Greek Chicken Meatballs
These Greek chicken meatballs with olives and feta are made with ground chicken and packed with fresh herbs, tangy feta cheese, and briny Kalamata olives. They’re the perfect balance of savory and salty, and they’re even more perfect because you can make them in 30 minutes.
If you want to elevate your weeknight dinner game, these mouthwatering meatballs are sure to hit the spot. Serve them with lemon orzo or stuff them into a meatball wrap or homemade pita with a drizzle of tzatziki or my lemon herb tahini sauce. Trust me, once you try this Greek chicken meatball recipe, you won’t think of meatballs the same way again!
These Greek chicken meatballs are made with the classic trinity for meatballs and meatloaves: a pound of meat, one egg, and a half-cup of panko. To get a delicious Mediterranean chicken meatball, you add:
- Buttermilk: the buttermilk does two things in this recipe. It contributes a bit of fat and flavor to chicken. But it also helps break down the meat proteins to produce a more tender meatball (see the Recipe FAQs for more information).
- Kalamata olives: Kalamata are black olives from Greece. They are easy to find and often come pitted, which is why I use them. Feel free to use any black olive.
- Feta: feta is a soft, salty cheese made from all or mostly sheep’s milk, with up to 30% goat’s milk allowable. We prefer the creamier French version pictured here, but any feta will work.
- Garlic and herbs: oregano is common in Greek cooking, but you can use mint, thyme, parsley, or rosemary in these meatballs. Use just one, or use a combination of fresh herbs.
- Lemon zest: the touch of lemon brightens up the mixture and really makes the flavors sing.
Note that you don’t add salt in the recipe because the olives and feta are salty enough. Please see the recipe card for ingredient quantities.
Variations and substitutions
- Sub ground turkey for the ground chicken.
- Sub gluten-free panko or make your own breadcrumbs from a couple slices of stale bread.
- Sub any type of milk for the buttermilk. It will contribute a bit of fat but may not have the same tenderizing effect on the ground chicken.
Tips and tricks
Step by step
Preheat your oven and line a baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together your panko and buttermilk or other milk. Stir them together well so the liquid soaks into the bread crumbs.
While the panko and buttermilk are soaking, add the other ingredients one by one except for the chicken and egg. You’ll speed things up by soaking the panko while you chop your olives, feta, herbs, etc.
Once all of the ingredients except for the chicken and egg are added to the bowl, mix these well with a spoon or spatula. Add the chicken and egg and use your hands to gently mix until well combined. If you have time, let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set up.
Tip from the wise quacker: make the meatball mixture ahead of time and leave the bowl in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.
Use a medium-sized (#40) cookie scoop or your hands to form the mixture into one and a half inch meatballs. Place them on the baking sheet, leaving a little space between the meatballs.
Bake the chicken meatballs in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 °F (74 °C) and they are starting to turn golden brown on the outside. Shake or turn the meatballs once or twice during cooking for even browning. Serve immediately.
What to serve with Greek chicken meatballs
Check out this post and read more about how to serve meatballs for dinner. Here are some of my favorite things to serve with these Greek chicken meatballs:
- Homemade pita or falafel waffles (fawaffle!)
- A Mediterranean-inspired side salad like this orzo pesto salad, pumpkin couscous salad, or peach and burrata Caprese salad. Or make a simple tomato and cucumber salad.
- A sauce like tzatziki, lemon herb tahini, or this sumac dressing.
- And an adult beverage like a dry martini or a dry, white wine like a sauvignon blanc. If you want to try a Greek wine, look for Assyrtiko, which are grapes from Santorini that produce a dry, acidic white.
Or turn it all into a meatball wrap! Grab a tortilla, a few meatballs, your sauce of choice, and sprinkle on some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers and more feta.
A panade (or panada) is a paste made of milk and bread. It’s commonly used in meatballs and meatloaf to keep the meat tender – one of the reasons why meat is cooked in milk in Bolognese sauce or my sausage ragù.
No. Keftedes or keftethes are a traditional Greek meatball made with ground lamb or sometimes ground beef. My Mediterranean chicken meatballs are more Greek-style or Greek-inspired than a true Greek recipe.
Store cooked meatballs in the refrigerator for up to five days. Cooled meatballs can also be frozen in an air-tight freezer bag for three to six months.
Feta is a key ingredient in Greek salads made with cucumbers and tomato, but you can sprinkle it on any salad. Make these savory feta and spinach muffins. Or make that TikTok pasta.
Other related meatball recipes
Do you love meatballs? Here are some of my favorites:
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.
Greek Chicken Meatballs
- ½ cup panko or other bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons buttermilk or milk of any kind
- ¼ cup Kalamata or other black olives pitted and coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup feta, crumbled
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped like oregano, rosemary, mint, or parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 egg lightly beaten
Greek chicken meatballs
- Preheat your oven to 425°F (215°C).
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the panko and milk or buttermilk and set it aside for a few minutes to allow the panko to absorb the liquid.½ cup panko, 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- Add the crumbled feta, minced garlic, chopped herbs, chopped olives, lemon zest, and black pepper and stir together.¼ cup Kalamata or other black olives, ¼ cup feta, crumbled, 1 clove garlic, minced, 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Add the ground chicken and the egg, and use your hands gently to mix everything together until well combined.1 pound ground chicken, 1 egg
- Using a medium (#40) cookie scoop or your hands, form the mixture into about 1½ inch meatballs and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake the meatballs in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, turning them over once or twice for even browning. They should be cooked to 165℉ (74℃) and turning golden brown on the outside. Serve immediately.
If you have the time, let the meatball mixture sit at 30 minutes in the refrigerator before shaping the meatballs. You can make the mixture ahead of time and leave it in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. This recipe will make about 18 to 20 medium-sized Greek chicken meatballs.
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