What’s better than chicken parmesan with mozzarella on the chicken? Chicken parmesan meatballs with mozzarella stuffed in the chicken! Okay, it’s not better, since that would be impossible, but it is really, really yummy and a fun way to do a twist on chicken parmesan. And it’s easy to do, which makes it the best kind of twist.
Way back when I was only a few months into running this blog, I shared my husband’s famous Chicken Parmesan Casserole with y’all. The casserole he made on one of our first dates and was impressive enough that we had many more dates. 🙂 And…you know, got married!
If you want classic chicken parm all layered up and ooey-gooey and baked in the oven, that is the recipe for you. However, if you want something a little different with all the same great flavors of chicken parmesan, then I have a new recipe for you to try. Because sometimes you want meatballs and you want chicken parm.
Or is that just me?
Come on. I know I’m not the only one who has thought chicken parmesan meatballs sounds like a great idea! Right?
Because it is!
How could I not combine my love of Italian braised meatballs with my love of chicken parmesan?
When I was thinking about this recipe and deciding how I was going to make it, I knew I wanted a few things:
- crispy on the outside
- tender to the bite
- plenty of flavor from garlic and parmesan in the meatball mix
- mozzarella oozing out of the middle
- mozzarella not oozing out of the sides while they cooked
- more mozzarella on the top
- all the mozzarella
- okay some mozzarella
- if you want more, I won’t judge
This, of course, required a few tests!
How to make them crispy? Do they need to be breaded? Nope! It turns out that a quick roll in bread crumbs is all they need followed by a saute in olive oil and then into the oven to finish. No braising though. 🙂 They meet the sauce only at the end to keep their crunch.
Tender? For this you look to the eggs and the fat. I started with 2 eggs in the mix and had very bouncy meatballs. Just say no to bouncy meatballs! And ground chicken is much more juicy and tender than ground chicken breast.
As for the mozzarella? First of all, cherry sized mozzarella balls are the perfect size to give you gooey mozzarella middles without the mozzarella bursting out. Second, 12 meatballs per pound of meat is just right. More meatballs and they are too thin to hold the mozzarella, less meatballs and now your balance is off in the other direction.
Once I filled them, I was going to stop there, but I had half a container of mozzarella left, so I sliced them up and arranged them over the meatballs in the oven. Excellent choice! Now they look like chicken parmesan meatballs while also having a gooey secret in the middle.
To finish them up, we love the meatballs with pasta and marinara sauce. We love them with lots of marina sauce. Both husband and daughter made it clear that they wanted a full recipe of my Italian Marinara Sauce (all 7 cups!) to go along with the meatballs and pasta. So, I made a full recipe and, they were right, it all went. 🙂
One last point before I get to the recipe. Have the rest of dinner ready before the meatballs come out of the oven. Have your pasta, your sauce, a salad, whatever you need all done. You are going to want to bite into these meatballs while they are still hot and the mozzarella is still gooey. Trust me on this.
– Happy Stuffed Meatballs, Annemarie
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 1 large egg
- 1 oz shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- 1 cup dry bread crumbs, divided
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 8 oz cherry sized mozzarella balls
- olive oil, for sauteing
- spaghetti and marinara sauce, for serving
Preheat oven to 400F.
Mix together the ground chicken, egg, 1 oz parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, garlic, and kosher salt. Once combined, divide the meatball mixture into 12 parts.
Take 12 of the mozzarella balls (you should have about 12 more left over) and put them in a bowl next to the meatball mixture. Then pour the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs into a shallow bowl. Set out a tray or plate to hold the finished meatballs.
- Take each piece of meatball mixture and form in into a rough ball then flatten it out and put a mozzarella ball in the middle. Bring the meatball up and around the mozzarella until the mozzarella is sealed in the middle. Now roll the meatball in the bread crumbs until well coated and put the meatball on the tray. Continue until you have 12 meatballs.
Pour enough oil into a 12-inch skillet to make a 1/8th inch deep level over the bottom of the skillet. Heat the skillet over medium heat until the oil starts to get shimmery. Add the meatballs and brown them in the oil on all sides, about 5-7 minutes.
Transfer the meatballs to a small casserole dish and put them in the oven for 10 minutes. Slice up the remaining mozzarella and grate a handful of parmesan cheese. Top the meatballs with the mozzarella and parmesan and put them back in the oven for 5 minutes.
Serve the meatballs with spaghetti (12-14 oz should be enough) and marinara sauce.
- We like a lot of marinara with the meatballs. We used the full 7 cup Italian Marinara Sauce recipe for the meatballs and pasta.
- Have the marinara sauce and pasta ready before the meatballs come out of the oven so you can serve them while the mozzarella is still hot and gooey.
- I prefer ground chicken to ground chicken breast. The leaner ground chicken breast makes for a less juicy meatball.
- When you are making the meatballs have everything set out. This makes stuffing and rolling them to be a quick process.