Chicken and Spinach Meatballs

Kitchen Tested
  • Yield 4 servings
  • Prep 15 mins
  • Cook 30 mins

A Mediterranean-style meatball with big flavor.

chicken spinach meatballs
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Flavored with cinnamon and lemon, these meatballs are reminiscent of the Mediterranean. They are served in a broth and are actually easier to eat over orzo than spaghetti. This recipe is adapted from Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009).


1 slice rustic bread, crusts removed
2 large garlic cloves
2 ounces pepperoni slices
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Coarsely ground black pepper
1 ounce grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 egg
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups cooked orzo or spaghetti


  1. Place bread in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbs are formed. You should have about 1/2 cup. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Place garlic and pepperoni in food processor bowl. Pulse until finely chopped. Add chicken, spinach, onion, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Process until well mixed and all chicken is chopped. Add to breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in cheese, lemon rind and egg. Form into 12 (2-inch) meatballs. (Meatballs will be very soft.) Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours.
  4. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add wine; cook 5 minutes. Add sugar, vinegar and broth. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer 12 to 15 minutes, turning meatballs once, until meatballs are firm and register between 165F and 170F in the center with an instant–read thermometer.
  5. Serve meatballs and broth over cooked orzo.

Adapted from Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009). 



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