Meet one of the loves of my life: chicken parmesan meatballs.
That’s saying a lot because we have chicken AND tomato sauce here. Perhaps I should say newer loves of my life. Newer as in… the last few years.
I still don’t LOVE tons of tomato sauce. And as you’ll see here, I like to bake my meatballs in a thin layer of sauce, so that sauce thickens even more and gets almost caramelized in a baking dish! In the recipe below, I suggest adding a second jar of sauce if you LOVE sauce. And I’m guessing that most of you will.
I’m always the odd man out in my lack of love for tomato sauce.
If you’re a longtime reader, then you’ll remember that I love to serve something tomato-sauce based in December. It’s comforting, but not like the holiday flavors and food we eat at parties. I’ve done a meat lovers pizza, slow cooker short rib sauce and lasagna bolognese just to name a few.
They make for the best December meals!
So the chicken parmesan meatballs.
Take some ground chicken and mix in a bunch of herbs. An egg, a bread crumb shower, some seasonings and lots of parmesan cheese. I like it finely grated so it flavors the chicken but doesn’t come seeping out of all the meatballs while you bake them.
Oh yeah! That’s another thing. These are baked! You can bake them on a baking sheet by themselves. You can stick them in a baking dish and cover them with sauce and do it that way.
And the best part is that you can make these ahead of time AND freeze them.
First, you can make them ahead of time and cook them and the leftovers are fab.
But to freeze, this is one of my go-tos. I have a recipe for perfect freezer meatballs in Seriously Delish and they are a lifesaver.
Make the meatballs and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flash freeze them for 30 minutes or so, then stick them in a resealable bag (I love stasher bags!) and toss them in the freezer.
When you’re ready to cook, I suggest throwing them in a slow cooker with lots of sauce and heating on low for eight hours or so. Everyone LOVES them. SO easy.
Guess what we’re going to serve these on? A bed of roasted garlic spaghetti. OHHH YES.
Roast a few heads of garlic until caramely. Make a pound of whole wheat spaghetti and toss it with olive oil, parmesan and the golden cloves. It’s not a saucy pasta, but that thickened tomato sauce from the meatballs adds a ton of flavor.
I don’t know what is better!
But together? This meal is insane.
Baked Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
Yield: 4 to 6 people
Chicken parmesan meatballs are baked and super flavorful! Serve with roasted garlic spaghetti for the best dinner ever! You can make them ahead of time too!
- 2 heads of garlic
- Olive oil for drizzling the garlic and spaghetti
- 1 pounds ground chicken
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping
- 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons fresh herbs, like basil, parsley, thyme, oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup of freshly grated mozzarella/provolone cheese
- 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
- ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1 to 2 24 ounce jar(s) of your favorite marinara sauce (add a second jar if you LOVE sauce)
- fresh basil for topping
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Slice off the top portion of the garlic head to reveal the cloves. Lightly rub back and forth to remove the paper on the sides and peel any excess paper off. Drizzle about a 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil on top the garlic cloves. Wrap the garlic head up in foil and place it on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes. You can stick it in the oven now and then keep it in there while you bake the meatballs!
Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (or a large baking sheet) with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, egg, olive oil, garlic, parmesan, bread crumbs, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Gently combine the mixture (don’t overmix!) until it’s combined. Roll the mixture into meatballs about 1-inch in diameter. If you wet your hands slightly, it helps to roll the meatballs!
Add half of the jar of tomato sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish (or a baking sheet, or oven-safe skillet). Place the meatballs in the sauce, about 1-inch apart.
Place the meatballs in the baking dish. Cover each meatball with a bit more sauce and top with the grated mozzarella or provolone.
Bake the meatballs for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the center of the meatballs reach 165 degrees F.
While the meatballs are baking, prepare the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti in salted water as the directions call for, then place it in a large pot or bowl. Drizzle to 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the garlic cloves have finished roasted and they are caramely, squeeze the cloves out of the paper and into the spaghetti. You can gently mash them with a fork if you wish. Stir in the ¼ cup of parmesan cheese. Serve with the meatballs once they are finished!
You can also top the meatballs with extra sauce if you’d like, extra parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
To make fully and freeze: prepare the meatballs as instructed, then let them cool completely. Place them in a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.
To prepare and freeze: make the meatballs and roll them into balls. Place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Flash freeze (stick it in the freezer, uncovered) for 30 to 60 minutes. Remove the meatballs and stick them in a resealable bag. To cook, place them in a pot or slow cooker and cover with sauce. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours until cooked through!
Gimme the garlic bread.