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Baked Chicken Meatballs with Broccoli Pesto Pasta

With just five ingredients, these parmesan-loaded baked chicken meatballs are good any way you serve them. But, paired with a hearty roasted broccoli pesto sauce, they make for a lovable feast.

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glass bowl of baked chicken meatballs with broccoli pesto pasta topped with parmesan cheese

Italian Meatballs You Could Eat Every Night (If You Wanted To)

We’re not saying you’re going to eat baked chicken meatballs for dinner every single night, but these healthier-than-beef meatballs are juicy, lean protein bombs that you really can feel good about eating and sharing with your family. Simple, Italian chicken meatballs don’t have to be complicated—banish your worries about them being dry. Our healthy chicken meatball recipe relies on just a few flavor-giving, moisture-inducing ingredients:

  • Ground chicken
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Eggs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Lots of fresh garlic
Ingredients for baked chicken meatballs with broccoli pesto pasta in small bowls
raw ingredients for baked chicken meatballs in a large glass bowl
raw ingredients for Italian meatballs mixed together in a glass bowl
baked chicken meatballs on a baking sheet

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How to Make Chicken Meatballs

Chicken meatballs are supposed to be three things: easy, practical, and delicious. Baked on a sheet pan, they leave room on your stove for a pot of boiling pasta water, so the “easy” part starts there. Here’s how to make baked chicken meatballs:

  1. Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a big bowl. Tip: grate the parmesan cheese directly into the bowl! Freshly-grated parm always tastes a zillion times better than pre-grated parmesan.
  2. Mix! Use your hands to gently fold the parmesan, garlic, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs into the ground chicken meat. The most important thing to remember about making moist meatballs—and this is true whether you’re making classic beef or chicken meatballs—is that if you overmix the meatball mixture, your meatballs might be tough or dry instead of moist and tender. So, have a light hand, and don’t mix for more than a minute or two.
  3. Form the ground chicken meatballs! You can use a teaspoon to measure if you’re worried about uniformity—one meatball is usually about two tablespoons worth of the ground chicken mixture—but we usually just eyeball it. If you’re new to chicken meatballs, try measuring out at least the first meatball so that the cook time we suggest in this recipe works for you and your meatballs come out perfectly browned and crisp on the outside, and moist and tender on the inside.
  4. Bake! If you’re really feeling organized—or if you’re pressed for time—bake the chicken meatballs while you roast the broccoli for the roasted broccoli pesto. As for how long to bake chicken meatballs, the timing will vary a little bit—if you roast them with the broccoli, just remember to crank the oven when you put the meatballs in. If you bake the meatballs alone, the bake time will probably be a little shorter. Watch for signs of doneness—like a gorgeous golden-brown crust—and when in doubt, check a meatball with your trusty meat thermometer. You’re looking for a reading of 165°F—that’s the official USDA ground poultry done temp!
  5. Eat! Toss the beautifully baked meatballs with a big bowl of pesto pasta, and dig in!
baked chicken meatballs with broccoli pesto pasta in white bowl

Broccoli Pesto and Chicken Meatballs—a Perfect Pair.

Now that you’ve mastered these chicken parmesan meatballs, you’ve got to decide what to serve with chicken meatballs! We love a tomato-based sauce with spaghetti as much as the next guy, but the lightness of chicken meatballs pairs especially well with pesto, a combo that appears in our Stuffed Chicken Breast recipe. Something about all that green reminds us that we’re eating a healthier dinner, and so as we twirl fat strands of broccoli pesto-coated bucatini around our fork, we get to feel a little smug, which (let’s be honest) feels pretty good.

baked chicken meatballs with broccoli pesto pasta in a bowl

Meatball Maniacs—Unite!

We’re crazy for meatballs and we don’t care who knows it! Everyone loves them and they’re pretty easy to make, too. What’s not to love? Here are four of our most beloved, easy meatball recipes:

Tools You’ll Need:

How Did They React When You Said We’re Having Chicken Parm Meatballs for Dinner?

And how did they like that first, herby, garlicky, savory bite?! We really want to know how our Baked Chicken Meatballs with Broccoli Pesto Pasta went over in your home. Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram using@themodernproper and #themodernproper so we can share in your triumph!

Baked Chicken Meatballs with Broccoli Pesto Pasta

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  25 min
  • Calories: 442

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 pound long thin pasta such as bucatini or spaghetti
  • 1 batch Roasted Broccoli Pesto, room temperature
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, if needed
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, for serving

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the center position.

  2. Make the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, bread crumbs, eggs, fennel seeds, parmesan, garlic and salt. Mix well, then with wet hands, form golf ball–size meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each) and place on a large rimmed sheet pan. You should have about 18 meatballs.

  3. Bake the meatballs for about 25 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and salt it. Cook the pasta until al dente according to the package instructions. Drain.

  5. Transfer the pasta back to the large pot and add as much broccoli pesto as desired, along with a little olive oil (if needed) and toss to combine. Divide the pasta into bowls, top with meatballs. Serve with additional parmesan and freshly cracked black pepper.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories442
  • Protein30 g
  • Carbohydrates28 g
  • Total Fat24 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol180 mg
  • sodium1104 mg
  • Total Sugars2 g

Baked Chicken Meatballs with Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Questions & Reviews

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  • Melissa Wilson

    Do you cook them for 15 minutes or 25? The recipe has two different times.

    25! Thanks for bringing this to our attention Melissa!

  • Bekah

    These are delicious but stuck to my baking sheet like crazy (I oiled it well). Has this happened to you??

    You could lay parchment paper on the sheet before to help with sticking.

  • Janet Page

    Can u freeze the meatballs uncooked?

    Sure!

  • Emma Fields

    The ingredient list calls for eggs yet they’re never mentioned in the instructions. I’ve already formed my (eggless) meatballs and just realized. Will this now mess up the finished product or am I missing something?

    They should still be fine Emma, sorry for the mix up! We have corrected our mistake, thanks so much for letting us know!

  • laura

    have you ever made them with turkey? i already have some and would like to use it up!

    It would probably be delicious! Hope you enjoy Laura!

  • Holly Chapman

    Great recipe. Really enjoyed the flavor, texture and ease of the meatball recipe. I threw some leftover broccoli into the air fryer and after roasting it I blended it with my homemade pesto. What a great to use roasted broccoli both to add veg and stretch your fresh basil if it's winter. I did save out pasta cooking water to mix in and I do think that was important for the texture of my pesto. The question is do I serve/share it again for dinner or use it for my lunches this week!

    HAHA! We vote lunches. So happy you loved it Holly!

  • Lisa

    So easy and flavorful!! The fennel is delicious! Definitely making again!

    YAY! Thanks Lisa, so glad you love it!

  • Court R

    Amazing!! We’ve made these several times and they’re my go to meatball recipe. Love the fennel. My husband and kids love it with marinara but I prefer the pesto. Thanks so much for all your yummy recipes!

    Thanks Court we are so happy you love our recipes! LOVE to hear this one has become your go to meatball recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  • Lily

    This our #1 meatball recipe right now!We’ve made this recipe 3 times in the last couple months. I’m even thinking about making a batch to freeze for quick lunches in the future.

    This is so great to hear! Thanks Lily, so glad you love these!

  • Esther Van Riper

    Another family hit, you two are never wrong

    That is so sweet, thank you Esther! We are so happy the whole family enjoyed it!