These chicken meatballs are so juicy and flavorful but they are also healthier! Serve them over creamy sun dried tomato and mushroom orzo and you’ve got a new family recipe!

Last year we visited Israel for a couple of weeks and ate, and ate, and ate. The breads there, my goodness, there’s just nothing like bread outside of the USA. But what was interesting was that as much as we ate we really didn’t feel gross nor did we come home gazillions of pounds heavier. It was just fresh food and that made all the difference. Since coming home and dreaming of those cobblestone streets and warm challah, I’ve been heavily focused on dishes that incorporate more herbs and brightness to simple meals.

a photo of creamy mushroom orzo topped with golden herby chicken meatballs.

Meatballs are awesome, but a chicken version that’s still moist and juicy with the freshness of all those beautiful herbs is exactly what this blog needed.

I especially love the fried herbs we toss on top at the end. They are so delicate but still pack their flavor.

And before you ask, I don’t know what the best part of our trip was; Petra was amazing, Israel was like breathing new air, and the borders of Syria and Lebanon, well some of the best food we had all through the trip was there!

I think you have to leave home every now and again in order to find out what home really is to you. Home is everyone I love, a casual night around the table with no deadlines or hurrying and a big plate of the creamiest orzo dotted with earthy mushrooms and fragrant meatballs.

a photo of a plate of creamy mushroom orzo topped with baked chicken meatballs and chopped fried herbs.

Ingredients Baked Chicken Meatballs

Get ready for bold flavorful chicken meatballs that are moist and super easy to make! While those are baking, you whip up creamy orzo and you have a great simple family meal. Here is what you will need…

For the Meatballs

  • Panko Bread Crumbs: You can also crush up crackers or use regular breadcrumbs. These help bind the meatballs together.
  • Milk: We use 2% or whole milk and it helps keep the meatballs moist.
  • Olive Oil: helps the meatballs become golden when they bake
  • Salt: adds flavor
  • Aleppo Pepper: This is optional, but it adds great Middle Eastern flavor.
  • Ground Chicken: ground chicken thighs also work or ground turkey
  • Eggs: the real binders for the meatballs
  • Grated Parmesan: adds flavor and helps hold the shape of the meatballs
  • Shallot: adds flavor
  • Garlic Powder: adds flavor
  • Fresh Herbs: parsley, thyme, rosemary or you could do 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
a photo of a scoop of creamy mushroom orzo being lifted out of a pot full of it.

For the Orzo

  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes: adds bright pops of flavor
  • Oil: Use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes jar. If you aren’t using sun-dried tomatoes, add an additional tablespoon butter.
  • Butter: used if you don’t use the sundried tomato oil, helps sauté the mushrooms, shallots and herbs
  • Baby Bella Mushrooms: You can use any type of mushroom you want but we love the way the baby bellas taste and look in this dish.
  • Shallot: adds flavor
  • Rosemary and Thyme: adds bright herby freshness and gets fried to add on top
  • Garlic: adds flavor
  • Salt: add flavor
  • Cooking Dry White Wine: You can also use real white wine if you prefer.
  • Orzo: a small pasta that looks similar to rice
  • Chicken Broth: helps to cook the orzo and adds flavor
  • Heavy Cream: makes the sauce rich and creamy
  • Balsamic Vinegar: adds a burst of acidity
  • Pecorino Romano: just sprinkle some on top for garnish
  • Red Pepper: a pinch goes a long way so make sure you get the heat that you want

This is meant to be an overview of all the ingredients in the recipe and a little information about them. For all the measurements, scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post.

a close up photo of golden baked chicken meatballs topped with fresh herbs and on top of creamy mushroom orzo.

Additional Inclusions

If you want to add some more veggies to the dish, here are some great options:

  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus

Can I Use Ground Turkey?

Yes, ground turkey will work great in this recipe.

a photo taken above a plate of creamy mushroom orzo topped with baked chicken meatballs.

How to Make Baked Chicken Meatball with Orzo

I’m going to share the basic steps for making both the meatballs and the creamy orzo. The fully detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post. Can I just say that I love that the meatballs are baked?! It makes the recipe so easy…no pan frying and worrying if they are cooked all the way through! Ok, here are the steps…

For the Meatballs

  • Preheat the oven and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and a little cooking spray.
  • Combine the panko, milk and some oil in a bowl until combined and set it aside.
  • Add all remaining meatball ingredients to a separate bowl and then add the milk mixture and gently stir everything until it’s just combined.
  • Scoop the meatball mixture into balls using a cookie scoop and place them on the baking sheet.
    • PRO TIP: Oil both hands with olive oil and roll the meatballs in your hands to coat in oil.
  • Bake the meatballs at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.
a photo of a spoonful of creamy mushroom orzo being lifted from a pot of the creamy pasta.

For the Orzo

  • With a paper towel, dry the sun dried tomatoes and set aside.
  • Add the sun-dried tomato oil to a skillet over medium heat.
  • Fry the rosemary and thyme sprigs in the oil until crispy. Transfer them to a paper towel lined plate.
  • Cook the mushrooms in the same pan.
  • Add the shallots and garlic, stirring often as they cook and then add another pinch of salt.
  • Pour in white wine and let it reduce.
  • Add the orzo, stock and cream. Sprinkle in the herbs and salt & pepper.
    • PRO TIP: Be sure the cream is at room temp and your stock is just warming up or it will curdle the cream.
  • Reduce the heat and let it simmer for a few minutes stirring often.
  • Add sun dried tomatoes and season again. Let the cream simmer then add the remaining butter and the cheese, stirring continuously. Stir in vinegar.
  • Serve with meatballs, additional cheese, red pepper flakes and fried herb leaves.

Watch Every Step of Making These Meatballs…

When to Season Mushrooms

If you want your mushrooms to have the best flavor and texture, never season mushrooms until they are browned otherwise it will pull out water and they will be rubber.

How to Know When a Baked Chicken Meatball is Done

The meatballs should only take about 25-30 minutes to bake. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of a few of the meatballs. It should 165 degrees F.

a photo of a plate full of creamy mushroom orzo topped with golden baked chicken meatballs.

Cooking Tips for Using White Wine

When you are using cooking white wine, use 1/3 to 1/2 the amount that you would use of alcoholic wine.

Storing, Freezing, and Reheating

Store any leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It will keep for up to 5 days. I like to store the meatballs and orzo separately because they reheat differently.

To reheat the orzo, add a little milk or broth so that it doesn’t dry out. It can be reheated in the microwave or on the stove top. The meatballs can also be reheated in the microwave, but I prefer reheating them in the oven. Place them in a baking dish and reheat for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

I wouldn’t recommend freezing this recipe. The meatballs could definitely be made ahead and frozen, but the orzo wouldn’t hold up well to freezing.

You won’t believe how much flavor is packed into these baked chicken meatballs! The flavors are light and fresh. Eaten alongside this rich and creamy mushroom and sun-dried orzo, and you have a meal that will bring everyone to the table!

Looking for more delicious ORZO RECIPES?

Baked Chicken Meatballs and Orzo

4.20 from 5 votes
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients 

For the Meatballs

  • 1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs, or cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo Pepper, optional
  • 2 Pound Ground Chicken, or ground chicken thighs
  • 2 Eggs, whisked
  • 1 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 4 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley , minced
  • 2 teaspoon Fresh Thyme, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Fresh Rosemary, minced (or use 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning instead of thyme and rosemary)
  • Olive Oil, or canola oil

For the Orzo

  • 1 Cup Baby Spinach, optional
  • 1/4 Cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes , optional
  • 2 Tablespoons Oil, from the sun-dried tomatoes jar, additional tablespoon butter if not using sun dried tomatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter , divided
  • 8 ounces Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • 2 Sprigs Rosemary
  • 2 Sprigs Thyme
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Cooking Dry White Wine , or 1/2 cup real white wine
  • 2 Cups Orzo
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • Pecorino Romano, for garnish
  • Red Pepper Flakes

Instructions

For the Meatballs

  • Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and a little cooking spray.
  • In a bowl, add the panko, milk and tablespoon of oil. Stir and set aside.
    1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs, 1/2 Cup Milk, 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Add all remaining meatball ingredients to a bowl. Add in the milk mixture and gently stir everything until it's just combined.
    1 teaspoon Salt, 2 Pound Ground Chicken, 2 Eggs, 1 Cup Grated Parmesan, 1 Shallot, 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder, 4 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, 2 teaspoon Fresh Thyme, 2 teaspoons Fresh Rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo Pepper
  • Use a cookie scoop to scoop the meat onto the baking sheet. Oil both hands with olive oil and roll the meatballs in your hands to coat in oil, re-oiling as needed. Place back on the baking sheet and bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes.
    Olive Oil

For the Orzo

  • With a paper towel, dry the sun dried tomatoes and set aside.
    1/4 Cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • Add the sun-dried tomato oil to a skillet over medium heat.
    2 Tablespoons Oil
  • Add the rosemary and thyme sprigs. Allow the herbs to crisp, turning often. Transfer them to a paper towel lined plate.
    2 Sprigs Rosemary, 2 Sprigs Thyme
  • Add 1 tablespoon butter and half of the mushrooms in a single layer and cook, turning only once to brown, as well as seasoning with salt and pepper after browning. Remove to a plate. Cook the second half with another tablespoon of butter. See post.
    3 Tablespoons Butter, 8 ounces Baby Bella Mushrooms, Pinch Salt
  • Add the shallots and garlic, stirring often as they cook and then add another pinch of salt.
    1 Shallot, 3 Cloves Garlic
  • Pour in white wine. Allow the wine to simmer and reduce for a good 5 mins, until it's almost all evaporated, deglazing the pan as necessary. It's important to reduce down the wine or it'll be too strong in the sauce.
    1/2 Cup Cooking Dry White Wine
  • Add the orzo, mushrooms, stock and cream. Sprinkle in rosemary, thyme and salt & pepper. Be sure the cream is at room temp and your stock is just warming up or it will curdle the cream. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.
    2 Cups Orzo, 4 Cups Chicken Broth, 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 5-6 more minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the spinach, and sun dried tomatoes and season again. Let the cream simmer while the spinach wilts and then add the remaining butter and add the cheese, stirring continuously. Stir in vinegar.
    1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar, Pecorino Romano, 1 Cup Baby Spinach
  • Serve with meatballs, additional cheese, red pepper flakes and fried herb leaves.
    Red Pepper Flakes

Nutrition

Calories: 852kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 46gFat: 48gSaturated Fat: 21gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 265mgSodium: 1525mgPotassium: 1476mgFiber: 3gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 1357IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 282mgIron: 4mg
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: Mom’s Best 100 Easy Chicken Recipes, Over 500 Family Dinner Recipes Ideas

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a close up photo of golden baked chicken meatballs topped with fresh herbs and on top of creamy mushroom orzo.