Chicken Parm Meatballs

My friend Jenny Rosenstrach is warm, wise and a genius when it comes to dinners. Her new book, Dinner: The Playbook, takes you through 30 days of dinners, inspired by a time she and her husband, Andy, challenged themselves to make 30 different meals and have their young daughters try them all. I especially love her recipe for chicken parm meatballs, and here’s how she makes them…

Chicken Parm Meatballs
by Jenny Rosenstrach of Dinner: A Love Story

I wish I could say that the most popular recipes in my family dinner rotation happen as a result of wandering through the farmer’s market waiting for the pile of heirloom pattypan squash to tell me what to cook. But, alas, the real story is almost always less romantic. It’s not so much “What’s inspiring me at the market?” than it is “What vegetables do I have in the fridge that aren’t liquefied? What can I make in between dropping off Kid 1 and picking up Kid 2? What can I cook that both girls can agree on?” Anyone who has more than one kid will appreciate this last problem, which was the genesis of my new most favorite thing on Earth to make for the family: Chicken Parm Meatballs. One daughter wanted Chicken Parm, one wanted meatballs. And who was I to say no to either?

P.S. Don’t skip the lemon zest or the fennel. That’s what takes the meatballs from being good to great.

Recipe: Chicken Parm Meatballs
(Makes about 20 meatballs)

What you’ll need:

1 1/4 lbs ground chicken
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 cup Pecorino (or Parm)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 egg, whisked
zest of half a lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 14-oz can storebought pizza sauce or homemade marinara sauce
about 4 oz fresh mozzarella (a dozen thin slices; to pile on the cheese would be to cancel out the fact that you were virtuous enough to replace fatty beef with lean chicken)

Preheat oven to 400F, setting rack to upper third part of oven. In a large bowl, using your hands, gently mix together first 11 ingredients. Shape into lacrosse-ball size balls (that would be somewhere between golf and tennis) and place a few inches from each other on a foil-lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix one spoonful of your pizza sauce with olive oil. Brush this mixture on top of each meatball. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove meatballs from oven, spoon some sauce on top of each meatball, and cover each with a slice of cheese. Broil another 3 to 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden. Heat remaining sauce in a small saucepan. Serve meatballs with a dollop of sauce.

Thank you so much, Jenny! We love your new book!

P.S. More recipes, including cheesy mashed potatoes and homemade spaghetti sauce.

(Photos and recipe courtesy of Jenny Rosenstrach. Thanks to Caroline Donofrio for helping with this series.)

  1. Émilie Robertson says...

    Do you buy ground chicken or grind it yourself? I didn’t know ground chicken was a thing… Maybe it’s just a product in the States? I’m going to attempt this with ground turkey :) Thanks!

  2. Anne says...

    I would really like to know the recipe for the greens beside the meatballs which makes it a complete meal.

  3. Made these last night! They were delicious, and definitely a hit with the kids. Totally agree the lemon zest + fennel is what makes them special. Also, I only got 10 meatballs, not the 20 the recipe indicates.

  4. I am so jealous that you’re friends with Jenny. I totally have this fantasy of becoming friends with her (she lives in the next town over from me!) I love her new cookbook and I have already cooked 3 recipes from it!

  5. Made it last night and it was delicious!

  6. I made these and they were delicious – I doubled the recipe to feed my family for dinner and to go into the freezer for later. I must have made them too big becuase with even with doubling the recipe I only made ~20 balls but they cooked through beautifully so I’m happy with them

  7. This is such a lovely recipe – lemon zest is definitely the secret ingredient of so many dishes, great idea to add it here! I never tried that, but sure I will! Merci bien, Sabine.

  8. Made these last night after seeing them on your blog. LOVED them…turned out perfectly. I had leftovers and am going to have them for lunch today ! :)

  9. I’m doing a giveaway on my blog for Dinner: The Playbook!! Stop by, it ends tomorrow!!

  10. Oooh, these sound fantastic! Thanks for sharing… and inspiring tonight’s dinner :)

  11. Yay – Jenny’s back! I’ve worn the DLAS cookbook to shreds – can’t wait to see the new one!

  12. nancy kate, yes! they do freeze well. in her book, she says, “after baking the meatballs, allow them to cool, then pop into a freezer bag. to thaw, just transfer frozen meatballs to the fridge in the morning and they’ll be thawed by the time you get home. pre-heat oven to 350F and bake meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet for 15 minutes.”

    hope that helps! what a sweet gift to your friend.

  13. Jenny or Joanna – any idea if these freeze well? Thinking of making them for a friend – a pregnant tired mama of 2 and wondering if she can freeze the extra.

  14. These are the best meatballs I’ve ever had, and the only good meatballs I’ve ever made. I’ve never owned fennel (sorry, Jenny!), but I subbed in some thyme, which I love. Nothing but love for DALS. xox

  15. I make everything jenny says to make! DALS never steers ya wrong! Proud to be an owner of the new Playbook!

  16. I just made this recipe for dinner on Sunday. While the meatballs were delicious, I would definitely skip the fennel next time. Yum!

  17. These look amazing! I am really lagging behind with meal ideas around here with three pretty picky little eaters. We’ll be giving these a go soon!

  18. YES. Yum. Will be trying this out over the weekend! Thanks for the great recipe : )

  19. Hi Jo! Your recipes always look so delicious, but I’m a vegetarian. If you ever have a great vegetarian entree, will you share that with us?

  20. Love the zest and fennel in it! Sounds amazing Jo!

  21. These look amazing! Although I seriously can’t stand fennel :/ I’d probably sub in another spice, like paprika or onion powder … or more garlic. Always more garlic. Thanks for posting, I clearly need this book, I’ve seen so much buzz about it lately!

  22. Chicken! Meatballs. Never thought of that. Somehow I can’t imagine how they would taste.

  23. That looks great! I´ll have to take a look at that book.

    Love all your food posts :)