Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
When we go out to eat, someone in our family will, in all likelihood, order Buffalo chicken: wings, sandwich, salad, etc. As I started thinking of meatballs as deconstructed hamburgers, it didn’t take long for the idea of a Buffalo chicken meatball to form (pun intended).
To create this recipe, the basic meatball ingredients of ground meat, eggs, bread crumbs, milk and seasonings came to mind. To add another layer of flavor within the meat mixture, I added onion, garlic and, that ever present hot wing side, celery. Ranch dressing is a common condiment for wings so the dry ranch seasoning mix seemed appropriate. The heat would be added with the sauce on the outside but I wanted something to give a little heat on this inside too … cayenne pepper.
It didn’t take long to realize no milk would be needed in this recipe. Ground chicken and turkey typically have a higher moisture content than ground beef and pork. The eggs were enough to soften the bread crumbs and hold the meatballs together. This is also why it is best not to add all the bread crumbs at once. For more tips like this, check out my post called A Re-Introduction to Meatballs.
VARIETY IS THE SAUCE OF LIFE
What is the best part of ordering wings at a restaurant? It’s that everyone gets to choose their sauce. Mild or hot, tangy or spicy, barbecue or buffalo, they’ve got us covered … literally. Why should our buffalo-wing-inspired meatball be any different.
The beauty of this recipe is that it starts with a basic chicken meatball and allow you to choose your sauce options: buffalo, sweet chili, honey-bbq, etc. One batch of meatballs … 2 or 3 different sauces … something for everyone!
Years ago, I started making homemade hot wings using only two ingredients: frozen wing segments and Cookies Wings ‘n’ Things Sauce. We have tried a lot of hot-, wing-, buffalo-sauces and this is, by far, our favorite. And, being the good Iowa girl that I am, the fact that it is made in NW Iowa is a bonus!
For the buffalo meatballs, I used the Cookies Wings ‘n’ Things sauce. This sauce does not thicken up like a lot of sauces that have sugar in them but the flavor is awesome. You could add a couple tablespoons of honey to it to make it thicker. It will, of course, take some of the heat away. Some of you may appreciate that but we will stick to the hotter version.
For the Honey-BBQ version (basket at the top), I mixed one cup of our favorite BBQ sauce (a sweet and zesty version) with 2 tablespoons of honey. This too can be a spicier version if you start with a spicier BBQ sauce.
Thirdly, I made a Sweet Chili style sauce (basket on the left) by combining 1/2 cup Sweet Chili Sauce and 1/8 cup of spicy Szechuan Sauce. If your refrigerator is never without sriracha, feel free to use that instead of the Szechuan sauce.
Experiment with the sauces your family likes most. Check out menus on-line to get ideas for other sauces. Make sure you have some fresh veggies and ranch dressing to go with your meatball buffet. Even though this recipe makes A LOT of meatballs, it has been proven at our house that there will not be as many leftovers as you think!
CHICKEN AND PORK?
Why add ground pork to a chicken recipe? Ground chicken is an extremely lean protein. Even though pork is also very lean, it still has more fat than chicken. Also, choosing more than one protein will ensure a better texture and flavor. To make these meatballs using only chicken, consider using a ground variety that uses both white and dark meat and drizzling the meatballs with olive or avocado oil before baking.
BUFFALO CHICKEN MEATBALLS
Take a minute to check out the other fun meatball recipes on my site … like maybe: