This lighter but still hearty Meatball Stew hits the ‘comfort food’ and ‘healthy’ spot with lots of veggies and tender chicken meatballs in a herb-y sauce. Only 30 minutes.
If you’ve ever had chicken stew or chicken pot pie, you will recognize the similarities to this recipe. The main difference is the chicken meatballs instead of chunks of chicken. And chicken pot pie takes longer to make because of the baking time for the crust.
Chicken meatballs, though, can be bland and dry, but these are most definitely not. They have great texture – light, juicy and soft – and they’re full of flavor. The fresh parsley really brightens them up. And I use dark meat minced chicken instead of white because it’s more flavorful and moist (I’m a broken record on that).
As with any stew, this recipe has a lot of versatility and I’ve given several suggestions for variations below.
Suffice it to say, meatball stew is a simple satisfying yummy and make ahead meal served with some crusty bread, red lobster cheddar biscuits or salad.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Other vegetables like butternut squash, green beans, snap peas, frozen peas can be added or substituted.
- Try poultry seasoning instead of the thyme and rosemary.
- Use your favorite beef or pork meatballs. With beef meatballs, consider using beef broth instead of chicken broth.
- Make a vegetarian version with tofu or a meat substitute and vegetarian broth.
- Add a puff pastry sheet on top and bake in an ovenproof skillet or dish at 400F for 25 minutes to make a Meatball & Vegetable Pot Pie. (You can under cook the meatballs in the oven for this option).
- Use fresh herbs instead of dried. For 1 teaspoon dried, use 1 tablespoon fresh.
- Use your favorite frozen meatballs or homemade meatballs if you have some in the freezer. Just cook them before adding them to the vegetables and sauce.
- Instead of dicing all the vegetables, pulse them in two batches in a food processor to chop into small pieces.
- Try frozen vegetables and cut the cooking time way down.
Make Ahead Meatball Stew
- You can make these meatballs a day or two ahead (including cooking them), then finish the stew on another night.
- Or, make the entire recipe a day or two before and reheat it on the stove or in the microwave. You may need to thin out the sauce with extra broth or water.
- 2 carrots, peeled, diced
- 2 celery ribs, washed, diced
- 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, cored, seeded, diced
- 1 large potato, diced
- 2 tbsp butter or oil
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- OPTIONAL: 2-4 tablespoons half and half cream (to add later)
- 2-3 cups baby spinach (add last)
Seasonings/Aromatics for Sauce
- 1 tsp Worcestershire
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
Chicken Meatballs (about 20 2-inch) Note 1
- 1 1/2 lbs minced chicken (white or dark) I use dark - juicier and more flavorful)
- 2 slices bread, torn into tiny pieces (about 1/3 cup breadcrumbs)
- 3 tbsp milk (broth or water can be substituted)
- 1/2 tbsp grated onion (or 1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp ketchup
- 1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt or more to taste
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper, or more to taste.
- Heat oven to 425F if making Two Kooks chicken meatballs Otherwise use any cooked meatballs.
- MAKE VEGETABLES AND SAUCE: Heat oil in skillet or large saucepan to medium high. Add diced vegetables and saute for 4 minutes. Add flour and stir to combine. Lower heat to medium and cook another 3 minutes, stirring. Stir in broth. Bring to boil then cover and lower heat to medium low. Simmer vegetables for 10-12 minutes or until tender and easily pierced with a knife. Broth will be thickened.
- MAKE CHICKEN MEATBALLS: While vegetables are simmering, make meatballs. Line a large baking pan with parchment or foil sprayed with oil. In a medium bowl, add bread and milk. Let soak for a minute until liquid is absorbed. Add grated onion, ketchup, garlic powder, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Mix together. Add minced chicken and lightly mix all ingredients together (don't over mix). Mixture will be very moist. Wet your hands (do this periodically) and form into meatballs about 2 inches in size. (I don't worry about them being perfectly round). Place on pan and bake for 13-15 minutes or until cooked through.
- FINISH STEW: Add spinach (roughly chopped if desired, but not necessary) to vegetables and sauce. Stir until wilted about 30 seconds. Add splash of cream if using. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add more broth if too thick. Stir in meatballs and cook for a few minutes to heat through. Ladle into bowls or plates and serve with crusty bread or warm biscuits.
- Meatball shortcut: Use frozen meatballs heated according to package directions. Or meatballs previously made and thawed. Bake as per recipe.
- Make Ahead: You can make the meatballs a day or two ahead (including cooking them), then finish the stew on another night. Or, make the entire recipe a day or two before and reheat it on the stove or in the microwave. You may need to thin out the sauce a bit with some extra broth or water.
Here are a few other meatball recipes you might enjoy:
This recipe has been updated from the original one posted March 2018.