These baked sage chicken meatballs are absolutely mouthwatering. Ground chicken thigh is flavored with shallots, lots of garlic, a little crushed red pepper, warming sage, fresh parsley, and sharp parmesan cheese. The mixture is formed into balls and baked with a drizzle of olive oil until golden and juicy. They’re made even better served over creamy parmesan orzo. It’s a flavorful dinner that is easy enough to make on a weeknight, yet special enough to save for the weekend!
baked sage chicken meatballs – the details
You’ll start by making the chicken meatball mixture. I’m using ground chicken thigh for these because I find it to be so much more flavorful and results in a juicier finished product than ground chicken breast. If you don’t see a package of ground thigh, you can usually find it behind the meat counter or even ask the butcher to grind it fresh for you.
The other key to this mix is to soak some fresh bread in warm water, just long enough so that it absorbs the liquid and becomes soft. I like to use an Italian or French loaf of bread from the bakery section. The bread adds little pockets of moisture throughout the meatballs which keeps them tender and juicy.
The rest of the ingredients in the meatball mixture are there solely for flavor (and lots of it). The star is really the fresh sage…it’s a powerful herb, so the two tablespoons in this recipe adds a nice punch of hearty, warming flavor that instantly tastes like fall.
Once everything is mixed up, you’ll simply form the balls and bake them off with a little olive oil on top to help promote the browning. They come out golden, juicy, and very tasty.
While the chicken meatballs bake, the orzo comes together quickly on the stovetop. I like to start it when the meatballs have about 15 minutes left in the oven so that it’s ready at the same time.
The process is simple, and the flavors are minimal but so incredibly tasty together – browned butter, more sage & shallots, white wine, fresh thyme, a splash of cream, and plenty of parmesan. I added in some spinach, too, just to get some greens in.
You can serve this and the meatballs as is or add on a roasted vegetable to really complete the meal. It’s so, so delicious…hopefully one of those recipes you keep coming back to over and over again!Print
Baked Sage Chicken Meatballs with Parmesan Orzo
baked sage chicken meatballs over creamy parmesan orzo & spinach
Baked Sage Chicken Meatballs
- 2 oz fresh italian bread, diced
- ½ cup warm water
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 ½ lbs ground chicken thigh
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp butter
- 8 sage leaves
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 cup orzo
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 small handful fresh thyme sprigs, tied in kitchen twine
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 2 oz fresh spinach (approximately 2 cups)
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- freshly cracked black pepper
- For the meatballs, preheat the oven to 450°F. Prepare a sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper. Lightly oil the parchment. Place the diced bread in a large mixing bowl and pour the warm water over top. Let soak, submerged, for at least 5 minutes.
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium heat. Add the butter. Once melted, add the minced shallot and garlic. Cook for a minute or so until softened. Stir in the granulated garlic and red pepper flakes. Turn off the heat.
- Add the ground chicken, parmesan, sage, parsley, salt, and shallot mixture to the bowl of bread. Mix until incorporated. Form the mixture into approximately 15 (2 oz) meatballs, packing them tightly. Place them onto the prepared sheet pan. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and bake on the top rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
- For the orzo, wipe out the skillet and place it back over medium heat. Add the butter and let it melt. Add the sage leaves. Let them crisp as the butter begins to brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sage to a paper towel.
- Add the shallots to the butter and season with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the orzo. Pour in the white wine and add the thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer again, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 6 more minutes, stirring often.
- Add in the heavy cream, spinach, and parmesan. Let the cream simmer while the spinach wilts and parmesan melts, stirring continuously. Season with salt to taste. Remove the thyme sprigs.
- Serve the chicken meatballs over the orzo. Garnish with the crispy sage, freshly cracked black pepper, more parmesan, and any extra chopped parsley & thyme leaves.