How to make The Healthy Cook’s chicken meatballs

Simple. Fast. Tasty. What’s not to like about chicken meatballs?

Have a comment, question, or idea? E-mail Kate at healthycook@cspinet.org.

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Southwest Chicken Meatballs with Smoky Tahini Sauce

These tasty little meatballs make a delicious snack. But I like them best served over warm brown rice with lentils and steamed or roasted vegetables.

Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 egg
1 lb. ground chicken breast
½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
¼ onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground coriander or cumin
½ cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Smoky Tahini Sauce (see recipe)

  1. Preheat the oven to 475°F. Coat a large lined rimmed baking pan with the oil.
  2. In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. Mix in the chicken, bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, garlic, salt, coriander, bread crumbs, and black pepper. Form the mixture into about 20 small meatballs of about 2 Tbs. each and place them on the pan.
  3. Roast the meatballs on the top oven rack until cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Serve with the Smoky Tahini Sauce.

Smoky Tahini Sauce

Makes ½ cup (8 Tbs.)

2 Tbs. tahini
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh lemon or lime juice, more to taste
½ tsp. smoked paprika or chipotle powder
½ tsp. kosher salt

Whisk all the ingredients together with 2 Tbs. water.

Per serving (5 meatballs + 2 Tbs. tahini sauce):

  • Calories: 340
  • Total fat: 19 g
  • Sat fat: 3 g
  • Carbs: 12 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Total sugar: 2 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 30 g
  • Sodium: 570 mg

Southwest Meatball Bowl

For a touch of tart punch, top with a few slivers of pickled red onion.

Time: 10 minutes

Serves 1

½ cup cooked brown rice
½ cup cooked lentils
½ cup steamed or roasted butternut squash
1 cup steamed baby kale or spinach
5 cooked Southwest Chicken Meatballs
2 Tbs. Smoky Tahini Sauce

  1. Arrange all the ingredients except the sauce in a bowl.
  2. Drizzle with the sauce.

Per serving (1 bowl):

  • Calories: 640
  • Total fat: 20 g
  • Sat fat: 3.5 g
  • Carbs: 73 g
  • Fiber: 18 g
  • Total sugar: 7 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 45 g
  • Sodium: 610 mg

Southwest Meatball Salad

Also try these meatballs in a simple salad with greens and grains instead of a warm bowl.

Time: 10 minutes

Serves 1

3 cups baby kale or other salad greens
3 roasted or raw mini bell peppers
3 cooked Southwest Chicken Meatballs
¾ cup cooked warm or cold brown rice and lentils
2 Tbs. Smoky Tahini Sauce

  1. Arrange all the ingredients except the sauce in a bowl.
  2. Drizzle with the sauce.

Per serving (1 bowl):

  • Calories: 480
  • Total fat: 17 g
  • Sat fat: 3 g
  • Carbs: 52 g
  • Fiber: 11 g
  • Total sugar: 8 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 31 g
  • Sodium: 490 mg

Italian Chicken Meatballs with Marinara

Don’t feel like turning on the oven? Gently simmer these meatballs in a tomato sauce for 15-20 minutes. Either way, add 1 cup of cooked whole wheat pasta to each serving, and dinner is done.

Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 egg
1 lb. ground chicken breast
¼ cup grated parmesan
¼ onion, finely chopped
½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. dried thyme
½ cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cups Basic Marinara Sauce (see recipe)

  1. Preheat the oven to 475°F. Coat a large lined rimmed baking pan with the oil.
  2. In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. Mix in the chicken, parmesan, onion, bell pepper, garlic, salt, thyme, bread crumbs, and black pepper. Form the mixture into about 20 small meatballs of about 2 Tbs. each and place them on the pan.
  3. Roast the meatballs on the top oven rack until cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Serve with the Basic Marinara Sauce.

Basic Marinara Sauce

Time: 30 minutes

Makes 4 cups

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 28 oz. can no-salt-added whole peeled tomatoes
¾ tsp. kosher salt

  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat until shimmering. Sauté the onion and carrot until lightly browned, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Stir in the garlic and bay leaf and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes with their juice, breaking them up with a potato masher. Once the sauce begins to simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season with the salt.

Per serving (5 meatballs + ½ cup tomato sauce + 1 cup cooked spaghetti):

  • Calories: 350
  • Total fat: 16 g
  • Sat fat: 3.5 g
  • Carbs: 18 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Total sugar: 5 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 31 g
  • Sodium: 630 mg
Photos: Kate Sherwood/CSPI.

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