These Chicken and Zucchini Meatballs are packed with lean protein and healthy veggies, but don’t let that fool you. These are some of the juiciest, most flavor-packed meatballs you’ll ever have! You can serve them with pasta, with a dipping sauce, as an appetizer, on a sub, or any other way you’d serve meatballs. Plus they only take 30 minutes to make and they’re freezer-friendly.
This was one of those experiments that I didn’t have very high expectations for. I mean, how can a chicken and veggie meatball really compare to a traditional beef and pork meatball?
But I was surprised and delighted by the outcome, and I think you will be too. My husband proclaimed that these are his favorite meatballs, and I have to say, I may agree. I’ll always have a place in my heart for the real thing, but these chicken zucchini meatballs are so delicious, AND healthy, that I’ll use them as my default meatball from now on!
As a bonus? My kids LOVED them. They’re a great way to hide veggies, and zucchini has that perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture when cooked the right way.
In this post I’ll show you how to make these easy chicken meatballs, as well as dry out the zucchini so the meatballs stay together well and aren’t too liquidy. Be sure to check out the video as well. Let’s get to it!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Ground Chicken – or ground turkey.
- Zucchini – or summer squash.
- Plain Breadcrumbs – I used panko, but any will do. Gluten-free may be used if needed.
- Egg – use a flax egg if needed.
- Milk – whole milk makes the meatballs super juicy, but you can use plant-based, low-fat, or omit if you want to.
- Olive oil – this is added to the mixture for extra juiciness. You can leave it out if you like, but they meatballs may be a bit dry.
- Garlic powder and Onion powder – and/or other spices of choice.
How to make Chicken Zucchini Meatballs
- First, grate the zucchini onto a clean kitchen towel. Spread out, sprinkle with salt, and set aside. The salt will draw the liquid out.
- Preheat your oven and grease a rimmed baking sheet. You can line it with foil first before greasing if you want easy cleanup.
- Mix the egg, breadcrumbs, milk, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a large bowl.
- Roll the grated zucchini tightly in the kitchen towel and wring as much liquid out as possible over your sink or over a bowl.
- Add the zucchini and ground chicken to the bowl and mix. I like using my hands for this, but you can use a spoon if you want.
- Scoop the meatball mixture onto the greased baking sheet. I like using a cookie scoop for this. You can also form the meatballs with your hands.
- Bake the meatballs. You can broil for the last few minutes if you like for extra browning.
Yes! Use gluten-free breadcrumbs.
Yes! Substitute plant-based milk for the whole milk.
Sure. The only thing in these that has a significant amount of carbs is the breadcrumbs. Substitute them with a low-carb alternative like pork rinds and you should be fine.
Yes! You can freeze them cooked or uncooked. Cook from frozen and raw at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes or from frozen and cooked for 25-30 minutes.
Other meatball recipes
I love meatballs because they’re so easy to make, they store and freeze well, and you can use them in so many ways. I love eating leftovers as a protein-heavy snack. Here are some of my favorites!
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Chicken and Zucchini Meatballs
- 2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 small or 1 large zucchini)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs (panko or regular are fine)
- 1/4 cup milk (see notes)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for the zucchini)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for greasing the pan)
- 1 lb. ground chicken (or turkey)
- Grate the zucchini (I used a box grater) onto a clean kitchen towel or cloth napkin (see notes). Spread it out in a thin layer across the towel and sprinkle with a pinch of the salt. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes (the salt will draw the water out).
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with a thin layer of olive oil (first line with foil, for easy clean-up, if you prefer).
- In a large bowl, mix together the egg (1), plain breadcrumbs (½ cup), milk (¼ cup), garlic powder (½ teaspoon), onion powder (½ teaspoon), kosher salt (½ teaspoon), black pepper (¼ teaspoon), and olive oil (2 tablespoons). Set aside.
- Roll the grated zucchini up in the towel and wring out as much water as possible over your sink. Add the grated zucchini to the bowl, as well as the ground chicken (1 lb.). Mix together well (your hands will work best for this, but a spoon will work if you don't want to touch the mixture).
- Form balls about 1 ½ inch in diameter (approximately 20 meatballs) and place on the prepared baking sheet. I recommend using a cookie scoop for this, which will help form meatballs of uniform size as well as aid in forming balls out of a somewhat sticky/loose mixture (see notes).
- Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, until internal temperature has reached 165 degrees F. Optional: for the last 3-5 minutes, broil the meatballs to brown them a bit on the top.
- Serve with marinara sauce over cooked pasta, in a meatball sub, as a main with sides, an app with a dip, or however you like to serve meatballs!
- The milk helps make the meatballs super juicy, but it may be omitted or replaced with a plant-based substitute if you prefer (oat milk is the best substitute in terms of taste).
- The added olive oil to the meatballs also helps make the meatballs super juicy and moist, but feel free to take it down to 1 tablespoon or omit if you want a lower fat option.
- The mixture will be pretty loose and sticky. This is OK – as it cooks, the meatballs will bind together and be quite firm and hold together well after they bake. A cookie scoop can help you form the meatballs without worrying about using your hands, which may prove challenging. You can also refrigerate the mixture before forming the meatballs for an hour (or prep ahead up to overnight) and it will hold together as you form the meatballs a little better at the colder temperature.
- Cooking time note: This recipe yields about 20 1 ½-inch meatballs, give or take. If you make them bigger or smaller, you may need to adjust cooking time to longer or shorter. This is where a meat thermometer comes in handy (I recommend Thermoworks Thermapen One for a super fast, accurate read!).
- You can make these chicken meatballs in advance and freeze them raw or cooked. Cook from frozen and raw at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes or from frozen and cooked for 25-30 minutes.
- Make these gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs. Make them dairy free by using plant-based milk.
- I don’t recommend using paper towels to drain the zucchini. They will fall apart when you try to wring it out. If you don’t have a clean towel to use, you can add the grated zucchini to a mesh sieve set over a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and let sit for a little. You can use a spoon to press on the zucchini and let the liquid drain out of the sieve into the bowl.
Nutrition Information Disclaimer
The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools: