Firecracker Chicken Meatballs
This is my favorite way to eat chicken meatballs. They’re spiced up with a sweet, savory, and spicy firecracker sauce. They’re tender, filled with flavor, and require minimum work!
Thank God It’s Friday, y’all!
I thought this week would never end. It was an ongoing cycle of endless days, but the weekend is finally here!
This recipe for firecracker chicken meatballs has been stuck in my head on an endless loop for the last several weeks. I had been craving something with a little more spice, yet a little sweet too. And what’s more perfect than game day food that’s actually somewhat healthy (they’re baked!) and still has tons of flavor but isn’t your regular old meatball covered in marinara? FIRECRACKER. SAUCE. FTW!
These baked chicken meatballs are one of Anees’s favorite meals. This is obviously a recent development. Because up until a couple of weeks ago, they didn’t even exist.
How to make the original Firecracker Chicken Meatballs:
This recipe is super low maintenance. And if you’re not a fan of chicken meatballs, you can swap it out for turkey or any other kind of ground meat you please. But I do feel that chicken or turkey would pair the best with the sauce.
These are perfect for when you’re hosting a game day party and need something super flavorful on the table. I like to make a big batch for the two of us that we munch on all week long. Meatball subs made with firecracker chicken and melty cheese would be perfect for weekend lunches and a few meatballs paired with a side salad would be ideal for weekday lunches. And if you’re like me, with a fetish for food straight from the refrigerator, well then they’d make for a good snack too. Yup, cold. I like them like that sometimes!
What ingredients do you need to make the best firecracker chicken meatballs?
We’re keepin’ what goes into the meatballs simple because it’s that firecracker sauce that we want to stand out bright when you take that first bite.
For the chicken meatballs, I used simple ground chicken breasts. Again, ground chicken thighs or a combination of ground chicken + ground turkey would be good too.
The binding is simple. 2 large eggs and a little panko. For the spices, paprika, onion powder, and obvi, garlic. It’s all pantry staples on this one, folks!
You want to *just* combine the ingredients. When making meatballs, the less you work the meat, the better it is. I shaped mine into 3 tablespoon-sized balls. It’s totally up to you how big/small you want them. The size I indicated will take about 11-13 minutes in the oven.
What goes in the firecracker chicken meatballs sauce?
The sauce is simple too. Since the meatballs are flavored with just enough to keep them moist, the real flavors come from the sauce! All you need is a little hot sauce (I recommend Franks), brown sugar, red pepper flakes, apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of salt. It’s 10 ingredients total if you don’t count the salt and pepper. The sauce is enough to coat all the meatballs with a little leftover for a drizzle before serving. If you’re like me and you live to dip and dunk, double the sauce recipe. You can even serve these firecracker meatballs with a little white rice and broccoli and drizzle the sauce on there. I speak from experience, can you tell?
And the best part is, you can mix up the meat mixture from the night before and just bake and drizzle them with the sauce the day of. These tasty chicken meatballs are going to be the highlight of game day. Get ready to be host of the year!
How would you serve firecracker chicken meatballs as a meal?
I get this question a ton! I would serve them over a bed of white rice (or cilantro lime rice, even better) with roasted or sauteed veggies on the side!
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Slow cooker honey chipotle meatballs
- These CRAZY GOOD wings with the same sauce
- Easy Philly Cheese Steak Dip
Firecracker Chicken Meatballs
This is my favorite way to eat chicken meatballs. They're spiced up with a sweet, savory, and spicy firecracker sauce. They're tender, filled with flavor, and require minimum work!
- 1 ¾ - 2 pounds ground chicken (or turkey)
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs*
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ cup hot sauce (I recommend Franks)
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on spice preference)
- Position 2 racks near the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 475ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
- In a saucepan, combine the ingredients of the firecracker sauce over medium high heat, allow to come to a boil, reduce the heat so it simmers. Let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool. The sauce will thicken as it cools so don't worry if it looks thin.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, garlic, salt pepper, eggs, panko, paprika, and onion powder. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients together. It's easier to tell when he ingredients are combined when using hands. DO NOT OVERMIX, it will result in drier meatballs.
- Shape the meat mixture into ball, about 3 tablespoons of meat per ball. You can also do this with an ice cream scoop. Place shaped meatballs on prepared baking sheet. bake for 11-13 minutes or until the meatballs are completely cooked.
- Using 2 tablespoon, dip each individual meatball into the sauce. Alternately, you can brush each meatball with the sauce. Place back on the baking sheet and bake for an additional 1-2 minutes. Drizzle or brush with additional sauce as desired.
- Panko is a Japanese style of breadcrumbs.
- A combination of ground chicken and turkey can be used to make these meatballs.
- If you would like to serve your meatballs with sauce, I would double the ingredients for the sauce portion as this recipe makes just enough for basting.
- The meatball mixture can be prepared the night before and baked the day of, if desired.
I love this easy and quick recipe! I’ll give it a try!
Hope you enjoy it Olivia, thanks for commenting! 🙂
These look awesome! My boyfriend would love them too. Definilty putting these on the list. I think I could make them into a dinner or stirfry kinda with veggies and rice too. What do u think?
Yup! Definitely, Julie! I’ve don’t it with a little steamed broccoli and white rice on the side before. Drizzled the firecracker sauce on the broccoli and rice, so good! I would suggest doubling the sauce if you guys like a little more gravy in your stirfrys! 🙂
These look yum..can you tell me how spicy they end up?
They weren’t too spicy for our taste. You could leave the red pepper flakes out if you’d like it to be more mild!
making tonight, exited to try!
Fantastic recipe! I will definitely be trying it soon! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Hello! I was wondering if I would be able to
Make these in a slow cooker? If so, what changes would I need to make to the recipe?
Unfortunately i’ve never tried making them in the slow cooker, Megan so i’m unsure if the recipe will actually work. This would definitely require addition recipe testing before I could say for sure!
I was going to ask the same question. I want to make this for a Christmas party and be able to keep them nice and warm, so I may cook them as described in the recipe, then place them in a slow cooker with some additional sauce.
Yes, I think that should work. I would keep it on warm rather than ‘low’ just to make sure they’re not drying out as they sit. Additional sauce is always a good idea 🙂
I made these little delights for a cocktail party. They were quite the hit.
What about using the sauce over shrimp? This reminds me of a similar dish at a local restaurant….
Sure! That sounds yummy!
Can these be frozen for later use,I want to have them for Christmas ,thanks in advance for a reply
Unfortunately we’ve never had leftovers to freeze! They’re always gone in a flash!
You could bake them and then freeze.. reheat and then sauce them when you’re ready to serve at a later date!
These were fantastic. Entire family loved them!! Followed the recipe to a t except for adding a T of chopped parsley to the chicken balls for taste and color. GREAT RECIPE!!!
Can these be frozen for a later use
I made this recipe for dinner tonight with rice. I followed the recipe exactly, except i used sriracha as opposed to Franks or another hot sauce. The meatballs were quick to mix and get on the cooking sheet and they were done on time and they on their own are delicious. The sauce was also easy to prepare and glazes the meatballs beautifully. I opted to not use the red pepper flake and it was a nice heat. I will definitely make these again. Great, easy and tasty recipe.
Great recipe! The only thing I found difficult to do was roll the sticky chicken meat into balls. It doesn’t roll as smoothly as ground beef does. I wonder if anyone has a trick to make this easier. Thanks for the recipe!
I find that wetting your hands with a bit of water in between rolling made things a breeze. Took care of that stickiness problem. Hope this helps!
I found that turkey isn’t as sticky. Also, I’ve use a cookie scoop when making alot and don’t want to roll- just scoop onto the baking sheet- not completely round, but I’m ok with that.
Looks yummy. Can I use usual breadcrumbs instead of panko
Unfortunately I can’t say if regular breadcrumbs would work. I’ve only tested the recipe with panko.
Made these for a family Christmas party. They are awesome. I used ground turkey and I mixed them up the day before so the garlic flavor really marinated in the meat. Super easy and will be making them again. The sauce would make an amazing stir fry sauce I think.
made these for the afc championship game. They were a hit. i plan on using the sauce for more.yum
Made these this afternoon as a trial run…. Loved it! I recommend thickening the sauce a little bit with a cornstarch and water slurry to make it more of a glaze. Delicious! Thanks for the recipe!
I made these today and they were fantastic. I was surprised to be able to get Franks sauce in Australia but it is in the regular supermarkets. I found the sauce thickened enough on cooling to glaze. The meatballs were moist (I used ground chicken thighs) and although the panko felt strange to the hands when mixing (because they are hard) it all mixed well. Will be making again.
I saw this recipe on Pinterest and decided to try it today. Best decision ever!! I added minced onions, ginger, and chipotle pepper seasoning to the sauce. This is a keeper!
Will be Tring tonight thanks dear!!
So they are pretty spices? Hubby doesn’t do spices well, I on the other hand love it. Just wondering if he cud tolerate if I left out the pepper flakes??
I love this recipe Marzia! I made them for a hot nibbles party and I had people asking for more! It has since become a firm favourite in our household. Thank you! Great job!
I love these meatballs! I am going to be making them tonight, but wondered if instead of making meatballs do you think they would turn at well as a burger patty?
Glad to hear it! Not sure about the burger patties, Abby, this would require further recipe testing. I’m worried the patties may not hold.
So delicious! I made it for the fourth of July, and my family LOVED it! Definitely will make this in the future.
OMG Marzia! These firecracker meatballs are awesome! Even my husband, who does not get excited about food, raved about them, lol! I subbed with ground turkey only because that is what I had and it turned out great. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe!!! 🙂
OMG!!!! I just made these meatballs and they were great! I followed the recipe exactly. It is spicy but I loved it!
I made these today and they were very well liked.
I left out the red chile flakes and added some ketchup to the sauce to cut the heat a bit since I was dealing with non-spicy food people.
I cooked the meatballs in a 550 degree convection oven to try and get some browning in the short cooking time and I glazed them 3 times to try and build up the glaze.
Broke out the kitchenaid with the grinder attachment to grind up some boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
Good recipe. Thanks.
In a pinch, could you use ground beef instead?
Sure, think it should work out just fine! 🙂
Hi, what herb did you put on last? Is that parsley?
Yup, it’s parsley 🙂
What about doubling the sauce and letting the meatballs sit in the sauce in a crockpot on warm? I’m looking to make these for thanksgiving.
My best guess is that they should be fine for a few hours on the ‘warm’ setting. Haven’t tried it before but I do think that should work!
Hey Samantha! Did you end up making these for Thanksgiving? I’m getting ready to make them now and am thinking of just baking them tonight and keeping on warm in the crockpot tomorrow. I’m just wondering if you made them, how did they turn out?
Samantha, did you tru the crockpot? I would like to bake and freeze in sauce and put in crock later
These were the best! Thanks for the recipe!