Easy sheet-pan dinner with Italian style chicken meatballs, zucchini and tomatoes! Serve these baked chicken meatballs and crispy veggies with spaghetti for a delicious and healthy dinner.
Who doesn’t love meatballs, or as they call them in Italy, polpette? Tender, tasty, and perfect in a sub, on pasta, or served solo – traditional style – with a bit of red sauce over the top. Meatballs are classic comfort food for countless families, and with good reason. They’re hearty, nutritious, and super easy to make. Perhaps best of all, they keep in the freezer really easily, and are just as good reheated as they are fresh.
We’ll be making Italian chicken meatballs today, or polpette di pollo. Although sometimes ground chicken can be a little dry, you’ll find this recipe moist and delicious. These are a little leaner, and a little healthier, than traditional pork, veal, or beef meatballs, and thanks to the inclusion of that classic Italian flavor combo of garlic and parmesan, they taste authentic.
Best Chicken Meatballs ( Tips)
When it comes to making meatballs, the Italians have it down to a fine science. Here’s a few hard-earned tips you can try out when making these awesome Italian chicken meatballs.
- You can always use packaged, pre-ground chicken for a recipe like this. However, in many households, the meat is ground fresh, just prior to use. Pre-ground chicken sometimes sits around at the store for a while, becoming denser. Try grinding chicken yourself, or ask your butcher to grind up some chicken for you. You can use breast, thigh, or a combination of both. Remember that thigh is fattier than breast, which can be good for texture, but not for the leanness of this meal.
- To get the best, fluffiest meatball texture like they do in restaurants, always mix your meatballs by hand. Avoid the temptation to use a food processor as this can make the mix too dense. You want a nice, airy meatball mix. Combine chicken, eggs, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and whatever seasonings you’re using (like oregano or basil) by hand and trust us, you’ll be able to taste the results.
- Roll your meatballs with wet hands. With a splash of water on your hands, you’ll prevent the meatballs from sticking to you, instead of sticking to themselves. No more gunky hands and bits of meatball mix in the sink when you’re washing them!
Italian Style Chicken Meatballs Ingredients
To make this healthy pan sheet dinner, you will need ground chicken, eggs, bread crumbs, tomatoes, zucchini, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, oregano, fresh thyme, salt, oregano, pepper and fresh basil.
Two Ways to Make Meatballs
That’s right, we’re giving you two recipes in one here. Effectively, you can either make meatballs ahead of time, and either refrigerate or freeze them for use later. Alternatively, you can make your meatballs and follow up with spaghetti and sauce to have for dinner tonight! It’s totally up to you how to do it, but bear in mind that certain steps during the recipe benefit one method over the other. Be sure to commit to your choice early and make your meatballs the right way.
Of course, if you’re feeling indecisive, you could always split the difference. Set half your meatballs aside and freeze them for later, and enjoy the other half tonight! It’s really up to you.
Making Meatballs In Advance
If you’re planning to make your meatballs now and enjoy them at another time, here’s the section for you.
These meatballs will be herby, healthy, and easy to enjoy. This recipe is optimized for freezing your meatballs and locking in their delicious flavor.
First, combine your eggs, breadcrumbs, herbs, parmesan, and ground chicken. Remember to mix them by hand, combining until it has a single consistency and the ingredients are evenly dispersed. You don’t want to over-work the mixture lest it become tougher and drier.
Once you’ve got your meatball mix you can start forming it into these balls. Line them up on a baking sheet with a generous amount of space between each ball.
Next, you’ll freeze your uncooked meatballs on the baking sheet. Once your meatballs are frozen through – the time will vary based on your freezer – you can transfer them into a ziplock or freezer bag. We recommend labelling them and adding the date to make sure you eat them in time, but with a dish this tasty you’ll surely be eating them sooner than you’d think.
Making Italian Style Chicken Meatballs for Tonight
We’ll pick up where the last recipe left off, with the meatballs on the baking sheet. Here, instead of freezing the meatballs, we’re making up dinner for tonight! The trick is to cook up your meatballs, zucchini and tomatoes on the same sheet pan while the pasta boils. This saves time, saves you a ton of cleaning up, and tastes great.
Roast your meatballs on the baking tray along with some halved tomatoes (we advise roma tomatoes) and diced zucchini tossed in aromatic olive oil mixture.
As the tomatoes, zucchini and meatballs bake in the oven, you’ll have your pasta on the stovetop boiling until it’s al dente. That’s Italian for to the tooth, so there should be a little resistance – just a little – as you bite into each piece of pasta. Look for the little white dot in each strand of spaghetti and you’ll know you’ve done it right.
Once your pasta is done, your meatballs are cooked through, and the meatballs are cooked through, toss everything together. Your spaghetti, meatballs, zucchini and tomatoes should all get tossed together with a generous helping of extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, and basil. The flavor combo of tomato, zucchini, parmesan cheese, and basil is classic rustic Italian fare. Plus the combo of red, white, and green looks just like the Italian flag! How cool is that?
Other Ground Chicken Recipes
If you make these Italian style chicken meatballs be sure to leave a comment or give this recipe a rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐! I will be happy to hear from you!Print
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