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5 from 2 votes

One Pan Baked Chicken Meatballs and Tomato Sauce recipe

An easy dinner recipe for succulent basil and garlic-laced chicken meatballs that are baked in a sultry butter and caper-laced tomato sauce.
Be sure to save some of the starchy pasta water from cooking your pasta - we will use it as an ingredient in the sauce.
Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword black olives, canned whole tomatoes, capers, chicken meatballs, green olives, olive oil, real california dairy, Shallot, tomato sauce
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • 13x9 baking dish


For the oven-baked tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for greasing baking dish
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes from California
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) cut into small cubes
  • 8 large cloves of garlic peeled and crushed with the flat side of a chef's knife.
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons capers brined in water, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup green olives optional
  • 1/2 cup starchy pasta cooking liquid reserved before draining cooked pasta. **See note for substitutions.***

For the baked chicken meatballs

  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup almond flour or panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 fresh basil leaves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • black pepper to taste


Assemble the Oven Baked Pasta Sauce

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F and generously grease a 13x9 baking dish with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • Empty the can of tomatoes into the prepared baking dish and crush the tomatoes lightly with your hands. **Watch out for squirting tomato juice!**
  • Scatter the butter pieces, crushed garlic, minced shallots, capers, crushed red pepper flakes, and olives, if using, across the top of the tomatoes. Season generously with salt and pepper and transfer to the oven to roast for 20 minutes.

Assemble the Baked Chicken Meatballs

  • Combine all of the meatball ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix well until combined thoroughly.
  • Roll the mixture into approximately 2 dozen tablespoon-sized meatballs. **See Note**
  • Once the tomato sauce has been roasting for 20 minutes, remove the baking dish from the oven and give the sauce a good stir.
  • Nestle the desired amount of prepared meatballs down into the sauce and return the baking dish to the oven to roast for another 20-25 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
  • Once cooked through, remove the pan from the oven and slide the meatballs to one side. Use a fork or a potato masher to gently mash the roasted tomatoes, capers, garlic, and olives (if using) together until the mixture resembles coarse applesauce in texture.
  • Add 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid ( or chicken broth, see note) to the pan with the mashed sauce and stir to combine, adding more if necessary to loosen the sauce until it is your desired consistency.
  • Coat the meatballs in the sauce and serve immediately with pasta, more red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese.


A note about starchy pasta water

If you are serving the meatballs and sauce over pasta, you should have no problem reserving the pasta water that is called for in the recipe. However, if you plan on serving the meatballs and sauce without pasta, substitute vegetable or chicken broth for the pasta water. 

A note about how to store and cook any extra baked chicken meatballs 

This recipe makes 2 dozen tablespoon-sized baked chicken meatballs. If that is more than you need for one meal you can freeze any additional meatballs precooked for another meal. 
The meatballs are great on their own or if you want to make this One Pan Baked Chicken Meatballs and Tomato Sauce recipe with the extra again, simply add the frozen meatballs after the sauce has cooked for 10 minutes so that the meatballs get a full 30 minutes in the oven to defrost and bake.