Creamy Chipotle Butter Chicken Meatballs
Learn how to make chipotle butter chicken meatballs. These are chicken meatballs that we make in the oven while we simmer our sauce on the stove. Perfect served over rice or quinoa!
Say hello to a brand new way to eat chicken meatballs!
These are creamy chipotle butter chicken meatballs that are baked – not fried and then simmered in a made-from-scratch chipotle butter cream sauce. Holy moly, this is comfort food for the books. It’s Indian meets Mexican today, and I can’t think of any other kind of fusion that works better.
This starts with ground chicken or turkey that’s tossed together with simple ingredients for binding, then rolled up and popped into the oven until they’re almost cooked through. Then comes the real fun — the chipotle butter sauce. The sauce reminds me a lot of traditional butter chicken, so I’m calling it chipotle butter chicken meatballs. A lot of the ingredients do overlap, but then there’s also chipotle peppers and smoked paprika in the mix, so it’s smoky and creamy all at the same time.
Don’t be surprised if you end up eating these meatballs straight from the pan, it known to happen!
If you’re new around here, I need you to know that we like our meatballs here. We make them with beef and chicken or turkey. We load them up with flavor. Here’s our meatball resume so far: firecracker sauce, turned traditional chicken piccata into a rustic-grab-some-bread dinner affair, we’ve stuffed them with cheese, put them in soup, made them cajun style, served them over polenta, and we even made them in brown gravy — better than IKEAs.
What I love most about homemade meatballs is that you can pretty much dress them however you like and the crowd always goes wild!
These chipotle butter chicken meatballs are extra special because they come complete with gravy. Gravy that you can use over cooked quinoa, brown rice, and just in case anyone was wondering if you can have this with naan, YOU CAN HAVE THIS WITH NAAN. Pretend this is real Indian butter chicken and dig right in with garlic naan <— I sure did, and wowza!
What you need to make chicken meatballs:
- ground chicken or turkey
- panko breadcrumbs
- garlic powder and onion powder
- a large egg
- salt and pepper
How to make the chicken meatballs:
Have you ever made homemade meatballs before? It can be daunting at first. But here are a few tips that will make sure they come out perfect every single time! These tips work regardless of whether you’re pan frying meatballs or baking them.
- Make sure to combine all ingredients for the meatballs together before adding the ground chicken (or turkey). This way you don’t end up overworking the meat. If you mix the meat too much, you’ll end up with dry or tough meatballs which won’t be as tasty.
- Make all the meatballs the same size, so they cook evenly. I use a measuring tablespoon to scoop and portion them
- Wet your hands with a little water or oil before you roll the meatballs.
- Don’t overbake the meatballs. You want to cook them until they’re just a minute or two from being done because they’ll also simmer in the sauce.
What’s in the chipotle butter chicken meatball sauce:
- ghee/ butter
- heavy cream
- chipotle peppers in adobo
- tomato puree (passata)
A note about the onions and tomatoes for our chipotle cream sauce:
It starts with the onions. The smaller they are, the quicker you’ll be able to cook this. I like to grate my onions in a food processor so that they cook down faster in the sauce. You can also use a hand grater, or mince them finely by hand. Here’s a tip: if you’re manually grating, freeze the onion halves for 10 minutes before grating them, this should help with a teary eye a bit!
For the tomatoes, be sure to use a puree or passata. You don’t want to use whole tomatoes, diced, or crushed here. If that’s all you’ve got on hand, you can still use them, just run them through the blender, so it’s a puree before adding them to the gravy. It’s important to do this, so our cream sauce doesn’t have chunks of whole tomatoes in it.
How to make chipotle butter chicken meatball sauce:
Once you’ve grated your onions, we’re going to make this the way I make my traditional butter chicken.
- Start by adding clarified butter or regular butter to your dutch oven or saucepan and cook the onions down a bit.
- We’ll add the garlic then the tomato puree along with the spices and allow the sauce to simmer, so the flavors all mingle and make magic.
- Then stir in the cream and butter at the end and let the meatballs simmer in the sauce, so they soak up that beautiful flavor.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that this is a whole new way to eat chicken meatballs nestled in a creamy chipotle butter chicken sauce. You can make the chicken meatballs ahead of time, bake, and pop them into the freezer to make this meal even quicker on weeknights. Then you just have to defrost them and pop them right into the sauce which should make dinner smooth as can be.
Serve these however you like! We like them over basmati rice, but I’m willing to bet that even pasta would work here!
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon EACH: garlic powder AND onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt + ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ¼ pound ground chicken or turkey
Chipotle Butter Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons ghee (or butter)
- 1 medium onion, grated (or minced)
- 4 teaspoons garlic paste (or grated)
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can tomato puree (passata)
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo (minced) + 1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon adobo seasoning
- ¾ - 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- chopped cilantro, for serving
- MEATBALLS: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 450ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a bowl, using a fork, mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs except the chicken. Add the chicken and mix, try not to overwork the meat. Wet your hands and roll the meatballs into tablespoon-sized balls (you’ll get anywhere from 20-25 meatballs approximately.) Place the meatballs on the baking sheet and bake for 14-15 minutes or until they’re cooked all the way through, set aside.
- CHIPOTLE BUTTER SAUCE: While the meatballs are baking, heat the butter in a dutch oven or sauté pan. Add the onions along with a tiny pinch of salt and let them cook until they soften, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic paste and give it 30 seconds to allow the garlic to become fragrant. Stir in the tomato puree, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, all the seasonings, and ½ cup water. Allow the sauce to gain a simmer, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in ¾ cup heavy cream and butter. Add the meatballs and allow them to sit in the sauce for a couple minutes before serving. Taste and adjust with additional heavy cream as desired. Serve warm over warm basmati rice topped with chopped cilantro!