Italian chicken meatballs with herbed ricotta are the best warm & cozy dinner! They’re easy to make, so tender and incredibly flavorful! Serve them with pasta, in a roll or with a side salad for a satisfying healthy meal!
Is there anything more nostalgic than Italian meatballs?! Every time we make them, I can’t help but think of trip to Italy earlier this year. The cheeses, the flavors, all the fresh ingredients…everything I loved (and miss) about that trip are all encompassed in these decadent meatballs!
In a weird way, they almost remind me a of cross between flavor-packed chicken parmesan and warm gooey cheesy lasagna. The meatballs themselves are made with lean ground chicken, Italian spices and shredded parmesan then baked with the most irresistible garlic and herb ricotta. They’re perfectly seasoned, incredibly tender + juicy and ready to be served in less than 30 minutes!
These are the BEST Italian meatballs that will leave you craving for more!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Ground chicken: I used 96% lean ground chicken for ours! (You can also use ground turkey instead.)
Panko breadcrumbs: I love using panko breadcrumbs for meatballs because it gives them a light and airy texture. (Classic breadcrumbs can be used instead. Just note that your meatballs will be a little more dense.)
Egg: You’ll need one egg for this recipe.
Onion: White or yellow onion work the best . Always finely mince your onion for the best results! (It helps to keep your meatballs intact and you won’t be biting into any large chunks of onion.)
Parmesan: I always suggest buying a block of parmesan cheese and grating it yourself. (It has much better flavor and texture than pre-shredded parmesan.)
Garlic: You’ll need 2 minced garlic cloves for the meatball mixture and 1 minced garlic clove for the herbed ricotta.
Ricotta: I used whole milk ricotta for ours. (I personally think it has better flavor and a creamier consistency.) Part skim or dairy free ricotta can be used instead.
Marinara sauce: Store bought or homemade marinara can be used for this recipe!
Spices: Dried basil, dried oregano and dried parsley are needed for the herbed ricotta. Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper are needed for the meatballs.
How To Make Italian Chicken Meatballs with Herbed Ricotta
1. Preheat your oven. Turn your oven on to to 400 degrees and spray an oven-safe skillet or baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Make the herbed ricotta. Then mix the ricotta, minced garlic, dried basil, oregano and parsley together and set it aside.
3. Form your meatballs. Add the meatball ingredients to a large bowl and mix them together with your hands. Then form the mixture into 1 inch balls and set them aside. (Alternatively, you can brown the meatballs in a sauté pan, or the same oven-safe skillet, for a few minutes on each side before baking.)
4. Bake. Spread your marinara sauce on the bottom of your prepared skillet or baking dish. Next add the meatballs and spoon some of the sauce over the top to partially cover them. Place dollops of your herbed ricotta all around the pan before placing the dish in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.
5. Serve! Top with fresh basil and serve.
Why brown the meatballs first? Ground chicken tends to look a little gray/unappealing once it’s been cooked. By browning the meatballs, we’re adding some color and developing a flavorful crust.
Place your meatballs in an air tight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Your ricotta mixture can be made ahead of time too! Keep it stored in an air tight container and refrigerate for 1-2 weeks. (I wouldn’t suggest freezing the ricotta. It tends to have a weird taste and texture after it’s been thawed.)
Reheating: Place your leftover meatballs in a baking dish and pour your marinara over the top. Spoon dollops of your leftover ricotta mixture (if you have any) all around the dish. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 300 degrees until they’re warmed to your liking (around 15 minutes.) Serve and enjoy!
Whether your make these for a healthy family dinner or meal prepping them for lunches during the week – it’s always a good idea to have a few sides with them too! Here are a few of our favorite ways to serve these meatballs:
- Over your favorite pasta! (We love angel hair or spaghetti the best!)
- With a simple side salad!
- Turn them into a meatball sub! Stuff your meatballs and herbed ricotta inside a toasted roll
Why you’ll love this Italian meatball recipe!
- A healthy dinner! These meatballs are loaded with lean protein that will leave you filling full & satisfied!
- Prep them ahead of time! Bake them the night before then reheat them the next day! Dinner will be on the table in less than 30 minutes!
- Full of flavor! They’re packed with flavor-rich ingredients like parmesan cheese, garlic & Italian seasoning then paired with the best herbed ricotta!
[Made one of my recipes? Tag my Instagram @kalefornia_kravings & leave a review in the comments – I love seeing what you create!]
Italian Chicken Meatballs with Herbed Ricotta
For the chicken meatballs:
- 1 lb. ground chicken
- ½ cup shredded parmesan
- ½ of a white onion, diced
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes
- Marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
- Fresh basil, for garnish
For the herbed ricotta:
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried parsely
- Preheat your oven. Turn your oven on to to 400 degrees and spray an oven-safe skillet or baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Make the herbed ricotta. Mix the ricotta, minced garlic, dried basil, oregano and parsley together and set it aside.
- Form the meatballs. Add the ground chicken, parmesan, onion, breadcrumbs, garlic, egg, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to a large bowl and mix them together with your hands.Form the mixture into 1 inch balls and set them aside. (Alternatively, you can brown the meatballs in a sauté pan, or the same oven-safe skillet, for a few minutes on each side before baking.)
- Bake. Spread the marinara all over the bottom of your prepared skillet or baking dish. Add the meatballs and spoon some of the sauce over the top to partially cover the meatballs. Place dollops of your herbed ricotta all around the meatballs. Once done, place the dish in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.
- Serve! Top with fresh basil and serve.