Recipe: Chicken Meatballs with Fresh Tomato Sauce

A lighter sort of comfort food
A white bowl of meatballs in a red marinara sauce

When you think of comfort food, you might initially envision a steaming bowl of your favorite soup or chili.

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But anytime is a great time for comfort classics, especially when they’re light and fresh. Enter this delicious, family-friendly meal. Let’s start with the meatballs. Made of boneless, skinless chicken and baked instead of fried, these meatballs are hearty and heart-friendly. Now for the marinara, which is perfectly timed with tomato harvest season, and cooks in just 20 minutes.

Pair the meatballs and sauce with a big salad for a delicious and nutritious summer comfort dish.


For the marinara:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 pounds beefsteak tomatoes, diced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 large sprig basil

For the meatballs:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ of a yellow onion, chopped
1 large egg
½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


To make the marinara, in a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and the basil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Discard the basil.

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To make the meatballs, first cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and put into the freezer to partially freeze.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Let cool.

Put the chicken, onion, egg, parsley, lemon zest, oregano, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse several times until the chicken is finely chopped but not smooth.

Heat the broiler to high. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls (you should get about 16) and place on the prepared pan. Broil 12 to 15 minutes, turning as necessary to prevent burning, until browned and cooked through.

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Add the meatballs to the marinara and stir to coat. Serve hot.

Nutritional information:

Makes 4 servings

Per serving:

255 calories
11 g total fat
2 g saturated fat
25 g protein
15 g carbohydrate
2 g dietary fiber
6 g sugar
0 g added sugar
102 mg cholesterol
463 mg sodium

Source: Developed by Sara Quessenberry for Cleveland Clinic Wellness

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