Check out this Indian inspired ground chicken recipe made fast and easy by making your favorite flavorful butter chicken recipe into meatballs! The perfect weeknight recipe, meal prep, or healthier take out recreation you can share with the whole family.
I’m often drawn to foods that are rich in flavor, easy to make on a busy night, and work over and over again for meal prep. Indian style butter chicken is always one of those meals for me.
With spices like curry powder, cumin, and a good garam masala spice blend, you get a rich, cozy, fragrant, and a great hearty combo I can’t get enough of.
As much as I love the classic version of this dish, I wanted to find a lower carb (no yogurt here), dairy free, easy way to recreate this meal for everyday use. It’s the perfect meal prep or make ahead dish and can easily be adjusted to fit your diet and lifestyle.
Check out how I made these tender, flavorful butter chicken inspired meatballs by reading on for a few tips and techniques to making this fool proof. Let’s dive in!
- Baking Sheet
- Roasting Rack (I use my cooling rack)
- Mixing Bowl
- Sauce Pan
- Whisk/ Spatula
- Measuring Cups
- Foil or Parchment Paper
- Instant Read Thermometer
Below I’ll help guide you through the ingredients used, cooking steps, and general recipe notes and helpful tips for a foolproof dish.
Here is what you will need to make these delicious butter chicken meatballs and butter chicken style sauce:
- Ground Chicken – This works well to form into meatballs. You can usually find ground chicken breast meat or ground chicken thigh meat, use what you prefer or what your grocery store has available. You could even swap with ground turkey (but I prefer chicken personally).
- Coconut Flour – I use this in place of traditional bread crumbs and as a binder. It helps absorb some of the moisture in the ground chicken (it’s naturally very moist) and the flavor is complimentary. You could sub with traditional bread crumbs or almond flour if you prefer.
- Egg – This acts as a good binder for mixing in all the spices and the coconut flour into the ground chicken.
- Garam Masala – This is a classic Indian spice blend that I buy from the store and keep on hand.
- Cumin- Amplify the flavors in the garam masala with some additional cumin
- Curry Powder- Curry adds a beautiful color to the meatballs and the sauce.
- Ground Ginger- I use ground ginger over fresh ginger in this recipe because I always have ground ginger in my spice cabinet. You can absolutely sub with fresh ginger however.
- Sea Salt – Adds Flavor.
- Lemon Zest – A bright bit of citrus with the oils from the lemon skin add a nice flavor to the chicken meatballs.
- Minced Garlic – Fresh garlic is always my preferred use. I use the garlic in the meatballs and again in the sauce. If you don’t have fresh on hand, sub with garlic powder.
- Coconut Milk – To keep the calories a little lower I opted to go with canned coconut milk. Do not use coconut cream here, it is way too thick. You could sub for half and half or heavy cream if you don’t mind the dairy.
- Onion – Diced small, only about 1/4 of an onion is needed.
- Tomato Paste- I use a little bit of tomato paste (1 tsp.) you could also sub with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce as well.
- Butter or Ghee – Butter is the easiest to use, but if you want to be completely dairy free and whole30 compliant, go with the ghee instead.
Preparing and baking your garlic chicken meatballs:
The meatballs come together in under 10 minutes but you do need to do a few things before you get mixing.
- Mince your garlic (some is for the sauce and some is for the meatballs).
- Mince the onion and set it aside (for the sauce).
- Combine your salt, curry powder, cumin, ground ginger and garam masala. Stir to combine into one spice blend that will also get divided between the sauce and the meatballs.
Once you have those items prepped, grab a large mixing bowl and add the chicken. Mix in a portion of the minced garlic and the spice blend. Add in the lemon zest and the coconut flour, and the egg.
Mix well with your hands (I wear gloves) and mix like you would meatloaf. I prefer one inch size meatballs for this dish. Use a cookie scoop to help you get a perfect size meatball or a tablespoon would work too.
Preheat your oven to 375 F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Place a cooling rack over the paper/ foil to help evenly cook the meatballs.
Place the meatballs onto the rack and bake for 15 minutes at 375 F. then finish them off at then end under the broiler if you prefer. Your meatballs should reach an internal temperature of 165 F..
How to make low carb Whole30 Butter Chicken Sauce:
Start on your sauce while the meatballs are cooking. The timing will line up really nicely and everything can be served at once. Also, if you like to serve this with the best cauliflower rice, white rice or brown rice, you should make that now as well.
The sauce in my opinion is always the shining star of the dish. I like my sauce to really carry a good punch of flavor. One tip I would suggest is to sauté your dry spices a bit before adding the liquid ingredients. This helps bring out the aromatics and develops the flavor on a quicker cook like this.
Start on medium heat and melt your butter or ghee. Then cook your onions and garlic for about five minutes until tender and fragrant. Mix in the remaining spices and add the tomato paste. Whisk it all together.
One the mixture looks like it has come together (one color, no chunks of tomato paste), then add in your coconut milk mixture. Whisk it in slowly while pouring to fully incorporate. Cook it on medium low heat and stir as needed.
If you prefer a slightly thicker sauce you can take an immersion blender and blend up the onion pieces and mix in a small amount of arrowroot powder (or xanthan gum or even cornstarch). Remove the cooked meat balls and toss into the sauce, move them around inside the pan until fully coated.
Serve the whole dish over cauliflower rice or rice of choice or with a side salad. I love to use my low carb flatbread to dip in the extra sauce too (that is truly my favorite part). I hope you all love this fast and easy recipe.
Like meal prepping and making meatballs? Try these other meatball recipes too:
- MEATBALL INGREDIENTS
- 1 lb. Ground Chicken
- 1/4 cup Coconut Flour
- 1 Egg
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. Lemon Zest
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1/4 tsp. Dried Ginger
- 1 tsp Cumin Powder
- 1 tsp. Curry Powder
- 1 tsp. Garam Masala
- SAUCE INGREDIENTS
- 3 tbsp. Butter or Ghee
- 1/4 cup Onion, minced
- 1/4 tsp. Ginger
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
- 1 1/2 cups Coconut Milk (sub with half and half or heavy cream)
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp. Cumin
- 1 tsp. Garam Masala
- Preheat your oven to 375 F. and line a baking sheet with foil. Place a cooling rack or roasting rack over the foil and spray with non stick spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients. Mix well to combine by using your hands.
- Use a cookie scoop or measuring spoon to make tablespoon size meatballs. I was able to make about 24 meatballs.
- Place them on the rack that's placed over you baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Broil the last few minutes if desired for a little color.
- While the meatballs are baking, melt the butter or ghee in the saucepan on medium low heat. Once melted add in the small diced onion. Sauté until translucent.
- Add the garlic and all the remaining spices (salt, cumin, and garam masala). Allow this to cook on low until it smells fragrant.
- Whisk in the tomato paste. Then slowly whisk in the coconut milk. If your heat is too high the sauce can separate, so watch your temperature and whisk often.
- Allow it to simmer on low. Then add the cooked meatballs. Serve over cauliflower rice and with low carb naan bread.
Want a smoother, thicker sauce? Use an immersion blender to blend in the bits of onion in the sauce before adding the meatballs.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 257Total Fat: 18ggSaturated Fat: 9ggTrans Fat: 0ggCholesterol: 115mgmgSodium: 738mgmgCarbohydrates: 7ggNet Carbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2ggSugar: 2ggProtein: 18gg