Tender, juicy and delicious, these baked chicken meatballs are filled with hidden veggies and cooked in a lightly spiced tomato sauce. They are very nutritious and can be served in a variety of ways for dinner or you can use leftovers for lunch. This recipe is gluten-free, paleo, Whole30 and low-carb/keto-friendly. I hope you enjoy this dish, make sure to leave a comment and rate the recipe below.
Ever since I’ve opened up my paleo reset program and made it free, I’ve been putting up some of the recipes from the meal plans on the blog for everyone to enjoy. These baked chicken meatballs in spiced tomato sauce are from Week 3 of the program and I absolutely love making them. If you love any kind of meatballs, make sure to try out this recipe!
HOW TO MAKE BAKED CHICKEN MEATBALLS
As the name suggests, these meatballs are baked in the oven together with a lovely tomato sauce that has a few of my favourite spices in it. This way, the meatballs are braised so they can absorb some of that flavoursome sauce and the moisture keeps them extra juicy.
To make the meatballs, you simply mix all the ingredients (which include a few extra veggies like zucchini and carrots), roll the balls and then prepare the sauce that will go on top. You can find the full list of ingredients, instructions and a nutritional breakdown below but here are some tips.
Which meat to use for baked meatballs?
If you can find ground up chicken mince, your job for this recipe will be half done. If not, then I recommend getting the equivalent amount of chicken meat and grinding your own mince in a food processor. Skinless chicken thighs are best for ground meat as they are more tender than breast and have a little fat that will keep your meatballs soft and juicy. You can, of course, throw in some chicken breast meat into the mince as well. There are times when I can’t find pre-ground chicken, so I make my own in a food processor (or meat mincer if you have one). Remove the skin first!
Ground turkey or pork will also work well in this recipe.
What to serve chicken meatballs with?
As these chicken meatballs are baked in a sauce, you want to serve them with something that can hold that sauce or be used to mop it up. For a low-carb meal, you can make a side of zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice or broccoli rice, or some mash potatoes with parsnip or sweet potatoes. Since the oven will be one, you can bake some spuds at the same time.
For something a little more carbohydrate-rich, you can make a side of quinoa or rice, or some gluten-free pasta (or regular if you tolerate it).
The sauce and meatballs have a little Tex-Mex feel to them, so you can serve these in a naked burrito bowl or taco salad bowl alongside vegetables and some velvety guacamole. The meatballs could also be wrapped in corn tortillas.
You can use leftover meatballs in a lunch salad or as an addition to a soup. They can be broken up and cooked with some scrambled eggs or added to an omelette as well.
Healthy and delicious baked chicken meatballs in spiced tomato sauce can be served over mashed or baked potatoes, zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice or with regular rice or quinoa. A side of guacamole will add a nice Tex-Mex twist and you can also sprinkle them with some grated cheese if you tolerate dairy. This recipe is gluten-free, paleo and Whole30-friendly.
For the meatballs
700 g / 1.5 lb ground chicken meat (or chicken thighs without skin)
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
1 medium zucchini, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons chopped coriander/cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
For the sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cups tinned diced tomatoes
Garnish with fresh coriander/cilantro and lemon zest
Prepare the meatballs
- Grate carrots and zucchini. In batches, squeeze the grated vegetables in your hands to remove excess juice and return the flesh to a large mixing bowl.
- If using chicken thighs, cut them into smaller pieces and add to a food processor. Blitz a few times until ground up into rough mince. Otherwise, add the ground chicken mince to the vegetables. Add the rest of the meatball ingredients and combine using your hands, to make sure everything is well incorporated.
- Roll the mixture into small balls, just a little larger than a gold ball, and set aside.
Prepare the sauce
- Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 355 F.
- Sauté the onion in olive oil for 4-5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and stir for a minute. Add the spices and salt, stir through and then add the tomatoes. Stir together for a minute or so.
- Add two-thirds of the sauce to the bottom of a large baking dish or a casserole dish. Place the meatballs on top and then spoon a tablespoon of leftover sauce on top of each meatball. Cook in the oven for 35-40 minutes (less for smaller sized meatballs). Increase the temperature to 200 C / 400 F in the last 5-10 minutes.
AIP: As I mentioned, these chicken meatballs are Whole30 and paleo-friendly. For those following an AIP protocol or avoiding nightshades, you can omit paprika in the meatballs. Bake the meatballs drizzled with olive oil and lime juice, sans the tomato sauce, or prepare a simple broth made with sautéed onions, garlic, vegetable stock, bay leaf and some spices.
Ground chicken can be made with skinless chicken thigh meat using a food processor or meat mincer. Pork or turkey mince will also work in this recipe.
- Serving Size: 3 meatballs and sauce
- Calories: 367
- Sugar: 6.3 g
- Sodium: 1423.9 mg
- Fat: 22.1 g
- Saturated Fat: 5.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 12.2 g
- Fiber: 4.6 g
- Protein: 33 g
- Cholesterol: 150.5 mg
IF YOU LOVE MEATBALLS…
Try my Vietnamese Pork Meatballs & Broccoli Rice (Whole30, Paleo, Keto)
Or check out these Fried Chicken Meatballs & Collard Greens (Whole30, Paleo, Keto)