CHEESY CHICKEN PARMESAN MEATBALLS (LOW CARB AND KETO FRIENDLY)

by Ron Van Harten

Cheesy Chicken Parmesan Meatballs is a comforting meal that you can make low carb and keto friendly ~ or decadently carb-a-licious ~ with just a few tweaks, and switching out how you serve them.

This is my kind of meal…I couldn’t stop thinking about it from the moment I bought the ingredients. It’s been a while since I’ve made meatballs with ground chicken, and I really like how it lightens them up.

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What makes these chicken parmesan meatballs keto and low carb friendly?

  • Meatballs most often contain breadcrumbs in the mixture, which helps to give the meatballs a looser, more appealing texture.  I’ve substituted almond flour (you can also use Parmesan cheese) for the crumbs.
  • Tomato sauce is often laden with hidden sugars.  I’ve used a brand that I love that has no added sugar, Rao’s .  I love the Arrabbiata spicy version, which adds some zing to my casserole.
  • I serve these large meatballs all by themselves, with a big green salad on the side, so there’s no extra carbs in the meal.
  • Meatballs made this way are a great way to get a delicious high protein satisfying meal if you’re cutting carbs.

Grant and I are on a low carb kick (we’re both trying to lose a few pounds) and so we ate the meatballs naked. To clarify, the meatballs were naked, not us 😉  But if you’re ok with bread, I highly recommend these soft pillowy meatballs laid across a crusty roll, drenched with extra sauce, of course.

That’s right, I use my KitchenAid mixer to mix meatballs and meatloaves…why?  Because I’ve found that the paddle attachment, on low, combines all the ingredients more quickly, more thoroughly, and way more neatly than I can do with my hands.  Try it and you’ll see what I mean.

*This method works great if you want to make the meat mixture ahead ~ just pop a lid on your mixer bowl and stash it in the fridge.

I got a little carried away and made these meatballs into a ginormous 1/2 cup size. I used an ice cream scoop to portion out the meat mixture and then rolled them in almond meal (or bread crumbs for regular meatballs) before browning.  My inner kid really loves giant meatballs 🙂

But you could definitely scale back if you like to a more normal size. The cooking time would be a little shorter in that case.  These could even be made into bite sized cocktail meatballs, just add toothpicks!

The most important thing? Be sure to eat these chicken Parm meatballs straightaway while the cheese is still all gooey.

How to serve chicken Parmesan meatballs low carb style ~

I like them the Italian way, served straight up, in little bowls. (I make a crunchy salad to go alongside.)

Over zoodles or other spiralized veggies.

Over mashed cauliflower

With green beans or broccoli

If you aren’t following a low carb diet, or you’re feeding a family or a crowd , I suggest serving the meatballs over pasta, or tucking them into a submarine roll, slathered with more of that sauce, of course.

How to freeze chicken meatballs

  • After forming and coating the meatballs place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the freezer for 2 hours, or until firmly frozen.  Transfer to a heavy duty zip lock bag and remove any excess air as you zip it closed.
  • To thaw, transfer the frozen meatballs to the refrigerator and leave overnight.

How to reheat leftover chicken Parmesan meatballs

  • We found these meatballs reheated beautifully without any textural issues that we get with ground beef.
  • Individual servings can be reheated in the microwave.
  • For larger portions, cover with foil and heat in a 350F until warmed through.

Chicken Parmesan Meatball Casserole

CoursedinnerCuisineAmericanPrep Time20 minutesCook Time45 minutesrefrigeration1 hourYield 8 servings

Equipment

  • a large casserole or cast iron braising pan

Ingredients

meatballs

  • 2 pounds ground chicken I used white meat but dark meat is fine
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten with a fork
  • 1/2 cup almond meal plus more for rolling (substitute more Parmesan cheese, or breadcrumbs for higher carb count)
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves minced (more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup grated onion
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil for brushing

casserole

  • 32 ounce or 904 gram jar of Raos Marinara Sauce (or yourfavorite no sugar added tomato sauce)
  • 2 cups or 227 grams shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Put all the meatball ingredients, except the olive oil) into a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend gently but thoroughly, making sure all of the components get evenly distributed.
  • Scoop out 1/2 cup amounts using an ice cream scoop if you like, and form large round meatballs. The mixture will be very moist, and that’s fine. Place the meatballs in a single layer in a large baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour, or overnight if you want to make these ahead.
  • Turn oven down to 350F or preheat if the next day.
  • Lightly coat the bottom of a large baking pan with olive oil. Roll the meatballs in bread crumbs and arrange in a single layer in your pan. Brush the tops liberally with olive oil.
  • Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
  • Add your sauce to the pan and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.
  • Top liberally with the cheese, return to oven just until it melts. You can run it under the broiler for additional browning, but watch like a hawk so it doesn’t burn.
  • Makes 15 large or 30 regular sized meatballs.

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