These baked French onion meatballs are loaded with so many flavors, gooey cheese and aromatic herbs. Serve with a crusty cheesy bread, it’s the perfect dinner!
How could meatballs possibly get any better? Well, the French have some pretty good ideas when it comes to onions… why not try French onion meatballs!
These savory treats are phenomenal! Think of your favorite meatball, filled with gooey, delicious cheese, fresh herbs, and of course plenty of flavor. This is a surefire success for dinnertime, but you can use them as appetizers, dinner, or maybe even as a savory post-dinner treat.
Here, we’re combining the longtime favorite of French onion soup with tasty little meatballs. What a novelty! Hopefully you’re as big a fan of the distinctive balance of savory and sweetness in the French onion soup, because this dish certainly packs a big flavorful wallop.
Chicken meatballs with their lower fat content, risk tasting dry, but don’t worry. With this recipe, we’ve got more than enough moisture to keep your meatballs tasty, juicy, and full of flavor.
What is French Onion Soup
Perhaps the most famous (or at least the most widely consumed) example of French peasant cuisine is French onion soup. It was initially popularized before the French revolution, when French peasants had to eat whatever was in the garden, including frogs, snails, and, of course, onions. Onion soup variants - although none as decadent as ours today - have been widely consumed in Europe since the days of the Roman Empire.
Today, French onion soup is one of the gold standards of French cuisine, a flavorful, tasty treat that’s perfect for all occasions. Typically, you base a soup around meat stock and plenty of onions, and serve it with crusty toasted bread or croutons on top.
To make these baked chicken meatballs you will need: olive oil, yellow, white or red onions, egg, balsamic vinegar, ground chicken or turkey, mozzarella or gruyere cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, beef (or chicken) stock, fresh herbs salt and pepper.
How to Make French Onion Chicken Meatballs
- Caramelize the onions.
- Shape the meatballs and bake.
- Make the sauce.
- Finish in the oven.
What Onions to Use for French Onion Soup
Wondering what type of onions to use for this? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Different onion varieties have different flavors. Some are sweet, some bitter, some earthier… there’s really a broad range of onion-y tastes. You’ll want to pick the one that suits your needs best.
White and yellow onions, as advised by the legendary Julia Child, have a brighter flavor with plenty of sweetness. There’s a very mild bitter taste to the yellow onion that balances this out. You can use red onions, but these are more bitter than the yellow and white ones, and have less sweetness.
You can also use shallots, with their deep, bright, fresh flavor.
What Else To Use In French Onion Chicken Meatballs
You can try any meat you like. Ground beef, veal, and pork are all classic options for meatballs. Many restaurants will use a combination of beef and veal, or pork and veal, to achieve the best texture. Although we normally wouldn’t recommend using lean beef to make meatballs, because this is such a high-moisture dish, you can get away with using a leaner beef than usual.
When it comes to cheeses, there’s a whole range of options available to you. Mozzarella, Emmental, Comte, Beaufort, Jarlsberg, or Raclette are great options. Gruyere is by far the most traditional for this recipe, but considering we’re messing about with tradition by making it, why not try something new? Either way, you’ll want a cheese that is already relatively soft so it melts easily.
How To Get the Most Out Of Your Onions
When you’re making onion soup, the star of the show, unsurprisingly, is your onions. The trick to making the most of your onions is to caramelize them properly.
Caramelize your onions until they’re nice and brown, and sweet. You’ll want to cook your onions over low heat for, at a bare minimum, 30 minutes. You can take even longer if you like, and trust us when we say the results speak for themselves. This is a great dish to make on a rainy afternoon when you have the time and attention to pay to your onions, because they’ll reward your patience immensely.
French Onion Meatballs Tips
- Use fresh breadcrumbs if you know how to make them to really make this recipe stand out. You can do this very easily with some bread (or better yet, toast) and a food processor. Process the bread, place the crumbs on a tray and bake at 300 F for 10 minutes to get that golden brown finish we all love so much.
- If your meatball mix seems a little dry, cube up some bread very small. Soak these little bits of bread in milk. Incorporate these into your meatballs to add moisture and texture without dominating the palate. This is how Italians traditionally soften up their meatballs, and it’s a trick that works wonders.
How to Store French Onion Meatballs
Your meatballs will keep in the fridge for up to four days in an airtight container. You can make yourself some very indulgent sandwiches with that mixture and a little extra cheese!
You can also freeze these by spreading the cooked meatballs separately on a baking sheet and placing them in the freezer until they’re barely frozen. Then, remove the meatballs and place them in a freezer bag, and return them to the freezer. They will store for up to three months. You can store your sauce as is, in an airtight container, separately from the meatballs.
French Onion Meatballs in Crockpot
You can make these meatballs in a crock pot.
To make crock pot meatballs, simply assemble your meatball mix (chicken, herbs, caramelized onions, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, pepper, and cheese). Once this is well-mixed, separate into little meatballs. Place your raw meatballs in the bottom of your crockpot, top with sauce (in this case onion soup) and let your slow cooker do the work for you!
You don’t have to cook your meatballs before placing them in the crock pot. The naturally occurring juices from the meatballs will enhance the French onion soup, too.
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