home cooked dinners by the season

One Pan Lemon Rosemary Chicken Meatballs

One Pan Lemon Rosemary Chicken Meatballs

Serves 4


  • 1 lb ground chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino cheese (Parmesan can be substituted)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock (I prefer low sodium)
  • 1 cup orzo pasta (6 ounces)


For the meatballs, in a bowl combine chicken, breadcrumbs, Pecorino, egg, lemon zest, rosemary, salt and several grinds of pepper until evenly mixed. Roll into approximately 1 to 1-1/2 inch meatballs using the palms of your hands (meatballs can be prepared to this point, covered and refrigerated 24 hours).
Trim stems from spinach and thinly slice the leaves (bagged spinach leaves can also be used: about 6 cups lightly packed is the equivalent).
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add meatballs in a single layer and cook until browned on one side, then lightly shake pan to turn meatballs, and cook until browned all over, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove meatballs. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same skillet and cook and stir onions and garlic over medium heat until softened and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil; stir in orzo followed by the browned meatballs; reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer over medium low heat, partially covered, just until orzo is tender, the meatballs are cooked through and the broth is mostly absorbed, stirring in spinach during the last few minutes of cooking, about 10 to 12 minutes (any excess broth will be absorbed as the dish sits for a few minutes off heat). Season with salt and pepper.