Chicken Parmesan Meatballs with Zucchini

Jul 26, 2023 · By Bethany Kramer
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Learn how to make chicken parmesan meatballs with summer zucchini. They’re tender, cheesy, and have all the classic flavors of chicken parmesan but in half the time!

A skillet pan with chicken parmesan meatballs in it with fresh basil and a spoon in the pan. The skillet is sitting on a tan background with a herbs, a block of cheese, and a small bowl of red pepper flakes placed around it.

With my zucchini plants thriving, what better way to use them than with a meatball recipe! This chicken parmesan meatball with zucchini dish has quickly become one of our favorite dinners for a cozy night. Of course, alongside my family’s Italian meatballs!

My mom made chicken parmesan growing up (one of my favorite meals), I was inspired by it and decided to do it with a twist. A meatball form of chicken parmesan! This recipe has all the classic flavors and ingredients in chicken parmesan, including breadcrumbs, cheese, and marinara, but with a touch of zucchini.

Trust me, you’ll never even know the zucchini is in there! Making it kid-friendly, picky eater approved, and a great way to get your veggies in! 😉

Key Ingredients

Below you’ll find the list of ingredients needed to make this recipe!

Ingredients for chicken parmesan meatballs arranged on a wooden background.

Ground chicken: this is used instead of chicken breasts.
Zucchini: I love using summer zucchini in this recipe because it adds moisture and a healthy vegetable into the mix!
Garlic: I like to use fresh garlic cloves for more flavor, but you can also use garlic granules/powder.
Breadcrumbs: these are used to help give the meatballs structure. Use my homemade breadcrumb recipe with whatever bread you have, or use store-bought!
Parmesan: as always, any chicken parmesan recipe needs parmesan cheese! I like to use freshly grated because it adds more moisture and flavor.
Basil & oregano: I use fresh herbs to elevate the flavor of these meatballs. You’ll need fresh basil & fresh oregano!
Egg: the egg is used to bind the meatball ingredients together.
Marinara: use a quality store-bought marinara such as Victoria or Raos, or make our San Marzano Tomato Sauce.
Mozzarella: for an extra cheesy top!

How to Make Chicken Parmesan Meatballs with Zucchini

A collage of three photos showing how to make chicken parmesan meatballs with zucchini. The first photo shows a close up of zucchini shredded into small pieces. The second photo is a mixing bowl with the meatball ingredients in it. The third photo is a hand rolling the meatballs into balls.
  1. 1

    Grate the zucchini. First, use a cheese shredder to grate the zucchini into small pieces. Then use a thick layer of paper towels or thin dish towel, and squeeze the excess water out of the grated zucchini.

  2. 2

    Mix together the meatball filling. Next, add the zucchini to a bowl with the ground chicken, breadcrumbs, egg, chopped fresh herbs, parmesan, salt & pepper, and minced garlic. Use a spoon or hands with gloves to thoroughly mix together.

  3. 3

    Roll into meatballs. Use a cookie-scoop to measure the meat, then use your hands to form the mixture into 2 inch-sized meatballs. Place them on a lightly greased sheet pan or line the pan with parchment paper.

A collage of three photos showing how to cook chicken parmesan meatballs. The first photo is the cooked meatballs lined on a sheet pan. The second photo is the cooked meatballs in a skillet pan with sauce on the bottom. The third photo is the same pan of meatballs, with cheese and sauce over top of the meatballs before they're baked.
  1. 4

    Bake the meatballs. Then bake the meatballs in the oven for 20 minutes.

  2. 5

    Bake the meatballs with cheese and sauce. Once the meatballs are done baking, prepare a baking dish and spread half the marinara on the bottom of the pan/dish, and arrange the meatballs in it.

  3. 6

    Top with cheese and bake again. Next, top the meatballs with mozzarella, marinara, and parmesan. Bake for 15 minutes at 400F, then broil on high for the last minute to brown the cheese. Serve with additional basil and parmesan if desired!

Tips for Success

Remove as much liquid from the zucchini as possible. Because zucchini is made of 95% water, you must remove as much water as possible before adding it to dishes like this. Otherwise, it will make the whole dish very watery. After grating the lasagna, squeeze out as much liquid as possible – it’s best to use a thin towel for this step or several layers of thick paper towels.

Use a cookie scoop to measure the meatballs. A cookie scoop is my favorite tool to measure and make perfect-sized meatballs. This scoop helps the meatballs be the same size and cook evenly!

Fresh parmesan cheese is best. For meatballs, I recommend skipping the pre-shredded parmesan, which tends to be dryer, and instead using freshly grated parmesan cheese if possible. It adds so much moisture to the meatballs and even more flavor!

Fresh herbs only – ditch the dried. As always, I recommend fresh herbs with many of my recipes, especially for meatballs! So much of the flavor comes from the fresh basil and oregano, and that flavor can’t be accomplished by using dried herbs.

Make it gluten-free. If you want to make this recipe gluten-free, make homemade breadcrumbs with your favorite GF bread or use store-bought gluten-free breadcrumbs.

A close up of chicken parmesan meatballs, one of the meatballs is cut in half with a spoon and fresh basil next to it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can they be made in advance? Yes, I would recommend baking the meatballs in advance, then baking them with the cheese and sauce when ready to serve them.

Can I freeze them? Absolutely! Place the meatballs in a ziplock bag or freezer-friendly container and freeze for up to 2 months. Then thaw overnight in the fridge, then bake at 400F in a baking dish with additional sauce and cheese until hot and the cheese is browned and melted.

How long do leftovers last? These meatballs can be kept refrigerated for up to 5 days. Keep them stored in an airtight container to stay fresh longer.

What to Serve Them With

Pasta. We typically serve these meatballs with our favorite whole-grain pasta! You can serve them with regular wheat, gluten-free, or for a low-carb option, zucchini noodles.

Salad. We always serve them alongside an Italian-inspired salad such as our grilled corn and tomato salad (a summer fave!), summer farro salad with cherries & chickpeas, Tuscan artichoke salad, or this Greek chickpea salad.

Bread. These meatballs go perfectly with any Italian bread! For dipping into the cheesy sauce or making into a meatball sub.

A skillet pan with chicken parmesan meatballs baked in it with fresh basil on top. The pan is sitting on a tan background with basil leaves, a block of cheese, and a small bowl arranged around it.

Similar Recipes to Try

If you love these chicken parmesan meatballs, you will love these chicken piccata meatballs or my family’s Italian meatballs!

If you love zucchini, we have so many delicious recipe options, such as our zucchini lasagna, zucchini “meatballs,” or our zucchini rollatini!

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs with Zucchini

Learn how to make chicken parmesan meatballs with summer zucchini! These tender chicken meatballs have all the classic flavors of chicken parm but in meatball form. They are cheesy, flavorful, and loved by everyone!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Serves 16 meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 4 garlic cloves, or 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • 1 cup marinara

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Shred/grate zucchini. Use a cheese grater or grater attachment on a food processor, and grate the zucchini for one packed cup of shredded zucchini. Place the shredded zucchini in a thin dish towel or double layer of thick paper towels, and squeeze as much moisture out as possible.
  • Mix the meatball filling: In a large mixing bowl, add the ground chicken, zucchini, fresh chopped basil & oregano, minced garlic, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, egg, breadcrumbs, and salt & black pepper.
  • Form the meatballs: Use your hands to form the meatballs into about 2 Tablespoons in size (I like to use a cookie scoop for this step). Place them on a lightly greased sheet pan or line the pan with parchment paper.
  • Bake the meatballs: Then bake the meatballs for 20 minutes.
  • Bake the meatballs with sauce & cheese: When the meatballs are finished baking, prepare a baking dish with half the marinara spread on the bottom of the dish. Then add the meatballs. Top the meatballs with mozzarella, a generous spoonful of sauce, and parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, broil for the last minute on high to brown the cheese.
  • Serve: Then sprinkle with additional shredded parmesan and chopped fresh basil if desired, and serve!

Notes

Fresh herbs only – ditch the dried. As always, I recommend fresh herbs with many of my recipes, especially for meatballs! So much of the flavor comes from the fresh basil and oregano, and that flavor can’t be accomplished by using dried herbs.
Make it gluten-free. If you want to make this recipe gluten-free, make homemade breadcrumbs with your favorite GF bread or use store-bought gluten-free breadcrumbs.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword chicken parm meatballs, chicken parmesan meatballs
Freezer Friendly Yes

Nutrition

Serving: 1meatball | Calories: 94kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.4g | Protein: 9.1g | Fat: 4.4g | Saturated Fat: 1.7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1.6g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 40.3mg | Sodium: 302mg | Fiber: 0.6g | Sugar: 1.1g | Iron: 4mg

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