Tender and moist pesto chicken meatballs busting with flavor and so easy to make. Just 5 simple ingredients. A meal the whole family will love.
GAAAHHHHH! Where has summer gone? I’m not ready for it to be over yet.
Because once summer is gone, we’re all back to the school year routine with early dinner and bed times, packing school lunches every day, and more work and less play.
Summer is my season. And I could live in it ALL YEAR round. But alas, all good things must come to an end. And I’m realizing that I need to step up my food game once again. We get super loose with meals in the summer- living off smoothies, fresh fruit, big green salads and rotisserie chickens.
So I’m back at it in the kitchen creating simple-to-make recipes to make life easier. Having quick and effortless meals to turn to when family life gets busy makes life happier for me. That’s where a little bit of meal prepping comes in.
Honestly, I don’t meal prep a ton. Mostly I like to have good quality protein ready to go in the freezer. I like to make my veggie and side dishes as I go based on what’s fresh at the farmer’s market and local grocery stores.
Meatballs are a favorite for simple weeknight meals so I like to have them prepped and ready to defrost. My family loves my Loaded Veggie Turkey Meatballs and my Broccoli Chicken Meatballs. And today, I’m sharing another family fav: Pesto Chicken Meatballs.
Here’s the recipe deets:
ground chicken… i recommend using ground chicken thigh meat (not breast meat) for meatballs. Meatballs need a little fat in them to keep them moist. Dry meatballs kinda suck.
pesto… basil is the star of the show here. It’s perfect for the neutral taste of the ground chicken. You can use store-bough or homemade. I like to make my own dairy free pesto. I’ll share a simple recipe below. You’ll want a little extra to drizzle over the meatballs when you eat them. YUM!
egg… one egg in this recipe will help bind the meatballs and helps with tenderness.
flour… ground chicken + pesto can be a bit sticky. You’ll need some flour to bind the meatballs. I usually use almond flour or cassava flour. You can also use coconut flour. I’ll share the amounts for each below.
A few things about chicken meatballs:
….dry meatballs suck. Use chicken thigh meat instead of breast. Add one egg.
…do not over cook. Because dry meatballs suck.
…slow your roll. Gently roll out your meatballs because tightly packed meatballs can wind up tough and chewy.
…use an ice cream scooper. Keeping all of your meatballs uniform means that they cook evenly and you won’t overcook some while you wait for others to finish cooking.
How to serve pesto chicken meatballs:
…with a plate of lightly sauteed zucchini noodles and extra pesto on top
…simmer in tomato sauce and serve over zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash noodles or butternut squash noodles
…simmer in bone broth with your favorite veggies for an easy soup
…pop in your lunch box (still frozen) for an easy lunch/snack
…add to a frittata
…add as protein to your favorite salad
…all by themselves for an easy post work out or afternoon snack
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Pesto Chicken Meatballs (gluten free and paleo)
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 24 small meatballs 1x
- bunch of basil (leaves only)
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, macadamia nuts, hemp seeds, or pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional) (like this)
- 1/3 cup olive oil, plus more if needed (my fav organic brand)
- To make pesto: blend basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and optional nutritional yeast in food processor until you get a thick green paste. While processor is still running, slowly pour in olive oil. Scrape sides and add more olive oil until desire consistency is reached.
- Preheat oven to 400′ F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper OR place a cooling rack on top of baking sheet.
- Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl until well incorporated.
- Roll into 24 small meatballs ( I use a small cookie scoop to get uniform balls) and place onto prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, until baked through and slightly golden. Be sure not to overcook.
- Serve immediately with extra pesto drizzled on top. Meatballs freeze well for later use.
The nutritional yeast in my pesto recipe is to add a bit of a “cheesy” flavor. It is totally optional. If dairy is your thing, feel free to add a bit of parmesan cheese.
I usually use almond flour or cassava flour in my meatballs. You can sub 2-3 tbsp of coconut flour if that’s what you have.
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