This healthy spaghetti and meatballs alternative goes out to all my fellow pasta lovers. The recipe combines low fat, high protein Italian chicken meatballs with protein spaghetti and your favorite jar of pasta sauce for convenience. It’s easy to make, and every serving has 24 grams of protein with only 28 grams of carbs, 10 grams of fat, and 290 calories.
Who says you can’t eat spaghetti and meatballs on a high protein diet?
Ingredients for Italian Chicken Meatballs
Here’s everything you’ll need:
- 1 pound of 97% Lean Ground Chicken – Ground turkey works great as well.
- 2 Eggs – Yogurt, mayo, and ricotta cheese come to mind as substitutes for the binding properties of eggs. More egg substitutes for meatballs.
- 2 tablespoons of Marinara – The meatballs simmer in a jar of your favorite marinara or pasta sauce. Adding a little in the meatballs helps hydrate things and keep them moist.
- 2 oz of Shredded Mozzarella – Most of my chicken meatballs use shredded parmesan, but the mozzarella adds a gooeyness that’s a nice change of pace. Fontina and provolone would be great substitutes, and you could even go with crumbled gorgonzola like my buffalo chicken meatballs.
- 1/2 cup of Italian Breadcrumbs – Crushed pork rinds are great for lower carb meatballs, and you can also find gluten free breadcrumb options.
- 2 tablespoons of Freshly Chopped Parsley – Fresh herbs add brightness to the entire dish.
- 1 teaspoon each of Garlic Powder and Red Pepper Flakes – Season to taste. Feel free to add black pepper, a little extra salt, dried oregano, or your favorite Italian spices and herbs.
The Pasta Sauce
You’ll also simmer the chicken meatballs in the rest of a jar of marinara. I used Rao’s Tomato Basil. You can find lower calorie options out there, but Rao’s is consistently rated one of the best jarred marinaras on the market. And an entire jar only has 400 calories.
High Protein Spaghetti
The recipe calls for 8 ounces (dry) of Barilla Protein+ Spaghetti, but you’re welcome to use any pasta option. Here’s a quick nutrition facts comparison between Barilla Protein+, Banza’s chickpea pasta, and classic spaghetti noodles (per 2 oz serving):
- Barilla Protein+ Spaghetti: 190 Calories, 10g Protein, 39g Carbs, 4g Fiber, 1g Fat
- Banza Angel Hair: 190 Calories, 11g Protein, 35g Carbs, 5g Fiber, 3g Fat
- Classic Spaghetti: 200 Calories, 7g Protein, 42g Carbs, 3g Fiber, 1 g Fat
Not a huge difference between the regular stuff, right? Chickpea pasta options like Banza are gluten free, for what it’s worth.
Other dark horse options include edamame spaghetti with 24g of protein per serving, the healthy noodles from my Dan Dan noodles recipe, or the low carb darling hearts of palm pasta noodles. I’ve used the latter for recipes like low carb pasta carbonara.
What to Serve with Spaghetti and Chicken Meatballs
You can’t go wrong with the classic spaghetti and meatballs side—garlic bread. The first thing that came to mind was my air fryer cheesy garlic bread recipe. It’s made with fat free Greek yogurt, and you could throw that together in a couple minutes and have it air frying while you cook the pasta.
Or if you have a favorite high protein bread, simply brush it with a little olive oil and crushed garlic (or even garlic powder) and bake or grill in a pan like the one I made crostini in for my healthy whipped feta dip recipe.
As a final note for bread options, you could always omit the spaghetti and serve your Italian chicken meatballs on low carb rolls like meatball subs. I really like this idea.
And to keep the meal lower carb, you always have veggies. An Italian side salad is a no brainer, but you could also make something like my citrusy garlic air fried green beans, garlic parmesan roasted brussels sprouts, radishes aka keto potatoes, or other vegetables.
For more ideas, check out this roundup of the best sides for spaghetti and meatballs.
If you still have recipe or ingredient questions, drop them in the comments at the bottom of the post. Otherwise, enjoy your Italian chicken meatballs and spaghetti. (I always appreciate recipe reviews if you do!)
- 8 oz (dry) Spaghetti*
- 24 oz jar Pasta Sauce**
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Fresh Basil and Grated Parmesan, for garnish
For the Meatballs
- 1 pound Ground Chicken
- 2 large Eggs
- 2 oz Shredded Mozzarella
- 1/2 cup (60g) Italian Breadcrumbs
- 2 Tablespoons (30g) of the Pasta Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- 2 Tablespoons (10g) Freshly Chopped Parsley
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- To make the meatballs, mix everything but the ground chicken together in a bowl to form a paste. Add the ground chicken and work together by hand until evenly mixed. Form 16 45-gram meatballs.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat before adding the olive oil. Once hot, add the meatballs and cook for 2-3 minutes until the meatballs are golden brown on the bottom and easily release from the pan. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes per side to brown all around and fully cook the meatballs.
- Add the marinara to the pan, stirring the meatballs around in the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and simmer while you cook the pasta.
- Salt the pot of boiling water before adding the spaghetti. Cook for 6 minutes or just shy of al dente.
- When the pasta is nearly cooked, transfer the meatballs out of the sauce to a bowl. Use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta to the pan with the sauce. Add 3/4 to 1 cup of the pasta water and toss to coat before adding the meatballs back to the pan. Garnish with grated parmesan and fresh basil.
*I used Barilla Protein+ Spaghetti. See post above for a comparison of other healthy spaghetti options.
**I used Rao's Tomato Basil Marinara, which has 80 calories, 2g protein, 6g carbs, and 5g fat per 1/2 cup (8 servings per jar).
If you want to make the meatballs on their own (with the sauce), two meatballs have 190 calories, 19g protein, 9g carbs, 10g fat.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 2 Meatballs with 4.5 oz Spaghetti
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 290Total Fat: 10gCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 3gProtein: 24g