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Chicken Meatballs with Polenta and Marinara

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  20 min
  • Cook Time:  45 min
  • Calories: 640
    homemade chicken meatballs with polenta topped with shaved parmesan and marinara in a bowl with a spoon
    Photography by Gayle McLeod

    This is the kind of dinnertime trifecta we love to see: meatballs with creamy polenta and a bright and juicy marinara (store-bought is perfect). Dinner is served.

    Chicken Meatballs, Meet Creamy Polenta

    This is one of those recipes where each element is good enough to stand on its own, and all together becomes a work of art. There’s many reasons to love this recipe, but the best part is that it transforms simple ingredients into a really fabulous meal. Ground chicken meatballs are a more budget-friendly meat to use compared to pork and beef meatballs and paired with polenta and jar of marinara sauce becomes a hearty, delicious meal.

    ground chicken, eggs, parmesan, basil, bread crumbs, marinara sauce and spices in bowls to make chicken meatballs

    Polenta, Our Favorite (Secretly Corn) Grain

    Once you learn how to make polenta, you’ll find yourself with a pot bubbling away on the stove more often than you expected. It’s extremely versatile, and serves as a great backdrop for meat and vegetable dishes. We use this basic polenta recipe as a framework for the best creamy polenta. You’ll simmer the polenta in chicken or vegetable stock and whole milk. Add to that unsalted butter (1 stick) and 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper and you have a fail-proof pot of polenta to add to your next meal.

    ground chicken, salt, egg, fennel seeds, Parmesan, garlic, basil, and bread crumbs in a glass bowl
    ground chicken, salt, egg, fennel seeds, Parmesan, garlic, basil, and bread crumbs mixed together in a glass bowl
    raw homemade chicken meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet
    homemade baked chicken meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet

    More Ways To Make Meatballs

    Meatball newbie? You’ve come to the right place! We’ve made a million and one meatballs between the two of us, and we created a roundup with all of our tips here (find a cozy seat, there’s 18!): Best Meatball Recipes. Some of our favorites include classics like Spaghetti and Meatballs, Meatball Sub Sandwich, Buffalo Chicken Meatballs. There’s also tons of creative versions like Turkey Meatballs in a Creamy Red Curry Sauce and Baked Teriyaki Meatballs with Roasted Broccoli. Love the flavor of chicken parmesan and think that chicken parmesan meatballs with tomato sauce would be a good idea? We got you. This recipe combines the best of both worlds. What to pair with marinara will never be a problem you face after you get this recipe on the table! You can also make a vegetarian version, by substituting our Vegetarian Meatballs recipe.

    polenta being poured into a pot with milk and chicken stock
    polenta, milk, chicken stock, butter and parmesan being cooked in a pot
    homemade polenta in a pot made with milk, chicken stock, butter, parmesan, salt and pepper
    homemade chicken meatballs with polenta and marinara in a bowl surrounded by bowls of more meatballs, polenta, and marinara

    Tools You’ll Need

    • Your hands! (this is a no-brainer, but making the meatball mixture requires you to use your hands, and there’s really no better tool) You can avoid the hands-on mixing, by using a KitchenAid mixer if you have one!

    • Baking sheet

    • Medium-sized pot

    • Small saucepan

    We Mentioned That We’re Good At Making Meatballs

    We’ve lost count of the various meatball recipes we’ve made over the years, but if you too love meatball recipes we have quite the catalog. And if you’re looking for more polenta recipes, check out our Creamy Polenta Recipe for more tips, and here’s some other great ideas for your next polenta meal:

    A serving bowl of chicken meatballs with polenta and marinara being dished up into bowls next to a bowl of parmesan

    Uno, Due, Tre, Quattro - Andiamo!

    Did you make these chicken meatballs with polenta and marinara? Once you get the swing of meatball making, we’d love to see a snap of your creations and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

    Chicken Meatballs with Polenta and Marinara

    • Serves: 6
    • Prep Time:  20 min
    • Cook Time:  45 min
    • Calories: 640

    Ingredients

    Meatballs

    • 1 ½ pounds ground chicken
    • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
    • 1 large egg, beaten
    • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (optional)
    • ¾ cup serving grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • ¼ cup minced fresh basil, plus more for serving
    • ¾ cup bread crumbs or gluten-free bread crumbs
    • 1 (24-ounce) jar marinara sauce or homemade

    Creamy Polenta

    • 3½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
    • 1½ cups whole milk
    • 1 cup cornmeal stone ground polenta or yellow
    • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
    • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the center position. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.

    2. Make the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, salt, egg, fennel seeds (if using), Parmesan, garlic, basil, and bread crumbs. Mix well, then with wet hands, form golf ball–size meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each) and place on the prepared sheet. You should have about 15 meatballs.

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

    4. Meanwhile, make the polenta. In a medium pot bring the chicken stock and milk to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir in the polenta. Simmer, stirring, until tender and creamy, 30-40 minutes. Stir in the butter and Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

    5. Add the marinara to a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until warmed through, about 3-5 minutes.

    6. Divide the polenta between bowls. Top with the marinara and meatballs. Sprinkle with remaining basil and Parmesan before serving.

    Nutrition Info

    • Per Serving
    • Amount
    • Calories640
    • Protein58 g
    • Carbohydrates24 g
    • Total Fat34 g
    • Dietary Fiber1 g
    • Cholesterol253 mg
    • sodium1619 mg
    • Total Sugars5 g

    Chicken Meatballs with Polenta and Marinara

    Questions & Reviews

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    • Amy G

      This was delicious! Will be added to our regular rotation. The meatballs were a little too salty, maybe due to the coarseness of my sea salt, so I'll reduce that next time or try another salt.

      So glad you enjoyed it!

    • Kay

      Wow, couldn't get enough of this. Such a delicious dish.

      Thanks Kay! We are so happy you loved it!