This easy recipe for baked Chicken Parmesan Meatballs takes chicken meatballs with spinach and bakes them in a creamy tomato sauce for a nutrient-dense boost. Top with parmesan cheese and bake for a dish that’s great as dinner or as a party appetizer!
Everyone loves easy meals for dinner. Homemade ground chicken meatballs baked in tomato sauce and filled with spinach create a simple weeknight meal that the entire family will love. The meatballs are great for meal prep and leftovers too. If you’re looking for easy chicken recipes, then this meal is perfect for you.
You can easily adapt these to make them gluten free. They taste great on their own or served over pasta. Or add then to a sub roll and serve as a chicken parmesan meatball sub.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- These chicken parm meatballs make a satisfying protein for dinner or a great party appetizer.
- Everything is cooked in one skillet.
- You can make your own tomato sauce, or use your favorite jarred sauce to save time.
- The chicken meatballs pair well with any pasta or as the main course to any dinner sides.
Ingredients You’ll Need
For the Skillet Tomato Sauce:
- Olive Oil – Helps to release the aromatic flavors of the vegetables when sauteed.
- Garlic & Onion – Infuses the sauce with a classic garlic and onion flavor.
- Tomato Paste – Adds thickness and rich tomato flavor.
- Herbs & Seasonings – You’ll need parsley, basil, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes to flavor this sauce.
- Crushed Tomatoes – Adds bulk and tomato flavor to the sauce.
- Heavy Cream – Gives the sauce a touch of rich creaminess.
For the Chicken Parmesan Meatballs:
- Ground Chicken – This is the main protein in the meatballs and is packed with protein. You can substitute with ground turkey or beef, if desired.
- Baby Spinach – Adds a nutrient-dense boost to the meatballs.
- Panko Breadcrumbs – Helps bind the meatballs together and gives them a perfect texture.
- Garlic & Onion – Infuses the meatballs with a garlic and onion flavor.
- Salt & Pepper – Balances and enhances all the flavors.
- Parmesan Cheese – Gives the meatballs a salty cheesy flavor.
- Mozzarella – Melted on top with the sauce for an Italian-style dish.
- Egg – Helps bind all of the ingredients together in the meat mixture.
- Olive Oil – Cooks the meatballs when they are in the skillet.
- Basil – For garnish.
How To Make This Recipe
- Prepare for baking: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Form the chicken meatballs: In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, spinach, bread crumbs, onion, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, garlic, and egg. Stir together with a fork then knead gently with your hands until evenly combined. Form the mixture into meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
- Brown the meatballs: Heat olive oil in another medium or large skillet pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs to the pan in a single layer. Let cook, turning occasionally, until all sides are browned. They will not be cooked all the way through because they will finish cooking when baked.
- Assemble with sauce and cheese: Place the meatballs in the pan with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella and the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake until the cheese is melted and the meatballs are cooked through about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, garnish with fresh basil and serve.
Using Homemade Tomato Sauce
Using a jar of your favorite homemade tomato sauce is a great idea if you’re short on time, but making your own tomato sauce is simple and easy!
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add onion and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, parsley, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes and mix until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan, stir, lower heat and simmer for about 8 minutes. Stir in heavy cream, if desired.
- Place meatballs in the sauce prior to baking and top with mozzarella cheese, if desired.
- When forming the meatballs, make sure you don’t overwork the meat as this could make them have a tough texture.
- The purpose of pan-frying the meatballs is to get them browned and form a crust so they stay tender on the inside when baked. Do not cook the meatballs all the way through in the pan frying step.
- Make sure you chop your spinach for the meatballs into a fine mince in order to avoid large pieces in the meatballs when cooked.
- Make all the meatballs roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
- Gluten-Free Chicken Parmesan Meatballs: omit the breadcrumbs completely, or use a gluten-free breadcrumb of your choice.
- Change up the meat. You can use ground beef, bison, turkey, or even ground lamb to make these meatballs.
- Use chopped basil inside the meatballs instead of, or in addition to the spinach for a fresh herb taste.
- Feel free to omit the cream from the sauce if you enjoy basic tomato sauce.
- For a low-carb dish, omit the breadcrumbs and serve over a bed of zucchini noodles.
What to Serve with Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
The options are endless for serving. You can serve these over a simple plate of pasta or in sub roll. You can also serve them with a few of your favorite sides.
- Easy Dinner Rolls
- Fresh Garden Salad
- Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash (a great substitute for pasta!)
- Grilled Asparagus
Other Easy Chicken Meatballs
- For a saucy meatball with a healthy slaw, try Asian Chicken Meatball Lettuce Wraps with Mango Slaw!
- Crockpot Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce are the perfect party cocktail or appetizer!
- If you’re looking for an appetizer meatball, try these Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs. You can use ground turkey instead of beef.
These cheesy chicken parmesan meatballs are the perfect dinner recipe any time. Try them on their own or serve them with pasta!
Baked Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 can (28 ounce) crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
For the meatballs:
- 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
- 3 ounces baby spinach, chopped into small pieces
- 1/3 cup dried panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 ounces shredded mozzarella
- minced fresh basil, for garnish
To make the sauce:
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, parsley, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes and mix until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes, stir, lower heat to simmer and cook about 6 to 8 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the cream.
To make the meatballs:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, spinach, bread crumbs, onion, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, garlic and egg. Stir together with a fork then knead gently with your hands until evenly combined. Form the mixture into meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
- Heat olive oil in another medium or large skillet pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs to the pan in a single layer. Let cook, turning occasionally, until all sides are browned. (They will not be cooked all the way through because they will finish cooking when baked.) Place the meatballs in the pan with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake until the cheese is melted and the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, garnish with fresh basil and serve.
This was really good several ways. – on pasta, on subway rolls, and outta the freezer made into smaller balls, baked in the oven and added to brown sage buttered tortellini. How did I ever manage without chicken meatballs in my repertoire?