Honey Sriracha Quinoa Chicken Meatballs
I can’t decide if this recipe is a meal, an appetizer, or both.
I conceptualized these meatballs as a distinctly chick-friendly football food. The kind of nosh your man will go crazy for, and that you can liberally enjoy without fear of busted skinny jeans. But after eating the leftovers for dinner over rice, and then again for lunch as a panini-pressed sammy, I’m forced to admit that these work almost whenever you want to eat them.
I know, so embarrassingly pedestrian of me.
Yes, making football food that’s actually anytime food is TOTALLY shame-inducing basic. But! The important thing is that no matter when, or why you whip up these adorable little meatballs, they’re guaranteed to be insanely delicious.
In my early 20’s Dave and I spent the majority of our football Sundays at Brother Jimmy’s, otherwise known as the epitome of bar sophistication. There’d be pounders of Natty Light chugged at frat-like speed, buckets of wings inhaled with eager, and the inevitable 4th-quarter fish bowl, which was always a terrible idea. These were simpler, enviable times, but alas Bro Jams is no longer a part of my weekend routine. Now Sunday’s are about cooking at home, getting drunk on wine, and acting like a buffoon in the privacy of my own home.
Very adult, I know.
In all seriousness, cooking your own bar food offers up some serious advantages. The biggest being the ability to lighten-up classic bar dishes while still keeping things majorly tasty. And so I made these meatballs with extra-lean ground chicken (protein), loads of quinoa (quality carbs), panko crumbs (gluten-free!), and a sweet honey sriracha sauce that you’ll literally be spoon-feeding yourself by the end of this.
The art of this dish is simplicity, and with the meatballs having just 5 ingredients, I’m not sure football food gets much easier. The honey sriracha sauce is a simple mix of honey + sriracha (le duh) with hints of garlic, lemon, and just a touch of brown sugar. Now I know what you’re thinking – Isn’t this sauce a bit high in sugar? Admittedly yes, it is a smidge sugary. But when you look at how lean the rest of the dish is, AND just how far a tiny bit of the sauce goes, you’ll stop worrying in an instant. Plus, a little splurge is always good for the soul, right?
Baking these meatballs really maintains the health factor, plus baking is sooo much easier than the tiresome task of pan-frying. The overall gist is this: once your honey sriracha sauce is prepped, simply mix up the meatball ingredients, roll ’em into balls, coat with a thin-film of canola oil, and boom! You’re ready to bake. Just 20-25 minutes in the oven and you’ll be sticking them with toothpicks before you know it.
Serve ’em with extra sauce over a pile of arugula greens, or get fancy and arrange them individually over tiny beds of rice – They’re an adorable delight either way. Plus you can garnish with sesame seeds, chives, diced scallions, whatever! This is a dish that can be presented beautifully any number of ways, so get creative and do your thang.
But most importantly? Obviously it’s the taste. Equal parts sweet and savory, these meatballs are wonderfully juicy and tender, which means they sop up the delicious honey sriracha sauce to finger-licking results. The tangy sriracha spice is the perfect kick against the sweet/savory backsplash, and the quinoa adds a subtle, nutty hint of flavor that also amps up the texture beautifully.
And if any leftovers are to be found? Take my advice and sandwich these suckers between two fluffy slices of bread (challah, brioche, or honey whole wheat are excellent choices), add some mozzarella, and let your panini press work its magic.
Honey Sriracha Quinoa Chicken Meatballs
- HONEY SRIRACHA SAUCE:
- 1/3 cup Sriracha Sauce
- 1/4 cup Honey
- 1 tsp Crushed or Minced Garlic
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1 lb Extra Lean Ground Chicken
- 1/2 cup Cooked Quinoa
- 1/4 cup Panko Crumbs
- 1 Large Egg
- 3 tbsps Honey Sriracha Sauce
- 1/2 tsp Salt & Pepper – approx.
- Canola Oil
- Crisco to grease
- Preheat oven to 375F. Amply grease large baking sheet with crisco, then set aside.
- In small mixing bowl combine all honey sriracha sauce ingredients, whisking well until smooth. Set aside.
- In large mixing bowl combine ground chicken, quinoa, panko crumbs, egg, honey sriracha sauce, and salt & pepper, mashing ingredients together with your hands or wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed.
- With lightly damp hands roll meat into golf ball-sized rounds, then transfer to greased baking sheet. Repeat until all meat has been rolled. Brush the tops of each ball with a coating of canola oil, then bake at 375F for 20 – 25 mins until cooked through. Serve immediately with remainder of honey sriracha sauce and garnish as desired (I used a combination of sesame seeds & diced scallions).