Creamy Tuscan Chicken Meatballs are a crowd-pleasing dish that combines tender, juicy meatballs with a luscious and savory sauce. This versatile recipe can be served with sides like pasta, rice, and salad, making it great for any occasion. Treat yourself to a rich, comforting meal that’s surprisingly easy to prepare!Jump to Recipe
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Flavorful: Savory herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese create a perfectly balanced flavor in each and every bite.
- Juicy: Tossed in a velvety sauce, the ground chicken turns out moist and tender.
- Creamy: The sauce features cheese and half-and-half cream, resulting in a rich and silky-smooth smooth consistency that complements the meatballs.
- Adaptable: You can swap the chicken for other ground meat, make egg-free meatballs, or omit the dairy to suit different dietary needs.
Creamy Tuscan chicken meatballs
This creamy Tuscan chicken meatballs recipe melds the flavors of Italian cuisine into a satisfying and comforting dish. It captures the essence of Italian ingredients and flavors incredibly well!
Each meatball is tender, and juicy, and has a touch of sweetness from the sun-dried tomatoes and herbal notes from fresh basil. Once baked, the meatballs are covered in a creamy, garlicky sauce featuring Parmesan cheese and spinach.
Ingredients & substitutions
- Ground chicken: This lean, moist protein keeps the meatballs tender. I typically reach for 93-95% lean ground chicken. If it isn’t available, substitute it with ground turkey.
- Onion: Adds a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor. Or, try shallots for a milder taste.
- Panko: Adds structure to the meatballs. If you are sensitive to gluten, replace regular panko with gluten-free panko or breadcrumbs.
- Kosher salt: Enhances the overall flavor. Feel free to use sea salt or table salt as well.
- Oregano: Provides a warm, earthy flavor. No oregano? Try marjoram or thyme instead.
- Garlic powder: Adds an aromatic, savory touch. Fresh or granulated garlic will also work.
- Sun-dried tomatoes: Impart sweet, tangy, and zesty notes that result in a very Mediterranean-inspired flavor.
- Egg: Helps to bind the meatballs together. For an egg-free option, use a mixture of ground flaxseeds and water.
- Basil: Brings a fresh, bright note to the dish. Parsley or cilantro can be used instead.
- Olive oil spray: Helps the meatballs brown evenly. I personally prefer olive oil spray, but any non-stick spray can be used.
- Unsalted butter: Adds a rich, creamy base to the sauce. For a lighter flavor, substitute it with extra-virgin olive oil.
- Parmesan: Imparts salty, nutty, and umami-rich notes. Make sure to use freshly grated Parmesan for the best taste and texture.
- Chicken stock: Adds depth of flavor to the sauce. If you don’t have chicken stock, try turkey or vegetable stock or broth.
- Half and half: Creates a rich, creamy consistency. You can also use a mixture of milk and heavy cream or whipping cream for a similar effect.
- Spinach: Provides a mild, earthy element. Kale or Swiss chard also work.
How to make Tuscan chicken meatballs
- Mix the meatballs: In a large bowl, mix together all the meatball components with your hands, making sure everything is well combined.
- Shape the meatballs: Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop out the mixture and form into meatballs by rolling them in between wet palms. Add the meatballs to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake the meatballs: Bake the meatballs in an oven set to 400F for 10 minutes on the top rack.
- Start the sauce: In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add garlic and chopped sun-dried tomatoes and cook for another few minutes.
- Season the sauce: Add oregano, half-and-half cream, and broth, then bring the sauce to a low boil. Turn the heat down and add Parmesan and salt. Lastly, wilt in the spinach.
- Add the meatballs: Once the meatballs are done baking, add them to the skillet with the sauce. Stir to coat them evenly and let everything simmer for another few minutes.
- Garnish: Top your creamy Tuscan chicken meatballs with fresh basil and serve them with dishes like mashed potatoes, orzo pasta, cauliflower mash, quinoa, and a side salad. Enjoy!
These creamy Tuscan chicken meatballs are perfect to serve with mains and sides like these:
- Spanish Tomato Bread
- Spaghetti with Garlic Herb Breadcrumbs
- Roasted Beet and Burrata Salad
- Instant Pot Quinoa
- Mashed Potatoes
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can substitute dairy-free ingredients for the dairy-based ingredients in this recipe. Use your favorite dairy-free creamer instead of half-and-half cream, dairy-free butter or olive oil, and nutritional yeast or vegan cheese instead of Parmesan.
To make this recipe gluten-free, all you have to do to is swap out the panko for gluten-free breadcrumbs. However, it’s always important to double-check the individual ingredients to confirm there are no additives that contain gluten.
Yes, you can use fresh tomatoes, but you won’t achieve the same flavor and texture as with sun-dried tomatoes. You can also try sun-dried olives or chopped roasted red peppers.
Storage & reheating
If you end up with leftover creamy Tuscan chicken meatballs, keep these simple storage and reheating tips in mind:
- Fridge: Store the meatballs and sauce in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.
- Freezer: Freeze the meatballs and sauce separately in freezer-safe bags or containers for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: Reheat everything in a saucepan over low, adding broth or stock if needed to thin the sauce out.
- Spicy: Add crushed red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños to the meatballs or sauce.
- Cheesy: Stuff the meatballs with a small cube of mozzarella or another meltable cheese.
- Protein: Try using turkey or pork for a different protein option.
- Creamy tomato sauce: Add a can of crushed tomatoes to the sauce for a tomato-based version.
- Fresh Parmesan: Use freshly grated Parmesan cheese for the best flavor and texture.
- Wet hands: Don’t forget to wet your hands when forming the meatballs to prevent them from sticking.
- Don’t overmix: Overmixing the meatball mixture will result in tough, dense meatballs. Mix them just enough to form the balls.
- Thicken the sauce: Allow the sauce to thicken a little before adding the meatballs to ensure they’re well-coated.
Looking for more meatball recipes?
If you enjoyed this creamy Tuscan chicken meatballs recipe, take a peek at some more of my favorite meatball dishes like these:
- Chicken Piccata Meatballs
- Chicken Meatballs and Orzo
- Swedish Meatballs
- Baked Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
If you try these Creamy Tuscan Chicken Meatballs, let me know what you think! Rate and review this recipe in the comments below. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag me on Instagram @lenaskitchenblog!
Creamy Tuscan Chicken Meatballs
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ¾ cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ¾ cup half and half sub out with dairy-free creamer
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste
- 3 ounces spinach fresh
- ¼ cup basil loosely packed and chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop out the meatballs and then form them into meatballs by rolling them in between wet palms (wetting your hands helps to prevent the meat from sticking to your hands). Add to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on the top rack of the oven.
- While the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
- Add garlic and chopped sundried tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add oregano, salt, half and half, and chicken broth. Stir and allow the liquid to come to a gentle boil. Turn the heat to low and add parmesan cheese. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the spinach and let it wilt.
- Add the meatballs once finished baking to the skillet with the sauce. Coat them with the sauce and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
- Top with fresh basil and serve. Serve with meatballs with your favorite side like mashed potatoes, orzo pasta, cauliflower mash, quinoa, and a side salad. Enjoy!