Moist, tender, and totally tantalizing, these Chicken Apple Meatballs are made with shredded apples and coated in a rich, silky smooth apple butter glaze. Easy to make and simple to customize to your liking, these fall meatballs are perfect for any occasion – from snack time and game day, to family dinners and holiday entertaining.
Featured comment: Wow thank you for the great recipe! They’re so fragrant, sweet and oh so tender and juicy! They remind me of the Swedish meatballs my mom always makes for Chriatmas — but perfectly spiced for the fall season.” – Sara
Update: This recipe was originally published in October 2017. I’ve updated the article below to include more information about making the best ground chicken meatballs with apple butter glaze at home.
Hello internet, friends! I hope you are ready for some utterly delicious comforting fall food, because that’s exactly what I’m dishing up today!
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About these chicken apple meatballs
Also known as the best meatball recipe of the fall season! Tender, moist, succulent chicken meatballs bursting with crisp apple flavor and subtly spiced with warm seasonings. Those fall meatballs get generously (and lovingly) tossed in a sweet, savory, smooth, rich apple cider and apple butter glaze. Finish those ground chicken and apple meatballs off with a scattering of fresh scallions, earthy thyme, and a kiss of spicy crushed red peppers and you have a dish that’s LITERALLY so gosh darn delicious its like a party in the USA. But for your tastebuds and stomach.
In case that was a little weird, just listen to this – there is a double dose of apple butter in these meatballs! DOUBLE DOSE! There’s silky, flavorful apple butter in the meatballs themselves AND in the sauce.
Essentially, if you are looking for a cozy, warm, hearty meal that celebrates the gloriousness of apple season and cinnamon-y apple butter, these chicken apple meatballs are for you!
If you’re looking for more recipes to celebrate apple season, try these fan favorites next: Cheddar and Apple Soup, Apple Pork Tenderloin, Pork Chops with Apples, Cinnamon Apple Bread, Healthy Apple Cinnamon Granola, Baked Apple Cider Donuts, Apple Pie Bites recipe, and Spiked Cider.
Ingredients for meatballs with apples
For the meatballs
- Ground Chicken: For the moistest meatballs, use regular ground chicken versus lean all white meat.
- Apples: I prefer to use granny smith apples here as the tart flavor plays well with the sweetness of the apple butter.
- Breadcrumbs: You’ll need panko breadcrumbs for texture and binding.
- Scallions: Mild scallions lend delicate onion flavor.
- Garlic: Two cloves of garlic lend a beautiful aromatic touch.
- Egg: A large egg helps hold the meatballs together while also providing richness and moisture.
- Spices: A combination of allspice, thyme, kosher salt, and ground black pepper all provide flavor.
And the apple butter glaze
- Apple Cider: You can use regular cider, hard apple cider, or apple juice – depending upon your preference. I use the hard stuff because it lends the most flavor and the alcohol cooks out of the sauce.
- Apple Butter: Your favorite brand or homemade works great here.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: A touch of sweet tang to balance out the sweetness.
- Spices: A combination of ground cinnamon and ginger, thyme, and cayenne make this apple glaze sing with flavor.
- Thyme: A sprig of fresh thyme gives the sauce a touch of freshness.
FAQs: frequently asked questions
How long do you cook chicken meatballs in the oven?
The length of time you baked chicken meatballs directly depends on the size of your meatballs and the temperature of your oven.
If you form these chicken apple meatballs into golfball-sized meatballs, they will take approximately 18-22 minutes to bake at 400 degrees F.
You should always bake meatballs until an internal temperature of 165 degrees F registers on an instant-read thermometer and until the juices run clear.
Are chicken meatballs healthy?
Short answer, that depends!
If you are using all dark meat chicken in your meatballs along with tons of breadcrumbs, your chicken meatballs will not be as healthy as a meatball made with lean, white chicken meat and little to no filler.
The chicken apple meatball recipe below allows you to use lean ground chicken, or combination (dark and light meat) ground chicken. As well, grated apple is added to the mix and the recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of panko breadcrumbs. Compared to other chicken meatballs recipes out there, this one is on the healthier side!
Expert tips for making fall meatballs
- I use ground chicken in my meatballs, but feel free to use whatever type of ground meat you would like. Ground turkey or pork would be a great substitution, but ground beef will work too! If you are using ground chicken, I highly recommend you do NOT go with all white meat ground chicken. All ground chicken breasts tend to make the meatballs less juicy and flavorful.
- This recipe for apple meatballs calls for ½ cup of grated apple, which is roughly ¾ of an apple. I use a Granny Smith apple because the tartness balances the sweetness of the apple butter, but feel free to use any variety that hold up well under heat. Honey Crisp and Pink Lady are both excellent substitutions.
- To keep the meatballs from sticking to your hands when rolling them into balls, lightly oil your hands. This trick works like a charm! Also, make sure you DO NOT roll your meatballs into a tight ball. When meatballs are packed too tight they end up tough and chewy after being cooked.
- Make sure you form your meatballs into roughly the same size. You don’t need to be overly obsessive, just make sure they are around the same size. If you want to be precise, you can use a small ice cream scoop (it’s what I use).
- You can make the meatballs mini size or jumbo if you want, just scale the baking time accordingly.
- The alcohol will cook out of the sauce, however if hard cider isn’t your thing, feel free to use plain apple cider or apple juice.
Serving apple butter meatballs
Chicken apple meatballs go with a wide variety of side dishes. Below are some of my favorite serving ideas to get your culinary juices flowing:
- As an appetizer: Apple chicken meatballs are one of my favorite fall appetizer. Simply bake them in the oven and pull out your serving gear, such as a pot holder or cooling rack (for the hot skillet of meatballs!), napkins, and toothpicks, and let guests help themselves. They pair great with this phyllo cup appetizer.
- In a salad or harvest bowl: The sweetness of these apple butter meatballs plays perfectly with bitter greens, like the arugula. Add a little quinoa, your favorite veggies, and a light vinaigrette dressing – and you have yourself a salad party! If you’re looking for a shortcut, this fall butternut salad gets my vote.
- Piled on mashed potatoes: Personally, I love these meatballs with apples over creamy, buttery mashed taters. However, any kind of mash, such as cauliflower, sweet potato mash, or butternut squash mash will taste excellent here.
- Over noodles: If you prefer noodles to potatoes, your favorite pasta works great here too.
- Spoon over Rice: Serving your fall meatballs over your favorite cooked grains is another classic way to serve your meatball.
- With veggies: Keep your dinner on the lighter side by pairing your meatballs with a side of roasted veggies, like maple brussels sprouts or roasted mushrooms.
Storing ground chicken meatballs
- Allow leftover autumn meatballs to cool completely to room temperature before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Leftover chicken and apple meatballs will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
- Alternatively, you can store cooked ground poultry meatballs in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Sweet, savory and delicious to the max, these Baked Chicken Apple Meatballs are perfect for game day, holiday entertaining, or simply served over mashed potatoes for dinner. Regardless of how you serve them, I pinkie-promise you are going to LOVE them!
Until next week, friends, cheers – magnificent meatballs!
More meatballs recipes!
How to make Baked Chicken Apple Meatballs 👇\
Chicken Apple Meatballs
- 1 Large Rimmed Baking Sheet
Chicken Apple Meatballs
- 1 pound Ground Chicken or ground pork, turkey, or beef*
- ¾ Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
- 2 cloves Garlic – minced
- 2 Scallions – finely chopped
- ½ Cup Granny Smith Apple * – peeled & grated (about ¾ of an apple)
- 1 Large Egg – whisked
- ¼ Cup Apple Butter
- ¾ tsp Allspice
- 1 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves – chopped
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt plus more to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil for easy clean up.
- Make the meatball mixture: In a large bowl combine all the ingredients for the meatballs. Use your hands or a rubber spatula to gently mix until just combined. Do NOT over-mix the meatballs.
- Form the meatballs: Using wet hands to prevent sticking, roll the mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs (about 2 tablespoons of the mixture for each). If the mixture is too wet, add 1 tablespoon of panko, at a time, to the mix until it is easier to shape. Transfer meatballs to prepared baking sheet.
- Bake Meatballs: for 18-22 minutes, or until lightly browned and meatballs are cooked through.
- MEANWHILE, make the apple butter glaze: In a large skillet combine all the sauce ingredients. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper. Whisk to combine. Place the skillet over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, whisking occasionally. for 6-8 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened. Reduce heat to low and add the meatballs. Gently toss to thoroughly coat the meatballs.
- To serve: Transfer the glazed meatballs to a serving dish and top with optional garnishes. Enjoy!
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