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Chicken Meatballs with Tomato-Balsamic Glaze

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Winner, winner meatball dinner! Quick, easy, and irresistibly tasty, these baked chicken meatballs with a tangy glaze make the perfect fuss-free family supper.

Chicken Meatballs in a baking dish.

If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional meatballs or turkey meatballs in marinara sauce, these light and elegant chicken meatballs fit the bill. I love them with mashed potatoes, puréed cauliflower, polenta, or buttered noodles for a quick and easy weeknight meal. They also make a delicious appetizer—just make them smaller and spear them with toothpicks.

“I made a triple recipe of these for a family dinner…Everyone loved them, especially my younger grandsons.”

Barbara F.

What You’ll Need To Make Chicken Meatballs With Tomato-Balsamic Glaze

Meatball ingredients including milk, tomato paste, and garlic.

When purchasing ground chicken, stay away from extra-lean all breast meat; if the meat is too lean, the meatballs will come out dry and lacking in flavor.

Tomato paste can be purchased in a small can or tube. While I use canned here, the tubed variety is more practical because you can use just what you need and store it in the fridge until you need it again. To preserve canned tomato paste longer, freeze it in tablespoon-sized portions (use an ice cube tray or put tablespoon-sized portions on a cookie sheet). Once frozen, transfer these portions into a freezer-safe plastic bag for future use.

The recipe calls for pecorino Romano cheese, a hard Italian sheep milk cheese. It is similar to Parmigiano Reggiano, in that both cheeses have salty, umami-rich flavors, but pecorino Romano is saltier, tangier, and stronger in flavor.

Step-by-Step Instructions

To begin, combine the egg, parsley, tomato paste, garlic, milk, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Egg, tomato paste, and other ingredients in a bowl.

Mix well with a wire whisk, making sure the tomato paste is completely dissolved.

Whisk in a bowl of ingredients for meatballs.

Add the ground chicken, grated cheese and breadcrumbs.

adding ground chicken

Use your hand to mix the ingredients together; it will be somewhat wet.

Bowl of ground meat with other ingredients.

Using wet hands, form medium-sized balls and place into an ungreased 9-x-13-in baking dish.

in baking dish

Next, make the glaze by combining the tomato paste, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small bowl.

Bowl of unmixed tomato-balsamic glaze.

Whisk to combine.

Fork in a bowl of tomato-balsamic glaze.

Brush the glaze evenly over the meatballs.

Chicken meatballs in a yellow baking dish.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball registers 160°F. Remove from the oven and serve.

Chicken meatballs in a yellow baking dish.

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Chicken Meatballs with Tomato-Balsamic Glaze

Winner, winner meatball dinner! Quick, easy, and irresistibly tasty, these baked chicken meatballs with a tangy glaze make the perfect fuss-free family supper.

Servings: Makes 12 meatballs (or 24 appetizer-sized meatballs)
Total Time: 45 Minutes


For the Meatballs

  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground chicken (preferably Purdue, not extra lean all breast meat)
  • ½ cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs

For the Glaze

  • 1½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ teaspoon sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the egg, parsley, tomato paste, garlic, milk, salt and pepper. Mix well with a wire whisk, making sure the tomato paste is completely dissolved.
  3. Add the ground chicken, grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Use your hand to mix the ingredients together; it will be somewhat wet. Form medium-sized balls and place into an ungreased 9-x-13-in baking dish.
  4. Make the glaze by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Brush evenly over the meatballs. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball registers 160°F. Remove from the oven and serve.
  5. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cooked meatballs can be frozen, with their glaze, for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to serve, thaw them in the fridge and then reheat them, tightly covered with foil, in a 300°F oven, until hot in the center.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1 meatball
  • Calories: 119
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4 g
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 10 g
  • Sodium: 161 mg
  • Cholesterol: 54 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • I made these last night and we were very impressed. The texture and flavor are great! Came together in minimal time. Another wonderful “Jenn” recipe! Stay safe =)

  • WOW! Just made a batch and love the texture and flavor. My local Whole Foods only carries 98% white meat ground chicken so I added a tablespoon of olive oil so it wouldn’t be too dry. Only thing I altered with recipe. Glaze takes it over the top and without the glaze, recipe could easily substitute a typical beef meatball simmered in a red/marinara sauce. I can see how they would be great as an appetizer since the sauce is mildly sweet with a flavorful meatball underneath. Another great recipe for my box!! Keeper for sure. Thanks again, Jenn!

    • — Christine Smith
    • Reply
  • I make these chicken meatballs a lot, I always double the glaze so there is enough of it for us. I use these with spaghetti delicious also great when made for appetizer. i always add some italilan seasoning never have the seasoned bread crumbs.

  • Love the majority of your recipes, but not a fan of these. They kind of lacked taste and felt undercooked even though I did bake them till 160 degrees. Kids ate them though! Next time I’d maybe make them with half chicken half pork. Do you think that would work?

    • Yes you could also add some bacon or pancetta for more flavor. 🙂

  • Hi Jenn-
    This is the first comment I’ve made on your blog after two weeks of being obsessed over your recipes snice finding you. These meatballs were awesome! I have six children so I have to double double (sometimes triple) everything, but they were a hit with everyone! 🙂 I’ve loved the naan bread, lentil veggie soup, pumpkin scones, French Apple cake and others. We’re going to gain weight as I can’t stop trying your recipes! It’s awesome how everything I need for your recipes is already in my pantry and yet it all comes out so good! Thank you!

    • I’m so happy you’re enjoying the recipes, Stephanie! Thank you for taking the time to write and let me know. 😊

  • These were DELICIOUS! My son requested spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight – checked the fridge and all I had was ground chicken, so I knew I had to make these. Recipe came together in about 10 minutes of prep work, We are watching our calories so I used half the cheese the recipe called for and I didn’t miss it at all. Flavor is great, the glaze is tangy and sweet. I was already baking Jenn’s chocolate zucchini bread at 350, so I popped these in at that higher temp and used a thermometer to check them to 165. Took about 24 minutes.

  • Dear Jenn,
    I’ve made these already & we loved them. I was wondering if i could prepare the meatballs & freeze them before cooking to use at a later date.

    Thanks for so many delicious recipes.


    • — Darlene Mulholland
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoy the recipes, Darlene! I generally freeze meatballs after cooking them, but it’s perfectly fine to freeze them before if you prefer. 🙂

  • I made this recipe again tonight for the umpteenth time. I leave out the milk and cheese because we keep kosher. If I have non dairy creamer available I’ll use that but tonight I didn’t. I just don’t bake them as long. Served them with green beans and carrots and rice. A perfect weeknight meal.

  • I have made these a few times now. They are perfect! I double the glaze, add some to the meatballs and save some to “ dip” ……..yummy!

  • Excellent! I , too, will double the glaze next time!

  • Love the recipe, the chicken balls were light and fluffy with lots of flavor, but would like a gravy of some kind. I would make extra glaze for dipping when used as an hors d’oeuvre, but not sure what to serve with it when used for dinner. I used
    parmesan cheese as that’s what I had, but was wondering what the difference would be if I
    used romano as in the recipe. Is parm saltier?

    • Hi Irma, Glad you like these! A lot of other readers have commented that they’ve made extra glaze as well. (And Pecorino cheese is more mild and a bit saltier than Parmesan.)

  • Best chicken meatballs Ive ever made!! My hubby AND kids (1 and 3 yrs old) ate every last piece. Glad I doubled the recipe for leftovers 🙂 The buttered noodles and side veggie were perfect.

  • I have used your recipes for years. And they have all been excellent. These meatballs were tasteless. Followed the recipe perfectly. Baked as directed and they were not fully cooked. Checked oven temp,and it was right. Are u sure you cook these at 325?

    • Hi Rick, I’m sorry that these were a bit of a flop for you! Yes, the oven temp of 325 is correct. If you try them again, I’d suggest leaving them in few a few minutes longer.

  • The best meatballsi have made!

  • Hi Jenn,
    What can I use in place of the cheese? I am lactose intolerant. Would the meatballs be dry if I leave this ingredient out? (Love your recipes! I have made many tasty meals!) 🙂

    • Hi Heather – glad you like the recipes! You can just omit the cheese here – you could add another Tbsp. or two of milk to add a bit more moisture. Hope you enjoy!

      • Hi Jenn,

        I was thinking of making these dairy free so was reading through the comments. Just a heads up that people who are lactose intolerant can’t digest the lactose in all dairy products so adding more milk won’t do for this recipe. Is there a dairy free product you would recommend instead of milk?

        Looking forward to your answer. Thank you.

        • — Karen Phillips
        • Reply
        • Not sure how I missed that! You can omit the cheese and use a bit more of a non-dairy milk substitute to make sure they are moist enough. Hope you enjoy!

  • I’ve made these so many times….they are beyond amazing….everyone loves them!

    I wanted to double the batch…could I use half ground chicken and half pork?

    Thank so much!

    • Sure (and so glad you like them)!

  • Could these meatballs be broiled instead? I love how broiling on the top shelf gives meatballs such a crunchy shell. Was planning to make these tonight with ground turkey.

    • Sure, Abi – that’ll work. Enjoy!

  • Hi Jenn- This sounds so good! I have everything on hand but of course the main ingredient, ground chicken. I do have ground beef- would this work or do I have to add more of any ingredient to keep it moist? Thank you!

    • Sure, Daryl, you can use ground beef here with no other modifications. Hope you enjoy!

  • My husband and I loved the meatballs however two of my kids did not care for the sauce. If you have picky eaters you may want to hold the sauce on a few meatballs just in case.

    • — Shelley Thomas
    • Reply
  • I was very excited to try this but a little disappointed. Took longer than 30 minutes to cook to 160 degrees (almost 45 minutes) and were a bit bland. The glaze was delicious and the meatballs were nice and moist, but lacking something. I think possibly more garlic needed, maybe some onion or sundried tomatoes, or more paste? I’m not sure, but I will experiment 🙂

  • Really enjoyed these; easy to make and flavorful. Cooked in two batches, and for the second I drizzled balsamic reduction (or balsamic glaze) over the recipe glaze. It gave it an extra balsamic “kick” that I liked.

  • Made these for my beef loving spouse this evening and he pronounced them to be “the best meatballs he has ever had.” Keep in mind that he is the only son of a FABULOUS first generation cook from Italy who rolls her own gnocchi. Took the advice from other reviewers and doubled the glaze. Delicious, and absolutely the way to go. Thank you, Jenn, for another winner.

  • Great recipe. I like better than traditional beef. Also the reviews advising double the glaze are spot on

  • I have been to 3 top grocery stores
    and cannot find the required chicken.
    Feels like I am in the Twilight zone as
    everyone else can get it.

    Can I ground the Chicken thighs in my own Processor?

    • Sorry you’ve had a hard time finding it! Yes, you can ground the thighs in your food processor. Hope you enjoy!

    • Walmart in a small rural community carries ground chicken in the organic chcken section.

    • Or, if you have a Kitchen Aide stand mixer, there is a grinder attachment! I have used that when I lived in places I could not find ground chicken. Happy cooking!

  • Just made these last night with all ground turkey…. They were absolutely amazing! Not even remotely dry. My kids loved them as well.

  • Hi there,
    All I can find at my local grocery store is the lean ground chicken. What can I add to make sure it doesn’t turn out dry?

    • Hi Katie, If you’re not able to find anything but lean ground chicken, I would add a little more cheese to keep the meatballs moist. Hope you enjoy!

  • Hi,
    I see you say ground chicken is more flavorful than ground turkey but could this be substituted with ground turkey? Or would the flavor just be ruined? Thank you.

    • Hi Christina, Ground turkey can be used, but I do think they are more flavorful with ground chicken. Other readers have used turkey though and have been happy with the results. Hope you enjoy!

  • This was disappointing. I think it would have been better with ground beef or veal.

  • I made these earlier this week during the big blizzard, and they were fantastic! They were so moist and flavorful even when reheating the leftovers. The only change I made was when serving the leftovers — I made a bit more glaze but substituted apricot jam for the sugar and added a pinch of salt. Another wonderful recipe from your site. Thank you!

    • — Bernadette McVicker
    • Reply
  • Can the chicken meatballs be made as a meatloaf instead? If yes, how long would I bake it for?

    • Alice, You could make this into a meatloaf. I would increase the baking time to about 45 minutes, but before removing it from the oven, make sure that an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf registers 160 degrees. I’ve also got a BBQ Turkey Meatloaf and an Italian Meatloaf on the site if you want to try one of those.

  • I would like to make these for a party in advance. At what point in the recipe would I freeze them and then how would I proceed to finish them?

    • Hi Barbara, I think these would freeze well. I would suggest cooking them completely, glaze and all, before freezing them. When you’re ready to serve them, I would defrost them and then put reheat them tightly covered in a 300 degree oven, until warmed through. Hope you enjoy them!

  • I made these last night and they were terrific! I have made many meatball recipes and this one by far is the best I’ve ever made. I doubled the batch and still did not have left overs. Right now I’m printing all of your recipes as I try them and placing them in a bound notebook. I wished you had a cookbook. Whoever refused to publish your recipes the first time was a complete idiot. You are an amazing cook! Thank you for sharing your recipes with the world anyways!

  • I love these meatballs so much that I double the recipe. When I put two trays in the oven, by how much time should I increase the cooking time? Thanks!

    • Hi Allison, Cook time should be about the same; maybe just a few minutes longer.

  • This is a great alternative to traditional meatballs, and the ground chicken is very flavorful compliment to the tomato/balsamic glaze.
    I might have over-cooked mine as I found them a bit dry. Next time, I may try to form burger patties or individual sized meatloaves to help maintain the juicy, yummy flavors.

    • Hi Kim, If you used all chicken breast meat, they might be a little dry. Try to find ground chicken that is a blend of white and dark meat.

  • Really, really good!

  • Why is the recipe not printable? I have tried to print but nothing happens. Does one have to join your mailing list in order to get access to printing the recipes?? thank you~

    • — Christie Knott
    • Reply
    • Hi Christie, That’s strange — if you click on the print tab, it should take you to a printable page. No need to subscribe to print recipes…what browser are you using?

  • Another hit, Jenn. Per the various comments, I doubled the sauce. My 6 year old inhaled them, asking for seconds. My husband was more than a little dubious, but once he started eating he liked them too!

    Well done!

  • Can you please tell me the calories per meatball 🙂

    • Hi Holly, Nutritional data has been added underneath the recipe.

  • Could these be made in advance and frozen? (I’m planning a big New Years Day Brunch and want to make a lot of things in advance.)

    • Hi Susan, I do think they’d freeze well.

  • I absolutely loved these! I’m Italian and I have always made meatballs using beef, veal and pork and fried them in olive oil until they were nice and crispy. My family usually eats them as I fry them. But after trying this recipe I may never go back to my old ways! I don’t use the glaze, I make my own marinara sauce, delicious! Thanks Jenn for another keeper!

  • I agree that these chicken meatballs are very yummy! I’m already thinking of when I can make them as hors d’oeuvre at a party.

    One thing I did different was to use grated dill-infused Havarti instead of P-R cheese, given that I didn’t have the latter on hand, and the Havarti was a great substitute. I also agree that the glaze recipe could easily be doubled. Next time I will do so, to ensure that I have plenty to put on the meatballs prior to baking, and I will divide half of it before contaminating the glaze so that I can apply some glaze a second time, once they are removed from the oven.

    Thanks for another lovely recipe, Jenn.

  • Can this recipe work with ground turkey as my husband is not a fan of ground chicken?

    • — Linda Oliksowycz
    • Reply
  • I love these! I make them dairy free so I use a little water instead of milk and eliminate the cheese (I use kosher meat that’s already a bit saltier).

    I also double the glaze as it is so yummy!

  • Made these for a quick Saturday lunch. They are outstanding. Great ingredients and directions. A keeper recipe. Thank you for adding another recipe to my tool belt!

  • These meatballs are incredible–so much flavour. My husband keeps asking me to make them!! Thanks Jennifer for sharing this recipe….

  • I didn’t love this recipe…at first! I only covered half of the meatballs with the sauce because my balsamic vinegar was getting a little skunky! I had hoped the meatballs would be a hit with everyone, but the picky eater didn’t like it (he opposes green flecks in his food) and our daughter wasn’t blown away with it (bummer because both kids have enjoyed the other recipes I’ve made from the site). My wife and I enjoyed the glazed version. Turns out the skunky balsamic wasn’t such an issue when cooked.

    I took the plain meatballs to lunch the next day and had it with spaghetti sauce and penne: HELLO! It was delicious and amazing and I can’t wait to make these again! I actually think both kids will enjoy that. The only change I would make would be to add a bit more garlic.

    * I saw that you have another meatball recipe. I’ll try that one also but I really enjoyed these!

  • I made this two months ago, and I didn’t have that many to serve for dinner because I ate most of them while I was waiting for my sides to finish. I plan to make a double batch next time.

  • I just made these tonight for tomorrow night’s dinner. Only things I changed were that I made six times the amount of sauce, as I plan to serve the meatballs with wide egg noodles and wanted some extra sauce for them. I made the sauce for basting the meatballs as per your recipe, but put the leftover sauce into a saucepan with some red wine, chicken broth, cream, crushed red pepper flakes, crumbled gorganzola, and freshly chopped basil from my garden. This is an excellent recipe for leaner meatballs… they are AMAZING! The sauce just needed a bit more uummph for me if serving over pasta. I love your recipes and blogs!! Keep up the great work! 🙂

    • Hi Rebecca, thanks for sharing your modifications. The sauce you made sounds delicious!

    • I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but I was thinking about leaving off the glaze, cooking the meatballs till they had only firmed up, and dumping them in the glaze, then finishing cooking. My thought was that the glaze might stay more on the surface. Do you think that would work?
      Also, to those who find ground chicken bland, a little melted bacon grease mixed into the meat makes the meat more flavorful. If you have an air fryer, it’s really easy to collect nice clear bacon grease in the bottom when frying up bacon. Save it in a jar in the refrigerator.

      • — Meg Mayo Lucas
      • Reply
      • Hi Meg, I’d stick with the recipe as is – there’s really not enough sauce to go the route that you suggested. Hope you enjoy them! 🙂

  • Jenn– my daughters (Alexis and Abbe) told me about your beautiful blog– been cooking for 45 years and I’m amazed that I’m still picking up helpful tips from your simple explanations about the “how’s and whys” of each recipe and your responses to each question asked.
    The chicken meatballs are outstanding, even though I didn’t have fresh parsley or garlic( had to use freeze dried) on hand. Very moist and flavorful. And yes– double the glaze– it’s so good.
    Can’t wait to start on another recipe — thanks.

    • That is so nice to hear, Judi. Thank you! I’m a big fan of your daughters, and your grandchildren too 🙂

  • Made these last night for a pool-side dinner with friends in our community. I did double the amount of glaze. They were such a hit….folks kept going back for more! I even had two friends ask for the recipe, which I am giving them along with your website address. Told them everything I have tried from your website has just been delish!

    • — Patricia Brady
    • Reply
    • Thank you, Patricia!

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