Homemade chicken meatballs
Meatballs are considered a weeknight dinner essential in our home. They’re versatile, affordable, and freezer-friendly, which is likely why I always have them on hand! These meatballs get a bit of a Middle Eastern upgrade with za’atar, sumac, and lots of lemon zest. They’re stuffed with creamy goat cheese, which melts beautifully when heated and helps to keep the meatballs moist. I know you’re going to love them!
Ingredients For Chicken Meatballs
- ground chicken or ground turkey: I like to use ground chicken or turkey because their flavor isn’t too overpowering for the other ingredients, but you can of course substitute other ground meats
- eggs: the binding ingredient to help keep the meatballs together
- traditional or seasoned breadcrumbs (not panko!): the other binding ingredient, but trust me you do NOT want to use panko breadcrumbs — the texture will be too coarse for meatballs!
- za’atar: a dried herb that is both lemony and minty in flavor
- sumac: a tangy dried spice that is a bit sour, acidic, and tastes a bit like lemon juice
- garlic powder: dried ground garlic, but you can use fresh minced garlic as well
- lemon zest: to help brighten the flavors of the meatballs
- kosher salt: to season the ground chicken or turkey
- goat cheese (soft, not hard): adds tanginess and creaminess to the meatballs
- red onion: the onion mellows out when roasted and becomes sweet
- bell peppers: when roasted, bell peppers become even sweeter
Note: while I love panko breadcrumbs, I do not recommend them in meatballs. The texture is too coarse. I prefer meatballs that are tender throughout and have a softer texture. Fresh breadcrumbs, however, will work fine!
Baking versus stove top
When it comes to meatballs, I always prefer to cook mine in an oven. Less standing around, less mess, less of a pain overall. I suggest either broiling (for my no-fail method, check out these meatballs) or roasting. For a simple sheet pan dinner, add vegetables to the tray with your meatballs. Here, I’ve added 2 bell peppers and a medium red onion. Essentially you want vegetables that require approximately the same cook time as the meatballs. Bonus: they soak up residual liquid released from the meatballs. That’s extra flavor for your veggies!
Chicken meatballs will cook for 13-15 minutes at 450F, or until the internal temperature has reached 165F.
On a stove top, meatballs will cook over medium-high heat for about 1-2 minutes on all sides, for a total of 8 minutes.
Can meatballs be frozen?
YES. I keep cooked meatballs in my freezer at all times. Cook according to directions below, then allow to cool completely before placing in a freezer safe Ziplock bag or airtight container.
Meatballs will keep in a freezer for up to 3 months.
Place meatballs in refrigerator the night before you want to serve them to fully defrost overnight. Alternatively, you can reheat frozen meatballs on a microwave safe plate in 30 second intervals until fully heated through (about 1 minute).
It’s hard to put into words how much my family adores these chicken meatballs. They’re moist, aromatic, and seriously simple to make. And duh, everyone loved a sheet pan dinner! Can’t ask for much more than that!
If you make these Sheet Pan Chicken Meatballs with Goat Cheese, please let me know by leaving a review and rating below.
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For more quick and simple weeknight meals, check out the following recipes:
- Crispy skin salmon with lemon parmesan cream sauce
- Tomato gazpacho with homemade basil oil
- Skillet chicken with garlic and anchovies
- Spicy crab pasta with lemon and capers
- Roasted french rack of lamb with grapes
Sheet Pan Chicken Meatballs with Goat Cheese
- ¼ cup cookie scoop
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 bell peppers red, orange, or yellow, cut into ½" pieces
- 1 medium red onion cut into ½" pieces
- 2 lbs ground chicken or turkey
- 2 large eggs whisked
- 1 cup breadcrumbs plain or seasoned
- ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1 ½ tsp za'atar
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt divided
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 oz goat cheese plus more for serving
- Preheat oven to 450F. Drizzle olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet, then place chopped red onion and bell peppers on top. Sprinkle with ½ tsp kosher salt, then toss to thoroughly coat.
- In a large mixing bowl, add ground chicken, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, za'atar, sumac, garlic, remaining salt, and lemon zest. Gently stir until will mixed.
- Use a ¼ cup cookie scoop to portion out meatballs. Take 1 level scoop of chicken meatball mixture and place in your hand. Add about ½ tsp of goat cheese right on top in the center. Scoop out another level ¼ cup of chicken and place directly on top of goat cheese. Use your hands to form the meatball and seal it around the cheese. Place on prepared baking sheet with veggies. Repeat with remaining chicken and goat cheese until all meatballs are formed. 2 lbs of ground chicken should yield approximately 16 meatballs.
- Cook for 13-15 minutes, or until an internal temperature of 165F is reached. Serve meatballs with roasted vegetables immediately, adding extra crumbled goat cheese on top as wanted.
- Substitutes for chicken: ground turkey or ground lamb work well with the za’atar and sumac! You can use ground beef or ground pork, but the flavor profile will be quite different.
- Breadcrumbs: I do not recommend using panko breadcrumbs in meatballs. The texture is too coarse. Instead, if you don’t have dried plain or seasoned breadcrumbs (either is fine here!), try making your own with a few pieces of store-bought bread in a food processor.
- To cook meatballs on stovetop: heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Cook meatballs 1-2 minutes per side until evenly browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes total.
- Cheese: feta can easily be substituted in place of goat cheese
- To freeze: allow cooked meatballs to cool completely to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container then freeze. Meatballs will keep for up to 3 months in a freezer.
- To defrost: either allow meatballs to thaw in a refrigerator overnight or place on a microwave safe plate and heat in 30 second intervals until fully defrosted (about 1 minute).