Is there any better dinner than everyone's favorite spaghetti and meatballs? There are never any tears, tantrums or tricks when spaghetti and meatballs is on the dinner menu. Here is my twist on this classic: chicken meatballs with tons of garlic and fresh basil! This spaghetti and basil garlic chicken meatballs recipe is almost like a chicken parmesan mixed with spaghetti and meatballs! You already know the flavors are perfect together! Also check out my tricks to making this easy pantry dinner even better than usual!
The main component of this dish is the basil garlic chicken meatballs. The best thing about them is that they pack so much flavor into one little meatball with very little effort. Other than the fresh basil and garlic, there is just a little Italian seasoning and some breadcrumbs. But the flavor is so good!
Trick to working with Ground Chicken
My trick to getting the best texture of meatballs out of ground chicken adding breadcrumbs and vinegar. For one pound of ground chicken, I like to add ¼ cup of plain breadcrumbs and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. I found that the addition of bread crumbs really helps to mold ground chicken into either meatballs or burger patties. And the apple cider vinegar provides that little bit of moisture the breadcrumbs need to activate plus the acidity and tang of the vinegar helps to balance out the flavors of the chicken and the spices.
For the quickest weeknight dinners, use store bought! This is my favorite right now, such a homemade taste, definitely worth the price tag!
Amp up that jarred pasta sauce
Of course with anything store bought, you can always jazz it up to make it even better and give it that homemade taste. What I like to do is that saute up some onions in olive oil and red wine. Let that red wine cook down and then add in the jarred pasta sauce. Let that cook for just a few minutes and it's ready.
Now taste that sauce! Adding the onion and red wine is like the smallest addition but it definitely adds that something that jarred pasta sauce usually needs.
Definitely using store bought, boxed spaghetti for this! Use whatever thickness of spaghetti you prefer. I like the thick spaghetti with this dish because it holds up well to the tossing in the sauce and meatballs.
Do NOT drain that pasta!
I do have a small trick for the pasta too though! Once the pasta is cooked, instead of draining the pasta out into a colander and losing all that pasta water and risk burning yourself with steam. Just transfer the cooked spaghetti into the sauce pan with the sauce and meatballs with a pair of tongs. By scooping out the spaghetti right from the water, you're already bringing in the pasta water you need to make the sauce a nice consistency. Plus you're saving yourself from washing unnecessary dishes! Win-win!!
And I mean, you're having spaghetti and basil garlic chicken meatballs for dinner! I would say that is a win-win by itself!!
Spaghetti and Basil Garlic Chicken Meatballs
- 16 oz spaghetti cooked to package directions
- 24 oz pasta sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion optional
- 1-2 tablespoons red wine optional
Basil Garlic Chicken
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 lb ground chicken
- ¼ cup plain bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar optional
- 4 cloves garlic minced or grated
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning dried spice blend
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl combine all ingredients of meatballs (except cooking oil). Mix to combine and distribute seasoning (best to use your hands for this).
- Heat cooking oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Fry a small pinch of chicken mixture in the oil, test the oil is warmed and taste the tester for salt and pepper and spice. Add additional salt or seasoning if needed before frying the rest of the mixture.
- Form chicken mixture into 1-2 tablespoon meatballs and fry in the oil, until golden on all sides about 10-15 minutes. Remove from skillet.
- Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.
- In the same skillet as the meatballs, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, or until onions are softened. Add red wine (if using) to deglaze the pan. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add your pasta sauce to the pan, stir to combine, return the chicken meatballs to the pan and let them cook in the sauce for a few minutes.
- Once the spaghetti is done cooking (don't drain it) simply transfer the pasta into the saucepan with the sauce and meatballs using tongs. This will bring some of the pasta water into the pan and help to make the dish more saucy (also it reduces a couple steps and dishes to wash!) Serve warm!