For the last couple years I've been on a quest to find more lean protein sources that I truly love. Chicken meatballs are versatile - they can be used in countless ways including as a pre-made, high-protein snack you can eat with just your fingers!
These include grated zucchini for the moisture which makes them a healthy little meal all on their own! And air frying is the quickest, easiest, tidiest way to prepare meatballs EVER. No need to turn on the oven or get your stovetop covered in oil.
One of my favorite ways to eat meatballs in the spring and summer when I'm craving salad greens after a long winter full of meatballs in sauce is in a salad, like the one pictured here, but you can use them a million different ways!
- 1 lb ground chicken thighs
- 1 lb hot italian chicken sausage (or use 2 lb ground chicken thighs if not available)
- 1 zucchini, shredded
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 Tbsp Calabrian chili paste (or your preferred chili) – optional
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- Combine all ingredients well in a large bowl. If mixture feels really sticky, add a bit more breadcrumbs.
- Form balls by hand or use a wet meatball scooper to form the rough meatballs and then use wet hands to smooth them out.
- Pre-heat air fryer for 5 minutes.
Cook in batches in your air fryer and flip them halfway. Every air fryer is a bit different so you’ll have to decide based on your experiences. You can always try making just one meatball first and then cut it open once you think it’s done to verify.
Most likely it’s 8-12 minutes total for each batch with a halfway flip at the 4-6 minute point.
Once they’re all cooked, they can be eaten plain as a high protein snack anytime, added to marinara sauce with pasta, served in a pita with a tzatziki style sauce or added to a salad like I did here. The possibilities for chicken meatballs are endless! You can also swap the chili paste for other favorite flavors. Experiment until you find the perfect meatball for you!
Here's an IG reel I made of the process!
Note: You can use ground chicken breast but the meatballs will dry out more while cooking and be less flavorful. I recommend ground chicken that includes thighs if possible. Ground chicken sausage as one of the lbs of meat adds a ton of flavor via the seasonings and the additional fat but you can play with flavor more just using 2 lbs of chicken thighs.