Bacon Wrapped Chicken Meatballs take delicious to a whole new level. The meatballs get a healthy kick from baby spinach, and the bacon and sweet & spicy coating will keep you coming back for more.
This post was featured in the May, 2018 issue of Stillwater Living Magazine.
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I love to entertain. Whether I’m hosting a party at my house or taking food to a friend’s home, the most convenient food to serve is appetizers. I focus on easy to make, bite-sized appetizers. Besides, with appetizers guests can pick and choose what they want, and eat as much or as little as they want. My Spinach and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms were a huge hit at a party a couple of years ago, so it made sense to showcase them as my first appetizer recipe on the blog. My Pigs in an Everything Blanket were gone in no time at a party a few weeks ago.
Now that summer is around the corner, I know that I’ll need some new appetizer recipes for summer parties and fall tailgating. Meatballs are an easy appetizer, but the only kind I’ve ever made at home are my Asian Quinoa Meatballs. They are so delicious and hearty, and I could eat them by the dozen. So this was the perfect opportunity to branch out and try something new. Rather than do a traditional beef meatball, I decided to try it with chicken. And then wrap them in bacon because, well, it’s bacon! And that’s how Bacon Wrapped Chicken Meatballs was born
These Bacon Wrapped Chicken Meatballs are fabulous. The meatballs by themselves are really delicious, and they go to a whole new level of good when wrapped with bacon. I had to stop myself from eating the entire batch on my own, and in record time.
THE PERFECT CHICKEN MEATBALLS MIXTURE
- I buy pre-ground chicken, and use ground chicken thighs. I’ve seen that some people grind their own chicken, but that seems like a lot of work. If you have a local butcher, they could also grind the chicken for you.
- I add baby spinach because it’s a great way to sneak veggies into the meatballs. I use it raw, and chop the spinach into very small pieces
- Red Pepper Flakes add flavor and a little heat to the meatballs. I only use a small amount, so the meatballs are not spicy at all
- I add fresh grated Parmesan cheese, because I love the nutty bite of the cheese. The Parmesan is optional and the meatballs are still delicious without it
- Panko Bread Crumbs and egg act as binders for the meatballs.
- I keep the seasonings very simple, and use only fresh-cracked black pepper and coarse sea salt. I also add minced onion and garlic, because I add onion and garlic to pretty much everything
Don’t over-mix the meatball mixture, or they will be dense. I use a tablespoon to measure the meatballs. Yes, they will be small, but it works because they’ll be wrapped in bacon. I scoop the mixture, transfer it to my hands, roll it into a ball in my palms, and set them aside.
BACON FOR THE BACON WRAPPED CHICKEN MEATBALLS
I tested these Bacon Wrapped Chicken Meatballs with both regular and thick-cut bacon. They both work, but I prefer regular bacon because you can flatten it more, and the strips wrap more evenly. I lay a piece of bacon on a flat surface and, using the back edge of a large knife, run the knife along the bacon while pressing down. With the small meatballs, one piece of bacon will wrap 2 meatballs.
The last piece of the puzzle is the sweet and spicy coating. I use a mixture of Dark Brown Sugar, Cayenne Pepper, and Chili Powder. I can never get the mixture to stick evenly on all sides. At first I thought the meatballs would have “bald spots”, but seriously…who’s worried about how they look?! It’s all about the glorious flavors.
I serve my Bacon Wrapped Chicken Meatballs with a Spicy Brown Mustard that adds another fabulous layer of flavor. I skewer the Bacon Wrapped Chicken Meatballs with Toothpicks to keep them together while they bake. Leave leave the toothpicks in when serving, so guests can easily pick them up.
For best results, serve the Bacon Wrapped Chicken Meatballs within 15 minutes of baking them. You can keep them warm in an electric skillet or even a crock pot set on low. But let’s be honest, they won’t last long enough to sit around and get cold!
I can’t wait to share my Bacon Wrapped Chicken Meatballs with my friends at the next party. I know they will be a huge hit.
SHOP THIS RECIPE
- 8 ounces ground chicken (I use chicken thighs)
- 1 cup baby spinach, rinse, dried, and finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup yellow onion, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes (more or less, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 12 slices bacon
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 Tablespoon paprika
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- spicy brown mustard, for dipping
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Top with baking rack, and spray rack well with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, add chicken, spinach, garlic, onion, cheese, eggs, Panko, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Mix all ingredients together. Don't over mix or the meatballs will be dense. Just enough so that the mixture is evenly distributed.
Form meatballs. I use a 1 Tablespoon scoop, and then roll the meatballs in my palms to make sure they hold together. WILL MAKE 24 MEATBALLS
Lay bacon pieces on a flat surface. Using the flat end of a large knife, run the knife along the bacon to stretch it out and make it more even. Cut each strip in half.
Lay a meatball at one end of a piece of bacon, and wrap. Insert a toothpick through each piece to hold the bacon together
In a large plate combine brown sugar, paprika, cayenne and chili powder. Coat meatball with mixture. You may need to press mixture onto bacon so it adheres.
Place meatballs on baking rack. Bake for about 25 minutes, until chicken us cooked through.
Serve immediately, with spicy brown mustard for dipping.