Comforting French Onion Chicken Meatballs
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Rustic French onion chicken meatballs are tender little nuggets of goodness nestled in a creamy cozy French onion sauce. Top it off with cheese and run it under the broiler, and you’ve got the coziest meal ready to go.
Tender meatballs nestled in FRENCH ONION gravy.
Oh, sweet buns. I know, I’m forever going to be known as the meatball queen for sharing what is now the ten-millionth meatball recipe. But, get this: French onion chicken meatballs are tender, baked chicken meatballs rolling around in a french onion gravy that’s sweet from the caramelized onions, savory from the sauce, and cheesy from the delectable layer of melty cheese on top. These chicken meatballs are truly melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Could you even imagine how delicious that onion gravy would be over orzo pasta with a few roasted or steamed veggies on the side? It’s seriously the epitome of good comfort food.
Warm, hearty, and so filling.
These french onion chicken meatballs were a long time coming. It all started with the chicken piccata meatballs I shared a couple of years back. So many of you guys made and loved them that it got me thinking, what other classics could I turn into meatballs? And I remembered that you guys happen to the french onion pot roast just as much as we did. So that’s how it happened. Believe it or not, these are the kind of thoughts I have in my mind before I drift off into a peaceful slumber. It doesn’t help that minutes before that I was watching MasterChef.
The chicken meatballs from one dish and the slow-roasted onion gravy from the other dish and of course, a handful of bubbly melty cheese for good measure. That’s the evolution of the french onion chicken meatballs.
So let’s hop right into the recipe.
What goes in the meatball mixture for French onion chicken meatballs?
- an egg
- panko breadcrumbs
- grated parmesan cheese
- garlic powder +onion powder
- salt + pepper
- fresh parsley
- ground chicken (or turkey)
How to make French onion chicken meatballs:
My number one tip that I share every time I share a meatball recipe (which is happening way too frequently now) is to start by combining everything but the meat in a bowl first. That way, you can ensure that seasonings are evenly dispersed without overworking the ground chicken. Once you add the ground chicken, mix until it is *just* mixed. This way, you always end up with tender meatballs!
The texture is so much better when you take the time to combine everything first. Another tip I’ve picked up along the way: use a fork to fluff the ingredients (like you would rice) instead of using a wooden spoon or spatula. It keeps the meatballs extremely light and doesn’t make them dense!
How to portion the chicken meatballs:
Once you’ve made the meatball mixture, divide them into 32-35 portions. I use a cookie scoop so that all the meatballs are the same size. Using a scoop ensure that all the meatballs bake in the same amount of time so that you aren’t left with undercooked/overcooked meatballs.
What if the meatball mixture starts sticking to my hands, any tips?
Chicken meatballs are notorious for being hard to work with! Wash your hands really well, pat them dry, and coat hands with a generous spray of cooking spray (or drizzle ½ teaspoon of oil on your hands and rub well.) This keeps the meatballs from sticking to your palms and fingers when you roll them.
One more trick, place the portion of ground chicken in the palm of your hand and roll it gently like you would a dice. The centrifugal force from waving your hand in a circular motion makes the meatball nice and smooth! Didn’t think you’d ever hear the words ‘centrifugal force’ in the same sentence as ‘meatballs,’ did you?
What do you need to make the sauce for french onion meatballs?
- thinly sliced onions
- Worcestershire sauce
- grated garlic
- beef stock
- grated cheese (such as gruyere, provolone, or mozzarella)
How to make the French onion chicken meatball gravy:
- Start by sweating the onions in melted butter until they shrink a little inside. Lower the heat and season them with sugar and Italian seasoning and continue to cook them for 25 minutes, stirring them every 5 minutes or so until they’re golden and caramelized.
- Then, season them with salt and Worcestershire sauce, and the minced garlic. Give the garlic 30 seconds to really become aromatic.
- Then, kick the heat up to medium and continue to stir as you sprinkle in the flour. Give the flour a bit of time to cook out the raw flavor before you slowly drizzle in the stock as you stir using your other hand. This will keep your gravy from going lumpy. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer, then let the sauce thicken.
- Once it’s thick, you can add the meatballs to the skillet and top with cheese. Then, cover and allow the cheese to melt on the stovetop or place the casserole dish under the broiler (as long as it’s oven-safe!) And voila! You’re ready to serve!
How do you suggest serving these cheesy caramelized onion chicken meatballs?
- over egg noodles
- on a bed of quinoa
- over rice
- over zoodles
- on a bed of cauliflower rice
- over orzo pasta
- over mashed potatoes
- with a salad
- on a crispy buttered baguette
Modern comfort food at it’s finest. It also happens to mark all the right boxes:
- tender meatballs
- crazy addicting sauce
- melty cheese on top
So if this also happens to align with your philosophy of comfort food, you have got to give these french onion chicken meatballs a try.
French Onion Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons EACH: sugar AND Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon EACH: Italian seasoning AND salt
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cup EACH: beef stock AND grated cheese (such as provolone, gruyere, or mozzarella)
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon EACH: garlic powder AND onion powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt + ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
- 1 ¼ pound ground chicken or turkey
- CARAMELIZE THE ONIONS: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt the butter with a small drizzle of oil (any kind.) Add the onions and sauté them for 5 minutes or until they start to sweat and shrink a little. Lower the heat to medium-low, season with sugar and Italian seasoning and continue to cook for 25 minutes or until the onions start to turn golden and caramelize. You want to just stir the mixture every 5 minutes or so. If the onions are caramelizing too fast, you can turn the heat down a little bit. Prepare and bake your meatballs while the onions are caramelizing to save time.
- MEATBALLS: In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix together all the ingredients except the chicken. When the ingredients are combined, add the ground chicken and mix until *just* combined. Shape the mixture into 1 tablespoon mixture (roughly 30 meatballs?) Place the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 1 inch apart and bake for 18–22 minutes or until the meatballs are moist but a bit firm to the touch (or they reach an internal temperature of 165ºF.)
- FRENCH ONION SAUCE: If your meatballs aren’t done, you can turn the stove off until they’re finished then pick the recipe up. Deglaze the pan with the Worcestershire sauce, season with salt, and add the minced garlic. Kick the heat up to medium and continue to stir and cook. Sprinkle the flour and cook for 30 seconds, slowly drizzle with the beef stock with one hand while you continue to stir the sauce with the other hand. Allow the sauce to gain a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Add the meatballs into the sauce and then sprinkle the cheese over the top and turn the stove off. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and allow the cheese to melt. Alternately, you can place the skillet in the oven under the broiler for 1-2 minutes for the cheese melt (be sure to only use the broiler if your skillet is oven safe!)
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