I cannot wait to tell you about today’s recipe.
This is one of those recipes that took even me by surprise. These Lemon Piccata Chicken Meatballs are SO flavorful and delicious – I couldn’t stop eating them straight from the pan.
I have always been a huge fan of piccata sauces – the bright, briny flavor is totally my thing. I adore white wine sauces and when you get shallot, garlic, lots of fresh lemon, parsley, and cheese involved…well, I’m sold. And then some!
It’s the sort of sauce that is addictingly tangy and it goes so well with any light, lean meat or fish. Piccata is one of my all-time favorites, for sure.
The meatballs are based off my tried and true chicken meatball recipe that I’ve been making for YEARS now. I always base any chicken meatball recipe off that basic one, and they always, always, always turn out wonderfully. I’ve mentioned this before, and I’m truly not one to brag, but I am known for my meatball mastery amongst family and friends. Total humble brag.
People always marvel at how chicken breast can be turned into something so tender and flavorful. No hockey puck meatballs here! I walk you through exactly how to achieve the flavor and moist texture we all want when it comes to chicken AND meatballs.
This is the sort of meal that we eat on busy weeknights, and I LOVE to prep this sort of thing ahead. I will make a double batch of the meatballs and sauce and pack them up for the week. Dan and I enjoy them just as they are, or in salads, or on top of pasta, rice, or veggies. They’re incredibly versatile and loaded with healthy, lean protein. We’re big fans.
Let’s get into making these babies.
Ingredients You Need to Make These Lemon Piccata Chicken Meatballs:
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Seasonings – garlic powder, onion powder, dried Italian herbs
- Ketchup – just trust me.
- Pecorino romano cheese
- Lemon zest and juice – use fresh!
- Ground chicken breast – you can use ground chicken or turkey here. Pork would also work well.
- Olive oil
- Dry white wine
- Chicken broth
How to Make These Lemon Piccata Chicken Meatballs:
- Start with the meatballs. Mix together all the flavorings and structural ingredients for the meatballs first: panko, seasonings, ketchup, milk, cheese, lemon zest/juice, capers, salt and pepper. Mix well and taste the ingredients before adding the raw egg or meat – it should taste overseasoned.
- Mix in the eggs and the meat, working it in gingerly so that it doesn’t get overly gummy or tough. Handling the meat as little as possible is key!
- Form the mixture into meatballs, roughly 2 tablespoons each, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Once all the meatballs are formed, drizzle lightly with olive oil and then bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
- While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce by heating olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until softened and fragrant.
- Add in the white wine and allow it to reduce. Stir in the broth, lemon juice and zest, and fresh parsley.
- Add the butter to the sauce, allowing it to melt and incorporate. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
- Toss the cooked meatballs in with the sauce and turn them to coat.
- Serve over rice, pasta, cauliflower rice, or veggies. Garnish with parsley and additional cheese just before serving.
Tips & Tricks for These Lemon Piccata Chicken Meatballs:
- My number one tip whenever we’re making meatballs: don’t overwork your meat. Meaning, handle it as gingerly and as little as possible. The key is to mix all the OTHER ingredients first, get them well incorporated, and then add the meat in last. Work it until it is JUST combined with the other ingredients and stop before it gets dense or gummy. You’ll be guaranteed to have light and tender meatballs every time.
- Trust me when I list ketchup as an ingredient. Is it traditional? Not at all. But it DOES add an amazing tangy, slightly sweet flavor to any meatball. I add it all my meatball recipes and people always ask how I get that tomato flavor in there. It may sound odd, but it’s probably my biggest meatball flavoring hack.
- Don’t be afraid of the seasoning. I recommend mixing all your flavoring for the meatballs together first and tasting it before adding the raw eggs or meat. It should taste a little overly seasoned. The meat is lean and doesn’t have a lot of flavor on its own, so your mixture should have A LOT of flavor before it is added. I aim for things to taste well balanced if not a touch overly seasoned.
- The sauce can easily be made ahead and stored separately from the meatballs, if you prefer. I love to toss the cooked meatballs with the sauce and then package them up that way. The sauce coats everything and keeps the meatballs moist. Not to mention how flavorful it keeps everything!
- You can swap the chicken breast for ground chicken (which is a mix of white and dark meat) or ground turkey. Ground pork would probably also work here. I’d stay away from red meat with this recipe. Piccata sauce is meant to be light and enjoyed with leaner cuts of meat.
I am not kidding when I say that these are a total flavor bomb. It’s crazy!
These are definitely going to be in our regular rotation going forward. Easy enough for meal prep and delicious enough to enjoy as a special dinner.Print
Lemon Piccata Chicken Meatballs
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
These Lemon Piccata Chicken Meatballs are a light but flavor-packed meal that feature a classic piccata sauce and tender, moist chicken meatballs. Lemony, tangy, and bright – this is a meal that you’ll look forward to making AND eating.
For the Meatballs:
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (or a mix of oregano, basil, parsley, etc)
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup capers, drained and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 lb ground chicken breast (or turkey)
- Drizzle of olive oil
For the Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/3 cup capers
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pasta, rice, or cauliflower rice
- Additional parsley
- Lemon slices
- Pecorino cheese
For the Meatballs:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the panko, spices, ketchup, milk, cheese, lemon zest, and capers. Add the salt and pepper and then taste the mixture. It should be VERY well seasoned – even a touch too salty. This will ensure that the meat has good flavor in the end. I always taste it before adding the raw egg or meat.
- Once you have it seasoned to your taste, stir in the egg until everything is well combined.
- Add in the meat last, mixing it into the seasonings gently and until everything is well mixed. If the mixture is too gummy, add a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs and mix again. I sometimes have to add up to ¼ cup of additional breadcrumbs – it really depends on your meat. The mixture should be easy to roll into balls – not too sticky or wet.
- Form the mixture into roughly 1-inch balls and place them on your baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown on the bottoms and cooked through.
For the Sauce:
- While the meatballs are baking, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil.
- Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.
- Add the wine and simmer until it is mostly evaporated.
- Stir in the zest and juice of a lemon, along with the chicken broth, capers, and parsley.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until it is reduced by about half. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper (it probably won’t need a lot of salt because of the broth and capers).
- Add the butter to the sauce and stir it in until it is melted.
- When the meatballs are done cooking, place them in the pan with the sauce and gently toss to coat.
- Serve the meatballs over rice, noodles, or cauliflower rice.
- Spoon some of the pan sauce over everything and garnish with additional parsley, lemon wedges, and a sprinkling of grated cheese.
- Serve immediately while hot.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: chicken recipes
Keywords: easy chicken meatball recipe, chicken piccata meatballs, lemon piccata chicken meatballs, lemon piccata chicken, the best chicken meatballs
Made for dinner last night and they came out amazing. best meatballs i’ve had especially considering they use chicken breast. adding to our weekly rotation!
Yay! So glad to hear this. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and a star rating!
The best meatballs I ever had. Amazing. I will make these again and again.
Jocelyn, that makes me so happy to hear! Thank you for taking the time to come back and leave feedback!
This looks so yummy! Can you suggest a gluten free substitute for the planko breadcrumbs? Thanks!
I’m fairly certain they make gluten-free breadcrumbs – that’s what I would go with!
Ok thank you. I didn’t know if any breadcrumbs would work.
Finally made this and we gobbled it up. Planning to double recipe and serve at an upcoming dinner for friends. Wondering how it would do if made the day before? Thanks!
Oops, just saw your note that preparing in advance is fine.