Chicken Pesto Meatballs

Homemade Pesto Chicken Meatballs are so juicy, flavorful, and work great on their own or served over pasta!

These meatballs can be served as a main dish with some pasta, or on their own as an appetizer. No matter how you serve them, they will become a new family favorite!

Chicken pesto meatballs served with a bowl of pesto pasta

Family Friendly Dinner Recipe

Our family is always on the hunt for really easy dinner recipes. Bonus points if they are both kid-friendly and somewhat healthy!

These pesto chicken meatballs fit the bill, and have become a family favorite. They require minimal ingredients and only a few minutes of prep. It doesn’t get much better than that!

They’re flavorful, tender, and perfect on top of a bed of basil tossed pasta. We’ve also enjoyed them with roasted veggies and cous cous. Regardless, they’re always a big hit!

Making pesto in a food processor to combine with chicken meatballs

Ingredient Tips

Pesto: We always make homemade pesto with walnuts instead of pine nuts, but store-bought works too. I make an extra large batch and it goes a long way.

Meat: Ground chicken goes well with the pesto flavor in these meatballs, but you could also use ground turkey, pork, or beef.

Hiding Veggies: You can add in shredded spinach or kale to your homemade pesto and the kiddos would have no idea. You can also add other healthy vegetables such as shredded carrots or zucchini to the meatball mix.

Be careful that you keep the veggie:chicken ratio balanced otherwise adding extra veggies can cause the meatballs to fall apart.

Seasonings: The pesto flavor is already pretty strong, but if you want more, try adding Italian seasoning, basil, parsley, oregano, or thyme. Add some heat with chili powder or red chili flakes.

Pesto meatball ingredients in a glass mixing bowl

How to Make pesto Meatballs

PREP. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat, set aside.

MIX. In a medium mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, shallot, breadcrumbs, parmesan, pesto, egg, salt and pepper. Using a spatula or your hands, mix until combined.

FORM. Roll mixture into balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Place onto prepared baking sheet and lightly spray with oil (I prefer using pure avocado oil).

BAKE. Place into oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

SERVE. Remove from the oven and serve with your favorite pasta dish or steamed veggies.

instant pot instructions

To make pesto chicken meatballs in the instant pot, make the meatballs and form into balls, being sure to not over-mix.

Place 1-1 ½ cups of chicken stock into the bottom of the instant pot. Place the trivet in the instant pot and place your meatballs on top of the trivet.

Cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 5 minutes before manually releasing it.

Chicken meatballs on a baking sheet

Perfect for freezing!

Uncooked meatballs freeze really well, so I like to make a batch of these, put them in the freezer, and then I can pop a few in the oven whenever I need them.

To FREEZE, put your meatballs on the cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes you can then transfer the meatballs to a freezer-safe plastic bag. Freeze until ready to cook!

If you have any leftover cooked meatballs, they should be STORED in an airtight container in the fridge. They will stay fresh for 2-3 days.

Pesto chicken meatballs on top of pesto pasta in a bowl

These chicken meatballs are the perfect addition to any pasta, rice, or veggie dish. Even the pickiest of eaters will love them!

For more meatball recipes, check out:

Chicken Pesto Meatballs Recipe

5 from 25 votes
Homemade Pesto Chicken Meatballs are so juicy, flavorful, and work great on their own or served over pasta!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 295 kcal
Author Lil’ Luna

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 c panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 c grated parmesan
  • 1/4 c basil pesto fresh or store-bought
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat, set aside.
  • In medium mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, shallot, breadcrumbs, parmesan, pesto, egg, salt and pepper. Using a spatula or your hands, mix until combined.
  • Roll mixture into balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Place onto prepared baking sheet and lightly spray with oil (I prefer using pure avocado oil). 
  • Place into oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove from the oven and serve with your favorite pasta dish or steamed veggies.

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About Natalie

I'm the food photographer and blogger behind Life Made Simple. I'm passionate about creating from scratch family-friendly recipes ranging from healthy to decadent.

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Comments:

  1. 5 stars
    I have made chicken meatballs a few times and they tend to turn out dry and flavorless. The addition of the pesto fixed both of those issues. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I rarely follow recipes exactly. This one was logical and made sense…So I decided to make it almost verbatim. It was Excellent! My family and I enjoyed it very much. It is notable to say you can easily duplicate this recipe anytime and it will be equally as good every time. Cudo’s to you on a well written and nicely flavored recipe.

    1. Thank you so much!! Sure appreciate your kind words. I’m so glad to hear you and your family enjoyed the recipe!

      1. 5 stars
        Tasty. Easy. Quick. Winner on all fronts. Served it with spaghetti dressed with pesto and small green salad.

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is delicious. The best part is there are minimal ingredients needed and it’s quick to throw together on busy nights.

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