Chicken Pesto Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce are seasoned with pesto and spinach and a touch of ricotta to keep them light. Jarred roasted red peppers from the pantry lend ease to the sauce. A delicious weeknight meal.
Chicken pesto meatballs are light and tender and are nestled in a sauce of roasted red peppers. This sauce is somewhat unexpected but so delicious. It's light, not heavy, and pairs beautifully with these meatballs.
These meatballs come together easily but do require some chilling because they are somewhat delicate. While they chill, we'll pull together the sauce using a shortcut ingredient.
These meatballs are lighter than a traditional meatball thanks to a few simple ingredients.
- ground chicken - there's no beef in these meatballs! Ground turkey is a great option also.
- fresh spinach - chopped baby spinach adds lots of freshness.
- ricotta cheese - the addition of ricotta helps to keep the texture light.
- pesto - adds a punch of garlicky, herby, cheesy flavor.
Move over tomatoes, we're changing things up with this fresh-tasting sauce.
- jarred roasted red peppers - add ease and a light fresh twist
- chicken broth
- pesto - homemade or jarred is fine
- honey - a touch of sweetness rounds out the flavors
After a quick saute of the onions, the ingredients are pureed in a blender. This sauce is quick and easy, full of flavor, and a little unexpected.
Tips for preparing
- Use a fork to gently mix the ingredients together for tender meatballs. Overworking the meat will result in tough, dense meatballs.
- Use a cookie scoop to portion the mixture into similar size balls for even cooking.
- Cook the meatballs in a skillet so they turn golden brown on the outside. Chill the meatballs for 30 minutes before sauteing. Chicken meatballs are delicate and chilling helps them hold together in the skillet.
- Alternatively, the meatballs can be baked in the oven, but the meatballs won't acquire a brown, caramelized exterior. If baking, no chilling is required. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Serve the chicken pesto meatballs and sauce with crusty bread and a green salad. For heartier appetites, serve over a bed of pasta.
Similar recipes you may enjoy
- Blue Cheese-Stuffed Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
- Asian Turkey Burgers
- Easy Meatloaf without eggs or breadcrumbs
Chicken Pesto Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon (heaping) basil pesto
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for garnish)
- 1 cup lightly packed baby spinach leaves (chopped)
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Red Pepper Sauce
- ½ large onion (diced)
- 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil (or similar)
- 24 ounces jarred roasted red peppers (drained)
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons basil pesto
- 2-3 tablespoons honey (to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
- fresh basil or parsley (for garnish)
- Prepare the meatballs: In a mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, ricotta, pesto, parmesan, spinach, and black pepper. Gently mix to incorporate. Using a small cookie scoop, portion the meatballs onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes.
- While the meatballs chill, prepare the sauce. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the chopped onion and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- To a blender, add the onions, red peppers, and chicken broth and process until smooth. Add the honey, pesto, salt, and pepper. Blend together. Taste for seasoning and add more honey and salt and pepper if needed.
- Cook the meatballs: In the same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook until brown and cooked through (internal temperature of 165 degrees), about 10 minutes. If necessary, cook the meatballs in batches so the meatballs don't steam in an over-crowded pan.
- Add the sauce to the skillet to heat through. Serve the meatballs with fresh parsley or basil and parmesan cheese.
Nutritional information is an estimate and will vary depending upon the exact amounts and specific ingredients used.
Author's note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated.