Baked Chicken Meatballs with Broccoli Pesto Pasta

glass bowl of baked chicken meatballs with broccoli pesto pasta topped with parmesan cheese
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With just five ingredients, parmesan-loaded baked chicken meatballs are good any way you serve them. But, paired with hearty roasted broccoli pesto and twirls of al dente bucatini, they make for a truly lovable feast. 

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

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. 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 6

Ingredients

2 lbs ground chicken
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tbsp dried fennel seed
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp salt
1 lb Bucatini (or your favorite pasta)
Roasted Broccoli Pesto

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. In the same bowl, use your hands to combine the ground chicken, salt, eggs, fennel, grated parmesan cheese, garlic and bread crumbs. Using your hands form uniform meatballs about 2 tbsp each** and arrange on a baking sheet.
  3. Roast meatballs for 15 min on center rack. Turn heat up to 500°F and brush meatballs with olive oil. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Toss pasta with broccoli pesto along with some olive oil and top with chicken meatballs. Serve with freshly shaved parmesan. Enjoy!

**Note: To keep hands from sticking to the meat, wet hands with warm water before forming the meatballs.