Buffalo Chicken and Quinoa Meatballs

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These Buffalo Chicken and Quinoa Meatballs are a healthier spin on buffalo chicken meatballs. Made with lean ground chicken and whole-grain quinoa, these meatballs deliver on flavor and nutrition.


When it comes to meatballs, buffalo chicken meatballs are high on the list of favorite party foods. The bite-sized meatballs drenched in buffalo sauce are hard to beat. But what if we could make them healthier? These Chicken and Quinoa Buffalo Meatballs do just that!

With football season gearing up this weekend, it’s time to start to talk about football food, which I’d venture to say we get all get behind whether or not we are true fans of the game.

As a Notre Dame grad and native New Englander, football runs in my veins, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I get just as excited about all the delicious food. So whether you whip up these tasty slow cooker meatballs for the big game or for a delicious family dinner, they are sure to please.

Serve them drizzled with some light ranch or blue cheese dressing and I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you they make a killer taco.

What You'll Need

  • Ground chicken: Since this recipe was recreating the flavors in buffalo wings, I used ground chicken. These would also work with ground turkey or ground pork. 
  • Cooked quinoa: Quinoa acts as a binder in this recipe, much like breadcrumbs would. They also add a slightly nutty flavor and boost the nutritional content with extra protein and fiber. 
  • Carrots and celery: Another nod to buffalo wings, the carrots and celery add flavor to these meatballs and are a great way to add some veggies as well. Grated or minced onion could also be used.
  • Egg: The egg helps the meatball to stay together. These meatballs won't' hold together without the egg as a binder.
  • Spices: Although this meatball gets most of its flavor from the sauce, it should also taste good on its own. Adding garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper ensure each bite has a good flavor.
  • Buffalo sauce: Use your favorite buffalo sauce to coat the meatballs. Frank's buffalo wing sauce is delicious in both mild and medium heat levels. Primal Palate also makes a great buffalo sauce. 

How to Serve Buffalo Chicken and Quinoa Meatballs

Whether serving these as a tasty party appetizer or for dinner, there are so many ways to serve these chicken meatballs.

  • Lettuce Wraps: For a light meal, serve these wrapped in lettuce with shredded carrots and ranch dressing.
  • Grain bowls: Make an extra batch of quinoa and use it as the base of a grain bowl with meatballs, cooked veggies, and a drizzle of extra buffalo sauce. This works great for meal prep.
  • Sandwiches: Make a buffalo version of a classic meatball sub.
  • Fancy appetizer: Serve these meatballs on a toothpick with a cube of blue cheese and butter lettuce. 
  • Salads: These taste great on salads, especially when paired with lots of crunchy vegetables. 

Switch Up the Sauce

While these quinoa meatballs taste great in buffalo sauce, you can also toss them with different sauces to switch up the flavor. Or simply serve your favorite sauce on the side. Here are some to try!

How to Cook Quinoa

If you are cooking quinoa from scratch, simply add the quinoa to a pot with water or broth. Use 2 cups of liquid for every 1 cup of quinoa. Bring it to a boil and then turn down to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat. Do not open the cover. Let sit fro 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about making these meatballs.

These meatballs can be fully cooked in the oven. Simply extend the cooking time to 18-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear. Then toss with buffalo sauce.

If you prefer browning the outside of the meatballs in a pan instead of the oven, that will work great. Just work in batches. This steps ensures the meatballs stay together while they cook in the slow cooker.

There are many different varieties of buffalo sauce from mild to medium to hot. Most buffalo sauce will have some heat. Also it is best to use a buffalo wing sauce since it is thicker and better coats the meatballs.

The Recipe
Slow cooker buffalo chicken quinoa meatballs on a plate covered in orange buffalo sauce.

Buffalo Chicken and Quinoa Meatballs

COOK TIME: 4 Hours
TOTAL TIME: 4 Hours, 30 Min
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  • 2 lbs. 99% lean ground chicken
  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1.5 cups buffalo sauce (like Frank’s)

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


Mix together all the ingredients except the buffalo sauce until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.


Roll into meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. You should end up with around 36 meatballs. Place onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.


Bake for 5-7 minutes until just browned on the outside.


Pour 1/2 cup buffalo sauce into the slow cooker. Add the meatballs. Pour into remaining buffalo sauce over the meatballs. Stir lightly to coat all the meatballs.


Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 6 meatballs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 250
Calories from Fat 84
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 138mg
Sodium 538mg
Total Carbohydrate 7g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 1g
Protein 33g

* 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.


This recipe doesn't work as well in smaller slow cookers. Consider cooking stove-top if you have a smaller slow cooker.
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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Buffalo Chicken and Quinoa Meatballs
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April 24, 2022 - 16:36
Add a Rating:
This is a great recipe. Baking them in the oven smelled amazing.. and then putting them in the sauce was ridiculous. They are good without the Buffalo sauce too(I couldn't help myself) and I served them with fries and on sandwiches/by themselves. Everyone likes them differently. Also I used a regular slow cooker? But you could make these in a pan or w/e... if your slow cooker is smaller than a regular slow cooker you could just add more Buffalo sauce. .
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November 2, 2015 - 09:06
I am sorry to hear the recipe didn't turn out well for you. I have made this multiple times and have never had this problem. Usually the 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa is plenty of binder for the ground chicken and I have even heard from some folks that they leave out the quinoa all together and they still come out great.In terms of the sauce, I am wondering what size slow cooker you used for the recipe? I think that may have impacted how they came out. My slow cooker (the standard size) fits almost half the meatballs on the bottom. It sounds like yours may be much smaller and that could have caused this problem. I will make a note in the recipe that this works best with a standard size slow cooker. Thanks for the feedback.
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