These BBQ cheddar jalapeno chicken meatballs are the perfect snack or appetizer for your next backyard barbecue or game day party. Baked to perfection in around 20 minutes, these easy chicken meatballs are bursting with tons of flavor in every bite.
There are few healthy recipes I like more than meatballs—especially during football season. On top of being a delicious and easy finger food, meatballs are also incredibly versatile and can be switched up in a million different ways.
I came up with the idea for these BBQ cheddar jalapeno chicken meatballs when I was craving something rich, savory, cheesy, and a little spicy. The results were absolutely delicious, so today I’m sharing the recipe with you.
After starting with a basic chicken meatball recipe, I added in cheddar cheese, jalapeno peppers, and chopped cilantro.
Then, I baked the meatballs and tossed them in barbecue sauce before serving them to my family. We all fell in love immediately and the rest was history… just like these meatballs, after about 10 minutes!
You can serve these BBQ chicken meatballs in a crockpot next to a jar of toothpicks as an easy grab-and-go appetizer, or load them into a sub roll for the ultimate meatball sub. However you choose to serve this dish, it guarantees to be a crowd-pleaser.
Key Ingredients and Easy Swaps
Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients you’ll need to make this chicken meatball recipe.
- Ground Chicken: You can use any kind of ground chicken you like, but I typically prefer to use 95% lean ground chicken. Alternatively, ground turkey would also work well.
- Cheddar Cheese: Shredded cheddar cheese melts beautifully in the meatballs, adding tons of cheesy flavor to every bite.
- Jalapeno Pepper: The heat from the peppers is balanced out by the cheese and barbecue sauce, adding a slight kick to the meatballs without being overly spicy.
- Onions and Garlic: Diced onions and garlic add lots of flavor and a nice crunch to give these chicken meatballs some bite.
- Fresh Cilantro: Make sure to use fresh cilantro, not dried, for the best flavor.
- Egg: You need just one egg to bind these meatballs together and keep them from falling apart.
- Seasoning: The only spices you need are salt, pepper, and cumin. These add just the right amount of flavor to enhance the natural flavors of the other ingredients.
- Barbecue Sauce: You can use any store-bought barbecue sauce you like best.
Recipe Tips Best Chicken Meatballs
Here are some of my top tips to help you make the best BBQ chicken meatballs:
- If you want to switch things up, try swapping the shredded cheddar cheese for cheddar cubes and stick one into the center of each meatball before baking them for a gooey explosion of cheese in every meatball.
- For keto chicken meatballs, make sure to use a low-carb barbecue sauce or leave out the sauce altogether. You can also make gluten-free chicken meatballs by opting for a gluten-free barbecue sauce.
- If you don’t want to bake your meatballs in the oven, you can cook them on the stove, in an air fryer, or in a crockpot. Make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly based on the method you choose.
- Make sure to finely dice the jalapenos and onions so you don’t get any bites with a giant chunk in it.
- Toss your meatballs with the barbecue sauce straight out of the oven while they’re still hot to ensure that the sauce is absorbed into the meatballs for maximum flavor.
How to Store Leftover Meatballs
Meatballs do incredibly well in the freezer, so don’t be afraid to double or even triple the recipe with the intention of storing a few batches for lazy days. To store leftover meatballs, wait for them to cool completely before transferring them to an airtight container or ziploc bag. These meatballs will stay good in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
To store for longer, keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months. If you choose to freeze your meatballs, I recommend spreading them out on a baking sheet and placing the sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes before placing them in a container for long-term storage. This will keep the meatballs from sticking together.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions about this BBQ chicken meatball recipe:
To keep meatballs from falling apart, you need to add some sort of binder. Some people use a combination of bread crumbs and eggs, but in this recipe I chose to stick to eggs. Not only do eggs act as a binder in meatballs, but they also help to make sure they come out moist and soft instead of dry and rubbery.
Meatballs can come out tough and rubbery if you pack them too tightly when forming them into balls. When forming your meatballs, wet your hands to keep them from sticking to you and gently roll them into balls without pressing or packing too firmly.
You can easily switch up this chicken meatball recipe by leaving out the barbecue sauce or swapping it for a different type of sauce. You can use any kind of sauce you want, from a simple butter sauce to a spicy chili sauce or even a creamy white sauce.
You can serve these meatballs with any side dishes you like. When I’m serving them as an appetizer, I typically pair them with other finger foods like raw veggies and chips with dip. When I serve them as a meal, I like to enjoy these meatballs with a serving of brown rice or quinoa and roasted or grilled veggies.
BBQ Cheddar Jalapeno Chicken Meatballs
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- 1 lb 95% lean ground chicken
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/8 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp onions, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (adjust or leave out for Low Carb/Paleo/Gluten-free)
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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