Juicy and Tender Lemon Chicken Piccata Meatballs

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Classic Italian comfort food with a twist: Chicken Piccata Meatballs! Juicy and tender lemon chicken meatballs – laced with aromatics like garlic, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese – simmer in a bright and buttery piccata sauce made with white wine and capers. Serve with pasta, mashed potatoes, or polenta for the perfect cozy dinner. An easy, one-pan recipe, ready in 35 minutes or less!

Meal Prep and Make-Ahead Friendly.

An overhead shot of a serving of chicken piccata meatballs on a bed of spaghetti noodles on a white stoneware plate atop a striped cloth on an off-white surface.

Bright and Buttery Lemon Chicken Piccata – In Meatball Form!

Bright and buttery Chicken Piccata is one of my favorite meals. And while it isn’t traditional to serve this iconic Italian-American dish in meatball form, I think these lemon chicken piccata meatballs make a ton of sense.

Each tender meatball is studded with lemon zest, Italian herbs, and parmesan cheese for an end result that’s way more flavor-packed than classic chicken cutlets!

Chicken piccata, but make it a meatball! Juicy and tender lemon chicken meatballs served in a bright, buttery white wine sauce with briny capers.

Plus, making meatballs is so much more weeknight-friendly than pounding and dredging chicken breasts. Just add everything to a bowl, mix it all up, and you’re well on your way to the perfect piccata-inspired dinner! 🙌🏼

Once they’re quickly browned in a skillet, the chicken meatballs simmer in a rich and lemony white wine piccata sauce with tons of capers and garlic. It has all the best elements of the classic dish, turned meatball.

Feel-good comfort food at its finest! 🥰

Love making meatballs for dinner? Be sure to try my Chicken Parmesan Meatballs and Cheesy French Onion Meatballs. Both one-skillet recipes pack iconic flavor into juicy and tender chicken meatballs.

How to Make Chicken Piccata Meatballs: Prep Tips and Tricks

These meatballs are a quick variation of my Best-Ever Chicken Meatballs, a recipe I tested to a tee to ensure perfectly juicy and tender results. For this particular chicken piccata meatball recipe, I’ve added a generous amount of zingy lemon zest to complement the bright flavor of piccata sauce.

An overhead shot of ingredients in a white stoneware bowl: ground chicken, lemon zest and juice, egg, white wine, chicken stock, breadcrumbs, onion, grated parmesan, Italian seasoning and garlic powder.
Combining naturally mild ground chicken with onion, garlic, lemon zest, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning ensures a flavorful result.
An overhead shot of the combined meatball mixture in a white stoneware bowl atop a white textured surface.
Overmixing removes air from the ground chicken, resulting in tough, chewy meatballs. Mix gently, just until combined.

To prepare the lemon chicken meatballs, add finely chopped onion and garlic, egg, panko breadcrumbs, grated parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, lemon zest, and a little olive oil to a large bowl. Mix to combine well, then add ground chicken and delicately mix just until everything is combined.

The ground chicken mixture yields about sixteen 1 ½-inch lemon chicken meatballs. I always use a spring-loaded scoop to roll out meatballs, which creates uniform portions and limits how much you need to handle the meatball mixture.

An overhead shot of 16 formed meatballs on a white sheet pan atop an off-white textured surface.
Use a spring-loaded scoop to create uniform portions and avoid overworking the meatballs.

15-Minute Meal Prep

This chicken piccata meatball mixture will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Feel free to mix it up and roll out the meatballs in advance so you can jump right into cooking during the week.

Simple, Bright, and Garlicky Piccata Sauce

While chicken piccata meatballs are not quite traditional, this bright and buttery piccata sauce totally is! It’s a pan sauce made with garlic, pops of briny capers, dry white wine and lemon juice to create the mouth-puckering brightness that’s signature to classic chicken piccata.

An overhead shot of meatballs being browned in a black cast iron skillet atop a textured off-white surface. A pair of tongs is turning one of the meatballs.
Sear the chicken meatballs to give each side a beautiful golden crust and create browned bits of fond on the bottom of the skillet.
An overhead shot of piccata sauce with a pat of butter and a wooden spoon in a black skillet.
Quickly soften garlic and capers, then deglaze by pouring in white wine and using a wooden spoon to scrape up the flavorful browned bits of fond from the bottom of the pan.
An overhead shot of piccata sauce with a wooden spoon in a black skillet atop a textured off-white surface.
Finish the piccata sauce with lemon juice, chicken broth, and a few pats of butter, then simmer until thickened slightly.
1

Brown the chicken piccata meatballs. Cook the meatballs in a skillet on the stovetop for a few minutes per side, until they are nicely browned. Why? ⇢ This quick sear leaves browned bits of fond at the bottom of the pan, which becomes the foundation of flavor for the lemon piccata pan sauce.

2

Deglaze and build the piccata sauce. Quickly soften chopped garlic and capers, then deglaze the skillet by pouring in white wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits of fond from the surface, then add chicken broth and lemon juice. Best wine to use? ⇢ Opt for an unoaked and acidic white wine varietal, like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

3

Simmer. Stir in a few pats of butter to balance out the lemon piccata sauce, then add the browned chicken meatballs and simmer a few minutes longer. Why? ⇢ A quick simmer thickens the glossy sauce slightly, coating the lemon chicken meatballs with buttery and garlicky flavor.

A close-up macro shot of chicken piccata meatballs garnished with lemon slices and chopped parsley.
The lemon chicken meatballs are ready to serve once they’re cooked through and coated in lemon piccata sauce.

Serving Suggestions

This lemon chicken piccata meatball recipe is an easy dinner that will also remind you of fancy-feeling moments at an Italian restaurant. It’s the kind of meal that’s equally perfect for casual weeknights, date nights, and easy entertaining!

An overhead shot of a serving of chicken piccata meatballs on a bed of spaghetti noodles on a white stoneware plate atop an off-white surface. A second plate sits beside it.
Serve the meatballs over pasta or another cozy carb to soak up the buttery piccata sauce.

I suggest serving the chicken piccata meatballs with cozy carbs that can soak up all the sauce’s lemony, buttery, goodness.

Try pairing them with a long pasta like tagliatelle or spaghetti (pictured). They’re also great with like creamy mashed potatoes and polenta.

If you prefer to keep things lighter, my go-to Lemon Kale Salad is the perfect easy side dish. (Just don’t forget a crusty piece of bread to soak up the piccata sauce! 😋)

A close-up macro shot of chicken piccata meatballs on a bed of spaghetti, garnished with lemon slices and chopped parsley.
This one-skillet dinner is easy enough for busy weeknights, but also special enough for date night, Valentine’s Day, and easy entertaining! An all-purpose recipe you’ll come back to time and time again.

I can’t wait for you to try this One-Skillet Chicken Piccata Meatball recipe! It’s such a fun twist on one of my favorite feel-good comfort foods. Everyone loves them!

If you do give it a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo and tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!

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An overhead shot of a serving of chicken piccata meatballs on a bed of spaghetti noodles on a white stoneware plate atop a striped cloth on an off-white surface.

Juicy & Tender Lemon Chicken Piccata Meatballs

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Pasta Recipes, Main Dishes
  • Method: Stovetop, Skillet Recipe
  • Cuisine: Italian-American

Description

Bright and buttery chicken piccata is one of my favorite meals.

And while it isn’t traditional to serve this iconic Italian-American dish in meatball form, I think it makes a ton of sense, especially for busy home cooks – you can pack so much more flavor into chicken piccata meatballs than plain ol’ chicken cutlets!

So, that’s exactly what we’re doing here. Each tender meatball is studded with lemon zest, Italian herbs, and parmesan cheese, ensuring a super flavorful result.

From there, this recipe sticks pretty true to the classic: browning the meatballs up in a skillet and simmering with plenty of garlic and capers in a buttery white wine sauce.

Be sure to check out the blog post, above, for tips for tender meatballs and serving suggestions. Happy cooking! ♡


Ingredients

Scale
  • lemon chicken meatballs, below
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup dry, unoaked white wine
  • ½ cup chicken stock/broth
  • 2 lemons, juiced (approx. ⅓ cup juice)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into 1-tablespoon pieces
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper, to season
  • for serving, as desired: cooked pasta or mashed potatoes, crusty Italian bread, a simple green salad or Caesar salad, grated parmesan, finely chopped fresh parsley, etc.

for the lemon chicken meatballs:

  • 1 pound 93% lean ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • ½ small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper, to season

Instructions

  1. Prep the lemon chicken meatball mixture: To a medium mixing bowl, add the egg, lemon zest, onion, garlic, panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, olive oil, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 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.An overhead shot of the combined meatball mixture in a white stoneware bowl atop a white textured surface.
  2. Form the lemon chicken meatballs: Divide the lemon chicken meatball mixture into 16 equal portions, then gently roll each into a meatball slightly larger than the size of a golf ball, rolling just until smooth – take care to avoid pressing the meatballs together too compactly. For quickness and ease, I like using a spring-loaded scoop. The mixture yields about 16 1 ½-inch meatballs.An overhead shot of 16 formed meatballs on a white sheet pan atop an off-white textured surface.
  3. Brown the lemon chicken meatballs: Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the meatballs to the skillet. Working in batches as needed to avoid overcrowding the skillet, cook the meatballs 2 minutes per side, until deeply browned. Transfer to a plate and repeat with any remaining meatballs.An overhead shot of meatballs being browned in a black cast iron skillet atop a textured off-white surface. A pair of tongs is turning one of the meatballs.
  4. Prepare the chicken piccata sauce: Add the chopped garlic and capers to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. While stirring constantly, carefully pour in the wine – it will sizzle as soon as it hits the hot skillet. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits that may have formed on the bottom of the pan. Once the wine is almost cooked off, add the chicken broth and lemon juice to the skillet. Increase heat to medium-high to maintain a vigorous simmer and cook 2-3 minutes. Working one by one, add the pieces of butter to the skillet, stirring constantly between additions to combine into a smooth, creamy sauce. As the butter melts, the sauce will thicken and take on a beautiful glossy sheen.An overhead shot of piccata sauce with a wooden spoon in a black skillet atop a textured off-white surface.
  5. Finish the chicken piccata meatballs: Add the lemon chicken meatballs back into the skillet. Simmer 2-3 minutes longer, turning the chicken meatballs a few times to coat in the sauce, until the piccata sauce is thickened sightly and the meatballs are cooked through.An overhead shot of chicken piccata meatballs garnished with lemon slices and fresh parsley in a black skillet. The skillet sits atop a striped cloth on an off-white surface, and a small bowl of chopped parsley sits beside it.
  6. Serve immediately, drizzling the lemon sauce over the chicken meatballs. We love lemon chicken piccata meatballs served with some long thin pasta or with our favorite roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Enjoy!An overhead shot of a serving of chicken piccata meatballs on a bed of spaghetti noodles on a white stoneware plate atop a striped cloth on an off-white surface.

Notes

  • Jess’ Tips and Tricks:
    • Ground chicken: The secret to seriously juicy and tender chicken piccata meatballs is using the right poultry. It needs a decent fat content, otherwise the meatballs will dry out. Look for at least 93% lean, though if you can find 90-92%, that’s even better! If you’re purchasing from your grocery store’s butcher counter, ask for ground chicken thighs or dark meat. If you cannot find 93% lean ground chicken, ground turkey is a fine substitute for this recipe.
    • Substitutes for wine: If you prefer not to cook with alcohol, omit the white wine by increasing to ¾ cup chicken stock/broth and juice of 3 lemons.
    • 15-20 Minute Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for these meatballs comes from prepping and forming the meatballs. Take care of some of this in advance and you can jump straight in to cooking during the week: mix and form the chicken parmesan meatballs according to Steps 1-2 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 lemon chicken meatballs)
  • Storage and Reheating: Transfer cooled chicken piccata meatballs and 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 chicken piccata sauce.

Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 5.11.24
    Lauren said:

    Truly delicious take on chicken piccata! This will be a regularly repeated recipe in our house. So yummy! Even my 4 year old loved it!






  2. 2.16.24
    Elizabeth Beckmann said:

    I made these for my family earlier this week and they were a hit! My Littles (1.5 and 4.5) were skeptical of the sauce but loved the meatballs themselves, and my husband and I really enjoyed the piccata flavors without the fuss of the cutlets. The recipe could not be easier or more forgiving and it came together really quickly. This will go in our rotation!