Baked Chicken Meatballs with Creamy Lemon & Spinach Risoni

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My all-time favourite oven-baked Chicken Meatballs with Creamy Lemon & Spinach Risoni topped with crispy sage leaves.

Have this popular family dinner on the table in just 40 minutes!

A plate with a serve of golden chicken meatballs with risoni and crispy fried sage leaves sprinkled on top.A plate with a serve of golden chicken meatballs with risoni and crispy fried sage leaves sprinkled on top.

While this dinner may look fancy… I promise you that it’s actually SO easy to make!

This dish looks and tastes like a restaurant quality meal – but it’s made at home without any fuss or fancy ingredients.

Have dinner on the table in well under an hour by cooking the creamy risoni while your chicken meatballs are baking in the oven.. then bring it all together for a midweek chicken dinner winner!

This is a budget-friendly dinner that everyone loves… I promise it will become a favourite in your house too. Plus, any leftovers can be frozen for up to 1 month.

A gold fork placed beside a serve of pasta and chicken balls, sprinkled with crispy sage leaves.A gold fork placed beside a serve of pasta and chicken balls, sprinkled with crispy sage leaves.

Why You’re Going To Love This Recipe

Why? Because chicken meatballs with creamy lemon and spinach risoni tastes just so AMAZING!

  • Flavoursome – the combo of oven baked chicken meatballs served over a creamy lemony risoni, and topped with crisp and herby sage leaves, is a restaurant style meal at a budget price!
  • Time saver – make the risoni while the meatballs are baking and you can have this dish on the table, ready to serve in about 40 minutes flat!
  • Economical – chicken mince is a very budget-friendly purchase, and the meatballs are ‘bulked’ out when served over a creamy risoni pasta base, so there’s plenty for a tasty family dinner and maybe even leftovers for lunches, or to freeze.
Three golden chicken meatballs over creamy risoni pasta.Three golden chicken meatballs over creamy risoni pasta.

What You Need

There’s a great combination of subtle flavours happening in this dish, and they’re sure to please both kids and adults alike. Chicken meatballs with risoni makes a quick and easy mid-week meal.

Note: Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom for the ingredients quantities and full detailed method.

For The Meatballs

Ingredients for chicken meatballs.Ingredients for chicken meatballs.
  • Chicken mince – is a low-fat choice that makes a healthy and economical alternative to more expensive cuts of chicken.
  • Panko crumbs – these have a drier and flakier consistency than regular breadcrumbs to keep your chicken meatballs light, rather than dense.
  • Ground paprika – for a sweet red pepper taste.
  • Parmesan cheese – finely grated.
  • Sage leaves and parsley – finely chopped. The parsley can be dried if you don’t have fresh.
  • Salt and pepper – to season.
  • Butter.
  • Shallot – finely diced. Shallots have a delicate, sweet flavour with a hint of sharpness. You can substitute shallots in nearly any recipe that calls for onions, or vice versa.
  • Garlic – freshly crushed or minced. For convenience and longevity, store bought minced garlic is always convenient to have on hand.

For The Crispy Sage Leaves

  • Butter.
  • Sage leaves – a handful, approximately 15 leaves.

For The Creamy Lemon Risoni

Ingredients for crispy sage leaves and creamy lemon & spinach risoni.Ingredients for crispy sage leaves and creamy lemon & spinach risoni.
  • Shallot – finely diced.
  • Risoni pasta – also known as orzo, risoni looks like a large rice grain, but is actually a pasta.
  • White wine – use a dry white wine, not a sweet one. Whilst the wine adds a gentle flavouring, you can substitute it with extra chicken stock liquid if you prefer.
  • Thyme sprigs – preferably fresh.
  • Chicken stock – liquid chicken stock is such a handy pantry staple for so many meals.
  • Cream – use a thickened cream (also known as heavy cream in the US), or a cooking cream.
  • Baby spinach – or chopped large spinach leaves.
  • Parmesan cheese – grated.
  • Juice of 1 lemon – freshly squeezed or store bought lemon juice.
  • Salt and pepper – to season.

Equipment Required

It takes just 40 minutes to prep and cook these chicken meatballs with risoni… topped with crispy sage leaves for added texture and flavour.

  • Mixing bowl – to mix the chicken meatballs mixture in.
  • Baking tray and a little cooking oil spray – line the tray with baking paper.
  • Frying pan.
  • Oven – I specify fan-forced oven temperatures in my recipes. However if you are using a conventional oven, just increase the temperature by about 10 – 20 degrees Celsius.
Baked chicken meatballs served on a bed of creamy risoni with finely grated parmesan sprinkled on top.Baked chicken meatballs served on a bed of creamy risoni with finely grated parmesan sprinkled on top.

Step By Step Instructions

Make the creamy lemon risoni whilst the chicken meatballs are baking, then you’re all ready to serve!

Note: Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom for the ingredients quantities and full detailed method.

Step 1 – Make The Meatballs

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius (fan forced). Line a large flat baking tray with baking paper and set aside.

Place the chicken mince, panko crumbs, paprika, parmesan, sage, parsley, salt and pepper into a large bowl. Set aside.

Ingredients for chicken meatballs placed in a glass bowl.Ingredients for chicken meatballs placed in a glass bowl.

Heat the butter in a frying pan over medium heat and add the finely diced shallots. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until they are softened, then add the minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.

Shallots and garlic being sauteed in a frying pan.Shallots and garlic being sauteed in a frying pan.

Add this shallot/garlic mixture to the chicken mince ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix all together until well combined.

Chicken meatball mixture combined in a glass mixing bowl.Chicken meatball mixture combined in a glass mixing bowl.

Take a scoop of the mixture (approximately 1 tbs of mixture) and roll into round meatballs. Place the meatballs onto the prepared tray. You should get 20-30 meatballs.

Small round meatballs on baking paper on a baking tray.Small round meatballs on baking paper on a baking tray.

Spray the meatballs lightly with a cooking oil, and then bake for 20-25 minutes or until piping hot in the centre, golden and cooked through.

Golden baked meatballs on a baking tray.Golden baked meatballs on a baking tray.

Step 2 – Fry The Crispy Sage Leaves

While the meatballs are cooking, fry the sage leaves.

Heat the butter in a clean frying pan over medium high heat. Add the sage leaves and toss gently until they are crispy.

Remove the crispy leaves and gently place onto paper towel (leavng the residual butter in the frying pan).

Sage leaves fried in butter until crispy.Sage leaves fried in butter until crispy.

Step 3 – Make The Creamy Risoni

Place the diced shallot into the frying pan over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes or until softened.

Add the risoni and stir to coat in butter in the pan for 2 minutes.

Uncooked risoni added to pan.Uncooked risoni added to pan.

Pour in the wine and add the thyme sprigs. Continue stirring until the wine has evaporated.

White wine and thyme added to risoni in pan.White wine and thyme added to risoni in pan.

Add the liquid chicken stock and stir, bringing the liquid to a simmer. Cook the risoni, stirring occasionally for approximately 6 minutes, or until the risoni is al denté.

Risoni cooked in stock in pan until liquid has evaporated and risoni is al dente.Risoni cooked in stock in pan until liquid has evaporated and risoni is al dente.

Add the cream, baby spinach and grated parmesan cheese to the pan, and stir until the baby spinach has completely wilted. This only takes a minute or so.

Fresh spinach leaves, lemon juice, parmesan and cream added to frying pan of cooked risoni.Fresh spinach leaves, lemon juice, parmesan and cream added to frying pan of cooked risoni.

Remove the thyme sprigs and discard them.

Stir the lemon juice through the risoni, and season with salt and pepper.

Creamy lemon and spinach risoni in a frying pan.Creamy lemon and spinach risoni in a frying pan.

Serve the creamy lemon and spinach risoni topped with chicken meatballs, crispy sage and extra parmesan.

A close up of chicken meatballs and creamy risoni, with crispy sage leaves and finely grated parmesan on top.A close up of chicken meatballs and creamy risoni, with crispy sage leaves and finely grated parmesan on top.

Expert Tips

Here’s a few tips for a delicious baked chicken meatballs with creamy lemon risoni.

  • Chicken mince – is a great low-fat choice and much more economical than other cuts of chicken.
  • Panko crumbs – are flakier than regular breadcrumbs, and therefore keep the chicken meatballs lighter in texture, less dense.
  • Shallots – if you cannot find shallots, then you can substitute with another type of sweet, mild onion such as yellow, white or red onion, or use spring onions. Just ensure that whichever variety you use, they are finely diced.
  • Sage leaves – if you don’t have a trusty sage plant growing, a bunch of sage leaves can be purchased from the fresh fruit and veggie section at most supermarkets. Crispy sage leaves really add a special flavour to this recipe so try to include them if possible.
  • Storing – store any leftover chicken meatballs and risoni in an airtight container in the fridge and consume within 2 days.
  • Freezing – pop leftovers in individual containers for quick and easy lunches for up to 1 month, then reheat well before consuming.
A plateful of a pasta, spinach and golden baked chicken balls.A plateful of a pasta, spinach and golden baked chicken balls.

FAQs

Do I have to include white wine?

I highly recommend using white wine as the alcohol cooks out and it adds to the flavour and texture of the dish. However, if you prefer, you can substitute the white wine with extra chicken stock liquid.

What sort of chicken stock should I use?

Chicken stock is used in so many recipes such as soups, casseroles, risottos, pasta and rice dishes.
Store bought liquid chicken stock is a convenient pantry staple these days, and the quality is much improved from some of the powdered chicken stocks that are mixed with boiling water.
Home made chicken stock is delicious, but takes some time to make. If you make a quantity of your own chicken stock, then freeze some for next time you need it too.

Is risoni a rice or a pasta?

Risoni may look like large grains of rice but is actually a type of pasta. It’s also known as risi (Italian for rice) or pasta a riso, and is sometimes referred to as orzo. Risoni is made from a mixture of durum flour, semolina and water, then kneaded into a dough before being rolled flat and shaped in to a oval-shaped pasta with its distinctive pointed ends. Risoni is great for substituting in rice and other pasta dishes, or using in hearty casseroles, soups and healthy salads.

A close up of a chicken meatball split in half.A close up of a chicken meatball split in half.

Enjoy some more tasty and satisfying family meals that are always popular and kid-friendly, as well as super light on the wallet!

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A plate of golden baked chicken meatballs on a bed of creamy risoni with sage leaves.A plate of golden baked chicken meatballs on a bed of creamy risoni with sage leaves.

Chicken Meatballs with Creamy Lemon & Spinach Risoni

My FAVOURITE oven-baked Chicken Meatballs with Creamy Lemon & Spinach Risoni recipe! This is a guaranteed winner with the whole family.

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Course: Dinner, Main Course

Cuisine: Italian, western

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Servings: 4 serves

Calories: 616kcal

Ingredients

For The Chicken Meatballs

For The Crispy Sage Leaves

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Instructions

Prepare The Meatballs

  • Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius (fan forced). Line a large flat baking tray with baking paper and set aside.

  • Place the chicken mince, panko crumbs, paprika, parmesan, sage, parsley, salt and pepper into a large bowl. Set aside.

  • Heat the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the shallots for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

  • Add the shallot/garlic mixture to the chicken mince bowl. Mix until completely combined.

  • Take a scoop of the mixture (approximately 1 tbs of mixture) and roll into meatballs. Place the meatballs onto the prepared tray (you should get 20-30 meatballs).

  • Spray the meatballs with cooking oil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until piping hot in the centre and cooked through.

Cook The Crispy Sage Leaves

  • While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the crispy sage leaves.Heat the butter in a clean frying pan over medium high heat. Add the sage leaves and cook (stirring gently) until crispy. Remove and place onto paper towel (leave the butter in the frying pan).

Prepare The Creamy Risoni

  • Place the diced shallot into the frying pan over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes or until softened.

  • Add the risoni and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

  • Add the wine and the thyme sprigs and stir until the wine evaporates.

  • Add the chicken stock liquid and stir. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 6 minutes or until the risoni is al dente.
  • Add the cream, baby spinach and parmesan cheese and stir until the baby spinach has completely wilted.

  • Remove the thyme sprigs.

  • Stir through the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

  • Serve the risoni topped with the meatballs, crispy sage and extra parmesan.

Notes

RECIPE NOTES & TIPS

  • Risoni pasta is also referred to as orzo. 
  • Chicken mince – is a great low-fat choice and much more economical than other cuts of chicken.
  • Panko crumbs – are flakier than regular breadcrumbs, and therefore keep the chicken meatballs lighter in texture, less dense.
  • Shallots – if you cannot find shallots, then you can substitute with another type of sweet, mild onion such as yellow, white or red onion, or use spring onions. Just ensure that whichever variety you use, they are finely diced.
  • Sage leaves – if you don’t have a trusty sage plant growing, a bunch of sage leaves can be purchased from the fresh fruit and veggie section at most supermarkets. Crispy sage leaves really add to this recipe so try to include them if possible.
  • White wine – I highly recommend using white wine as the alcohol cooks out and it adds to the flavour and texture of the dish. However, if you prefer, you can substitute the white wine with extra chicken stock liquid.
  • Storing – store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and consume within 2 days.
  • Freezing – pop leftovers in individual containers for quick and easy lunches for up to 1 month, then reheat well before consuming. 

Nutrition

Calories: 616kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 187mg | Sodium: 721mg | Potassium: 1127mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 4033IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 302mg | Iron: 4mg





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