How to make juicy chicken meatballs

SERVES:  makes approx 12 – 18 meatballs (depending on how big you make them)
PREP TIME: 10 mins
IDEAL FOR: family, easy meal, midweek meal

Love a good meatball dish.

And who doesn’t with juicy meatballs swimming (in my case) in all that good sauce.

Just look at IKEA meatballs… they are incredible.

I thought I’d try and make (slightly) healthier meatballs pre-Xmas food onslaught.

So, lean chicken meatballs it is.

Although, I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not to make the creamy mushroom sauce.

If you want to keep it proper healthy.

Then use a nice, simple marinara sauce to go with them.

Juicy meatballs

Now, I always think my meatballs will come out super juicy.

But if I’m honest, sometimes mine can come out a little dry.

It’s totally frustrating.

So, this time, I’m following a few basics steps to ensure juiciness, not dryness.

Especially as lean chicken won’t have the fat of pork or beef to help with that side of things.

So, we need to get ingredients into the meatballs that will add the ‘fat’, boost flavour and keep them moist.

Tips for juicy chicken meatballs

Use ground thighs

Choose ground chicken with a mixture of white and dark meat or ground chicken thighs (if you can find it).

Don’t be tempted with your favourite, chicken breast.

It’s the darker meat that will provide juiciness so try and get some dark meat in there.

Add panade


Fair enough, I had never heard of it.

Panade is a French word that translates literally to “bread mash”.

So, it’s a fancy way of saying mix bread pieces or breadcrumbs with liquid (milk, buttermilk, yoghurt, stock, water).

And panade is the key to juicy meatballs

So, for juicy chicken meatballs, use a mixture of fresh breadcrumbs and whole milk.

Also, by mixing seasonings into panade, rather than into the ground meat, you won’t be overmixing i.e. tender, juicy meatballs.

How to cook chicken meatballs

Most classic meatballs are pan-seared and simmered in a sauce before being served.

And it does give you the juiciest meatballs.

But sometimes you may want to use the oven or low n’ slow cook so you can pop off and do other things.

Tip: Meatballs are cooked when they hit an internal temperature of 73°C/ 165°F a meat thermometer.

5 other cooking methods for juicy chicken meatballs

  • Oven-roasted: Bake on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet at 200°/400°F for 12 to 15 minutes.
  • In a mini-muffin pan: Lightly grease a mini-muffin tin and place one meatball into each well. Bake at 200°/400°F for 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Browned under the grill, then simmered: Place the meatballs on a greased rimmed baking sheet and grill on high for five minutes. Transfer to a pot with sauce and simmer with sauce for five to seven minutes.
  • Slow cooker with sauce: Pour sauce into a slow cooker. Submerge the raw meatballs in the sauce. Cover and cook on the LOW setting for two hours.
  • Cooked in stock: Bring your stock to a boil. Add the raw meatballs, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

Enjoy some juicy meatballs.

Do you have any good tips for making juicy meatballs? Leave a comment.

Juicy chicken meatballs in creamy mushroom sauce

Course Main Course
Keyword chicken, meatballs, midweek meal
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 12 meatballs
Cost £


For the meatballs

  • 500 g ground chicken go for organic or freerange
  • 3/4 cup thick white sandwich – bread crusts removed and torn into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp whole milk
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2“ tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup double cream


For the meatballs

  • Make the panade: Mix the bread and milk in a large bowl and let it sit so the bread gets saturated – 3 mins.
    Then add in the Parmesan, egg, parsley, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper and whisk together.
    Add the ground chicken and using your fingers, mix until just combined. You don't want to mash the meat or overwork the mixture otherwise it will make your meatballs dry.
    Now, shape into 1.5 inch meatballs (approx 2 tbsps per meatball).
  • In a large frying pan with high sides or a casserole dish, over medium heat, add oil and then brown your meatballs by turning for approx 3-4mins. You may need to do in batches as you don't want to overcrowd them when frying
    Once cooked, transfer them to a plate.

For the sauce

  • In the same pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter, then add the garlic and onions and cook until they are softened.
  • Next, add the chopped mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 mins.
  • Stir in the flour, cook for another minute so it's all mixed and then slowly add the chicken stock while whisking continuously until the sauce thickens.
    Lastly, stir in the rosemary, parsley, paprika, salt, pepper and the meatballs.
  • (Add a little more stock or water if the sauce is too thick).
  • Simmer the meatballs for approx ten minutes.
    Then stir in the double cream and switch the hob off.
  • Serve with pasta, rice, mashed potatoes or as a meatball sub.


Inspired by: Myfoodstory