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 dinner tonight & this recipe is a KEEPER! Will definitely make for our first football party this season ?a
Love this recipe!! I have made the Hawaiian BBQ and the Firecracker sauce and both were great. I also, make extra for the kids (18 months to 3 years old) that I don’t dip. The Firecracker sauce was too hot for us with the red pepper flakes (I only used 1/4 tsp) so I remade the sauce omitting it. They were a big hit with everyone and I’ve already shared the recipe. I made them small by using a rounded teaspoon. It made 48 balls and I cooked for 10 minutes. I served them on a platter with additional dipping sauce on the side. They are yummy at room temperature too!!
These were great. I’ll be making them again!
Very well received at a church supper. I made them as printed, but will also play with the recipe. The sauce is delicious and would work for other meats and veggies. Thanks for this!
This was a huge hit with my family although
I cut the hot sauce in half and added 2 tblsp.
Of apricot jam. Thinking that they would find too
Spicy. But it wasn’t!!!! Great recipe especially grinding my own chicken breasts and thighs.
Looking for something a different. I read this recipe and thought it sounded good. I ran to the store to get a few things that I need. This was so good, that I am thinking about bringing it to a friends birthday party. The friends family is a huge fan of spicy foods, and I believe these meatballs will be hit. I will make them a bit smaller, and serve them in a crockpot to keep them warm. Can’t wait to share.
This recipe is a keeper and so easy to make. I did 1 lb turkey and 1 lb chicken. It was super spicy but delicious.
can these be made in a slow cooker?
Made these for a Christmas party last night. I used three pounds of meat. Next year I will use four or five. Everyone loved them. Not a single one leftover. Huge hit! Next time I will cook the sauce longer to thicken it more. I would love the meatballs to be more coated by the sauce.
Has anyone had luck replacing the eggs with something?
Made them last night – added smoked paprika and pineapple marmalade (didn’t have brown sugar). It was delicious! Just the right amount of spice!
These were excellent! Easy too! We had company that devoured them! I will be making them often.. thank you for the recipe!
I have made this several times, they are a huge hit with my husband and I. However, I want to try and substitute the brown sugar for something a little healthier, any suggestions on a replacement that will still simmer and thicken up ? Thank you 🙂
Truvia?Brown Sugar Blend!!
Turned out great! ?
Can you substitute ground pork rinds for the panko so it would be Keto friendly
I made these tonight for dinner. They were fantastic!
Oh, that’s awesome! Appreciate you taking the time to come back and comment, Debbie!
My daughter in law made this for dinner. And the family loved it.
So happy to hear it was enjoyed, Melvyne! Thank you for taking the time to come back and comment 🙂
The picture looks like there is parsley or something green in it on the meatballs, but I don’t see it in the ingredients?
Parsley, for pictures!
Great overall flavor but too sweet and not spicy enough for me. Modified recipe as follows: Used only only one pound of meat so had to adjust other ingredients. Subbed Thai sweet & spicy as my “hot” sauce and increased ACV. Also added sauce in with meatballs to carmelize them, which worked but need to add more panko to bind them. Increased cooking time to 15 minutes. Next time would decrease brown sugar and add minced jalapeno. Taste: #8/10. Spiciness#1/10. Will make again. Bon Appetit!
Hi there! I’m so glad to hear you gave these meatballs a try! I think what may have aided in making these meatballs too sweet, was the sweet and spicy Thai sauce subbed in place of the hot sauce. The hot sauce recommended adds tartness and spice but doesn’t add additional sugar so it balances the amount of brown sugar called for in the recipe. I suggest trying the recipe with a tangy hot sauce instead of the Thai sweet chili sauce as it add a bit more spice and balances the flavors 🙂
Can you please add the nutritional info (calories/serving) here please. Thank you!
Hi Nadia! I don’t have the nutrition information calculated for this recipe. If you’d like to get the information, you can simply pop the URL of this page into myfitnesspal and it will auto-populate it for you. You can also then edit the recipe with the brand of hot sauce you used, etc. for more accurate nutritional content! Hope that helps!
These were great!
Love hearing that! Thank you for circling back to leave a comment, Sharon 🙂
Made this for dinner with a side of cauliflower rice. So good and so easy! Highly recommend.
Low on time can I use crockpot to heat meatballs? And add sauce? Should I still cook sauce on stove?
This was an amazing hit. I love the sauce. Next time I won’t overcook it so it won’t be dry but it was delicious
One of our favorite recipes. Always double up on the sauce. These disappear very quickly.
Hi, can these firecracker meatballs be frozen?
Has anyone frozen the chicken balls then added the sauce when baking? I love make ahead recipes.
I freeze them all the time, just warm in oven.
I have even frozen the sauce.
They seem to have more flavour as well.
Very good. I wish I could share a pic. This is spicy! My stepdad wouldn’t like it. But, the rest of the house should be fine.
I just made these little guys and OH MAN THEY ARE TASTY! I halved the meatball recipe because I only had one pound of chicken and no turkey but I made the full recipe for the sauce. Because I jumped ahead and didn’t read the recipe all the way beforehand, a big no-no, I browned them on the stovetop and then put them in the oven. Then I basted them like twice and finished it off with the rest of the sauce. My husband scarfed down two right away and I downed like three. Our daughter’s friend’s eyes bugged out when she tasted them and declared them “the best things EVER!” I will definitely be making these again and again. And again. And again. So good! Thanks for sharing this delightful recipe!
I made the sauce w cholula and used frozen meatballs, super good. But my husband dipped his grilled shrimp in the extra sauce,mmmmmmmm. Skipping meatballs next time!
I made this tonight and it was amazing! This is a keeper! The sauce can be used on chicken wings and even steak.
This was a hit!! I did double up the sauce. Definitely a keeper. I do think I will reduce the size of them next time.
Is there a recomendation on how to make meaning, bake the chicken balls ahead of time, and rewarm when time to serve? Don’t want them to dry out!