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Chicken Pesto Meatballs

These tender, pesto-stuffed meatballs get gobbled up in our house. They're short on ingredients, but packed with flavor. I always make a double batch, freezing the other half for a busy night. —Ally Billhorn, Wilton, Iowa
  • Total Time
    Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
  • Makes
    4 servings


  • 6 ounces uncooked whole grain spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 pound lean ground chicken
  • 1-1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Optional: Torn fresh basil and additional Parmesan cheese


  • Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain.
  • In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, pesto, cheese and garlic powder. Add chicken; mix lightly but thoroughly. Shape into 1-in. balls.
  • In a large skillet, brown meatballs over medium heat, turning occasionally. Add sauce and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve with spaghetti. If desired, top with basil and additional cheese.
    Freeze option: Freeze cooled meatball mixture in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a covered saucepan over low heat, stirring gently; add water if necessary.

Test Kitchen tips
  • If you don't have dry bread crumbs, substitute with an equal amount of unsalted cracker crumbs or uncooked oats, or use 3/4 cup soft bread crumbs.
  • Overmixing ground meat causes meat loaves, meatballs and burgers to have an unappealing firm and compact texture.
  • Mixing the seasonings and any bread crumbs or liquid ingredients before adding the meat helps blend the flavors without over-handling the meat.
  • Nutrition Facts
    3/4 cup meatball mixture with 1 cup spaghetti: 422 calories, 12g fat (3g saturated fat), 85mg cholesterol, 706mg sodium, 45g carbohydrate (7g sugars, 7g fiber), 32g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 starch, 3 lean meat, 1-1/2 fat.

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    • Andrea
      Sep 15, 2020

      Delicious and they came together so quickly. Loved the new favorite meatballs for pasta.

    • cherylgcox
      Jun 25, 2020

      Delicious meatballs! We are using more chicken than beef lately - healthier and less expensive. They also freeze well. Husband approved!

    • Sharon
      Apr 8, 2020

      Delicious! Quick, easy recipe with pantry ingredients. Meatballs are tender and flavorful! I had a pound of ground chicken in my freezer and was looking for a recipe to make with what I had in my pantry during the "stay at home" quarantine. This will be now be a regular at my house.

    • Justluv2cook
      Dec 3, 2019

      Just love a recipe with a chicken option! Love the Pesto too. Easy and flavorful. Just sauteed a bit of fresh garlic and onion added into meatballs cause I love it! Thumbs up! Thanks for the easy recipe