These juicy and delicious Chicken Pesto Meatballs are full of fresh basil flavor, easy to make, and perfect a quick weeknight dinner. Serve the meatballs in a hearty bowl with plenty of veggies for the ultimate healthy meal!

Delicious Chicken Pesto Meatballs

Y’all know I love a meatball (especially a chicken meatball) and these delicious chicken meatballs with pesto are going to be your new favorite recipe.

The meatballs are packed with flavor from basil pesto and grated Parmesan, cooked quickly, and can be served in a variety of ways. Not only are they delicious, these juicy meatballs are perfect to meal prep in advance for a great reheat and eat option that you can enjoy for an easy lunch or dinner.

If you’ve loved any of my other meatball recipes then get excited for this recipe that I know you will love!

Chicken Pesto Meatballs Video

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pesto meatball ingredients

The Ingredients You Need for these Basil Pesto Meatballs

Ground Chicken: I personally love to use ground chicken thighs as the ground meat has a bit more fat content for extra juicy meatballs. You can also use leaner ground chicken breast if you prefer.

Basil Pesto: delicious basil pesto gives these meatballs so much flavor! I love to use my easy homemade basil pesto for this recipe.

Shallot: these have a less sharp flavor than onions and also have a hint of sweetness. They’re the perfect addition to these meatballs.

Almond Flour: this helps to bind the meatballs together while also helping to keep them moist.

Grated Parmesan Cheese: sharp, tangy, and nutty parmesan cheese helps to give the meatballs even more flavor.

Spices and Seasoning: for these meatballs we’re using a combination of Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Ingredient Substitutions and Swaps

  • Ground Chicken – don’t want to use ground chicken? you can easily swap it for ground turkey instead and these meatballs will be equally delicious.
  • Almond Flour – if you need to keep these meatballs nut free you can swap the almond flour for Italian breadcrumbs instead.
  • Parmesan – need to keep this recipe dairy free? leave out the parmesan or swap it for your favorite grated dairy free version.
  • Basil Pesto – feel free to use your favorite store-bought basil pesto to save time! If you are keeping these meatballs dairy free then be sure to use a dairy free pesto.
  • Shallot – don’t have a shallot on hand? swap it for a yellow onion and just be sure to give it a fine dice.

Helpful Kitchen Tools to Make This Recipe

meatballs rolled and on sheet pan

How to Make Pesto Chicken Meatballs

Step One: Add the meatball ingredients to a small mixing bowl and use your hands to mix until well combined. Next, use a cookie dough scoop or tablespoon to scoop out the chicken mixture and use your hands to form the mixture into meatballs.

Step Two: When the meatballs are formed, heat a large skillet over medium heat and then add a tablespoon of oil. Next add the meatballs to the hot skillet and cook for roughly 3-4 minutes per side until browned and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your skillet.

Step Three: Serve the meatballs in a bowl over arugula with orzo, pepperoncini, tomato, thinly sliced red onion, fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, shaved warm, and dollops of fresh pesto.

My Favorite Meatball Tips and Tricks

  • When forming the chicken meatballs try using a cookie dough scoop to scoop the meat mixture and then roll in between your hands. This helps each meatball to have a uniform shape and size which means they’ll cook evenly and take around the same amount of time to reach the correct temperature.
  • Before rolling the meatballs lightly wet your hands with water to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands.
  • For perfectly cooked meatballs, every single time, use a meat thermometer. Temperature check the meatballs after the suggested cooking time to ensure that each meatball has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees before removing them from the pan.
  • Want to make your life even easier? Try making a double batch of the meatball mixture. After everything has been mixed, but before scooping and rolling, transfer half the ground chicken mixture to a freezer safe storage container and freeze for later. The next time you want to make a batch of meatballs just let the ground meat mixture thaw and then scoop, roll, and cook the meatballs.
  • Use a splatter shield! If you’re worried about a little oil splatter getting on your stove when cooking the meatballs then you can use this handy splatter shield to help prevent that.

meatballs frying in pan

How to Bake the Meatballs

Yes! If you prefer you can bake these pesto meatballs instead of cooking them on the stovetop. Place the meatballs on sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper and sprayed or drizzled with olive oil. Bake them at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Air Fryer Instructions

If you have an air fryer, you can easily use it to make your chicken meatballs.

To Make in the Air Fryer: place the formed meatballs in your air fryer basket. You can line the basket with an air fryer safe liner to help prevent any sticking. Cook the meatballs at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. I like to give the air fryer basket a shake halfway through to help the meatballs cook evenly.

chicken pesto meatballs in bowl

How to Serve the Pesto Meatballs

  • Make a delicious orzo salad bowl! I love serving these meatballs in a bowl because everything is better in a bowl, am I right?! Start with a bed of fresh arugula and then add a bit of perfectly cooked orzo pasta, pepperoncini, tomato, sliced red onion, toasted pine nut for crunch, shaved parmesan, and fresh basil. For even more flavor, you can add a few dollops of fresh pesto to finish it off!
  • Serve them over pasta! Toss the meatballs in your favorite marinara and serve them alongside your favorite cooked pasta for a hearty weeknight dinner.
  • Serve them as an appetizer or party snack! These Pesto meatballs are perfect to serve at a dinner party or as a fun appetizer for a crowed. Try making a double batch and then serving with a bit of homemade pesto and marinara sauce on the side.

How to Store Leftovers

Store your chicken pesto meatballs in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

How to Freeze and Reheat

Freeze

There are two different ways you can freeze these meatballs:

  • freeze the meatball mixture – make the meatball mixture and then transfer to a freezer safe storage bag. Squeeze all of the air out of the bag and then place the bag in the freezer. When you’re ready to make a batch of meatballs, remove the mixture from the freezer and let it defrost in the fridge before rolling the meatballs and cooking.
  • cook the meatballs and then freeze – cook the meatballs according to the recipe instructions. Let the meatballs come to a complete cool before transferring to a freezer safe storage container and then transferring to the freezer for up to 3 months.

Reheat: To reheat the cooked meatballs from frozen, place them in an ovenproof pan or baking dish and cover with foil. Bake the meatballs at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until completely warmed through. Alternatively, you can let the meatballs defrost in the fridge and reheat in the microwave until warmed through.

meatballs served in bowl

More Healthy Italian Inspired Recipes

I hope you give these Chicken Pesto Meatballs a try! They are so easy to make and delicious! 

If you do give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @allthehealthythings on INSTAGRAM. Your reviews and ratings help support All the Healthy Things and make it possible for me to continue to create the recipes you trust and love.

Print
pesto meatballs bowl

Chicken Pesto Meatballs

  • Author: Ashlea Carver
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 40 meatballs 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired
  • Diet: Gluten Free
  • Author: Ashlea Carver
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 40 meatballs 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground chicken (I used ground chicken thighs)
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup finely diced shallot
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Avocado or olive oil, for frying

For Serving

  • arugula
  • orzo
  • pepperoncini
  • tomato
  • thinly sliced red onion
  • fresh basil
  • toasted pine nuts
  • shaved parm
  • dollops of fresh pesto

Method

  1. Add the meatball ingredients to a small mixing bowl and use your hands to mix until well combined. Next, use a cookie dough scoop or tablespoon to scoop out the chicken mixture and use your hands to form into meatballs.
  2. When the meatballs are formed, heat a large skillet over medium heat and then add a tablespoon of oil. Next add the meatballs to the hot skillet and cook for roughly 3-4 minutes per side until browned and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your skillet.
  3. Serve the meatballs in a bowl over arugula with orzo, pepperoncini, tomato, thinly sliced red onion, fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, shaved warm, and dollops of fresh pesto.

Keywords:

chicken pesto meatballs, pesto chicken meatballs, pesto meatballs

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Recipe by: Ashlea Carver / All the Healthy Things | Photography by: Eat Love Eat

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38 Comments

  1. So easy and delicious. The meatballs are so versatile to add to so many dishes! I cooked them on the stovetop to get them brown and then finished them off in the oven. Perfection!

  2. This was a major flavor hit at my house, both kids and parents loved them and the customizable bowl set up let everyone choose their own adventure. I’m rating it at 4 stars because the meatballs were falling apart as I browned them, I think using an egg to bind them would help in the future, but I’ll absolutely be making them again!

  3. Anna Brooks says:

    These pesto meatballs are delicious! I’ve used both the oven and skillet methods with great results. The oven cook was perfect for meal prepping – cooked in the oven then froze. When I’m ready to use some, I let them thaw a little then brown in a skillet to warm them up! So many ways to use them to keep meals interesting.

    1. Natalie Perkins (ATHT) says:

      I’m so glad you loved these, Anna! Thanks for leaving a review!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Delicious recipe– very flavorful and easy! I browned off the meatballs on the stovetop and finished them off in the oven. They turned out juicy and perfect. Highly recommend!

    1. Natalie Perkins (ATHT) says:

      I’m so glad you loved these, Elizabeth! Thanks for leaving a review!

  5. Wow, this was my first ATHT recipe and it did not disappoint! Used spinach and a butter lettuce mix instead of arugula otherwise followed the recipe as written and it was perfect. Literally already went to the grocery to buy more ground chicken and spinach to make another batch this week. Can’t get enough! Perfect fresh and for meal prep.

    1. Ashlea Carver says:

      so happy you loved the recipe, Eliza!!

  6. These pesto meatballs are so good! I made them for a family get together and everyone loved them. I had to use ground turkey, because my store was out of ground chicken. I was afraid they would be dry, but they weren’t at all. I have made several of Ahsley’s recipes and haven’t found a bad one yet!

  7. These were sooooo good! Tender and just the right amount of pesto. My hubby doesn’t like pesto but he loved this! The bowl is so well balanced and flavorful!

  8. Your meatball recipes are always so great and this is no exception. I loved adding the parmesan to the meatballs and actually added a little bit more to be extra cheesy. Overall a great summer salad!

  9. Katie Maloney says:

    These were delicious. I used ground chicken breast and Italian bread crumbs. I used the oven method and while they don’t brown like the stove method they came out great. They have the perfect amount of pesto and I served with breaded ravioli.