Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka Meatballs with Quick Pickled Cucumbers

·

These warmly spiced Indian-inspired meatballs bring the tikka masala flavors into the meatball instead of in the sauce – they are easily done on a sheet pan and such a welcome changeup on a weeknight. Paired with steamed jasmine rice, I know you’re going to love these Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka Masala Meatballs with Quick Pickled Cucumbers.

A natural linen background with a white bowl of steamed rice, tikka masala meatballs with pickled cucumbers and yogurt lime sauce on a gold napkin with limes in a wooden bowl.

These meatballs are a different spin on the classic chicken tikka masala. Instead of chicken braised in a spiced tomato sauce of sorts, these meatballs incorporate all of the warm spices into the meatball mixture itself. And to freshen it up, they’re topped with a quick lime yogurt sauce which is such a great contrast, and served alongside some tart quick-pickled cucumbers.

The spice list might look long, but I’m guessing you have most of them in your pantry right now. One spice you may not have, but is actually worth picking up is fenugreek. It is commonly found in tikka masala and interestingly, has a nutty, bitter flavor with hints of maple.

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • GREAT FLAVORS & TEXTURES – The warm spices of the meatballs are the perfect counter point to the crunch of the cucumbers and the cooling creamy texture of the yogurt sauce. The flavors are unexpected in the best way!
  • HEALTHY – Between the lean protein, the vegetables, the steamed rice, and the yogurt sauce – this one has it all. And, if you wish to up the vegge ante even more, you can easily add something like simple steamed green beans.
  • PERFECT FOR BUSY FAMILIES – On busy weeknights when your kitchen feels like it has a revolving door of kids coming and going to and from activities, it’s great to have meals like this that hold up well for as long as dinner time needs to be. Meatballs reheat so easily and quickly – a gift on any busy weeknight!

Recipe ingredients

You’ll need the following ingredients to make these incredible ChickenTikka Masala Meatballs and Pickled Cucumbers:

Ingredient Notes

The ingredients to make these chicken meatballs are easy to find and readily available at most any grocery store.

Here are a few ingredient notes:

Ground chicken: When making meatballs with ground chicken or turkey, I prefer to use dark meat when possible for its greater fat content, as this will always yield a juicier meatball. If you wish, you can use a mix of white and dark meat. Or, you can use all white meat, knowing that you might need to use a little more oil.

Spices for meatballs: In the interest of quicker weeknight cooking, I have used garam masala with the addition of some other spices to achieve the flavors of tikka masala. The garam masala that I used is a blend of cardamom, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, mace (a relative of nutmeg), bay leaves, and black pepper. I have also added fenugreek, whose seeds are are nutty with a hint of maple, and traditionally found in tikka masala, as well as many Indian curries. Lastly, in the spice mix is ground ginger, chili powder (Kashmiri, if you can find it), tumeric, and paprika.

Spices for pickled cucumbers: In addition to the kosher salt and sugar that do the work of quickly pickling the cucumbers, are the following flavor components: tumeric, fenugreek, lime zest and juice. These cucumbers have a very tart and earthy flavor. You can adjust the spices according to your taste.

Yogurt: You can use Greek plain yogurt or regular plain yogurt – either will work. The Greek yogurt will need to be thinned more than regular plain yogurt to achieve a nice drizzling consistency.

How to make Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka Masala Meatballs with Quick Pickled Cucumbers: STEP BY STEP

Be sure to check out the full recipe and ingredient list in the recipe card below

Steps 1 & 2:

To make the meatballs, first grate the onion into a bowl on the small holes of a box grater. Add the egg, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, all of the spices, and the breadcrumbs until really well combined.

A glass bowl with a box grater with a hand grating an onion.
A glass bowl and fork containing breadcrumbs, grated onion, egg, and spices for the chicken tikka meatballs.

Steps 3 & 4:

Then, add that to the ground chicken and panko breadcrumbs.  Gently mix the meatball mixture, being very careful not to overmix it.  Over mixing will lead to tough meatballs!

Using a large cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop the meatball mixture into 2 tablespoon balls and place them on an oiled sheet pan.  Do not roll them into smooth balls – the chicken is too soft and they will become tough.

Brush the tops of the meatballs with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and then roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

A stainless steel bowl containing ground chicken and the breadcrumb spice mixture.
A sheet pan of 20 formed chicken tikka masala meatballs.

Steps 5 & 6:

While the meatballs are roasting, make the pickles by thinly slicing the cucumbers on the diagonal.

Combine the cucumbers in a bowl with all of the spices.  *You may only need half of the lime juice, so start with half and only add more if you like.

A cutting board and knife with small cucumbers being sliced diagonally.
A cutting board and knife with a glass bowl containing cucumbers mixed with quick pickling spices.

Steps 7 & 8:

Next make the yogurt drizzle by combining the yogurt with the lime zest and juice.

Season the yogurt sauce with salt and pepper and thin with water until you achieve a drizzle consistency.

Remove the meatballs from the oven.

A cutting board with knife, microplane zester and a glass bowl with yogurt, lime zest and juice.
A sheet pan of roasted chicken tikka masala meatballs just out of the oven.

Steps 9 & 10:

Chop fresh cilantro for garnishing.

To serve, add meatballs to a plate with steamed rice and pickled cucumbers and drizzle with yogurt sauce.

A cutting board with a pile of chopped cilantro next to a chef's knife.
A sheet pan of roasted tikka masala meatballs next to a bowl of pickled cucumbers and a bowl of yogurt sauce next to a plate with steamed rice, meatballs and pickled cucumbers.

What Makes a Great Meatball

A great meatball is all about texture and juiciness.

I have strong thoughts on this topic. I personally love meatballs. I love the idea of taking different flavor profiles and packaging them up into small, easy-to-eat little packages. Eat them with a fork and knife, a toothpick, or packed into a sandwich, lettuce wrap, or soup – the possibilities really are endless!

But, they’ve got to have great texture. And to me, the best way to explain this is to understand the difference between the texture of a burger and meatloaf. Any burger connoisseur knows that the less you handle the formation of a burger, the superior the texture. Well, the same goes for meatballs. Texture will be greatly impacted not only by the protein used, but also whether or not you over mix the meatball mixture. With a lean protein like chicken, this becomes really important, as it is incredibly soft and doesn’t contain much fat at all.

And then there is the importance of juiciness. This is largely dictated by fat content, which can be enhanced by the addition of eggs, cheese, oil, yogurt, grated onion or other vegetables.

Different proteins will ultimately have different meatball textures, though juiciness and texture always remain the goal!


Chef Notes & Tips

  • Don’t overmix the meatballs! The best meatballs have more of a burger texture and less of a meatloaf texture. Ground chicken is so soft that it’s easy to overwork and this will only result in tough meatballs.
  • Mix the spices with the onion, egg and breadcrumbs before adding to the ground chicken – this will help you to be able to mix it quicker and lessen the odds of over mixing.
  • Make sure your meatballs are uniform in size. I like to use a medium cookie scoop for a recipe like this.
  • Stir the cucumbers periodically as they are pickling – it will help to distribute the spices evenly. These are meant to be tart, but you can adjust the sugar to your taste.

A closeup white plate with steamed white rice, chicken tikka masala meatballs with yogurt sauce and a side of quick pickled cucumbers.

Storage & Reheating

STORAGE: Store the cucumbers and yogurt sauce separately in airtight containers.

REHEATING: To reheat the meatballs, add them with a splash of water to a saute pan with a lid over medium-low heat until heated through. Alternatively, you can reheat them in the microwave in 30 second intervals until heated through.

FREEZING: You can freeze the meatballs, but you cannot freeze the cucumbers or the yogurt sauce.


Additions & Substitutions

ADDITIONS

Cilantro: You could add chopped cilantro to the meatball mix to double down on the coriander flavor.

Grated zucchini: To add more moisture to meatballs, you could consider adding some grated zucchini to the mix. Just be sure to squeeze out any liquid from the zucchini before adding it to the meatball mix.

SUBSTITUTIONS

Panko breadcrumbs: You can substitute fresh bread torn up into small pieces and soaked in a little milk or water. This is also a great way to add more moisture to meatballs. I use panko in this recipe in the interest of time.

Fenugreek: There really is no direct flavor substitute, but mustard seed would probably be the closest. If you don’t have either, you can just omit.

Lime: You can easily substitute with lemon in both the cucumbers and the yogurt sauce.

Ground chicken: You can substitute ground turkey, beef or lamb.


FAQs for Chicken Tikka Masala Meatballs

Tikka masala generally refers to small pieces of meat cooked in a creamy spiced tomato sauce.

Generally speaking, Garam Masala is a blend of spices containing:

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Green cardamom pods
  • Black peppercorns
  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Mace (a relative of nutmeg)
  • Bay leaves

It is important first and foremost, not to overcook them. It is also important to add fat and possibly a grated vegetable if you are dealing with a particularly lean protein (see section above titled: What Makes a Great Meatball.

Yes! You can easily use turkey, beef or lamb.

I hope you love these SHEET PAN CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA MEATBALLS! If you make them, be sure to leave a rating so I know how you liked it!

A white plate with steamed rice, chicken tikka masala meatballs and quick pickled cucumbers.

Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka Masala Meatballs with Quick Pickled Cucumbers

These warmly spiced Indian-inspired meatballs bring the tikka masala flavors into the meatball instead of in the sauce – they are easily done on a sheet pan and such a welcome changeup on a weeknight. Paired with steamed jasmine rice, I know you're going to love these Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka Masala Meatballs with Quick Pickled Cucumbers.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 344 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb ground chicken (dark meat, preferably)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion (small to medium, grated)
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or avocado oil)
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (Kashmiri, preferably)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Pickled Cucumbers

  • 5 small Persian cucumbers
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1 lime (zest & juice)

Yogurt Drizzle

  • 3/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 lime (zest & juice)
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro (for garnish)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • To make the meatballs, first grate the onion into a bowl on the small holes of a box grater.  Add the egg, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, all of the spices, and the breadcrumbs and mix with a fork until really well combined. Then, add that to the ground chicken and  gently mix the meatball mixture, being very careful not to overmix it.  Over mixing will lead to tough meatballs!
  • Using a large cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop the meatball mixture into 2 tablespoon balls and place them on an oiled sheet pan.  Do not roll them into smooth balls – the chicken is too soft and they will become tough.
  • Brush the tops of the meatballs with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and then roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
  • While the meatballs are roasting, make the pickles by thinly slicing the cucumbers and combining them in a bowl with all of the spices.  *You may only need half of the lime juice, so start with half and only add more if you like.  Although the pickles are meant to be tart, if they taste to tart to you, you can always add a little more sugar.
  • Next make the yogurt drizzle by combining the yogurt with the lime zest and juice.  Season with salt and pepper and thin with water until you achieve a drizzle consistency.
  • To serve, add meatballs to a plate with steamed rice and pickled cucumbers.  Drizzle with yogurt sauce and ENJOY!

Notes

 
  • Be extra careful not to overmix the meatball mixture.

Nutrition

Calories: 344kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 25gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 144mgSodium: 1332mgPotassium: 900mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 414IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 116mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Did you make this recipe?

Mention us @nataliemarblecooks so we can see your creations! You can also leave a comment below!

Similar Posts

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating