Firecracker Chicken Meatballs with Cilantro Coconut Pineapple Rice

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SPICY LOVAHS THIS IS FOR U.

You know how every once in awhile you get on a spicy kick? Well, it’s all I’ve been wanting lately… Siete jalapeno hot sauce on my eggs in the morning. Spicy bitchin’ sauce on rice cakes. Jalapenos on pizza and spicy peanut butter sauce on my green beans. I can’t get enough.

These firecracker chicken meatballs were one of my ‘craving spicy food during the weeknight’ creations. They’re packed with jalapeno, cayenne and hot sauce for firecrackin’ heat. They also contain a little sweetness from coconut sugar and a fresh cilantro pineapple coconut rice so that the meal is well balanced. Everything seems to pair so beautifully together that I guaruntee you’ll be licking your plate clean. Let’s get to it!

firecracker chicken meatballs in a pan with rice

Ingredients in firecracker chicken meatballs

These sweet & spicy chicken meatballs are packed with delicious spices and a few bright veggies. You’ll need:

  • Lean ground chicken: I used 93% in this recipe so that they’re still juicy. Feel free to use lean ground turkey as well.
  • Egg: to hold the meatballs together.
  • Panko breadcrumbs: breadcrumbs make sure these healthy meatballs stick together. I also have an option to use coconut flour if you want to keep these paleo or grain free/gluten free.
  • Meatball mix-ins: finely diced onion, cilantro and jalapeño for a kick of heat, flavor and moisture.
  • Hot sauce: feel free to use your favorite kind! I love Sriracha or Cholula.
  • Low sodium soy sauce: to add a savory, salty flavor to the meatballs.
  • Coconut sugar: the perfect addition of sweetness to balance the spice.
  • Cozy spice blend: cumin, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, salt & pepper
  • Olive oil: to cook your meatballs in.
  • White rice: I recommend jasmine or basmati rice. Do not use brown rice as it will take too long to fully cook.
  • Light coconut milk: you’ll simmer the meatballs and actually cook the rice right in the coconut milk for a wonderful, creamy flavor
  • Pineapple: the bites of sweet, juicy pineapple are incredible with the spicy meatballs.
  • Red bell pepper: packing in some veggies with bell pepper.
  • Scallions: for a beautiful garnish.

one pan firecracker chicken meatballs with rice in a pan

How to make firecracker chicken meatballs without breadcrumbs

You can easily make these chicken meatballs gluten free & paleo! Simply use 2-3 tablespoons of coconut flour in place of the breadcrumbs. I recommend starting with 2 tablespoons to see if your meatballs hold together well and if you can easily shape them into balls.

healthy firecracker chicken meatballs in a pan

How to cook chicken meatballs in coconut milk

I love cooking these firecracker chicken meatballs in rich coconut milk because they stay super moist and soak up all of the flavors in the coconut milk.

  1. In a large bowl, add the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, hot sauce, soy sauce, coconut sugar, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, salt and black pepper. Use clean hands to mix and form into 16 golf ball sized meatballs.
  2. Place a large deep skillet over medium-high heat and add in olive oil. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides, about 5-6 minutes total. You may need to do this in batches, depending on how many meatballs you can fit in your skillet without overcrowding them. When they’re done browning, transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the coconut milk and pineapple; stir in the rice, then add the meatballs back in and bring to a nice simmer. Cover the pan, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and add in red bell pepper. Cover and cook for 5 more minutes to help tenderize the bell peppers.
  5. Finish the pan off by adding cilantro, serve and garnish with scallions!

firecracker chicken meatballs on a plate with cilantro rice

Make these chicken meatballs ahead of time

These firecracker chicken meatballs can easily be prepped ahead of time!

  • Simply mix and form the meatballs then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper then tightly cover the meatballs with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
  • You can prep these meatballs up to 1-2 days ahead of time.

How to store chicken meatballs

If you’re going to meal prep these firecracker chicken meatballs, I recommend storing them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Yes, you can store them with the sauce + rice! To reheat simply place your meatballs and sauce in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.

gluten free firecracker chicken meatballs on a plate with rice

Freezer-friendly chicken meatballs (2 different ways!)

  • Bake first, then freeze: simply place your meatballs and sauce in a freezer safe, airtight container or bag and freeze it all for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy, let your container of meatballs + sauce thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, and then empty the contents into a pan on the stovetop. Heat them in your pan until they’re nice and warm, and then serve!
  • Freeze before baking: you can also freeze these meatballs before cooking them! Form your meatballs as instructed, place them on a baking sheet, and put them in the freezer for 1-2 hours. This is called a flash freeze. Then, transfer your frozen meatballs to an airtight, freezer-friendly bag or container and place in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw them, simply place them in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight and then cook them as directed in the recipe.

See how to make the firecracker chicken meatballs

I hope you love these firecracker chicken meatballs! If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and rate the recipe below. You can also snap a photo and upload it to Instagram with the hashtag #ambitiouskitchen. Enjoy, xo!

Firecracker Chicken Meatballs with Cilantro Coconut Pineapple Rice

Incredible firecracker chicken meatballs made with flavorful spices and served with a creamy cilantro coconut pineapple rice. These healthy firecracker chicken meatballs are spicy, sweet, savory and make an incredible one pan meal. Easily made gluten free and perfect for meal prep!

  • For the meatballs:
  • 1
    pound
    93% lean ground chicken (or lean ground turkey)
  • 1
    egg
  • ½
    cup
    panko breadcrumbs (or if GF sub 2 tablespoons coconut flour)
  • ¼
    cup
    very finely diced white onion

  • cup
    finely diced cilantro
  • 1
    jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • ½
    tablespoon
    hot sauce of choice (i love sriracha or cholula)
  • 1
    tablespoon
    low sodium soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • 1 1/2
    tablespoons
    coconut sugar
  • 1
    teaspoon
    cumin
  • ½
    teaspoon
    garlic powder
  • ½
    teaspoon
    paprika
  • ½
    teaspoon
    cayenne
  • ½
    teaspoon
    salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1
    tablespoon
    olive oil
  • For the rice:
  • ¾
    cup
    jasmine or basmati white rice (don’t use brown rice, it will take too long to cook)
  • 1
    (15 ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 1
    cup
    heaping cup frozen or fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1
    red bell pepper, julienned
  • ¼
    cup
    finely diced cilantro
  • For garnish:
  • Scallions (green part of green onion only)
  1. In a large bowl, add the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, hot sauce, soy sauce, coconut sugar, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, salt and black pepper. Use clean hands to mix and form into 16 golf ball sized meatballs.

  2. Place a large deep skillet over medium-high heat and add in olive oil. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides, about 5-6 minutes total. You may need to do this in batches, depending on how many meatballs you can fit in your skillet without overcrowding them. When meatballs are done browning, transfer to a plate and set aside.

  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the coconut milk and pineapple; stir in the rice, then add the meatballs back in and bring to a nice simmer. Cover the pan, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.

  4. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and add in red bell pepper. Cover and cook for 5 more minutes to help tenderize the bell peppers.

  5. To finish it off, add in cilantro over rice and meatballs. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings. Garnish with scallions.

To make this grain free or low carb: use cauliflower rice instead of regular rice.

How to freeze these chicken meatballs:

Bake first, then freeze: simply place your meatballs and sauce in a freezer safe, airtight container or bag and freeze it all for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy, let your container of meatballs + sauce thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, and then empty the contents into a pan on the stovetop. Heat them in your pan until they’re nice and warm, and then serve!

Freeze before baking: you can also freeze these meatballs before cooking them! Form your meatballs as instructed, place them on a baking sheet, and put them in the freezer for 1-2 hours. This is called a flash freeze. Then, transfer your frozen meatballs to an airtight, freezer-friendly bag or container and place in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw them, simply place them in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight and then cook them as directed in the recipe.

Nutrition

Servings: 4 servings

Serving size: 1 serving (based on 4)

Calories: 469kcal

Fat: 18.9g

Saturated fat: 8.3g

Carbohydrates: 46.3g

Fiber: 1.7g

Sugar: 11.1g

Protein: 27.7g

Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats



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