Southwestern Chicken Meatballs

Southwestern Chicken Meatballs

Celebrating March Madness is a ton of fun at our house.  We fill out our brackets, not that we’re great college basketball prognosticators or anything, and watch with heightened hopes that maybe this will be our lucky year.  We play for bragging rights, no money, just for fun.  I’ve won the family pool a couple of times which elevates my status in the family (for about a day).  I chose Duke beating Kansas in the final this year but despite a great season and winning the ACC tournament my Blue Devils disappointed me and lost in the 2nd round last Sunday.  No Big Dance win for me, but we’ve still got a lot of basketball to enjoy these next few weekends.

To keep everyone happy I usually prepare some easy finger foods so we don’t miss “one shining moment”.  We could order pizza (and sometimes we do), but I’m making these crowd-pleasing tasty meatballs along with Litehouse OPA Cilantro Avocado Dressing for a dip.  The meatballs can be served cold or hot, as an appetizer, meal or a snack, and store beautifully in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for up to a few months.

Ground chicken has become pretty popular over the last couple of years it seems.  It’s low in fat, high in protein and is a great substitute for ground beef or even turkey.  When I first started using ground chicken I had to search for it in the freezer section because apparently it just wasn’t selling fast enough to stay fresh in the meat section.  But today it’s readily available and of a nice high quality.  I avoid buying it in the tubes as this product seems like more water than chicken which doesn’t make for good meatballs.  I prefer buying it in packages where I can see what I’m buying and I look for at least a 90/10 lean to fat weight ratio for a flavorful low-fat product.

A minced mixture of red bell peppers, garlic, cilantro, green onion and jalapeno pepper is blended into the ground chicken with an egg, breadcrumbs or Panko crumbs as well as cumin, oregano, salt and black pepper.  I use my hands to mix and form about 24 small golf ball size or 18 regular golf ball size amounts and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees F for only about 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.  They’re nice and soft, just they way you want them.  Serve with the OPA Litehouse dressing and/or mashed avocado.  The other night I served the meatballs inside warmed street taco size tortillas and they were a big hit.

Southwestern Chicken Meatballs

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 24 small golf ball size meatballs

  • Southwestern Chicken Meatballs
  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground chicken
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed (or leave seeds in for spicier meatballs)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 green onions, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs or Panko crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch oregano
  • Cilantro Avocado Greek Yogurt Dressing (Litehouse or Bolthouse Farms)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place jalapeño, red bell pepper, garlic, cilantro and green onions into container of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Cover and pulse a few times until finely minced.
  3. Combine ground chicken, minced vegetable mixture, bread crumbs, egg, cumin, salt and pepper and oregano. Using your hands, mix well. Roll mixture into golf-size balls and place on prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake meatballs at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes or until done and no longer pink inside. Serve with Greek yogurt dressing or mashed avocado.


Per serving (2 small meatballs): 67 calories, 1.8 grams fat, 2.3 grams carbohydrates, 10.5 grams protein


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  1. Rebecca says:

    I made these last night and they were pretty amazing! I was a little nervous they’d be soggy and fall apart, as the mix was pretty wet from putting the veggies through the food processor. But I ended up needing to cook them for about 25-30 minutes at 400 (I used a meat thermometer that lets me know when they hit the right internal temperature) and they turned out perfect! Not soggy at all, and stayed together as perfect little chicken balls. I did double the cilantro, because I have so much growing in my garden right now, so mine were a little greener than the picture 🙂 I brought the leftovers for an easy lunch. Great recipe, thanks for sharing!

    • Karen says:

      Good news Rebecca! I love these cute little meatballs. I’ve experimented with different ground chicken brands. Some are wetter than others. The ones in the cylinder type packages were super wet, but the kind in the packages where you can visualize it were not as wet. I think that makes a difference. Or you can just use more panko/breakcrumbs if needed. Thanks for sharing.

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