Prior to every Super Bowl Sunday, Ben sits me down and sketches an Xs and Os football strategy refresh. Instead, all I see are toothpicks for Xs and Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs for Os.
I’ve never claimed to be a football strategy whiz (I will however claim the title of Queen of Game Day Recipes).
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.
However, thanks to my game day offering of cheese stuffed apple chicken meatballs (made with homemade Barbecue Sauce and Slow Cooker Apple Butter), I’m immediately forgiven by even the most fervent of fans (and if they need further convincing, there’s always Greek Layer Dip).
How to Make Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs
Each succulent chicken meatball is a mini package of decadent, gooey cheddar ooze. With sharp cheddar bursting in every bite, and complementary flavors of apple in the meatballs and sauce, you better go ahead and plan on a double batch because these babies won’t make it to halftime.
For another great game day appetizer, try these easy Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs or Buffalo Chicken Meatballs.
- Ground Chicken. Lean and packed with protein, ground chicken keeps these meatballs on the healthy side…at least until we stuff them with cheese.
- Apple. Any apple will do, but I tend to like using a tart, low-moisture apple like Granny Smith for best results. (If you love the combination of chicken and apple, try this Apple Cider Chicken next.)
- Red Onion. Add moisture, flavor, and a little pizazz.
- Cinnamon. Compliments the apples and adds a little warmth to balance the sweetness.
- Garlic. For extra oomph and a little bite.
- Panko. Breadcrumbs get added to the mix for their binder-prowess.
- Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese. We’re not messing around with mild cheddar. No, today we’re using good, sharp-tasting cheddar for maximum cheesy goodness.
- Barbecue Sauce. As with any self-respecting meatball (like these Cranberry Turkey Meatballs), the crowing glory of these cheese stuffed apple chicken meatballs is the sauce. I use my go-to homemade barbecue sauce, but you can swap for your favorite store-bought variety too.
- Apple Butter. My secret ingredient that takes these Super Bowl-worthy meatballs to the next level. This addition was inspired by my Apple Grilled Cheese with Turkey.
- Butter. Adds a little extra richness to the sauce.
- Stir together apple, red onion, garlic, cinnamon, salt, pepper, egg white, panko, and ground chicken. Do not overmix.
- Divide the mixture into 16 equal meatballs.
- Press a cube of cheddar into the center of each ball and seal closed.
- Arrange meatballs on a lined baking sheet topped with a wire rack. Bake in a 400 degree F oven until cooked through. Transfer to a slow cooker.
- Combine the apple butter, barbecue sauce, and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Pour the sauce over the meatballs, toss to coat, and serve. ENJOY!
Sorry, who scored? I was busy devouring a plate of these slow cooker stuffed chicken meatballs. Go sports!
Frequently Asked Questions
No. However, you may make these gluten free by swapping the panko for your favorite gluten free breadcrumbs. Also, take care to check your labels to ensure both your apple butter and barbecue sauce are gluten free.
I have not made these with turkey, but I imagine it could be done. You may want to add a little extra apple or onion to the mixture for added moisture since turkey tends to be a little leaner than chicken. Ground pork would also work well for these meatballs.
Sure! If you’d like to use a different cheese, choose a good melting cheese that has been aged or smoked for maximum flavor. Gouda, Fontina, or Gruyere would be other fantastic options.
Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs
- 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 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup homemade apple butter or store-bought
- 1/2 cup homemade barbecue sauce or store-bought prepared sauce
- 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 ovenproof wire rack on top. Coat rack with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- 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. You should now have a total of 16 meatballs.
- Press a cube of cheddar into the center of each ball, then close the chicken around the cheese to seal it.
- Arrange meatballs on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until cooked through.
- To finish, place the cooked meatballs in the bottom of a slow cooker. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, 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.
- STOVETOP DIRECTIONS: To finish the meatballs on the stovetop, stir together the apple butter and barbecue sauce in a large skillet. 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.
- MAKE-AHEAD: 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.
- TO STORE: Baked meatballs can be refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to two days.
- TO FREEZE: Baked meatballs may be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before warming.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat the meatballs gently in the microwave or on the stovetop.
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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!
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!
What type of apple did you use when you made the metaballs?
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.