Chicken Parm + Meatballs = Cheesy Chicken Parmesan Meatballs, the Best of 2 Italian Classics!
Some recipes are classics for a reason, like meatballs & chicken parmesan. 2 GOATs of Italian-American food, if you ask me. So, naturally, a few years ago, inspiration struck & I wondered…what happened if we combined the best of both? The answer? Pure crave-worthy deliciousness!
These cheesy chicken parmesan meatballs are super juicy & flavorful, with a little bit of everything there is to love from the 2 dishes that inspired them. Each meatball is meltingly tender, flavored with plenty of aromatics, & stuffed with gooey mozzarella for an epic cheese pull with every bite. The blend of Italian seasoning, melty mozzarella, juicy chicken, & rich tomato sauce gives that classic chicken parm flavor with a fun meatball twist.
We first shared these easy chicken parmesan meatballs on PWWB back in 2017, but I recently felt inspired to revisit it & see if we could spruce it up. (Chris, my meatball-loving husband, was pretty thrilled to do another round of taste testing! 😉) Today’s recipe includes a few epic improvements. The meatballs are stuffed with mozzarella to create the effect of melty, cheesy chicken parm (so good!). Plus, they’re baked to keep dinnertime simple & hands-off.
Easy Chicken Parm Meatballs Recipe Highlights
You’ll love these mozzarella stuffed chicken parmesan meatballs because they’re…
- CLASSIC CHICKEN PARM IN FLAVOR. All the iconic cheesy, herbaceous, tomato-ey, tender chicken parm flavors are here…just in meatball form! What’s not to love about that?!
- SERIOUSLY CHEESY. Stuffing each meatball with mozzarella cheese creates an epic gooey cheese pull that rivals any melty, cheesy chicken parm.
- WEEKNIGHT-FRIENDLY. Trust me, gooey mozzarella stuffed chicken parmesan meatballs feel like such a fun & fancy treat, but they’re simple enough to make on any night of the week. Ready in just 30 minutes & change!
A beautiful marriage of 2 beloved Italian dishes! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make these Chicken Parmesan Meatballs, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
Italian cooking is all about using simple, high-quality ingredients & letting their flavors shine. These mozzarella stuffed chicken parmesan meatballs are no exception! Start with the best ingredients you can find & you’re already well on your way to making a batch of amazing meatballs.
- Ground chicken – To make the meatballs extra-juicy, use at least 93% lean ground chicken meat. You can also use at least 93% lean ground turkey if you prefer or if that’s what’s most readily available to you.
- Fresh mozzarella balls – Tiny round Ciliegine mozzarella balls are super convenient in this recipe. If you can’t find them, you can also cut fresh mozzarella into small cubes.
- Panko breadcrumbs – These Japanese-style breadcrumbs are great for meatballs thanks to their light & airy texture. If you have homemade breadcrumbs on hand, feel free to use them instead!
- Eggs – Which are essential to help all the meatball ingredients bind together. Without it, the chicken parmesan meatballs will crumble & fall-apart!
- Aromatics – Fresh herbs like basil & parsley, plus crushed red pepper flakes, dried Italian seasoning, grated onion, & garlic add a ton of flavor to the chicken parmesan meatball mixture.
- Parmesan – Grated parmesan adds an extra dash of savory flavor to each meatball. For next-level rich flavor, use Parmigiano Reggiano!
- Pasta Sauce – For serving. Feel free to use your favorite jarred sauce to keep things simple. (This is mine!) If you have a little more time or energy, make a quick homemade tomato sauce. Both work beautifully for these chicken parmesan meatballs!
*Meatball Prep Tip!
Like most recipes, taking the time to prepare your ingredients in advance (aka mise en place, my favorite meal prep secret!) makes cooking that much easier & more enjoyable. Before making chicken parmesan meatballs, take a moment to chop your herbs & grate your parmesan cheese, garlic, & onion. With everything prepped & ready to go, you’ll be ready to power through the recipe. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for more meal prep tips!
How to Make Cheesy Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Mix the chicken meatballs. Add onion, garlic, egg, panko breadcrumbs, grated parmesan, finely chopped fresh herbs, olive oil, Italian seasoning, & crushed red pepper flakes together in a mixing bowl & season with salt & pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together. Finish by adding the ground chicken & continue to mix with your hands delicately until just combined. Why? ⇢ Overmixing compacts the meat, resulting in tough, chewy meatballs – the opposite of what we’re going for here! Mixing all the add-ins first & adding the meat last limits the amount you need to handle the meat.
Form the cheese stuffed chicken parmesan meatballs. Divide the meatball mixture into about a dozen equally-sized portions, each of which will become a chicken parmesan meatball. Working one at a time, gently flatten the meatball mixture with your hands & add a ball of fresh mozzarella in the center. Wrap the edges of the patty around the cheese, sealing the edges tightly & gently rolling into a ball until you have a classic round meatball. Why? ⇢ Sealing the mozzarella inside of each meatball is what gives this dish gooey chicken parm cheesiness! As you bite into each meatball, the piece of mozzarella in the center melts away into a perfect cheese pull. So good!
Bake the chicken parmesan meatballs. Lightly spritz both a baking sheet & the meatballs with nonstick cooking spray, place the meatballs on the tray, & then bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Why? ⇢ Greasing both the baking sheet & meatballs helps prevent sticking & promotes browning.
Simmer the baked meatballs in sauce & serve! Warm your favorite jar of pasta sauce in a medium skillet as the meatballs are baking. Use whatever kind of sauce you want here. Marinara, vodka, arrabiata…it’s up to you! Once the sauce is simmering, add the baked meatballs to the skillet & toss to coat them in the sauce. Add grated parmesan, sliced basil, & crushed red pepper flakes then serve the meatballs on their own or over pasta.
Tips & Tricks for the Best Chicken Meatballs
Choose the right ingredients. Use at least 93% lean ground chicken or turkey, which helps ensure the meatballs are extra juicy. Fresh basil & parsley (as opposed to dried) also make a big difference in flavor as do other key aromatics like grated onion & garlic.
Grated >>> Chopped! ⇢ Grating the garlic & onion prevents that dreaded moment of biting into a big piece of solid onion in a tender meatball – the worst! Use a box grater to grate the onion & a microplane to grate the garlic into small, fine pieces (just watch your fingers as you work!).
Don’t overmix! Overmixing makes for tough, chewy meatballs, so it’s key to minimize how much you handle the meatball mixture. Little tricks like mixing the meat in the seasoning at the end & using a spring-loaded cooking scoop to portion the meatballs make a big difference!
Bake your meatballs. While some people swear by pan-frying, I find pan-fried meatballs much tougher than baked meatballs. In my experience, baked meatballs cook more evenly & stay super tender. I always recommend baking meatballs & then simmering briefly in a sauce. That’s one of the reasons why I shifted to baked chicken parmesan meatballs in this recipe!
My Go-To Simple San Marzano Tomato Sauce
Mozzarella stuffed chicken parmesan meatballs aren’t complete until you simmer them in tomato sauce! You can definitely use your favorite jarred pasta sauce here, but, if you have a little more time on your hands, making your own is a quick way to add to the dish. My simple San Marzano tomato sauce is light, perfectly balanced, & super easy to whip up – you can prep it in the time it takes to bake the chicken parmesan meatballs!
Here’s how to make my go-to quick homemade tomato sauce:
- Sauté 6-8 crushed garlic cloves in ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil in a medium skillet for a few minutes, until fragrant, adding crushed red pepper flakes as desired.
- Roughly chop a 28-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes in a food processor & add to the skillet.
- Add fresh basil leaves & a teaspoon of granulated sugar, then season with kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove & discard the spent garlic & basil as desired & serve immediately!
Find more details on how to make this San Marzano tomato sauce in the Recipes Notes, below, or read the full recipe!
What to Serve With Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Meatballs
There are endless ways to enjoy chicken parmesan meatballs – versatility is one of the reasons I love making this recipe so much!
These cheesy chicken parmesan meatballs are so rich, juicy, & flavorful that they can 100% stand on their own as a dish. (We’ve eaten plenty of these meatballs straight out of the pan! 🙈) I love to serve chicken parmesan meatballs on their own as a fun shareable for game day or a holiday app table.
These chicken parmesan stuffed meatballs are also perfect over pasta with more grated cheese, sliced basil, & crushed red pepper flakes. To make a complete meal out of them, add a simple leafy green salad with my All-Purpose Vinaigrette & some toasty bread on the side.
Storage & Freezing
Both the simple San Marzano tomato sauce & leftover baked chicken parmesan meatballs are very freezer-friendly. This dish is the perfect thing to pull out of your freezer on a weeknight when you’re craving some classic Italian comfort food. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for full Storage & Freezing Instructions!
I can’t wait for you to try these Chicken Parmesan Meatballs! If you do give them a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!
Want more weeknight meatball meals? We have plenty of options – Chris is a HUGE meatball fan! Try these Red Curry Chicken Meatballs, Lightened-Up Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Meatballs, or Soy-Glazed Ginger Turkey Meatballs next. ♡ Happy cooking!Print
Everything there is to love about chicken parmesan – in meatball form! These Cheesy Chicken Parmesan Meatballs are one of my all-time favorite PWWB recipes & if you love classic chicken parm &/or classic meatballs, I think you’re going to be obsessed with them too.
These chicken meatballs are meltingly tender & seriously flavorful thanks to a few smart ingredients, like fresh herbs, grated parmesan, & a little olive oil to keep everything super juicy. Each chicken meatball is stuffed with fresh mozzarella, which melts into gooey perfection as the meatballs bake – so good!
As far as serving goes, these chicken parm meatballs are really versatile. They stand on their own as a great shareable for a holiday appetizer table or game day snack spread, but you also can’t go wrong with tossing them on a pile of pasta & serving with some crusty garlic bread.
Be sure to check the Recipe Notes, below, for my favorite quick & simple tomato sauce, plus a few other prep tips.
- nonstick cooking spray
- 1 pound 93% lean ground chicken or turkey
- 12–14 ciliegine fresh mozzarella balls or 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cut into 12-14 1/2-inch cubes
- 24 ounces jarred pasta sauce of choice or 3 cups homemade tomato sauce (see Recipe Notes)
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, grated
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan (approx. 1 ounce)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (I like a 50/50 mix of parsley & basil)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 heaping teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- optional: up to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- for serving, as desired: cooked pasta or crusty Italian bread, a simple green salad or Caesar salad, grated parmesan, thinly sliced basil, etc.
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, ensuring a rack is positioned in the center of the oven. Lightly spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Gather & prep all ingredients according to the Ingredients List, above.
- Mix the chicken meatballs: Add the grated yellow onion, garlic, egg, panko breadcrumbs, grated parmesan, finely chopped fresh herbs, olive oil, Italian seasoning, & crushed red pepper flakes (if using) to a medium mixing bowl. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Use your hands to mix well. Once the breadcrumb mixture is combined, add in the ground chicken. Using your hands, mix just until combined – take care to avoid over-mixing.
- Form & stuff the chicken parmesan meatballs: Divide the chicken meatball mixture into 12-14 equal portions. Working one portion at a time, press the meatball mixture into a flat patty about 2-3 inches wide. Place a piece of fresh mozzarella in the center, wrap the edges of the patty around the cheese, forming a meatball with a piece of mozzarella in the center. Be sure to seal the edges tightly, then gently roll into a ball. Place the chicken parmesan meatball on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken meatball mixture.
- Bake the chicken parmesan meatballs: Lightly spritz the chicken parmesan meatballs with cooking spray for a golden finish, then transfer the baking sheet to the oven. Bake 18-22 minutes, until cooked through.
- Serve: Meanwhile, as the chicken parmesan meatballs bake, warm the jarred pasta sauce in a medium skillet over medium heat. The sauce should reach a simmer by the time the meatballs bake. Transfer the baked meatballs to the skillet, tossing to coat in sauce. Top with additional grated parmesan, sliced basil, crushed red pepper flakes as desired. These chicken parmesan meatballs are great on their own, served over pasta, or alongside a simple salad with toasty bread. Enjoy!
- Perfect Simple Tomato Sauce: You’re welcome to use your favorite jarred tomato sauce for these chicken parmesan meatballs. I like to whip up my go-to quick homemade sauce, Perfect, Quick & Simple San Marzano Tomato Sauce, which is light & perfectly balanced. As a bonus, you can throw it together in the time that the meatballs bake – easy!
- Storage & Reheating: Transfer cooled meatballs & sauce to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through, adding a splash of water or chicken stock as needed to loosen up the tomato sauce.
- 15-20 Minute Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for these meatballs comes from prepping & forming the meatballs. Take care of some of this in advance & you can jump straight in to cooking during the week:
- Mix & form the chicken parmesan meatballs according to Step 2-3 of Recipe Directions, above. You can roll out the meatballs immediately or save the rolling for dinnertime; either way, the mixture will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (15 minutes active for meatball mixture prep, 5 minutes active for forming the chicken parmesan meatballs)
- Note: This recipe has been updated since its original publish in September 2017. If you are looking for the original recipe, which was a one-skillet recipe with homemade tomato pan sauce, click here to download a printable version!
Keywords: chicken parmesan meatballs recipe, Italian-American recipe, stuffed meatball recipe
Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.