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BBQ Chicken Meatballs

These BBQ Chicken Meatballs are one of my favorite easy party appetizers, but they also make a delicious dinner when served with a couple veggie sides!

Head-on closeup view of a BBQ Chicken meatball with a toothpick in it with more meatballs in the background, chopped scallions all around, and recipe title at bottom

(This recipe for BBQ Chicken Meatballs was originally published in September 2010, but was updated with new photos and content in 2019).

If you’re anything like me, when it comes to throwing parties, you get WAY too ambitious and end up ridiculously stressed for no reason. It’s exhausting. So, how about instead of choosing five overly complicated and impressive dishes, you make five super easy and impressive dishes?  Then you can actually enjoy having people over.

Lucky for you (and me), I have a super easy party appetizer to share with you today. These BBQ chicken meatballs only require one bowl and one skillet and can be made in under 30 minutes. While they’re perfect for sticking toothpicks in and serving at parties, they also make a delicious dinner with a nice big salad or a couple of veggie sides.

Whenever you serve the, one thing is for sure… These BBQ chicken meatballs will be a hit!


Though I made a couple simple changes, this recipe for barbeque chicken meatballs was originally spotted on the Epicurious website (I almost always prefer using panko to breadcrumbs!). I was initially looking for a delicious, one-bite appetizer for a football watching gathering, but something other than the usual chicken wings and potato skins type football food.

Of course, I had to test the meatballs out first and made them for dinner one night. That’s when I realized how ridiculously easy and incredibly delicious they are! Bonus points for the fact that if you make them for dinner, you don’t have to share them with a whole party full of people!

What makes these BBQ chicken meatballs a little bit special is the addition of applesauce. That adds a little bit of sweet in addition to the heat from the chili powder and BBQ sauce (depending on what kind you use… I like to use a Sweet and Spicy variety from Sweet Baby Ray). The applesauce also adds a bit of extra moistness into the meatballs. If you’re worried about chicken meatballs being dry, you certainly don’t need to be!

Want to see how easy they are to make? All you have to do is combine the ground chicken, panko, egg, applesauce, onion, chili powder, salt, and paprika in a big mixing bowl.

Overhead view of BBQ chicken meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl, including ground chicken, panko, egg, onion, applesauce, and spices

Mix all the ingredients together until well combined (I use my hands… but take my rings and watch off first!) and form into golf ball sized balls.

Pour olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat and add in the meatballs.

BBQ chicken meatballs formed into golf ball sized balls and cooking in olive oil in skillet

Brown them on all sides until they’re cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

Overhead view of chicken meatballs browned and cooked through in skillet in olive oil

Then add the barbecue sauce to the skillet and continue cooking until the sauce has reduced and sticks to the meatballs, about 1 minute.

Stare at the beauty of the BBQ chicken meatballs for roughly 5 minutes before inhaling. Or serving to your guests who are patiently waiting and wondering why you’re standing in the kitchen staring at a plate full of meatballs.

Landscape head-on view of multiple BBQ chicken meatballs with toothpicks on plate with chopped scallions all around

I definitely recommend making these for any gathering you’re having as they will add no additional stress to your life! They’re also great for bringing to parties. I think two important things to keep in mind when making an appetizer for a gathering at someone else’s house are 1) make something that transports well and 2) make something that can be eaten in a clean way. These meatballs definitely fit the bill.

And I’m about 110% sure if you make these BBQ chicken meatballs for a party, your friends will love you ten times more than they already do. Make them for your husband or boyfriend’s football watching buddies and they’ll love you, too. Not that they already don’t.

View of a plate filled with BBQ chicken meatballs with toothpicks and chopped scallions with skillet with more BBQ chicken meatballs in the background

When I made them for an entree, I served them with a side of roasted broccoli and green beans for a nice light and healthy dinner. And then proceeded to eat way too many of them.

But I didn’t feel too bad because they’re made with chicken and are fairly light!

Head-on closeup view of a BBQ Chicken meatball with a toothpick in it with more meatballs in the background and chopped scallions all around

What’s your favorite appetizer to serve at parties?

If you’re looking for more delicious chicken meatball recipes, check out my Buffalo Chicken Meatballs and my Garlic Habanero Chicken Meatballs. I’m also really excited about these Chicken Piccata Meatballs from Ways to My Heart!

BBQ Chicken Meatballs

These BBQ Chicken Meatballs are one of my favorite easy party appetizers, but they also make a delicious dinner when served with a couple veggie sides!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Appetizer, Entree
Cuisine: American
Keyword: BBQ Sauce, Party Appetizers, Party Meatballs
Servings: 16 meatballs


  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 2/3 cup panko
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp applesauce
  • 1/3 cup diced onion (from 1 small onion)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce (I use Sweet and Spicy from Sweet Baby Ray)


  • In a large bowl, mix together ground chicken, panko, egg, applesauce, onion, chili powder, salt, and  paprika until well combined.
  • Form golf ball-sized balls with the mixture.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add meatballs to skillet and cook on all sides until completely cooked through, 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the barbecue sauce to the skillet and continue cooking for another minute until the sauce reduces and begins sticking to the meatballs.



26 Responses to "BBQ Chicken Meatballs"

  1. Jessica @ How Sweet says:

    Those sound awesome! And I know my husband would absolutely love them too.

  2. Annie says:

    Oh sweet BBQ! Those look fantastic.

  3. Emily @ The Happy Home says:

    my friend mel makes a barbeque chicken dip that disappears the second it hits the table at parties. i don’t partake, but frankly, it’s a must-have appetizer! (i’m the nerdy vegetarian that brings crudites and wonders why i always bring home leftovers. whoops!)

  4. Erica says:

    Ow! These are perfect. I may make these this weekend- thank you for the idea

  5. Katie says:

    Thanks for sharing the jewelry designer! I saw that yesterday and was thinking “Ooooh ahhh!” as it is totally my style. BBQ Meatballs are pretty my style too! Thanks!

  6. I love making my warm spinach and artichoke dip this time of year but these meatballs look great!

  7. Sassy Molassy says:

    THese look awesome. Might need to make them tonight.

  8. Kelly says:

    I’m not usually a meatball kind of girl but I love the idea of the apple sauce. It made me think because I have a lot of apples on hand so I might try a variation with grated apples. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Simply Life says:

    yum! those look soooo good!

  10. cailen says:

    oohh! those bbq meatballs look super yummy. i like to bring homemade guacamole w/ chips or homemade gourmet pizzas to parties this time of year : )

  11. Lauren says:

    My husband would absolutely love these… definitely going to make them!

  12. katelin says:

    holy crap these look delicious. definitely want to try these!

  13. Elina says:

    Oh yeah, the boys would LOVE me if I made these. Going on the list! 🙂

  14. Evan @swEEts says:

    Now I’ve got my go-to app for football season.. Go Pats!!

  15. sophia says:

    OMG! Pop one into my mouth right now!!!

  16. Joanne says:

    I don’t know that I would actually want to share these. I think I would make a meatball sub out of them. Covered in provolone. They are quite genius though.

  17. Sarah @ Aubergine says:

    These look delicious — yum. I bet they’d be great, too, on a sandwich with some crusty bread.

  18. Alicia says:

    YUM – I love a good meatball!!! I love making a mexican 7-layer dip to bring to parties…..only problem with that is my addiction to tortilla chips!!!

  19. Monique says:

    this looks great! and juicy too! which i find is more difficult to acheive with ground poultry.
    I like making baked brie. its easy enough and still looks impressive 🙂

  20. Susan says:

    Wow, do these ever look great! I never would have imagined applesauce in meatballs but I’m sure it helps keep them moist and yummy. I’m going to try these soon! I usually end up making a huge container of guacamole for football parties.

  21. 5 Star Foodie says:

    Yummy yummy meatballs, they sound so good with bbq sauce!

  22. Sassy Molassy says:

    For the record, I made these meatballs last night. The manfriend was drooling. Truth be told, some of them didn’t stay quite intact and were more like bbq chicken mash, but most were meatball-esque. Very yummy! We put them on top a bed of whole wheat pasta w/ a little parmesean, mozarella, cherry tomatoes and a few sprigs of basil. Yum yum! Thanks!

  23. Kelsey says:

    adding this to the definite to-try list. The applesauce caught me off guard but it looks great. Boyfriend will like this one.

  24. diana says:

    sounds great cant wait to try them

  25. Greg says:

    What a good idea. We will give them a try sometime and let you know when we do.

  26. micki says:

    My mother has made these quite a few times and they are truly delicious. Now I’m making them for my family! Already a passed down meal, thanks!

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