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.
Made these for a party and everyone loved them!! Delicious!
I absolutely loved these meatballs and they were such a hit at the party.
Frank’s hot sauce is delicious, but make sure you cook it long enough or you don’t get the rich flavour.
I made 1 batch but ate quite a few when l got them out and made 2 more batches.
Delicious!! Simple and quick to make. Definitely will make again.
Hi, looking at the picture of these meatballs looks so appealing. I didn’t see, within the recipe, what the green bits could be. My thought is chopped basil leaves but I didn’t see that listed as a garnish. Please help.
It’s chopped parsley. Just for pictures, really!
This looks soooooooo good. Only problem is, I have to be careful with anything hot and spicy. What can I substitute the hot sauce for? Thanks!
I don’t think you can replace all the hot sauce, unfortunately, but you could swap a good portion of it for ketchup to help take away some of the spice. Also, just omit the red pepper flakes.
Such a great idea. I made a variation of this recipe with pork instead of chicken and sandwiched the meat patties between slices of lotus root cooked in your Firecracker sauce. Worked really well.
Hi Marzia! These are amazing! My husband was a little worried when he saw the spicy ingredients but he gobbled up his dinner & went back for seconds! Here we are & he’s asking for your recipe again. Kudos to you! He is a “bit” choosy. I found your recipe but I can’t save it to Pinterest. Oh no! I wonder if there is something going on with the link? When I try to save it, the Pinterest screen goes black.
Hi there! Can the hot sauce be switched with sriracha?
I think someone else mentioned in the comments below that they did that but I’m not sure how spicy it would make the firecracker sauce if you were to replace all the hot sauce with sriracha. It just depends on personal preference!
I made this tonight and my husband and I loved it! Will be making it again! Thanks!
Made this tonight as a appetizer for a neighborhood party and they were a hit! Love sweet and spicy! They were delicious and gone in no time. Several requests for the recipe. I made mine a little smaller – about 2 tbsp which was a perfect appetizer size and made 24 meatballs. So easy to make. Thanks for the great recipe!
These meatballs are delicious! I made them for a party for the first time and was a bit nervous since I’ve never made them before, but they were perfect and delicious! People loved them and actually thought they were store bought (because not too many people cook these days). I don’t like Frank’s sauce and instead keep Valentina hot sauce which is what I used and they came out great. Thanks for sharing this recipe!
We really liked this! My little guy keeps asking if I’ll make “spicy meatballs” for supper again.
This was a really hot sauce. We are used to hot receipes but I certainly will have to use less peppers and hot sauces. My husband said it had a good taste. I will try them agai.
These are so good and a nice change. I used 2lbs of ground chicken and it made 53 small (1.5 tbl) balls. I didn’t have fresh garlic so used 2 tsp of ground. I initially did not add the pepper flake and it ended up being hot enough for us. I cooked at 450 for 5 minutes, then flipped the balls and cooked for another 4. Otherwise they get dark on the bottom. I put the sauce on at the end and served in crock pot. Delicious!
These were fantastic & easy to make! Made them a little larger and had them as a dinner entree. A little ranch dressing on the side for dipping made for a fantastic contrast to the hot flavor. Also had them on a toasted bun with melted cheese. Delicious!!
Hi. The photo shows a chopped herb garnishing the meatballs – is this parsley – I couldn’t see where a herb for garnish was mentioned in the ingredients list. Can you kindly advise please? Thank you.
This recipe has become a family favorite for any gathering we have.
Hi! I love this recipe as it is, but was Wondering if it is at all keto friendly or could possibly substituted for that? Thanks!
I make a Keto buffalo chicken meatball recipe that uses Almond flour instead of Panko or regular breadcrumbs. You could try that, but I don’t know how much you would use. Definitely not a cup.
I’ve made this recipe twice now. Love it! However I added green onion and fresh parsley to the meatballs. They tasted better and had a nicer look to them. Thanks for the recipe!
I also substituted the pinko with ground ritz crackers. My son has nut allergies and he can eat ritz. Very good!
How do you think they’d taste with Frank’s Buffalo Hot Sauce?
It should work just fine!
Simple and absolutely delicious. I used ground turkey (not the super lean) and accidentally used a whole teaspoon of paprika, but it still came out great. This makes PLENTY of sauce for the purpose of glazing and drizzling the meatballs. If you wanted to serve this as a stir fry with rice and veggies, you could double it, but it makes a good bit.
I used Panda Express sweet chili sauce worked great!
Can you use shredded chicken in the place of the ground chicken?
Hi. I love these I’ve made them a couple times but just wondering if you know the nutrition facts? How many calories per serving?
Super easy recipe. I used ground turkey and they turned out great. I did find the sauce a little too sweet but i think cutting the brown sugar in half would make it perfect. I’d make again for sure!
This is a really good recipe! Not too hot, not too sweet, just right. I will definitely be serving these at parties!
Thank you for a great recipe!
I made this with ground turkey and my family absolutely loved it and asked when we can have it again! It is spicy, but my kids loved it!
I made these meatballs and they were delicious. They tastes like an Asian dish. The simple ingredients and easy to make. Lord willing I will definitely make these again. Maybe for a potluck.
THis looks so good! What a yummy one to bring as an appetizer instead of BBQ meatballs.