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Pan Fried Firecracker Chicken Meatballs

These high protein, low carb firecracker chicken meatballs are one of my favorite recipes on this blog. With 10 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbs, and just 75 calories each, you can seriously load up on protein and enjoy every bite. They’re super easy to make, and you can pan fry them on the stovetop or prep them in an air fryer or oven in case you want to ball out for your next meal prep.

Firecracker Chicken Meatballs Ingredient Notes

ingredients for firecracker chicken meatballs in two mixing bowls

I used the same sauce from my firecracker ground chicken recipe. You’ll need buffalo sauce (like Frank’s RedHot), cider or rice vinegar, and Swerve Brown or dark brown sugar. You can swap the brown sugar for something like the honey in my firecracker ground bison, if you’d like.

If you’re unfamiliar with Swerve, they make zero-calorie sugar substitutes that taste and cook just like real sugar. I’ve used their brown sugar substitute to make everything from air fryer apple fritters and skillet monkey bread to breakfast sausage seasoning and air fryer cajun fries. I love the stuff, but you can definitely use regular dark brown sugar in a pinch. I’ve included nutrition facts notes for both in the recipe card.

For the meatballs, you’ll need ground chicken, Panko (or regular) breadcrumbs, shredded parmesan, and a few spices. I’ve tested the recipe with both 92/8 and 93/7 ground chicken. The extra fat in the 92/8 obviously helps keep the meatballs tender and adds a bit more flavor, but the 97/3 is still great. Ground turkey or other lean ground meats will work fine as substitutes.

Making the Pan Fried Firecracker Chicken Meatballs

You’ll find a visual recipe walkthrough below so you’ll know what to look for in each step of the recipe. It’s a really simple recipe but if you have any questions I don’t cover, feel free to drop a comment at the bottom of the post.

I’ve also included notes in the recipe card for making meatballs in the oven and/or air fryer in case you don’t want to pan fry.

Make the firecracker sauce and form 12 meatballs. Set aside.

formed chicken meatballs on a plate with a bowl of firecracker sauce

I highly recommend using a food scale for forming evenly sized meatballs. You can weigh the entire meatball mixture and divide by 12 to find the exact weight each meatball should be.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Gently add the meatballs.

meatballs in a skillet with olive oil

I wouldn’t recommend omitting the olive oil. It will add lots of flavor, help with browning the exterior of your meatballs, and prevent sticking. Meatballs aren’t really a food you want to be struggling to handle!

Cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping every 1-2 minutes to brown the meatballs on all sides and fully cook to an internal temperature of 165ºF.

browning meatballs in olive oil

Be sure you’re patient with the first side. Let the meatballs hang out and develop a nice golden brown color on the first side. If yours are taking longer than my time recommendation, give them time!

Add the sauce and stir/toss the meatballs in the sauce until it’s reduced to a thick, syrupy sauce.

sauce added to the pan with cooked meatballs

The meatballs will continue cooking in the pan once you add the sauce, but you’ll want them fully cooked just to be safe. If you have a food thermometer, you’re looking for an internal temperature of 165ºF.

Be sure to stir frequently to avoid burning the sauce. If you notice any burning, reduce the heat or pull the pan off the heat entirely. The sauce should thicken quickly even with minimal heat.

finished firecracker sauce on cooked meatballs

And that’s what you’re looking for. Sticky, syrupy, sweet and spicy goodness. If you notice a granular texture (from the brown sugar), your firecracker sauce may need a bit longer.

Unlike some of my other chicken meatball recipes, you’ll have a bit more sauce for serving. Don’t expect all the sauce to stick to the meatballs.

Serving Your Firecracker Meatballs

Toasted sesame seeds and green onion are basically a must. I served most of my test batches over rice, but you could keep the carbs in check with the dreaded perennial favorite cauliflower rice. If you want to spruce up cauliflower rice, check out my air fryer cauliflower rice stir fry.

More side dish ideas for meatballs: 

Okie doke, that should cover everything. Be sure to come back to let me know what you think about these firecracker chicken meatballs. And like I mentioned above, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about this recipe. Just drop them in a comment below. Otherwise, enjoy!

Pan Fried Firecracker Chicken Meatballs

Pan Fried Firecracker Chicken Meatballs

Yield: 12 Meatballs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Crispy pan fried ground chicken meatballs in a sweet and spicy firecracker sauce.


For the Meatballs

  • 1 Tbsp (16g) Olive Oil
  • 1 lb Ground Chicken (97/3)
  • 1/4 C (30g) Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1 oz Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 large Egg
  • 2 Tbsp (30g) Buffalo Sauce

For the Sauce

  • 1/2 C (96g) Swerve Brown Sugar (or dark brown sugar)*
  • 1/4 C (60g) Buffalo Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp (30g) Cider Vinegar


  1. Mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan, and spices together in a large bowl before adding the chicken, egg, and buffalo sauce. Stir until everything is evenly combined and divide the mixture into 12 50g meatballs and set aside.
  2. Mix the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with the olive oil. Carefully place the meatballs in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown. Flip the meatballs and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes, turning the meatballs every 1-2 minutes to brown on all sides. (8-10 minutes total.)
  4. Add the sauce to the pan and gently stir/toss the meatballs in the sauce as it reduces. After 2-3 minutes, the sauce should be thick and sticky, and the meatballs should be fully cooked to an internal temperature of 165ºF.
  5. Remove from the heat and top the meatballs with toasted sesame seeds and green onion.


For Oven Baked Firecracker Chicken Meatballs

For baked meatballs, place the meatballs on a parchment lined sheet pan and bake at 400ºF for 18-20 minutes. Reduce the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and glaze the finished meatballs with about 3/4 of the sauce. Bake for an additional 3-5 minutes and serve with remaining sauce.

For Air Fried Firecracker Meatballs

Place the meatballs in a parchment lined air fryer basket. Air fry at 400ºF for 14-16 minutes, flipping halfway through. Reduce the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and glaze the cooked meatballs with 3/4 of the sauce. Air fry and additional 2-3 minutes at 400ºF and serve with remaining sauce.

Check out my baked bbq chicken meatballs and sweet chili air fryer meatballs for more notes/tips.

Nutrition Info Notes

*The nutrition facts do not include carbs from the Swerve Brown sugar substitute. If you want to count carbs from Swerve (or use dark brown sugar), each meatball will have 10g of carbs. The 0.2 calories/gram from erythritol will give the meatballs an extra 1-2 calories each. 

Each meatball has 1 WW SmartPoint (blue).

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Meatballs Serving Size: 1 Meatball
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 75Total Fat: 3gCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 10g

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Thursday 12th of May 2022

This looks like the perfect recipe to use for my older freedom ranger chickens we saved for breeding. Ground is the way to go for older birds . Will be trying this for tomorrow nights dinner


Monday 28th of March 2022

I made the vegetarian version using the 16oz of Impossible “meat” instead of ground chicken. They were wonderful!! This is the second recipe that I made vegetarian; the potato skillet was the other one. I look forward to trying a few more of your recipes!


Monday 29th of November 2021

I’ve been wanting to make these for a long time and I finally did. My fiancé and I love them! I need to try more recipes from your blog now :)

Alesia B.

Friday 26th of November 2021

These are one of my go to recipes for meal prep. Thanks Mason!


Sunday 1st of August 2021

Wowza my favorite MasonFit recipe to date. I made them just like the recipe says, pan fried. So delicious!

Mason Woodruff

Monday 2nd of August 2021

That's high praise. Thanks, Courtney!

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