These Chicken Parmesan Meatballs were a family hit! A little lighter than your typical Italian meatball and a fun twist on your basic chicken parm. They are a great addition to your dinner rotation or for serving a crowd. The recipe inspo came from What’s Gaby Cooking. If you haven’t checked out her blog…you are missing out! So much good food and recipes that anyone can follow!
I served mine with some spaghetti tossed with a little pesto but I think they would be great in a roll as chicken parmesan meatball subs! You could also do a mini version and pop in a skewer for a perfect finger food appetizer!
When making meatballs, don’t overwork/over mix the meat. Mix all of the ingredients that go into the meatballs first so that you can incorporate the meat more easily. Using your hands is the best way to mix once the meat is added.
Start by mixing your milk (I used half and half) with your panko breadcrumbs – I’m a fan of Ian’s if you can find them. Using a fork helps to keep them from clumping.
Use a small food processor to speed up the herb/garlic chopping.
Next add the fresh herbs and garlic, dried oregano, salt/pepper and cheese – I love the grated imported parm from Trader Joe’s for things like meatballs or pesto. When you are finishing a dish with parm, fresh grated is the way to go.
Once everything is mixed well, add the meat and beaten egg…
I am aware that this photo looks like brains. Sorry about that. Raw meat is gross. That is why I like to use gloves when I mix meatballs and meatloaf with my hands. I use these from Amazon. The last thing I want is traces of lotion from under my fingernails getting into my meatballs OR some of the raw meat staying under my fingernails 😱. You could just wash your hands like you are preparing for surgery, but this is easier and more sanitary!
Yes…that is my creepy gloved hand mixing it all up. And yes…I took off the other glove so I could take a picture without getting meat guts all over my phone. I like to use a sort of “claw” method to mix. That way you don’t compact the ingredients together too much.
There are my lovely
little giant meatballs. I have issues making small meatballs. I think I’m just too impatient for that. These were bigger than a golf ball. You could definitely go smaller…especially if you want to put them in subs. A foil lined baking sheet = less dish washing! Make sure you spray it with non-stick spray since these don’t have much fat to keep them from sticking. I also put a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a bowl and dip my fingers in it to coat each meatball in a thin layer which helps them brown better. A quick spray of olive oil works well too.
A lot of people brown their meatballs in a pan with oil. I have what I like to call “Greasesplatteraphobia”. That is the very scientific medical term that means: I hate it when grease splatters all over my range, counter, and backsplash when I fry things. So yes, these can be done that way and would probably taste EVEN BETTER if you browned them in a pan with about a 1/2″ of oil in it. But…sorry not sorry, I’m not doing that. If you don’t have this crippling Greasesplatteraphobia like I do, then please, by all means, brown your balls in a pan. Do it in batches in an oven safe pan, then wipe out the pan and use it for finishing them in the oven.
Pop those babies into an oven safe pan or baking dish with half your sauce on the bottom. I love Rao’s marinara sauce when I don’t make my own. It’s sold at most grocery stores now and it is clean and authentic.
Top with the remaining sauce, the mozzarella and grated parm.
Finish with some fresh basil and extra parm.
Phew…that was a long post. But hey, maybe this will help some poor soul who is afraid of making meatballs conquer their fear.
Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
For the Meatballs:
- 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- ⅓ cup whole milk or half & half
- 2 cups Italian parsley (no need to measure this precisely…just use about one bunch)
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- 2 lbs ground chicken
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- olive oil
- 4 cups marinara sauce (home made or jarred)
- 1 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
To make the meatballs:
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs and milk with a fork until all of the milk is absorbed into the breadcrumbs.
- In a small food processor (this can also be done by hand), process the basil, parsley, and garlic until finely chopped and add to the breadcrumbs. Add the oregano, 1 cup parmesan, salt and pepper and mix well until everything is combined. Add the chicken and beaten eggs and mix well with your hands being careful not to compact the meat or over mix.
- Line a large baking sheet with heavy duty foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Form the meat mixture into meatballs (I make mine a little bigger than a golf ball) and place on the baking sheet. You should end up with around 14 good size meatballs. Put a little olive oil in a small bowl and use your hands to lightly coat the meatballs with a thin layer of olive oil. You can also use an olive oil spray for this step.
- Put your oven rack close to the top and turn on your broiler to high. Broil the meatballs, turning them a couple times to brown them on all sides. This should take around 8 minutes. You just want a nice golden crust on as much of the surface as you can get. You don’t want to fully cook them.
Alternatively, skip the browning under the broiler and brown in an oven proof pan in olive oil in 2 batches. Remove them from the pan and wipe out excess oil then proceed with assembly steps below.
To assemble the Meatball Parmesan:
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Coat a large oven proof pan or baking dish with olive oil or non-stick cooking spray. Pour 2 cups of your marinara sauce into the pan. Arrange your browned meatballs in the sauce and top with the remaining 2 cups of sauce. Top with the mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
- Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5-10 more minutes until cheese is bubbly.
- Top with some fresh basil and extra parmesan cheese if desired.
Serve with pasta and crusty bread!