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overhead shot of pesto meatballs in skillet

Chicken Pesto Meatballs

These savory meatballs are made with ground chicken and then cooked in a creamy homemade basil pesto sauce which gives them a unique twist on a classic.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 15 meatballs
Calories 176kcal
Author Ryan Beck


Pesto Sauce

  • 2 cups basil
  • ½ cup unsalted shelled pistachios, roasted
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 2 oz goat cheese

Chicken Meatballs

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup sweet onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, chopped


Pesto Sauce

  • Add basil, pistachios, garlic, olive oil and water to blender or food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. Add Parmesan and blend for 10 more seconds until just combined.
  • Wait until meatballs are done to finish sauce. Heat chicken stock in large skillet until it comes to a boil. Stir in pesto and goat cheese. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes. Add meatballs and toss to coat. Stir in cherry tomatoes.

Chicken Meatballs

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a small sauce pan with olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 7 minutes or until translucent, stirring frequently. Add garlic and pinch of crushed red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and basil. Squish the mixture with your hands until mixed. Add the onion mixture and kosher salt and continue mixing with hands. Add the water and mix. The mixture should be fairly wet.
  • Shape the meatballs to desired size, usually golf ball size. Put some parchment paper on a baking sheet and place meatballs in single layer. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until meatballs start to brown on top. If using right away, add to the pesto sauce to coat. If not using, you can freeze.


  • Take the time to make your own homemade pesto. You'll notice the difference.
  • Once you start mixing the meatball ingredients together, do NOT overwork them, otherwise you'll have tough meatballs. You want to mix just until everything comes together.
  • Speaking of mixing, mix everything with your hands which allows you to incorporate everything without crushing the ingredients.
  • Place the chicken meatballs on parchment paper before baking so they don't stick.
  • The meatballs are done when it reaches 165°F internally. You can also slice into one and if there is no pink, it is done.
  • These meatballs can be stored in an air-tight container for 2-3 days in the fridge or for 3 months in the freezer.


Serving: 1meatball | Calories: 176kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 300mg | Potassium: 86mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1400IU | Vitamin C: 2.5mg | Calcium: 620mg | Iron: 1.3mg