful.

  51. fishnlady

    Has anyone else noticed that on packages of chicken and sirlion beef that the chicken has more cholesterol than the beef. Am I missing something when all a person hears by the health nuts is eat chicken, and not beef? I love both of them but alas I am on a low or cholesterol free diet now.

  52. fishnlady

    The baby legs were so cute. I will try the meatballs too regardless of the cholesterol. I will just sub some cooked oats to make up for some of the meat and use defatted ham broth to cook with so it will add some ham flavor. Sure appreciate the nice recipes and pictures, they are great.

  53. I’m just like you! Unless I’m starving and there’s no instant food in the house, you can’t get me to eat a hamburger, or worse, meatloaf.

    These look really good and simple to make. I’ll have to try them one day! :)

  54. Christine

    I made these a few weeks ago and I agree with all of your thoughts on the pepperonata. We have the meatballs with pepperonata over roasted kale. It was healthy and delish!

  55. Kathy

    Could you give all of us inadequate moms a moral boost and post some pics of your filthy apartment with laundry piled high and neglected reams of junkmail everywhere? Surely that must be how it is when you are able to cook such amazing concoctions with a newborn underfoot!

    1. deb

      Kathy — OMG, great idea! Except my MIL was here today so I could go to the doctor and when I came home, everything was orderly and dusted! So, you know, give us five hours or so…

  56. Kelly

    I made chicken meatballs all the time! However, I use italian chicken sausage from Whole Foods (I take the meat out of the casings) and mix it with the rest of the ingredients … so good!

  57. E.

    I just made these, and I wanted to report back on them. Since I also don’t eat pancetta, I added some shredded smoked cheddar cheese to the mix. It was delicious with all that smokiness and umami goodness. I also threw in a small amount of red chili flakes. Very delicious! Thanks again, Deb.

  58. Wow! I’m a vegetarian but I can easily use a meat substitute for my part and use the chicken for my husband. Although, I have to admit I’m at least partially swayed because Baby Jacob and his high kicks!

  59. Geri S.

    Boo! Boo! Boo! Tomorrow is Halloween so before the “trick or treaters” come by I’m going to pop some of these chicken meatballs in the oven. Can’t wait after reading all the comments from other too with their ideas making minor changes. Deb your photography speaks for itself. A great composition you always make it causes the salivary glands to go into action and really adds so much to your blog even though your writings are grand as they are. Love seeing Jacob’s contribution those legs of his are sure looking strong. Reminds me of those wonderful years a long time ago. Everyone have a safe, happy and healthy Halloween.

  60. My 8 year old son is totally into to tiny burgers that fit nicely on Hawaiian Bread rolls. If I flatten these out a bit I believe this recipe would perfectly. A nice grab-and-go treat for my little trick-or-treaters.

  61. Natika

    I’ve been making these for years minus the panchetta and tomato paste. When I make these I cook the directly in my red sauce.
    I don’t eat meat but my family does and they love them. They like the ground chicken way more than the ground turkey.

  62. Turkey has always been my go-to, but chicken probably has more flavor to begin with, no? My favorite way to doctor up the non-beef meatball for my beef-loving man is homemade breadcrumbs. Old sourdough breads ( I am a bread-baker so these are a-plenty), olive oil, salt and herbs, toasted and then ground finely in a food processor. Makes for the most flavorful, textured turkey (or chicken) meatballs. And a little ketchup thrown in the mix never hurts :)

  63. I never really had meatballs growing up, but a few years ago my cooking club made some. They were a mix of pork and beef, but the star ingredient was ricotta. Moist and tasty. Since you mentioned a cheesy taste to your meatballs, I think you might enjoy them. I made them again this week and just put up a post about them. I’ve recently learned to make ricotta and that made them even more special.

    Thanks for sharing. I’m intrigued by the ground chicken.

  64. kookie in london

    Hey deb, nice post. I share the ickiness about minced chicken that other posters commented on, but may try this. I would also like something moist to go with them – I thought maybe some thinly sliced potato, tomato and onion, with the meatballs baking on top? Then the potatoes can absorb some juices. I am also on a mission to help my baby to gain a bit more wait and I think she’ll love these. Hope all is well with you and the little one and that you’re adjusting to life together.

  65. Brittany

    ooooh I love meatballs too =) I will have to try these out, always love experimenting with them

    I have a meatloaf recipe that might just convert you =P I’m not a huge ground beef fan, but this one is wow!

  66. I made your Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones yesterday. They were pretty tasty! I used both jalapenos (including seeds) and I still didn’t get any heat… If I make them again I might try skipping the saute step and just leaving the peppers totally fresh. Do you think that would help?

  67. rockdoc

    I grew up in a totally meatballless family and love them, as does my 9yo baby. I always like when they are baked and not fried. Look forward to trying these, as I have never used ground chicken in anything.

  68. ramarama

    I am not crazy for ground meat either and when I have to use it I grind my own. Anyhow, my husband is German and their form of hamburgers are called Buletten they are a lot like meatballs in that they usually have onion and bread crumbs or old rolls mixed in and usually you bake them with a sinful sauce full of cheese and cream and it turns out to be some what of a casserole when you are all finished with the meat patties in the sauce. There are lots of different versions.

  69. Tara

    these look SO delicious! thanks so much for all your amazing recipes! I made your challah a few weeks ago and fell in love, and i can’t keep your homemade oreos in my kitchen for more than a day or two before they’re gone thanks to my hungry friends :) I can’t wait to try this one!

  70. Daniella

    I just made these and they are wonderful. I used the ground turkey and turkey bacon and added in a little more milk to compensate for the dryness, and they turned out so well. Thanks for the recipe!

  71. Charlotte

    Deb – I too was not a big meatloaf fan until I tried a recipe that called for making the recipe in muffin tins – we call them meatloaf muffins. I’ve since adapted the recipe to use either ground turkey or ground chicken instead of ground beef and we love our meatloaf muffins. And the lazy in me finds them easier to make than meatballs! And the baby legs are sooooooo adorable. My almost 4 year old has almost outgrown every last vestige of baby chubbiness and I miss it……

  72. Sara

    I’m looking forward to trying these out! Unfortunately, I’m spending a year abroad and away from my beloved cookbooks – but, there is a recipe for turkey meatballs in the Mario Batali cookbook “Molto Italiano” which is out of this world if you have the time and patience to devote to it. I recall that there are two turkey meatball recipes featured there and this is the one that appears first (with lots of red pepper flakes and rosemary).

  73. jill

    I meant to make these meatballs for a while too. Eventually my husband made them and we both loved ’em. As did our two-year old son. Another in the gazillions of reasons to mourn the demise of Gourmet–cut down in its prime.

  74. Susan

    Well, I guess NaBloPoMo isn’t gonna happen this year! Unless a certain baby would pose and you posted a few words about him? No? Fine

  75. Sandra

    WARNING: This is a stupid question from someone who’s just learning to cook. If I want to double the recipe, should I just use double of everything, including oil, salt, and pepper? And should I bake it longer than 15-20 minutes?

  76. Jamie

    I made miniature versions of these for a party yesterday and we promptly made them again for dinner tonight. These meatballs are excellent. They were a hit at the party and people were quite surprised when I told them there was no cheese in them at all!! If you make these you won’t be disappointed!

  77. Emily

    Just made these tonight and they were tasty… But I felt like they almost verged on a little sweet in some weird way — maybe I’m just used to the more savory essence of pork and beef… I’m thinking that next time I’ll add some chopped thyme and maybe a splash of Worcestershire sauce… Or maybe a little Parmesan, even though I agree they didn’t 100% need it… They were surprisingly filling without being greasy…

  78. Pretty soon he’ll be sturdy enough to wear while cooking, and then you can face him out to be entertained by the action. I did more wearing a baby than I probably should have, but no harm done.

  79. Tanya

    Made these tonight for Hubby and got rave reviews :) Thanks so much for sharing such a nice recipe. BTW, your son is beautiful! Congratulations! x

  80. These sound delicious and I am always a fan of meatball recipes that are designed to go in the oven so I don’t have to stand over a spluttering pan for too long. Loving the baby leg photos!

  81. Hi Deb – I’m interested in making these for a dinner tomorrow night. If you do not recommend serving them with the pepperonata, what would you recommend? Angel hair, perhaps? Please let us know if you have any suggestions!

  82. Katie

    I made these last night, but a little differently. I added about a handful of shredded cheese, went without the pancetta and the parsley (I was at my Aunt’s house and their grocery store was confusing me), and used jarred tomato sauce instead of tomato paste. I also forgot to top these with sauce and to add the salt or pepper (I KNOW RIGHT), but they came out really well anyways.

    We served them in pasta with sauce, but the meatballs were so much better than the pasta that I would recommend serving them some other way for sure.

  83. tinarina

    I made these over the weekend with the peperonata and thought it was a really good dish. As Deb suggests, definitely roast the peppers whole and cut them after peeling–much easier and prettier. I used all ground dark meat which I think added a richer taste and kept them from being dry.

  84. These appealed to me immediately, so I made them last night. They tasted divine, but I messed something up, and the mix was so moist that the meatballs ended up looking more like meatlumps. Maybe it was the milk? I’m tempted next time to toast the bread and add it dry, thinking I can always add moisture, but I can’t take it out. I also doubled the recipe before making it right the first time, which I always end up doing and then regretting. DOH! Thanks for the recipe, though, they are so tasty! I will have to make them again in a second attempt to get them right :-)

  85. Hsin

    What juicy thighs you have there! And the chicken balls look good too.

    For those who don’t eat pancetta or other forms of pork, you may have to experiment to find a substitute to add the richness and flavor you’re looking for. Besides the suggestions of turkey bacon, I would be tempted to try using some leftover duck fat to sautee onion and garlic. Of course, not everybody has some duckfat sitting in the freezer.
    In all my meatloaf and meatball recipes, I usually add Parmesan. Can’t help it. I’m addicted to the stuff. I’d grate some parmesan (at least half cup coarsely grated) to add per pound of meat.
    Another thing to try if nobody has mentioned it is reconstituted porcini (cepes) or shiitake mushrooms sauteed in olive oil or butter (or duck fat).

  86. sjg

    i made them this weekend for sunday night family dinner and they were awesome. i rendered the pancetta before cooking the onion and garlic instead of the oil as you suggested, but still needed a dab of oil to get them good and shiny (and to work up all the brown bits!). will definitely use this recipe again. thanks!

  87. Nat

    Hi Deb! I’ve been here since the wee hours of dawn (started this post actally then till sleep intervened) for it’s morning here in India from where this post is comin’ at ya. And I love to just read your blog – not just for the food, which is what brought me here in the first place, but for all your wry humour, yard long adjectives, candour, that undanted culinary spirit of any self-respecting foodie (myself included) even when up against the toughest adversary (read pie dough), and all that cheese!! Oh yeah and chocolate too!!!

  88. Yes! Baked meatballs are the best! None of that bothering with a big ole pan of oil and then wondering what the hell to do with the used oil. These sound particularly flavoursome! Will definitely be trying it out.

  89. Sonia

    I made these with ground turkey as I couldn’t find ground chicken, and they were wonderful! Next time, though, I might decrease the pancetta a little; they were almost too rich with 3 oz. I’ll also double the recipe and freeze half to take better advantage of the milk and bread, both of which I had to buy specially for this recipe.

    We didn’t even think about adding Parmesan or any other cheese; it simply seemed unnecessary. Did serve them with the roasted peppers, roasted whole as suggested.

    1. deb

      Forgot to add my fresh breadcrumbs trick: I buy a bakery roll when I don’t want/need a whole loaf of bread, and don’t have any odd ends in the freezer. Even a sub-par sandwich roll from a deli section has at least been baked in the last day and will have superior bread crumbs to a can. I believe I used two small ciabatta rolls to get the crumbs for this recipe.

  90. Turner

    Made these last night and they were delicious. I skipped the pancetta entirely, and added 1/3 cup of homemade pesto. Yummy! Definitely will make them again soon.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  91. I was thrilled to find chicken meatballs on your site. chicken meatballs! why that might solve the meatballs in spaghetti or cheese on the spaghetti debate. ( I can’t have red meat and dairy together :(. ) Unfortunately, I can’t eat pork either.

    I’m very much looking forward to trying these using chicken fat and mushrooms sauteed in said chicken fat to sub for the pancetta. sounds yummy! Thank you!!!

  92. Travis

    How do you tell when they are just cooked through as you mentioned? Mine have been in the over for about 25min and still seem to have white stuff seeping from them, not really sure how to tell when they are done.

  93. YUM CITY!!!!!!! Made these last night as directed. THEY ARE INCREDIBLE. I agree about the “cheesiness” of them. It’s strange, but though they have no cheese, they are so creamy and so light you’d think it was in there. They were really a breeze to put together. Once they went in the oven I made a simple marinara on the stove and boiled some whole wheat angel hair pasta. I also made Green Goddess Dressing which was INCREDIBLE: and served it over a mix of baby spinach and salad greens.

    FABULOUS DEB! I’ve been with you since nearly the beginning and you’ve never let me down. That roasted cauliflower with almonds, raisins, and capers? OUTSTANDING.

    Squeeze that baby!!!

  94. emily

    I’m on a gluten free diet and was wondering what a good substitute for the Italian bread would be. These look so good I need to try them!

  95. alexis

    these are FANTASTIC! so flavourful, and moist, i was blown away. however they were possibly too moist? next time i will 1/2 the milk or skip it…

    but thanks for another amazing recipe!

  96. Janet

    THANK YOU. I saw this post last week and craved chicken meatballs all weekend. I finally ran to the store yesterday to make these and they are INCREDIBLE. Quite possibly the best meatball I’ve had ever. THANKS!!!!!!!!

  97. Elisa

    The idea of ‘ground’ chicken freaks me right out too, but that might be a southern hemisphere thing… I don’t think I’ve ever seen it for sale here. But when anything minced is called for, we just buy an unprocessed cut of meat and whizz it a few times in the food processor. Somehow mincing your own meat is way less gross than buying it pre-done. At least you know what’s in it! (BTW, we made these with a couple of free-range chicken breasts. Awesome.)

  98. Tamsin

    I made these for dinner last night using turkey rather than chicken. I was concerned they’d be too dry but they were amazingly moist and so tasty. The peperonata was great too. Next time I’ll try serving them with pasta and pesto.
    Emily – I didn’t have any Italian bread so I just used normal white sliced which was fine. I imagine that normal gluten-free bread would work just fine. Or you could try oats if you can tolerate low levels of gluten.

  99. Hallelujah! I made these last night. Then out of the blue I heard “yummy”. My 6 years old loved it (he only ate 1 but that’s a different story). It was music to my ears. It’s been a looong time since I heard that word coming out of his mouth at dinner time. I got to post this on my blog.

  100. Jenn

    I made this recipe on Sunday and thought it was fantastic – very moist, and just the right amount of seasoning, etc. (my husband, on the other hand, thought they tasted too much like chicken… hum, I wonder why that could be? Umm, mabye because they’re CHICKEN meatballs?!). Hubby aside, I will definitely be making them again. Thanks!

    Also wanted to chime in here and say that I made Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun meatloaf that was suggested by one of your readers (Thanks Kevin!) for dinner last night and can I just say that even my finicky husband thought it was fabulous. I think Cajun meatloaf will be a regular thing at our house.

  101. yum! i made baked chk meatballs last week and made the sauce with roasted cherry tomatoes, i was inspired for the sauce from your roasted cipollini and tomato recipe. thanks deb!

  102. Hall

    Very tasty, whole family liked them. Perhaps because I used a softer bread and couldn’t get any milk back out, mine were a little too moist to make balls properly. I just added a few more breadcrumbs and it was fine.

  103. Travis

    I made these after trying your other recipe for meatballs a few weeks ago and thinking it was fantastic. Wife and I were a bit mixed on them, they did seem a bit soft like one of the other post mentioned, and I found them fairly under seasoned. I made a sandwich with them the next day though, and with branston pickle thought it was great.

    I probably shouldn’t have tried to compare chicken to pork/veal/beef meatballs and I would have liked these much better.

  104. I made similar to these but used minced pork, not chicken. The funny thing is that I’d never thought of them as meatballs in their own right. To me they were stuffing balls to be served alongside roast chicken (or turkey or pork). Delicious whatever the purpose!

  105. This recipe sounds good and looks fabulous.I love tasting a chicken meat balls and doing experiment in tasting varities of it.I hope this article will help in doing so and can’t wait for a long time in preparing and tasting this..

  106. Becca

    I made these last night and they were divine! My oven tends to cook things in hyperdrive and I cooked them for 20 minutes because it was a little difficult to tell when they were done. Next time, I’ll do it for a few minutes less. Even *slightly* overcooked, they were awesome. Although very gooey compared to making traditional beef meatballs but even still, they kept their shape and were great.

    I’m new to your website and I LOVE IT. It combines 2 of my passions: cooking and photography. I also made your apple cake recipe after apple picking and WHOA. Rave reviews from all who devoured it :)

  107. Jlynn

    I just pulled these out of the oven a little while ago, and they are fantastic!! The pancetta is a must. I’d make these again for sure.
    Thank you for the amazing website!!

  108. cindi

    i thought these were good but not spectacular — very different from beef/veal/pork meatballs (the little owl ones remain my favorite). my mixture was wayyy too wet so i had to bring in some bread crumbs. i also substituted bacon for the pancetta. was good as part of a hero sandwich!

  109. Wow are these good. Made them Friday night. It’s the first thing I’ve ever made with ground chicken that I actually liked. I used wheat bread because that’s what I had. And I forgot the tomato paste on top. And they were fantastic!

  110. Holly

    I made these last night. They were yummy but I used canadian bacon because I had some on hand and pancetta is hard to find at my grocery store. It kinda made the meatballs taste almost too “hammy”. I will be making these again with the pancetta.

  111. Monica R.

    These were outrageously delicious! I can’t even think about having another kind of meatball and have become obsessed. Next time, I’m going to try some romano cheese in them or cayenne pepper for a lil kick.

  112. JenniferK

    made these a few nights ago for a quick quick dinner-actually I didn’t put them in the oven this time, but will follow the recipe next time.(sometimes it’s good to just get an idea of what to make-when it’s already six and we’re starved…)
    Thanks! My husband says thanks too-he’s getting sick of scrambled eggs and toast for supper:).
    Just a little side note: I made southwestern turkey meatballs once, and instead of bread crumbs it called for corn tortillas soaked in milk. Those were really good!

  113. I’m also not a big fan of ground beef except in my own meatloaf recipe. These are really similar but all the flavor packed into kind miniature versions of meatloaf. My bf loves the baked ketchup topping. I love the idea, and will test the recipe for sure. Have a lovely November!

  114. Kate

    Smitten – I made these tonight and they were very very good. My husband loved them and commented on how picturesque they were as they came out of the oven. They made him happy when he ate them too. I can’t help myself but I usually have to put my mark on a recipe so I added about 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika to the tomato paste and olive oil glaze mixture – it added a nice smoky dimension.

    I had to chuckle when I read your comment about “the itch,” because I got the itch while my hands were immersed in chicken meatball mush. We have a new favorite – thanks!

  115. Colleen

    I have a new general technique for meatballs now as it worked quite well with this recipe. (I first tried it with the cashew coconut lamb meatballs from Mangoes and Curry Leaves.) It gives you an excuse to pull out the meat grinder attachment that you got for your Kitchen Aid as a wedding gift. Soak the break and the milk, coarsely chop the onion, garlic, meats, and then mix everything together except the egg and the tomato paste and oil for brushing on the top and put it through the meat grinder. No cooking up the pancetta and aromatics, although I guess you could probably do it that way. Mix the eggs into the ground mixture and make meatballs.

    I used my large ice cream scoop and got about 15 meatballs which was a good way to portion them evenly so that the would bake evenly.

  116. These meatballs look incredible. I’ll have to give them a shot. I’m a big meatball lover.

    I have to confess, though, I’m a fan of Aidell’s meatballs. At a Christmas party a couple of years ago I got my first taste. I think I must have eaten 30 of them.

    Sometimes I just don’t have time to make wonderful food from scratch and in pinch, I can usually count on Aidell’s meatballs to fill in the gap.

  117. I made this exactly with the exception of the pancetta (since I don’t eat pork) and they were a disaster. They stuck like glue to the pan. I’m not sure if the panchetta would have added enough fat to the mix to keep them from sticking but I would suggest lightly oiling the pan before arranging the meatballs on it.

  118. maljax

    This looks delicious! I’ll skip the pancetta for my friends who keep kosher, but otherwise this sounds like an absolutely delicious recipe!

  119. Jamie

    Delicious! Made these for dinner tonight. And as the new mother of an 11-week old… I am super impressed with your cooking/blogging! I think this is the first new recipe I’ve tried since giving birth!

  120. I just made a ‘kosher’, dairy and pancetta free version of this. They are in the oven right now, so I’ll be sure to touch base again is my little experiment is worth mentioning!

  121. Sophie

    I made these yesterday! I decided to volunteer to host the Sunday Dinner at our tiny apartment instead of eating my mom’s cooking as usual. I doubled the batch for the crowd but I ended up with 48 meatballs! I put the leftovers in a tomato sauce over pasta, delicious.

    I got a new instant-read thermometer and it lied, so my first few pans were a dry. The next few were better. I’m lazy so instead of the tomato sauce and oil topping (could have contributed to how dry mine were, of course) I just sprayed over the tops with olive oil spray. I lined my dishes wish parchment and no sticking happened! Thanks for a great and easy recipe that wowed the crowds, like yours always do! :)

  122. making these tonight.. i don’t know what I did wrong – perhaps I didn’t squeeze the bread enough but they were so sticky I could hardly even begin to form a meatball – they are more like meatwads. I’m letting them firm up a couple min before I try to put the sauce on. Oy! They’ll still be tasty, I’m sure!!

  123. Tiana

    My husband doesn’t really love minced meat of any sort, but I made these last night (I substituted macon for bacon) and they were a hit – yum!

  124. Manda

    I made these last night and was disappointed in the flavor. I was optimistic after all of the great reviews, but they just seemed bland to me, and I did not like the flavor of the tomato paste mixture on top. And for some reason the pancetta flavor seemed lost in the final product. I only made half of the meatballs according to the recipe, and the next half I added in some basil, and then topped with BBQ sauce instead of the tomato paste & olive oil mixture. I liked these a bit better.

    I did love the texture of the meatballs, though! They stayed very moist. I think I may tweak the a bit next time for a BBQ twist and add in some grated cheddar and top with BBQ sauce again.

  125. Nettie

    I made these tonight, they were EXCELLENT. The flavor was delish.
    I sauteed some tomatoes with garlic and basil until soft. That was the sauce I ate them with.

  126. Sarah

    These were really tasty! I had the same problem with the raw mixture being extremely sticky, so I had meat blobs instead of balls. And I ate them with romesco sauce (made from roasted red peppers and toasted almonds) after your pepperonata suggestion. Thanks!

  127. Tara

    This is the first recipe I’ve tried off Smitten and I am delighted! I literally just finished making these to take to a party tonight, and I wish I had made a double batch (so I could eat them all myself). I was so skeptical of the ground chicken but the one I just tried is delicious. (I did add a little crushed red pepper and a 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese – I couldn’t resist). Thank you for the great recipe!

  128. Jennifer

    Just made these tonight. My mixture ended up really sticky as well so I just kind of blobbed them up on the pan. Not sure what went wrong. My bread soaked up all the milk so there wasn’t really any to squeeze out. I don’t think my egg was particularly big either. Maybe the ground chicken itself was just really moist? They stuck a bit to the pan (I lined it with foil) so I would also recommend some cooking spray or something. So anyway, while they’re weren’t the most pretty meatballs, they did taste wonderful. I used white meat ground chicken and I didn’t find it at all dry. I had them with some garlic bread and a green salad and was very satisfied. Definitely going in my permanent rotation!

  129. Tara

    Mine were SUPER sticky as well when I was shaping them, but they maintained their shape well when they cooked. Barely any milk came out when I squeezed the bread too. I lined the pan with parchment paper, no sticking.

  130. Josh

    made minus the pork and milk — also excellent. (I hope it is not inappropriate to alter a recipe!) Thanks for the inspiration. BTW I used the Kitchen Aid to grind the chicken, easy.

  131. Maria

    I made these three times!!!… 1ST TIME: mixture was extremely “wet” so i added some dry breadcrumbs. The end product? tasty but tough, i do not think dry bread crumbs was a good idea. 2ND TIME: an improvement, they werent as tough and were still tasty. I poured off some liquid before i mixed everything together, which was mostly the egg white. These were quite good, but i think the mixture was still soooo wet. it was hard to shape them, but I did. 3RD TIME: I used only an egg yolk, instead of the whole egg. I think the whole egg makes the batter too wet. Unfortunately, i forgot to saute the onions and pancetta before adding to bowl and the end product was good but not amazing. So for the fourth time, I will not forget to saute the onion/pancetta mix and i will only use the yolk of the egg and I think the fourth time will be the best yet. One last thing I will always find my self saying: I love your blog and I love to learn from those whove actually tried the recipe. I HATE reading all of the “oohhh looks good” comments. People please only post if you have something to add regarding the recipe. Nobody cares that your “gonna try it” or that “it looks good”!!!!

  132. I made these recently and was blown away! So delicious. I added a little bit of honey to the olive oil/tomato paste mixture (and probably used less olive oil than asked), to sweeten up the topping and help it coat the meatball better (mine was sort of sticking in a pile at the top). You could probably also add brown sugar, or maybe dijon mustard, to vary the flavor. YUM!

    I also made some brussels sprouts with the leftover pancetta (in usually comes in packs of 6 oz. where I buy it). You can get the recipe on my website.

    Thanks again for the delish meatballs!

  133. I just wanted to let you know that I tried out this recipe and absolutely loved it! I swapped in breadcrumbs instead of the milk soaked bread and I thought they were absolutely amazing!! Thanks for this great recipe!!

  134. Dan

    I will be trying this tomorrow. Kind of. Crushed bruschetta in place of the Italian bread, a little more garlic than you call for, fresh cilantro, and condensed mushroom soup in place of the tomato paste (I’ve never been a big fan of tomato paste). The local grocery joint will charge an arm and a leg for pancetta, so I will be using a lesser amount of Hormel’s fresh bacon bits, which are already in the fridge (the real kind, not those disgusting pieces of bacon flavored cardboard).

    I’m confident that it will be good, so this will be a double recipe!

  135. Lindsay

    Forgot to buy tomato paste, so I took some jarred red peppers and Magic Bullet-ed them to smithereens. The pepper paste worked very well. I didn’t dice the onions fine enough and found these to be quite onion-y. I probably noticed the chunky texture more than the flavor, so better dicing should solve that problem. This made 19 very large balls (20 mins) and 21 small appetizer balls (14 mins), which I plan to freeze.

  136. I made these last night for a girls-night-in with some old friends. they were phenomenal.

    variations: for two pounds of chicken, i added a teaspoon of cumin and the same of coriander powder. i also added one and a half tablespoons of pureed chipotle-in-adobo. it added a smoky punch and was perfect. i’m also pretty sure i forgot to add the egg, but it worked anyway. also, for two pounds of chicken, i used the same amount of bread in milk as for one pound – and they still turned out very soft. maybe i’d do four instead of three next time, but definitely not six.

    thanks, deb!

  137. Tim

    These meatballs were great!! I made them into sliders for a tapas-type evening we hosted with friends and they were a big hit. I had to sub turkey bacon for the pancetta because one of our guests doesn’t eat pork or beef, but it still turned out great… i also spiked the tomato paste on top of the meatballs with some hot sauce, and it added a nice, albeit small, kick…

    anyway – thanks for the great recipe!

  138. Penny

    Made these yesterday for a family gathering and they were a hit! I had to hide them from my husband so he wouldn’t eat them all before we got to the party :-)

    To get around the “sloppiness” that others said made it very hard to form them into a ball (and I HATE that), I made some adjustments. 1. I cooked the pancetta for a couple of minutes to render the fat from it, then added the onion and garlic (as Deb suggested) — so no added oil there. 2. I bought an Italian bread round, sliced it, and put the slices in a 200F oven for about two hours to dry it out. Then I ran those slices through the food processor to make crumbs. I *barely* moistened the crumbs with just enough milk to dampen them. (I don’t have an exact amount but I’d say it was only a tablespoon or so.)

    The consistency was excellent! (I followed the recipe as written otherwise.) Delicious!

  139. Hi,

    I’ve never commented before but just had to! I made these tonight and paired them with tomato soup and garlic sourdough bread baked with jarslburg. Deeeelicious combination!

    As you noted, when I cooked them I had them in to closer to 30 minutes (though I ended up making 9 bigger meatballs so I’m sure that had some effect.)

    Great recipe! And I’d be generous with the tomato paste on top. I even sprinkled a little cheese on them right when I took them out. Wonderful!

  140. Susie

    Made them tonight. Yummy! I also made the pepperonata. Delish. Made both my kids and hubby happy. That’s what I call a winner. thanks

  141. Tim

    So much bark, and then no bite :( My kitchen smelled so unbelievably good and then they turned out kinda bland. Not sure where I went wrong but it was a sad moment when my wife had to go back into the kitchen for spices.

  142. I’m a vegetarian but I can easily use a meat substitute for my part and use the chicken for my husband. Although, I have to admit I’m at least partially swayed because Baby Jacob and his high kicks!

  143. Anne

    Hi Deb!
    Thank you for another wonderful recipe! This the second one, I have tried since I found your blog last week and it is another keeper! I doubled the recipe and froze half in a baggy to cook another time, (I love having something ready to cook on hand) Thank you so much, you are fun and adding fun to my life!

  144. So, I’m not really a big meatball person but these spoke to me for some reason. We had them for dinner the first night and they were good – the meat-enthusiast boyfriend enjoyed them – but not my favorite. But then the next day, I made them into possibly the best lunch of my life – a meatball sandwich: ciabatta, tomato sauce, cut up meatballs, shaved parmesan, arugula. I highly recommend. They might make a meatball lover out of me yet.

  145. Robyn

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I made these tonight and they were divine. My boyfriend loved them, and he usually is not crazy about meatballs made with poultry. I used Turkey (dark meat) and also added red pepper flakes (I add them to everything pretty much). Definitely will make it again.

  146. I just made these for dinner and they were super tasty! I used dried oregano instead of parsley and made spaghetti to put along with them. I love that they’re a fairly quick dinner to make and they’re substantial. Thanks for another good recipe Deb!

  147. Steph

    Just made these for lunch! Chopped up thinly sliced pancetta from the deli section since it was all I could find, but it turned out well. Also sauteed mushrooms with it instead of onions because I don’t keep onions around the apartment, and used a mix of dried oregano and basil. Cooked at 400 for about 12 min (our oven gets pretty hot though) and they were perfect. I used an ice cream scoop to shape them since the mix was pretty wet, so they were only about 3in or smaller (probably why there was a low cooking time). Ate two before I even managed to decide what I wanted to do with them. Worked out great with leftovers for later this week and even some meat to freeze for a fast dinner another time. Can’t wait to try other recipes on the blog!!

  148. Jules

    One night a couple months ago while surfing your site, my hubby looked over my shoulder and saw this recipe and said, “Make THAT!” So, I did. It’s now a familly fave. I used ham in place of the pancetta (I know not the same, but it’s what I had on hand) and used ground turkey in place of ground chicken (again, what I had on hand). The best part was my husband’s comment when he bit into it for the first time. Without having actually read the recipe, he said, “Do these have cheese in them?” I laughed out loud. Thanks for a quick, yummy family fave!

  149. Oh. My. Goodness. These are delicious and are, as my southern Grampa used to say, “workin’ again’ me” being a vegetarian (ummm, does chicken HAVE to count in that whole vegetarian/non-vegetarian debate?). They not only taste fabulous, but they LOOK really pretty. I’d absolutely make these as poke-a-toothpick-in-’em munchie for a casual dinner party… ESPECIALLY if I had the foresight to double the recipe and serve some to the family and then freeze the rest for just the right casual dinner party opportunity!

  150. Michelle

    I made these last night for dinner, minus the pancetta (trying to lose weight) and they were fabulous! I added a little bit of extra salt to compensate for omitting the pancetta, and they still had great flavor and texture. I did have to bake them for 25 minutes to make sure they were cooked, but they were moist and yummy. I will definitely keep this for a healthier version of meatballs.I also would like to try adding more tomato paste inside the meatballs because 1 tbs. was good, but more would probably be better.

  151. I just found your website and I must say, OMG, I’m in love with it!!! Just wanted to tell you that I plan to try several of your recipes over the next few days, including this one!

    P.S. I have the same knife as you do!

  152. I have made this dish before. It was really really good. Unlike adding crackers when making beef meatballs, with chicken meatballs, I added wheat bread crumbs. I guess Italian bread is a good choice.

  153. Holly

    Made these two nights ago… had to make a few minor changes – used 3/4 c regular old bread crumbs (couldn’t spare my tuscan bread) and forgot the tomato paste at the store so I sued marinara instead in the meatball and on top. Totally yummy– my 2-year-old and I had them for lunch straight up yesterday — just as yummy so I will def. make them as a hos doeuvre! Thanks!

  154. Adrianne

    Hi, Smitten Kitchen! I just want to ask how much you love your knife! I have a Global, as well, and I recognized the lovely pattern on the handle in the above photo. I really like the brand. I’m wondering how you sharpen yours? What brand or method of sharpener?

  155. Jessie

    I wanted to like these a lot more than I actually did. The pepper flavor was too strong for me, even after I decided to use a skimpy 1/2 teaspoon instead of a full one. Hopefully the next batch I make will be better– they sound like they SHOULD be so good!

  156. Tarheel Kate

    I made these for the 3rd time last night. Don’t ever leave out the pancetta – it turns these up several notches of delicious. I made that mistake the 2nd time I made them and almost never went back. Paired with a cool Greek Salad (made with Fage Feta) it was great for a Sunday night supper.

  157. I’ve been wanting to make these since last fall, but I always have trouble finding ground chicken at our local grocery stores. I finally found some and made these last night (along with your mustard roasted potatoes) for two of my foodie friends and they met rave reviews. You are SO right about the cheesy taste; they taste cheesier than my traditional pork meatballs that actually DO have cheese in them!

  158. Anne

    Made these for dinner tonight and they were delicious! I baked them for 25 minutes like you mentioned and they were perfect.

  159. Joan

    Italian food was demanded by the family, so I decided to make these on the fly! I blitzed some chicken thighs, and instead of the fresh parsley I added dried italian seasoning to the pancetta (oops-i mean cooking bacon) and garlic while it was cooking to release its flavour. The tomato paste is a great addition, and gives it that tangy taste. I didn’t have any problems with the meatballs at all, but I have a feeling its because I completely forgot/hate adding egg to meat mixes. I served mine with Deb’s tomato sauce, some penne and garlic bread.They tasted amazing; I’ll definitely be making these again XD

  160. Julie

    If I wanted to freeze some of these for a later meal, would you recomend baking them and then freezing them, or freezing the raw meatballs? Thanks!

  161. Hi deb: I’m a little confused about the bread-soaking directive. I soaked some slices in milk, rung them out, and added it to the chicken etc. And I then I had . . . soggy bread dispersed through ground chicken. I’ve just taken the meatballs out, and it’s just a lump of cooked chicken with some egg, wet bread, etc thrown in. It doesn’t look at all like a meatball. Was I supposed to use breadcrumbs instead?

  162. deb

    You want to combine it until it is broken down and incorporated in the meat mixture. Because it has soaked for some time, it shouldn’t be too much work.

  163. Charity

    This is one of the 3 Deb’s recipes I made this weekend and this one turned out really good!! I found it to be a little bland for me in the flavorings (I like spicy!) so I think next time I will add a teaspoon or two of red pepper flakes and a tablespoon of oregano. I used whole wheat English muffins since I did not have bread and they worked perfectly! I also used tomato sauce instead of paste since I did not have paste. And I used 3 garlic cloves as my husband and I like garlic. I used a tablespoon scoop to make my meatballs since I like them smaller.

    I skipped the pancetta or bacon since I do not eat it and did not miss it. I also accidentally forgot the eggs and mine still bound together very well anyway.

    I found the flavoring and texture to have improved on the 2nd and 3rd day of eating them as leftovers. They were made into meatball subs for the 1st day. I liked them better plain or with a little tomato sauce and nothing else later on. Thanks Deb!

  164. Marie

    This recipe is awesome and infinitely tweakable. I added garlic powder and mustard powder to mine for an extra kick as, like other said, the first time I made them I found them a little bland. They are great even that way, though. I always use normal bacon but have left it out on occasion and they are still great. Added parmesan to mine today and they are amazing. Thank you so much, Deb.

  165. Tikipod

    I have tried to make chicken meatballs before but found them quite bland. When I googled for a recipe I found yours and having had much luck with yours before I decided to try it. They are very good, maybe too good, and my Dad keeps stealing them!

  166. Sarah

    Deb, thanks for this recipe! I tested out making it primarily in a food processor (rather than mixing by hand) because I like to avoid touching raw meat whenever possible :). I’m a wuss. The food processor method worked really well, and actually created a nice smooth texture which I liked. I also experimented with freezing the (uncooked) meatballs and then adding them to a gently simmering broth based soup spiked with herbs and greens. Totally delicious!!

    1. deb

      If you can find duck bacon, that should work right? But probably not the most available thing. You can also skip it, the meatballs will still be good.

  167. Katie M.

    I made these tonight with quite a few adaptations according to what was in the house but they were delicious. I used ground turkey instead of chicken, I think it was pretty lean still yummy though, bacon instead of pancetta, bread crumbs soaked in buttermilk, and added some italian seasonings. Thank you so much for the recipe! I made a quick tomato sauce with the rest of the can of tomato paste and served them with spaghetti squash.

  168. This recipe has become a regular dish in our home. We tried it with ground beef, which was also delicious! But we prefer the chicken. The first time we made it, I used the pancetta.. but we decided to skip out on this option to keep it a healthy go-to meal. I think the recipe holds up well without the pancetta.

  169. Debra

    Made these today as directed here with the exceptions of substituting ground turkey for the chicken and omitting the pancetta. Very good I think.

    I made some a little smaller and put them in a bowl with roasted tomato soup, a few broken up and cooked angel hair noodles and topped with parmesan. Made a nice meatball soup.

  170. Dawn

    Trader Joe’s has started selling Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Blue Cheese centers, and they are totally delicious, but a little pricey at $4.99 for a package of about 12-15 meatballs. I have been wanting to recreate them at home, and of course, leave it to you to have the base chicken meatball recipe I have been looking for. I always, always turn to you first, Deb.

    By the way, those Buffalo Chicken Meatballs? A perfect Superbowl party dish…all the yummy of wings with no mess. I usually make up a little extra sauce of Crystal hot sauce and butter to keep them saucy (like me).

  171. Kelly

    Made it today and was a huge hit, just ended up eating them as an app, wasn’t quite sure what to serve them with. Didn’t rally matter, they are delightful and delicious. Thank you!

  172. Maureen

    Just made these for dinner last night with homemade marinara sauce and ziti. Outstanding! They are easy to make, so flavorful, and gave us a delicious (and surprising) change of pace from the traditional meatball. Love the pancetta. Perfect texture, rich taste, and the leftovers were just as delectable for lunch today. These are going to be my new standard for meatballs. Many thanks for a fine recipe!

  173. Shannon

    I need to tell you that I make these meatballs ALL the time now and they are amazing!!! I absolutely love them! And they do taste cheesey even though their is no cheese in them, amazing! haha Love this!!

  174. Erin

    Made these last night with the onion/butter/tomato, tomato sauce. PERFECT COMBO! They came out great and let me say – it was my first time EVER attempting to make a meatball. Easier than I thought and not a bajillion ingredients…love that.

  175. Made these tonight. Substituted a tsp of bacon grease for the pancetta and bread crumbs instead of the bread. Also… Added a bit of basil and oregano to the onion mixture, and a few tbsps of parmegiano reggiano to the meat mixture. Honestly… These were awesome. I served with a salad of arugula mozzarella & tomato. I never knew chicken meatballs could be so wonderful. Next time I will serve over creamy polenta w/ a thin tomato sauce. Can’t wait!

  176. I tweeted today that I was looking for a new meatball recipe without dairy and a friend of mine suggested I check out your site.

    A little background, I am Jewish and my husband is not. I also dont really like meat, particularly red meat (with my only two exceptions being tacos and brisket). But my husband craves meat. So I really need to be able to make meat balls. However, as Jew – I do not eat pork, nor do I mix red meat and dairy (most Jews that keep kosher don’t eat any meat and dairy together, but I dont really understand how chicken counts, so I still eat chicken and dairy together).

    In any case. These look perfect. Because this way I can still use dairy in my tomato sauce (which I usually start by sauteing onions and garlic in butter and olive oil) AND serve meat balls.

    The only problem then is the pancetta. Will these be just fine by skipping that step entirely? Or is there another non-red meat substitution that you would suggest?

  177. Sarah

    Another option for those of you wishing to skip the bacon/pancetta — use a small link of turkey sausage. It brings the savory richness and renders a good amount of fat to saute the onion in. Spicy italian turkey sausage is good for a little flavor twist, too.

    I am compelled to make my first comment here because I am officially obsessed with these meatballs! It has spread to other sorts of meatball experiments (wherein I discovered the sausage trick above) but I come back to these faithfully. They’re on the menu for this weekend and I already can’t wait. My fiance says he has never seen me so stuck on a recipe, but that’s because he wasn’t around 10 years ago when I first perfected carbonara, or 15 years ago when I learned to make my ideal creamy tomato sauce. These are AMAZING.

  178. Arlene

    Thank you for the inspiration. I only had half of the ingredients but they still turned out to be delicious. I added mushrooms and red onion which I sauteed prior to baking, as well as using whey from natural yoghurt to soak the bread. I doubt I will ever go back to ground beef meatballs.

  179. claire

    This is such a great recipe. I’ve made them a few times now and they always turn out perfect! I’m trying them tonight with ground turkey. Thank you for my new favorite meatball recipe!

  180. megan

    I made a double batch of these today with free range chicken with my gorgeous friend who is having guests come to stay. We both got 15 balls each out of the recipe. Now I just finished our batch for dinner but was kinder stuck to know what to serve them with! We had cous cous and greens but I feel there is a better option – suggestions??? PS we are in winter in Melbourne Australia so we didn’t do salad but I guess that could work.

  181. Carlen

    I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while now, and last night (being a drinking-wine-on-the-couch kind of night) was the perfect opportunity. I couldn’t have been happier with the results! Thanks for the deliciousness! My next conquest will be the Southwestern Pulled Brisket. Yum!

  182. Noaya

    These are so good! I’m not a meatball fan myself, but have found these to be really tasty and great. I live in Israel, where pancetta is pretty hard to get, but I still do the effort and get it whenever I want these. They’re definitely in my recipe book.

  183. I kosherfied this recipe by soaking the bread in water and omitting the pancetta. It was very tasty. I served it for dinner with a side of spaghetti tossed with margarine and a side salad. I did follow one commenter’s suggestion to add a bit more salt to make up for the missing pancetta. Next time, I’ll brush a bit more tomato paste onto the top and sides because that added an extra burst of flavor.

  184. robin

    Any tips on making these ahead? I made some this weekend; froze half the batch and refrigerated the other half. I just reheated the fridge batch in the toaster oven, and they came out a bit dry. Should I have undercooked them on the first go round?

  185. Rosette

    I followed the recipe exactly, and these turned out good. They couldn’t hold a perfect spherical shape and flattened out eeeever so slightly, but they still look like meatballs. I topped spinach-artichoke fettuccine with these and some cherry tomato and garlic sauce with a sprinkle of parmesan. Totally satisfying but still light. :)

  186. Sandra Van Laan

    Broke the cardinal rule of entertainment cooking by not practicing this dish beforehand so I was a little nervous, but for naught! Followed the recipe exactly (with pancetta…divine!) and they were so scrumptious. Convenient because you can make the meatballs ahead of time and refrigerate until time to pop them in the oven. So yummy and perfect as regular or appetizer size depending on your audience!

  187. Tawny

    Forgot to purchase the pancetta which would’ve absolutely sealed all the flavors together – still very good but don’t forget the pancetta or canadian bacon substitute next time. ;-)

  188. Jessie J

    These were SO awesome!!! My husband and I were blown away at the yumminess that were these meatballs. I would have never thought that ground chicken could taste so good! I can’t wait to make these again :) Thanks for the recipe!

  189. Grumpy

    These were delicious! I was looking for a healthier alternative to pan-fried chicken meatballs. I used regular white bread instead of Italian and skipped the pancetta and they STILL came out amazingly juicy and soft. Absolutely delicious! Thanks for posting!

  190. Janice

    Made these tonight, delicious! Even my toddler who doesn’t eat meatballs, ate some! My husband said they tasted like Hungarian meatloaf, but instead of chicken they use pork.

  191. FunkyDiver

    Made these for my main meal yesterday – used ground turkey instead of chicken – surprisingly (I don’t know why I should have been surprised, this was a SK recipe after all) tasty. Was in a hurry so made a quarter of the mix in to a flat “cake” and cooked like that. Recipe saved for another time!

  192. Kat

    Made these today as a meatloaf (easier than making them into balls) and I added whole grain breadcrumbs instead of bread just because it was quicker. Deelish, best chicken mball recipe to date!

  193. Juju

    This was excellent… My 19 mo gobbled a whole meatball, so you know it was good. I added a little more tomato past to the recipe, used red instead of white onion, but I can tell this takes some perfecting. Thank you again! It was a hit in my house!!!

  194. vanessa

    I love this recipe so much, and want to freeze some to take to a friend. Any advice on freezing them? Bake first? How to prepare them after being frozen? Thanks, Deb!

  195. bergamot

    These are so good. Yum yum and yum. I doubled the batch and am so glad I did. I have the second half in the fridge waiting to be baked for guests tomorrow. The whole family loved these.

  196. JackieDee

    Years later and these are still my “go-to” meatballs. I do forgo the pancetta I like to float them in a modified Italian Wedding-style soup with orzo and lots o’ finely chopped fresh spinach. Light but satisfying! Thanks so much.

  197. Carrie

    I made these tonight and substituted fresh bread crumbs (quick whirl of a few slices of Italian bread in the food processor) and they were SO good! Neither my husband nor I had ever had ground chicken and we loved these meatballs! Easily froze the leftovers and can’t wait to have them again! Thank you!!

  198. maddie

    This is pretty much how I’ve always made my chicken and turkey meatballs minus the tomato paste and pork (pork, because I can’t eat it). What a difference such a small little ingredient makes! LOVE THESE!!!!!!!!!!!

  199. Maria

    Made these at the beach this week and everyone loved them. I quadrupled the recipe, added a touch of soy to the tomato paste, and they were delicious. Even the finicky kids ate 4 each. Thanks again, Deb.

    1. deb

      Jina — If you’re nervous and want to be absolutely certain, I recommend buying an inexpensive meat thermometer. Each meat has an internal temperature at which is is properly cooked (you can Google for these). More advanced chefs have other techniques like the firmness of the meat but I tend to go back to checking the temperature. Or, in the case of these meatballs, you can always cut one open.

  200. sophie

    i’ve made these many times, everyone love-love-loves them. they are wonderful small for party food or big for hearty sit-down dinners. I prefer lean ground turkey in recipes so that’s what i use here… Thank you so much for this perfect poultry meatball, Deb!!!

  201. Deb,
    Is there a particular reason every meatball recipe uses milk and can I substitute milk with something else or omit all together? I am curious. I try not to mix milk and meat but constantly do it with this recipe and feel weird about it.

    1. deb

      You can use water or broth instead of milk. Yes, water! I promise, it is the missing ingredient in so many meatballs. I even converted my mother to adding a bit of water a few weeks ago and she couldn’t get over it. :)

  202. Katie

    Hi! You mentioned in the beginning that they tasted “cheesy”…yum! I didn’t see cheese listed in the ingredients? Please feel free to laugh at me if I missing something….At an old age, I’m just learning to cook!;/

  203. Emergency question Deb! I am making these for a party tomorrow night. I want to prep in advance even though I know they’ll be best if fresh out of the oven. What do you recommend I do to prep. Can I cook ’em all the way and then reheat? How? Or do you have another suggestion.

    Love you. Rollie

  204. Stephanie Guaiumi

    Finally made these- doubled the recipe (following exactly)and had trouble with mix being too wet to form balls. I added a 1/2 cup of panko to stabilize it and it was still quite loose, but was usable. Baked about 30 minutes as my balls were on the largish side – served with my version of spanish rice, and we all enjoyed them. It is a keeper, just need to manage the texture better next time.

    Deb- any idea why the mix so wet? I squeezed out the milk well, byt perhaps my bread held more milk than yours.

    1. deb

      Wet is good for meatballs; it makes them tender. Use wet hands to roll them and use as little pressure as you can get away with. (Seriously, I gently toss the mound back and forth between my wet, cupped hands to form the shape and then just drop them in the pan.)

  205. Laura

    Hi there! I’ve been dying to make these and am finally doing so tonight. BUT, I can’t figure out what to make as a side! I’m looking for some kind of vegetable ideally, but a pasta might work. Can anyone help? Thanks!

  206. Laura

    Thanks Deb! I served them with your haricot vert with shallots (yum!) and an orzo recipe I found on Food Network. Delicious! I followed the recipe exactly with great success. (Also, the fromage fort is ridiculous…in a good way!)

  207. Allie

    Loved, loved, loved these. Today was one of those days when I had the ground chicken already thawed and then was trying to consider the options without going to the store. They were delcious even with these changes: I had no pancetta or anything comprable on hand so omitted it, was out of milk so used half n half and used organic tonmato pasta sauce instead of tomato paste. Such a good recipie that these changes all were fine and the chicken meatballs were so good you had to eat many! Thank you for making my Saturday lunch delish for me, my husband and 3 1/2 year old daughter.

  208. Merry

    A nice and pretty variation on meatloaf aka giant meatballs is to make meatloaf cupcakes! Bake small meatloaves in cupcake pans. Top cooked meatloaves with a dollop of mashed potatoes. Slide under broiler for a few minutes to lightly brown

  209. Susan

    I made these meatballs twice and both times they were delish! I have never cooked with ground chicken and found the consistency, well, a bit freaky. I really wasn’t sure they would hold together. Mine were so wet, I ended up adding about 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs. The pancetta really makes these meatballs. Thanks for a great variation on an old fave!

  210. karennoh

    The tomato paste “wash” gives such a great finish to these great meatballs. I subbed gluten free wheat bread soaked in rice milk to accommodate my gluten and lactose intolerant boyfriend. He asks for sandwiches made with these meatballs at least once a week.

  211. Made these for dinner tonight. Looking for lite and delicious and found both.the last year I have been using ground chicken instead of beef and I was glad to see the use of ground chicken. I usually just use it. Very tasty and I used the tomato paste in and on top. Really nice. Thank you.

  212. These are amazing. I made them for dinner last night, and just ate some of the leftovers for lunch. I could eat the whole pan! This will definitely be going into my regular dinner rotation.

  213. Maya

    I made these this past Friday. I omitted the pancetta and milk because of kosher restrictions, and substituted coconut milk instead of the milk. It was amazing!!!

  214. Brenna

    Should I freeze the meatballs before or after I cook them? I assume before, but I wanted to double check. Also, if you freeze them before, is there any change to the cooking time?

    1. deb

      Hi Brenna — I haven’t frozen these before, but I would do it the way you do any other meatball. If you’re baking them while still frozen, it will take longer, but it’s not an exact science as to how much.

  215. Kim

    I made these but forgot to buy pancetta so I added the tomato paste to the poultry mixture and they turned out great if a little burned on the bottom for some because I didn’t have parchment paper. Next time, adding pancetta to see how it’ll be!

  216. Gwinn

    I didn’t read every comment (330 – wow!) so this may have already come up: did anyone find the pre-cooked mince to be super mushy and unable to hold a “ball” shape?

    I mixed everything together tonight and am planning to bake tomorrow (mini-sized, for a party) but am concerned the end product will be shaped more like a croquette than a ball. (Which isn’t the end of the world but seems harder to spear/hold on a toothpick.) Am thinking of adding panko – does anyone have any other ideas?

    Also, I made the peperonata and dumped it in the food processor so it will be more like a dip – it is awesome! Really great flavor.

  217. Megan

    I made this for a low calorie dinner tonight. Here is my alternate adjustment to the ingredients. They were very flavourful, filling, and were only 350 calories for 4 large meatballs.

    3 slices of bacon
    1 md onion, finely chopped
    2 lrg garlic cloves, minced

    1 tbsp fresh thyme
    ½ tsp sage
    ½ tsp cumin
    ½ tsp sea salt
    ½ tsp fresh ground pepper

    1 cup bread crumbs (in small pieces)
    1/3 cup milk

    1 egg yolk
    1 pound lean ground chicken
    1 tbsp tomato paste
    2 tsp hot sauce
    With… the sauteed/seasoned mixture and the breadcrumb mixture.

    Portion into 1.5″ balls. Bake for approx. 18 mins on 400.

  218. adriana

    Such a great recipe, so versatile too. I used turkey meat, cilantro instead of parsley and didn’t have any panceta so i added 2 tbs parmesan. Thank you,it will be a regular around here.

  219. Patty Gibbs

    LOVE these meatballs. I’ve made them several times exactly as the recipe is written and several times with various changes. No guest has ever been able to stop at just one.

    Today, I didn’t have any tomato paste, so each one is topped with sun dried tomato pieces. I’m sure they will be delicious.

  220. Jamie

    This is the perfect meatball recipe! The meatballs are perfectly tender and so yummy every time. I have made many different iterations — pork, chicken, turkey, bison, beef — and they turn out perfectly every time. These days, I’ve been making them Paleo by substituting an equal amount almond flour for the bread that’s called for in the recipe. The parsley really makes these special. Love these!

  221. TG

    I just made meatballs for the first time thanks to this recipe! They came out way better than expected and did have a “cheesy” taste to them. I used about 3/4 cup of regular breadcrumbs from Trader Joe’s instead of the bread pieces, and added enough milk just to get the crumbs wet but not soaking. I also added the extra tablespoon of tomato paste to the meat. Not having any meatball making experience, I wasn’t able to make them into perfect balls, but I was able to get them into ball-like shapes so I don’t think my meat mixture was too wet. We had them with spaghetti and a simple marinara sauce, but these balls are so flavorful they really don’t need any sauce, I liked them better on their own!

  222. Teresa

    I tried this recipe today too – I am always looking for a recipe like this to keep frozen meatballs handy in the freezer for my 2 small kids – for spaghetti nights, or just for nights when I don’t have it in me to cook a proper dinner. I messed it up pretty badly but they were still delicious! I used my immersion blender to break up the bread which made it way too fine (almost as fine as bread crumbs – don’t do it) which made it too hard to squeeze the extra milk out – so I didn’t bother. I don’t like parsley and didn’t have any in the house but had planned on adding something else instead (perhaps Italian Seasoning) but forgot. I only added 1 tbsp. of tomato paste and didn’t brush the extra on. They still turned out great! My kids ate them plain for dinner and ate them up. I agree that this recipe is very versatile – but I think what should stay consistent and what the secret is – is soaking bread/breadcrumbs in milk and the tomato paste. In the past I had used a similar recipe that called for adding ketchup – they were good but I didn’t feel great about adding sugar to the recipe. Tomato paste is perfect!

    I also wanted to note that I used the Blue Goose brand of ground chicken (sold in Canada at Loblaw) for this and other recipes, and I think it has made a significant difference in taste. It’s pricier but I got it on sale. Cheers!

  223. Lisa D

    Made these last night and served them over spaghetti squash marinara for a faux spaghetti and meatballs. It was absolutely delicious. I put some tomato paste in th mixture abs omitted the pancetta/bacon and it was fantastic and flavorful. Highly recommend!

  224. ER

    So delicious! I’m in law school and going across the country for a summer internship, so I a) don’t have much free time, b) have nothing green in my fridge, and c) need to get rid of ALL the meat / chicken I bought on sale and froze during the school year.

    It’s Passover, so I substituted two boards of crunched up matzah for the bread crumbs. I also left out the pancetta (which, I’m sure, would only have made it better), doubled the amount of tomato sauce and olive oil to brush over the meatballs, used dried parsley instead of fresh, and used about two teaspoons of garlic (because I love garlic).

    Would be amazing over pasta, although I’m munching on them plain while I study for finals!

  225. Anne

    These have become a staple in my house. I make a batch almost every week. It is nice to have a healthy, protein (thus, energizing) snack on hand, that keeps me from going for the ice cream or cookies. I make them small, and sometimes I pop a couple into a soup for a quick, again healthy, lunch or dinner. Sooo good!

  226. CookiNC

    Well darn!! I’ve been wanting to make this forever…THOUGHT I remembered what to get at the store…and came back with prosciutto instead of pancetta. I’ve never worked with either, so don’t know the difference. Will this work ok as a sub, or is it worth a trip back to the store for a swap? Thanks!

  227. KatieK

    Made this last night exactly as written (used Canadian bacon); mine looked just like Deb’s!!! I was so impressed with myself. Major hit with the family. We each had two. At 10 p.m., I snuck another out of the frig; it was delicious cold!
    A definite keeper…

  228. Shira

    Word to the wise- this works beautifully with ground seitan and 3 oz cashews in place of the pancetta. Great vegetarian swaps all around! Thanks, Deb!

  229. Kristine

    Made these tonight and used tomato water instead of milk because two of my three boys are dairy free. I made some arrabiata sauce to go with them and created tomato water by rinsing out a can of tomatoes with water after dumping the tomatoes into a pot for sauce. It worked great! I used 4oz of pancetta and 1.5 pounds of ground chicken breast and left everything else the same and they turned out great. I had Italian mixed salad and garlic bread for serving. It was great to have a tasty meatball recipe without cheese or dairy. Thanks Deb!

  230. Priyanka

    These were so delicious and so easy! Made some very minor tweaks:
    – used hot pancetta instead of regular. I rendered the fat and cooked the garlic and onions in the fat.
    – corriander instead of parsley (thats what I had in the house)
    – sprinkled some salt

    They were amazing! I paired with a roasted red pepper pasta sauce (from acozykitchen) with some whole wheat spaghetti. I think its a great base recipe – will add some more spices next time but its such a hit as is!

  231. I made these last night and served them on crusty bread with jarred cherry tomato marinara, roasted red peppers and a touch of cheese. My husband came back for seconds and announced that this was one of the best things I’ve ever made. I only used 1 TBS of olive oil and put all the tomato paste in the meatball mixture. Next time I will test it usually only the pancetta renderings. Thanks again Deb for an amazing recipe!

  232. Eden

    Wonderful recipe, thank you! I’ve been making these regularly for 9 months or so and they are a hit with everyone. Well-loved by my family and company alike. We usually serve them over whole wheat fettucine with homemade marinara, sometimes a handful of spinach underneath. And then devour the leftovers for lunch the next day, reheated in a meatball sandwich or even just cold out of the container.
    -Wondering if you have experimented with freezing them? I’m considering tripling the recipe next time to have an easy weeknight dinner to pull out of the freezer…?

  233. Katie Brownstein

    Just made these for dinner for my kids and they are fabulous. Had to make a minor change due to a dairy and egg white allergy. No soaking the bread in milk, so I used fresh bread crumbs, and instead of a whole egg, I used two yolks. These will be so great for school lunches. Thanks for another winning recipe!

  234. George

    These are incredible, the pancetta really does something magical and I was certain I’d glazed over the cheese-step but there isn’t any, and it truly tastes as if it’s in there. We used these as the star of a wedding soup made with a mirepoix deglazed in a bit of white wine, homemade chicken broth, orzo boiled separately then introduced slightly undercooked at the end along with these meatballs, arugula rather than spinach added directly to serving bowl, some shaved grana padano cheese on top. Fresh baguette. Just an excellent soul warming dinner that somehow feels light because of this flavorful but less “heavy” meatball.

  235. George

    …for the record for this use, the additional “tomato paste/oil on top” step is unnecessary – we introduced about 2 tablespoons into the actual meatball mix though, which along with the pancetta helps bring out that umami flavor that heaps of parmesan usually accomplishes in other meatball recipes.

  236. Linda

    I made these last night. I usually LOVE your recipes, but thought these were a bit bland. I’d definitely use these in an Italian wedding soup or on a meatball sandwich, smothered with some good quality marinara, but as a stand alone meatball, they were just ok.

  237. Mrs. Park

    Made these soon after this recipe was published and years later, it’s still the best meatball recipe I’ve come across. So juicy, tender, and packed with flavor. So happy to see this blog is still alive and well!

  238. May

    These did taste like they were filled with cheese!!! Ugh, these are incredible. Mine were a big wet, sprawling into flat meatballs but so good. I forgot the parsley, even though I went to buy them specifically for this recipe boo! I used half the amount of pancetta in bacon and it was scrumptious. I just want to eat these plain, pop ’em like m&ms

  239. Jennie

    These are delicious- I rediscovered this recipe and it’s one of the few things my 3 and 4 year old will eat (besides the baby pics are so stinkin’ cute even five six? Years later-

  240. Robyn

    Commented years ago and still making this! Such a hit and now I make them in bulk and freeze for easy dinners during the week :). Been loving them lately with zoodles. Thank you again!!

  241. Elizabeth

    Commenting years later to say that I made these and then flash froze them, and then cooked from frozen. So I can’t say how them compare to ‘fresh’, but they were amazing nonetheless. I gave them 35 minutes in my oven and they were perfect. The caramelise-y tomato paste on top was the best part!

    Also, as a sub I used panko instead of the bread, and didn’t soak it in the milk.

    Looking forward to experimenting with these as dumpling fillings and also burgers.

  242. Stephanie

    I made these yesterday. Next time (like later this week), I’m making a double batch and freezing some. These are fan-freaking-tastic.

  243. Alison

    I love this recipe and make it often, but I was wondering if it’s possible to freeze the meatballs in large batches. If so, do you freeze them raw or cooked? And how long would you say they keep for?
    Thank you for your help!

    1. deb

      You can probably freeze them either but I’d do so unbaked so they taste best defrosted. Meat is good in a good freezer for as long as you trust you freezer for; for mine, which I do not trust, I won’t go beyond two months.

  244. Cate

    I made these exactly as is and they were delicious. I’ve also fried them for a quicker dinner, and skipped on frying the bacon etc for speed. Both of these resulted in great meatballs, but I prefer the outer texture and taste of the original recipe. Now a weeknight favourite :)

  245. Bess Seewald

    Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! Thanks again, Deb, for a great recipe. Left our the pancetta (I know, I know) b/c we’re not the pork type. But did add 1/2 c. parmesan because I’m not *that* kosher. 1 year old loved. almost-3-year-old loved. Which is no small feat since he has been very picky lately. Husband also gave big thumbs up. Will double and freeze next time. By the way- have a great time on Leonard Lopate tomorrow!