Chicken nugget meatballs

A few weeks ago I had an idea to make some simple chicken meatballs. Most of my kids will eat meatballs, so it's usually a good easy weeknight meal for us. With some pasta and a salad, we've got a good dinner and it isn't much work. But I wanted to lighted them up a bit this time, so I thought I'd make them with chicken instead of my usual combination of beef & pork (or frozen!). 


And in doing so, something magical happened...

I mixed these up and started browning them, and tasted one. I realized that it tasted an awful lot like a chicken nugget (in a good way!). I have one super picky child who eats nothing, but chicken nuggets are on her very short list.

So I asked her if she would be willing to taste this thing I just made that tastes just like a chicken nugget. 

She agreed. And she liked it! I was giddy!

If you have an extreme picky eater, then you understand the joy you feel when you discover something they will eat that is homemade and relatively healthy.

I've made homemade chicken nuggets before, but it seemed so labor intensive that I didn't do it again. They had to be shaped like nuggets, and rolled in breading - a lot of work for nuggets. But for these I just used a cookie scoop to get the rough balls, and then finished rolling and dropped in a pan with some oil. I think because they had bread crumbs in the mix then they had a feeling of a crust, without having to actually crust them. It was easy and quick!

My original plan had been to plop all of these in a pot of sauce to finish cooking, but since she liked them I decided to not do that. I instead cooked them through and then put in a couple of oven proof dishes. I kept one dish of them plain, and the other I topped with sauce & cheese - so it had a bit of a chicken parmesan taste to it. 

This is definitely one of those guideline type of recipes. This is the approximate ingredients that I used, but these quantities are not mandatory and really it's more of an eyeball type thing. 


  • ground white meat chicken - around 2 pounds
  • Italian style seasoned bread crumbs - a cup or so
  • eggs - 2 or 3
  • garlic powder - a teaspoon or so
  • onion powder - a teaspoon or so
  • fresh ground pepper
  • oil for cooking


Mix all ingredients together except the oil. The consistency should be bit like dough - you should be able to form it into shape without it falling apart or seeming too wet. It's the combination of bread crumbs + eggs that help hold this together. If your mixture seems too wet, add a bit more bread crumbs. Too dry, add another egg.

Generally for this kind of thing it's a good idea to cook a little bit to taste and check for seasoning before you cook the whole lot. Seasoned bread crumbs can often have a lot of salt in them, so I wouldn't salt this much if at all until you've tasted. Pinch off a bit and put it in a hot pan to cook, and then taste. Then add salt as needed. Then when you are happy with the seasoning you can shape into meatballs. I use a small cookie scoop, drop the scooped bit into my hands, finish shaping into a ball, and then put in my pan.

Brown on all sides in a pan with a bit of vegetable oil over medium heat. They likely won't be cooked all the way through, so you'll need to either turn down your heat and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or you can put them in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes. 

You could also cook these from star to finish in the oven - I'd do a foil lined baking sheet, at 350 for probably 20-30 minutes.

We had ours with sauce & pasta. They'd be great just dipped in ketchup too. 


Pizza Muffins and Meatball Muffins!!

These little guys really are irresistible!  The meatball muffins are like a little bite size (or two bite!) meatball sandwich.  Everything you want - a tasty meatball, a little drippy with sauce, melted cheese, and soft bread that gets a little soaked up with sauce - but in a much more manageable size, so it's not all running down your elbows.

The pizza version is the same, minus the meatball - just a couple bites of saucy and cheesy goodness.  They are very much like my pizza rolls, only shaped a little different.   I made these for my kids to have for dinner, and enough to save for a school lunch later in the week. 

I don't think I can call these recipes, they're just too easy.  These were really just something I threw together, but as soon as I shared it on IG and FB I had folks asking me for the recipe.  So I guess these easy crowd pleasers are what you all want!  I don't get as much opportunities to cook and photograph something as I'd like.  This isn't one of those food blogs where people are cooking something just to photograph and blog about.  No, here you are getting what we are actually eating.  But this was a rare occasion when I was cooking something in the middle of the day to have ready for later, so I was able to actually get some nice photos of it for you. 


The "Ingredients"

  • Crescent roll dough
  • Tomato sauce
  • Cheese
  • Cooked meatballs

I use Trader Joe's crescent roll dough.  I think it has a much more 'homemade' flavor than the other brands, and even though it's still quite processed it at least doesn't have a big long list of unrecognizable stuff in it.  It doesn't come out of the can very nicely, they almost always tear when it pops open.  I'm guessing that this is because the package isn't lined with all that nice BPA, so it's a tradeoff I"m willing to make.  You could use biscuits as well, or you could certainly do this with any kind of homemade dough.   One can of dough has 8 rolls, so you'll need 1 1/2 for a dozen muffins.  I made two pans, half with meatballs and half without, so 3 cans of dough and 12 meatballs. 

My tomato sauce was just canned tomatoes, pureed with a blender.  We had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner last night so I had heated up the meatballs in the sauce.  I think you could use any kind of tomato sauce or pizza sauce.

The meatballs I used were a combination of some homemade, and some frozen from the store - I had a little bit of each.  My homemade meatball recipe is here.  If you're going to make meatballs for this I would suggest you make them small.  The dough is very tender, so I don't think it will hold a big meatball.  These meatballs were all cooked and cold from the refrigerator (not frozen). 

And for cheese - well, I would have used shredded mozzarella, but I was out, so I just took some mozzarella string cheese and tore it into pieces.  I think any kind of cheese you've got would be just great. 


  • Line muffin tins with dough.  For the crescent rolls, I used one piece per muffin space, and just folded and worked it around to shape like a little nest. I did not grease my pans at all because my pans are new and pretty well nonstick, and this dough has a lot of fat in it.
  • Put in a small spoonful of sauce
  • For the meatball muffins: place 1 meatball on top of dough.
  • Cover with shredded or just pieces of cheese.
  • If you have pieces of dough hanging over the sides, fold them over just a bit.
  • Bake in a 350 oven for 12-15 minutes.
  • Let cool for a few minutes before trying to remove from the pans, they are much easier to handle once the cheese has set up a little. 

And that's it.  Easy!

Easy Weeknight Lentil & Meatball Soup

Easy Weeknight Lentil & Meatball Soup

One of the things that I hope people can learn from me is how a little bit of planning ahead can make your life so much easier!  One of the biggest benefits of doing yourself the favor of a weekly meal plan is that you can think through how you can use leftovers from one meal as the basis for another meal later in the week.  You can plan ahead for how you can cook once for multiple meals.

So what I'm sharing with you in this post isn't so much of a recipe, but it's an example of how I've used my plan and cooked ahead to make a super easy weeknight meal that tastes like it cooked for hours.  

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