Homemade Barbecue Chicken Meatballs

Barbecue Chicken Meatballs

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 24 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
73 Calories
3g Fat
6g Carbs
5g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 73
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 16mg 5%
Sodium 171mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 5g
Calcium 11mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These barbecue chicken meatballs are moist and juicy because they're made with chicken thighs. The chicken thighs keep the meatballs juicy. If you're watching fat intake, feel free to make them with equal amounts of chicken breasts and thighs.

If you grind the chicken yourself you can be sure of the content and fat ratio. We used the grinder attachment on our stand mixer, but you could also use a freestanding meat grinder or food processor to grind the chicken with the spices and onion. Or buy good quality ground chicken and mix it with the spices.

The chicken meatballs make a tasty appetizer or entrée. As an appetizer, serve them hot from a slow cooker or chafing dish. Or serve them over rice or Asian noodles for a tasty meal.


  • 1 pound chicken thighs (boneless, without skin, or use purchased ground chicken)
  • 2 slices bread (torn into small pieces)
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup onion (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce

Steps to Make It

  1. Trim the chicken thighs, discarding excess fat. Cut the thighs into small chunks.

  2. Soak the bread in the milk for about 2 to 3 minutes.

  3. In a food processor, combine the soaked bread with the chicken pieces, onion, garlic, thyme, sage, salt, black pepper, nutmeg, allspice, and cayenne. Process until ground and well blended. Alternatively, grind the chicken and onion in a meat grinder and then mix with the remaining ingredients.

  4. If you're using pre-ground chicken, mix it with the soaked bread and spices until well blended.

  5. Put the chicken mixture in a bowl, cover, and chill for one to two hours.

  6. Heat the oven to 425 F.

  7. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or foil.

  8. Moisten your hands with some cold water to keep the chicken mixture from sticking.

  9. Shape the ground chicken mixture into one-inch meatballs and arrange them on the parchment or foil-lined baking pan.

  10. Bake the meatballs in the preheated oven for 18 to 22 minutes or until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked. The meatballs should register at least 165 F on a food thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball. That's the minimum safe temperature for ground poultry.

  11. Heat the meatballs in a saucepan or slow cooker with the barbecue sauce until they are hot and nicely glazed.


  • If you're working with ground chicken breasts, add some fat to keep the meatballs moist. Full fat yogurt is a good option, or add some finely chopped bacon or pork sausage meat.