These easy firecracker meatballs are a quick family friendly recipe to prepare for a weeknight dinner. They make a great meal prep recipe and have both oven and air fryer instructions. Done in under 20 minutes, made with ground chicken and a sweet but spicy firecracker sauce, these meatballs will be on your meal plan again and again! Plus they are gluten-free, low carb and can easily be made dairy-free!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe:
- These firecracker meatballs are so easy to make. They don’t take long to prepare and use many pantry staple items that are likely already in your kitchen!
- They’re quick! You can make them in the oven by baking for just 16 minutes, or in the air fryer and have them done in 5 minutes.
- You can make them gluten-free and dairy-free, and the recipe is naturally low carb, so it’s a recipe that works for a variety of people.
- They’re perfect for meal prep! You can even double the batch and freeze some for a quick meal or easy lunches later.
- Looking for more easy meatball recipes? Check out our Curry Chicken Meatballs, Air Fryer Pork Meatballs, Greek Meatballs, Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs
Ingredients for Firecracker Chicken Meatballs
There are two components to this recipe. You’ll first make the meatballs, and then the sauce. The ingredients needed for both are really simple and straightforward. It’s also easy because quite a few ingredients used in the sauce are also used in the meatballs!
For the Chicken Meatballs:
The meatballs only require 6 ingredients, plus a pinch of garlic powder and salt! You’ll need one pound of ground chicken, the white ends from 3 to 4 green onions, and a tablespoon each of coconut aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce), minced ginger and buffalo sauce.
Any hot sauce or buffalo sauce will work, such as Frank’s Original or buffalo. The Mild Buffalo Sauce from Primal Kitchen is a great option for adding to firecracker meatballs and for making your firecracker sauce! It’s thick, creamy and has just a touch of sweetness from mango puree. This sauce has a great classic buffalo flavor, and is Certified Gluten-Free, Keto Certified, Paleo Certified and made without any added sugars! Grab a few bottles for yourself on their website (use the code PALEOBAILEY for a discount at checkout)!
For the Firecracker Sauce:
The firecracker sauce is really quick to mix together and only requires 5 ingredients, plus a bit of garlic powder and paprika. You’ll need sour cream, mayo, buffalo sauce, coconut aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce), and honey.
How to Prepare
The first step in making firecracker chicken meatballs is to add all of the ingredients for the meatball mixture into a large bowl. Use your hands to combine everything together, but stop once the ingredients are well incorporated with the ground chicken. Over mixing can cause the meatballs to be tough and not tender once baked.
Refrigerate the meatball mixture for 15 to 20 minutes if it seems to wet (this can depend on the package of ground chicken you have), or just if you want to make the meatballs easier to roll. It will firm up in the fridge and roll much easier.
While it’s in the fridge, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. and prepare a baking sheet. You can either line it with an oven-safe parchment paper for easy clean up, or spray the sheet pan with a light coating of olive oil or avocado oil.
Next, form 18 to 20 meatballs with the ground chicken by rolling a little less than 1 ounce of the mixture between your palms. Place each one directly onto the prepared sheet pan and repeat this until all of the meatballs have been made and there’s no ground chicken left.
A tip to make this easy is to spray to dab a bit of oil onto your hands before you start rolling the meatballs. It will prevent any of the ground meat from sticking and make the process faster.
Once all of the chicken has been made into your meatballs and placed onto the baking sheet, place the pan into the oven and bake them for 16 to 18 minutes.
While the meatballs are cooking you can use this time to make the firecracker sauce. This is quick and easy, and you’ll just need to add the ingredients into a small mixing bowl. Use a whisk or fork and mix together really well until it’s combined without any clumps. Alternatively, you can do this in a food processor or blender.
Once the meatballs are done cooking, remove them from the sheet pan and then serve them by either heating the sauce and drizzling it over the meatballs, or tossing the meatballs directly in the firecracker sauce.
I recommend you reserve a bit of the firecracker sauce for any roasted vegetables or rice if desired. It’s great over almost anything you want to serve your meatballs with!
Air Fryer Instructions:
If you want to air fry firecracker meatballs instead of bake them in the oven, you can do it quickly and easily by following all of the instructions as written for preparing the meatballs up until baking. Instead, preheat your air fryer if it requires it, to 400 degrees F. and then air fry for 5 minutes.
If you’re using an air fryer with a basket, it is okay if the meatballs are gently touching or lightly nestled on top of each other. You should be able to get them in with one batch by doing a bottom layer and then a second, with the second layer meatballs sat in the spaces left open in between the meatballs on the bottom layer.
There are so many great ways to serve firecracker meatballs, though my favorite is in a bowl with rice and lots of veggies. It’s a great combination to drizzle the delicious sauce over! Some vegetables this recipe is great with is crispy roasted broccoli, carrots, or green beans. It’s also great with a mix of sliced green and red peppers and mushrooms that have been quickly sautéed.
To make the green beans pictured with the chicken meatballs here, I simply preheated the oven first, added a pound of green beans to a small quarter sized baking sheet, and tossed with avocado oil, salt and garlic powder. I put them into the oven and let them cook while I prepped the meatballs and on the bottom rack of the oven while the meatballs baked.
Some other easy vegetable and side dish ideas:
- Air Fryer Green Beans
- Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash
- Instant Pot Steamed Broccoli
- Instant Pot Couscous
- Cauliflower Rice
How to Store Firecracker Meatballs:
To store any leftover firecracker meatballs, you can either prep them into meal prep containers with your sides or vegetables in each container for easy lunches to warm up throughout the week, or store the meatballs all together. Make sure they have completely cooled first, and then place them into an airtight container. They can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
To freeze after they’ve been cooked, you will also want to make sure that the chicken meatballs have completely cooled. Then, place them in a freezer-safe container or bag. To prevent freezer burn, you can wrap them tightly with cling wrap or tin foil before putting into the container or bag. These are good in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If you have leftover sauce you want to store, cover the bowl the sauce is in with a cling wrap or foil, or transfer it to a container with a lid. The sauce can be refrigerated for 7 days, and is great on shrimp, grilled chicken, burgers, stir-fry, as a dip for raw veggies or drizzled over roasted vegetables.
Can you make these firecracker meatballs dairy-free? Yes! You can make firecracker meatballs dairy free by using a dairy-free sour cream or using the thick creamy part that is at the top of a can of coconut cream in place of the sour cream.
What can be used in place of gluten-free breadcrumbs? In place of gluten-free breadcrumbs, you can use panko, almond flour, rolled oats, or regular breadcrumbs (if you’re not eating gluten-free).
Can this recipe be doubled or tripled? The recipe for firecracker meatballs can absolutely be doubled or tripled. It’s a really easy, and even ideal, recipe to double for feeding a crowd or freezing some meatballs for later. That way you’re only doing the messy work of rolling meatballs once and can enjoy them again later without preparing them again.
Other Ground Chicken Recipes You’ll Love:
- 5 Minute Instant Pot Chicken Meatballs
- Sweet Potato Chicken Nuggets
- Homemade Chicken and Apple Sausages
- Chipotle Chicken Skillet
- Buffalo Chicken Nuggets
For the Meatballs:
- 1-pound ground chicken
- 1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (see notes for substitutions)
- 1/4 cup chopped white ends of green onions
- 1 tablespoon buffalo sauce
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos (or low sodium soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Firecracker Sauce:
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup buffalo sauce
- 3 tablespoons mayo
- 2 teaspoons coconut aminos (or low sodium soy sauce)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to thin if desired
- Optional: Additional buffalo sauce or red pepper chili flakes for more spice, if desired
- Add all of the chicken meatball ingredients into a large mixing bowl and use your hands to combine until all of the ingredients are incorporated, taking care not to over-mix the meat. Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes if the mixture seems to wet, or to just make the ground chicken easier to roll
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with oven-safe parchment paper or spray with a light coating of olive oil
- Form the mixture into 18 to 20 meatballs by rolling between your palms and then place each one directly onto the prepared sheet pan. Tip: spray your hands with a bit of oil to prevent the mixture from sticking
- Once all of the ground chicken has been rolled into meatballs, place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 16-18 minutes
- While the meatballs are cooking, make the firecracker sauce by adding all of the sauce ingredients into a small bowl and whisk well until it’s completely combined, or mix it together using a food processor or blender
- Once the meatballs are done cooking, serve by either heating the sauce and drizzling it over the meatballs, or tossing the meatballs directly in the firecracker sauce. Reserve a bit of the firecracker sauce for any roasted vegetables or rice if desired
- Ground turkey can be used in place of ground chicken
- In place of gluten-free breadcrumbs you can use regular breadcrumbs, panko or almond flour
To Air Fry:
- Follow all of the instructions for preparing the meatballs and then air fry them for 5 minutes on 400 degrees F.
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