Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs {Slow Cooker}

Prior to every Super Bowl Sunday, Ben sits me down and sketches an “X’s” and “O’s” football strategy refresh. Instead, all I see are toothpicks for “X’s” and Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs for “O’s.”

Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs (Slow Cooker!) I’ve never claimed to be a football strategy whiz. At the beginning of the game, I mentally note my team’s uniform color and the direction they should be marching down the field, then hope the rest will be intuitive. I cheer when others cheer and scowl when others yell expletives. Occasionally, I forget which direction we are supposed to be going and clap at an inappropriate moment. With a plate of Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs at my disposal, however, I’m immediately forgiven by even the most fervent of fans.

Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs

Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs. Slow cooker friendly!
To make Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs, we start with a tasty combination of tart shredded apple, spicy red onion, and healthy ground chicken. For extra warmth, we add a pinch of cinnamon, garlic for oomph, and panko breadcrumbs for their binder-prowess. It’s a yummy, meaty, tangy-sweet meatball mix.

I know what you are thinking—let’s stuff that juicy apple chicken meatball with extra sharp cheddar cheese. Good, I was thinking that too.
Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs (Slow Cooker)

Each succulent chicken meatball is a mini package of decadent, gooey cheddar ooze. Sharp cheddar bursts in every bite, complementing the apple-y sweetness of the meatballs.

As with any self-respecting meatball, the crowing glory of our Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs is the sauce. Inspired by the flavors of my Apple Butter Cheddar and Turkey Grilled Cheese (a reader favorite recipe), I created a killer 10-second meatball sauce by stirring together two easy ingredients: Musselman’s Apple Butter and barbeque sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s to be specific). The mellow fruitiness of the apple butter enhances the fresh apple flavor in our meatball mix, and the barbeque sauce adds savoryness and sass. Stir in a pat of butter for richness, and we have a 5-star sauce for minimal effort. Touchdown!

If the prospect of juicy meatballs exploding with cheddar cheese hasn’t convinced you to add Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs to your Super Bowl menu, one final selling point: Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs are slow-cooker friendly. Place the baked meatballs in your slow cooker, pour the apple butter barbeque sauce over the top, and boom! Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs are ready to party.

Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken MeatballsSassy apple chicken meatballs, bathed in a sweet-tangy sauce, exploding with cheddar cheese: whichever team wins on Sunday, Cheese Stuffed Chicken Apple Meatballs are a guaranteed victory. Vegas can keep its odds—my bets are on the balls!

Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs {Slow Cooker}

Juicy baked chicken and apple meatballs stuffed with sharp cheddar and bathed in an apple butter barbeque sauce. These sassy meatballs are a guaranteed hit at any party or game-day celebration and can be adapted to fit your slow cooker too!

Yield: 16 meatballs

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


  • 1/4 small tart apple, grated
  • 1/4 small red onion, grated
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 4 ounce block extra sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup Musselman’s Apple Butter
  • 1/2 cup barbeque sauce


  1. Place rack in the center of your oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with tin foil, then set an oven-proof wire rack on top. Coat rack with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together apple, red onion, garlic, cinnamon, salt, pepper, egg white, and panko. Add ground chicken and lightly mix with a fork until just combined, being careful not to compact the chicken. Divide the mixture into quarters, then separate each quarter into 4 balls. Press a cube of cheddar into the center of each ball, then close chicken around the cheese to seal it. Arrange meatballs on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until cooked through.
  3. To finish the meatballs on the stove: In a large skillet, stir together the apple butter and barbeque sauce. Add butter and stir until melted. Add cooked meatballs to the skillet, with a spoon, gently coat the meatballs in sauce. Place a lid on top of the skillet and reduce heat to low to keep warm.
  4. To finish the meatballs in a slow cooker: After step two, place the cooked meatballs in the bottom of a slow cooker. In a small sauce pan over medium low, stir together the butter, apple butter, and barbecue sauce until the butter melts. Pour sauce over the top of the meatballs, toss gently to coat, and keep warm in the slow cooker.

Unbaked meatballs can be prepped up to 1 day in advance. Place formed, unbaked meatballs in an air-tight container lined with plastic wrap, fit the container with a lid, and refrigerate until ready to bake. Baked meatballs can be refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to two days. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stove.

More apple butter!

Musselman’s compensated me for my time to create this post and recipe. All opinions are, as always, 100% my own.

67 Responses to “Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs {Slow Cooker}”

  1. consuelohoneyandfigs — January 27, 2014 @ 6:33 am (#)

    Did you just stuffed meatballs with cheese and glazed them in bbq sauce and apple butter???? DID YOU. I need these in my life, oh please. You’re a total genius Erin!

  2. Taylor @ FoodFaithFitness — January 27, 2014 @ 6:41 am (#)

    Hey brain twin, I am totally making a cheese stuffed ball today! Except it doesn’t include the deliciousness that is chicken, apples, red onion and bbq sauce!
    Your hubby sounds like mine, and now, when I get my strategy refresh, I will only be able to focus on are balls.
    That sounded dirty. I’m ok with that.

  3. DessertForTwo — January 27, 2014 @ 6:53 am (#)

    Ohhh I need these! I want to make them for the superbowl! Pinned!

  4. Lindsay L, RD (@LeanGrnBeanBlog) — January 27, 2014 @ 7:08 am (#)

    ahhh yum :) i just made cheese stuffed chicken meatballs last night!!!

    • Erin Clarke — January 27th, 2014 @ 5:00 pm

      Cheese-stuffed meatball minds unite! I bet yours were crazy delicious Lindsay. Hope you guys enjoyed every bite :-)

  5. Anna (Hidden Ponies) — January 27, 2014 @ 8:00 am (#)

    I can see every man I know falling in love with me for these :) So good!

  6. Angie@Angie's Recipes — January 27, 2014 @ 8:22 am (#)

    The cheese filling is the winner! These meatballs look mouthwatering, Erin.

  7. shashi @ — January 27, 2014 @ 9:38 am (#)

    Loving the apple butter/bbq sauce glaze on these stuffed meatballs! BRILLIANT recipe!

    • Erin Clarke — January 27th, 2014 @ 4:57 pm

      Thank so much Shashi! I mixed the two together and was super excited the second I licked my spoon.

  8. Monica — January 27, 2014 @ 10:34 am (#)

    What an awesome game day treat! The cheese is such a surprise. I’m busy thinking up game day food for Sunday and meatballs definitely need to be on the list.

    • Erin Clarke — January 27th, 2014 @ 4:56 pm

      Meatballs should ALWAYS be on the game day list Monica! Isn’t that in the rules of football somewhere? ;-)

  9. Liz — January 27, 2014 @ 10:43 am (#)

    Thank you, Erin, for the nice recipe. Have a Great Monday!

    • Erin Clarke — January 27th, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

      Thank YOU for reading and commenting Liz! Makes me smile :-) I hope you have a great week too!

  10. Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health — January 27, 2014 @ 10:54 am (#)

    the football situation in my house looks pretty similar…but as long as I have a good food and drinks, I am good to go. I am pinning this recipe because its happening fairly soon. Never had apple butter, hope you dont unfriend me.

    • Erin Clarke — January 27th, 2014 @ 4:53 pm

      Dixya, I could never do such a thing! Definitely keep an eye out for apple butter next time you’re at the store though. It is super delicious, and I think you would enjoy it very much!

  11. Anna @ Garnish with Lemon — January 27, 2014 @ 11:00 am (#)

    A meatball with gooey cheese is an irresistible combo on its own. But the apple butter/BBQ sauce and slow cooker option is just genius!

  12. Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen — January 27, 2014 @ 11:24 am (#)

    Who could resist cheese stuffed meatballs…especially with that sauce!! I may be skipping the game next weekend, but I certainly will not be skipping these meatballs!

  13. Beth @ bethcakes — January 27, 2014 @ 11:33 am (#)

    Wow! These meatballs look amazing! Love all the melty cheese on the inside. :) I feel like I can follow football fairly well when I’m watching it, but I’m not able to follow the Xs and Os either, haha. But who cares about Xs and Os when you could be eating these meatballs!

    • Erin Clarke — January 27th, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

      Well said Beth! No matter how the game goes, we can always count on the food, right? :-)

  14. Kim @ livingnbliss — January 27, 2014 @ 12:17 pm (#)

    I was planning on making my normal turkey or chicken Mediterranean meatballs for the Super Bowl but definitely trying this recipe instead! Just found your blog and have added the Buttermilk Crunch Muffins to the recipes I’ll be trying in February. Looking forward to reading more of your blog!

    • Erin Clarke — January 27th, 2014 @ 4:33 pm

      Kim, I’m so excited you found my blog and said hi! I hope you love both the meatballs and crunch muffins. Those have been two of my fave recipes I’ve made in a while! Enjoy :-)

  15. Lisa @ Wine & Glue — January 27, 2014 @ 12:22 pm (#)

    Hahahaha! I suddenly had to become a little football educated when my six year old started asking me questions. I wish I would have just had one of these meatballs to stick in his mouth :)

    • Erin Clarke — January 27th, 2014 @ 4:31 pm

      Dying over this comment Lisa! I’m going to stuff a meatball in Ben’s mouth the next time he quizzes me, lol.

  16. Jessica @ A Kitchen Addiction — January 27, 2014 @ 12:28 pm (#)

    These need to get added to my game day menu ASAP! Wishing I had some fun lunch right now!

  17. Trisha (Stew or a Story) — January 27, 2014 @ 1:14 pm (#)

    Gah, that photo of the meatball with the cheese oozing out…DONE! I’m making these next weekend for sure, regardless of whether that football game is on the tv. or not. :) Love the addition of the apple butter!

  18. Mary Frances — January 27, 2014 @ 1:17 pm (#)

    I can hold my own in football, but put my in front of a baseball game or hockey and I am clueless! I might be needing these in an emergency sports viewing … yelling for the wrong team calls for some cheese and apples :) Oh, and rich, moist, meaty meatballs! Yum!

  19. Natalie @ Tastes Lovely — January 27, 2014 @ 4:43 pm (#)

    I don’t get football either, no matter how many times it is explained to me. My 2 brother-in-law’s played football in high school and college and I went to several of their games, and if you gave me I couldn’t tell you what position they played for 1 million dollars. I just don’t get it! I go to the games for the food. Haha! These meatballs are an insanely good idea. Love the melty cheese in the middle : )

    • Erin Clarke — January 27th, 2014 @ 5:18 pm

      Game Day would neverrrrr be Game Day without the food! I hear the commentators talking about spread offense…and I just think about the spread on the table, LOL

  20. dinnermom — January 27, 2014 @ 6:46 pm (#)

    These are definitely a meatball I could enjoy! Just had spaghetti topped with apple chicken sausage–these would have been perfect!

    • Erin Clarke — January 27th, 2014 @ 10:59 pm

      Your dinner sounds totally amazing too!! While we were eating these, we talked about how we need to eat spaghetti and meatballs more often. Thanks for the reminder!

  21. Happy Valley Chow — January 27, 2014 @ 7:31 pm (#)

    I love cheese stuffed meatballs sooo good! Great recipe :)

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

  22. laurasmess — January 27, 2014 @ 7:34 pm (#)

    Oh my… these look gorgeous Erin! Anything cheese-stuffed definitely gets my vote, particularly with that gorgeous apple-y glaze. Haha, sport and husbands ;) My husband just bought five NBA DVD’s (one of which is Ultimate Jordan boxed set, SIX HOURS WORTH!!!) so I know what’s going to be screening in our house over the next week! I think I’d better console myself with some of these meatballs! xx

  23. Stephie @ EYHO — January 27, 2014 @ 9:00 pm (#)

    I…I don’t…I…give…I could kiss you for this recipe.

    • Erin Clarke — January 27th, 2014 @ 10:56 pm

      LOL Stephie. Be warned: I probably have a giant meatball in my mouth ;-)

  24. Gretchen @ Two Healthy Kitchens — January 27, 2014 @ 9:39 pm (#)

    I saw a recipe for chicken meatballs this morning … and it was nothing like yours. Nope nope nope. That recipe was bland and just yuck. It was not stuffed with sharp cheddar. It didn’t have apple in it. And it for sure didn’t have a sauce that is making my mouth water at this very moment. You totally win. And I’m totally making these soon! Pinning for my readers … printing for me! :)
    Maybe if I make these for the Superbowl, people will forgive me for not knowing which was the ball is supposed to be moving. Do they really need to change direction so often??

  25. Alyssa — January 27, 2014 @ 11:21 pm (#)

    Oh my gosh, that picture of the melted cheese inside the meatball. Whoooaaa baby! I love apple in savory chicken dishes, but I’ve never used apple butter before. Must try it – these look incredible!

  26. Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry — January 28, 2014 @ 1:07 am (#)

    That oozing cheese is making me want to hug somebody!

  27. Kelly — January 28, 2014 @ 6:55 am (#)

    Wow, these are some serious loaded meat balls – love that oozing cheese and apple butter in here! I don’t really understand all the rules of football either but it doesn’t matter as long as there’s awesome food like this around during the game then I’m all set :)

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  29. Laura-Ashley — January 29, 2014 @ 11:28 am (#)

    This is pure genius! Love the combinations…pinning now for Sunday. Thanks!! PS. I’ve made your peanut butter cookies 3x in the past week. oops.

    • Erin Clarke — January 29th, 2014 @ 4:12 pm

      Laura-Ashley I’d be honored for my meatballs to join your Game Day line up and I’m soooo excited that you love those cookies!!! Thanks so much for letting me know :-)

  30. Rebecca Lindamood {Foodie with Family} — January 30, 2014 @ 6:48 pm (#)

    Oh. my. Heck. I’m in. I’m all in.

  31. Luv What You Do — February 1, 2014 @ 9:08 am (#)

    Oh wow! These make me wish I was hosting a superbowl party this weekend!

    • Erin Clarke — February 1st, 2014 @ 1:47 pm

      It’s not too late! Football food is the best! I think it’s reason enough to throw party, even just for you :-)

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  38. katiemcaldwell — May 22, 2014 @ 5:55 pm (#)

    I am SO sorry but I am new to cooking and I don’t understand 2 things: 1) do you cook the ground chicken first or use raw ground chicken? and 2) do you really have to cook these on a wire rack? Or could you just cook them on a cookie sheet? Sorry for the embarrassing questions…I’m learning and sometimes blogs don’t take cooking newbies into account. :P Thanks!

    • Erin Clarke — May 22nd, 2014 @ 9:23 pm

      Katie, you have nothing to apologize for at all! Your questions are not silly, and cooking takes practice. Let me see if I can help. The ground chicken is raw and will cook in the oven when the meatballs bake. Generally with any recipe, unless it specifies that the meat should already be cooked, you can assume that it is uncooked. The reason that the wire rack is important is because it elevates the meatballs a little bit. This allows the air to circulate and cook all sides evenly, and it also allows any grease from the meat to drip off and be caught in the pan, instead of having the meatball sit in it. This makes for a tastier meatball all-around. You don’t need a special rack made just for the oven. A metal cooling rack that is typically used for cooling cookies will work perfectly! I hope that helps and that you enjoy these meatballs! They are some of our favorites. Feel free to ask any time you have a cooking question. I’m happy to help!

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  41. Karen @ The Food Charlatan — September 4, 2014 @ 2:19 pm (#)

    Apple Butter + BBQ sauce??? Dude. I have to try this!!

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  50. Sally — April 14, 2015 @ 4:17 pm (#)

    What specific type of apple do you reccomen?

    • Erin@WellPlated — April 14th, 2015 @ 4:41 pm

      Hi Sally! You really can use any kind you like, but to be safe, I’d choose something with a crisper texture and lower moisture content, such as a Granny Smith or Fuji.

  51. Sally — April 14, 2015 @ 7:06 pm (#)

    What type of apple did you use when you made the metaballs?

    • Erin@WellPlated — April 14th, 2015 @ 7:42 pm

      Hi Sally! Did you see my reply above? You really can use any kind you like, but to be safe, I’d choose something with a crisper texture and lower moisture content, such as a Granny Smith or Fuji.

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