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Harissa Chicken Meatballs

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These juicy, Harissa Chicken Meatballs are a fun twist on traditional meatballs. They’re also low- carb, grain-free, and gluten-free made with cauliflower rice instead of breadcrumbs.

Harissa Chicken Meatballs with couscous.
Harissa Chicken Meatballs

The red peppers from the smoked paprika and harissa bring depth to these middle eastern inspired Harissa Chicken Meatballs. Ground chicken mixes with onion, garlic, paprika, parsley, salt, egg, and frozen cauliflower rice and then simmers in mild harissa sauce. Jarred harissa is a favorite ingredient of mine and one you’ll always find in my pantry. For more ways to use harissa, try my Harissa Shrimp and Chickpeas, Shredded Harissa Chicken, and Grilled Harissa Lamb Chops.

Chicken Meatballs in sauce.

How do you make ground chicken meatballs moist?

To make juicy chicken meatballs, don’t over-mix the ground chicken mixture. Over-mixing will result in tough, dry meatballs. Also, in this recipe, I swap the breadcrumbs for cauliflower rice for extra moisture.

Serving Suggestion for the Meatballs:

Serve the harissa meatballs over spiralized butternut squash noodles, spaghetti squash, or couscous. If you want to keep the meal low-carb, cauliflower rice would be tasty too. You could also eat the meatballs in a pita sprinkled with crumbled feta.

Variations and Tips:

  • Lightly coat your hands with cooking spray when forming the meatballs to prevent sticking.
  • Sub ground turkey for ground chicken.
  • If you want to bulk up this dish a bit more, add a finely chopped carrot and a can of chickpeas to the sauce.
  • Refrigerate up to 4 days. Freeze up to 6 months.

What is Harissa?

Harissa is a traditional accompaniment with Moroccan and North African food. It’s as popular to them as ketchup and mustard is to us here in the states. You can serve it with everything from eggs, burgers, couscous, soups and more. For convenience, I love Mina Harissa (affil link).

How to make Harissa:

If you can’t find jarred Harissa, you can easily make it yourself. This is my favorite method, it’s so good you’ll want to drink it! Double the recipe for these meatballs.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 12 ounce jar roasted peppers in water, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to your taste

Sauté the garlic in oil until golden and fragrant then combine with the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve room temperature. See below for the chicken recipe!

Chicken Meatballs raw ingredients.Chicken Meatballs pan fried.Chicken Meatballs in sauce.Chicken Meatballs with couscous.

More Meatball Recipes You’ll Love:

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Harissa Chicken Meatballs

4.53 from 21 votes
These Harissa Chicken Meatballs are a fun twist on meatballs. Plus, they’re low- carb, grain-free, and gluten-free since I use cauliflower rice instead of breadcrumbs.
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Harissa Chicken Meatballs with couscous.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Serving Size: 4 meatballs with 1/2 cup sauce


  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup frozen riced cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped parsley
  • 3 large peeled garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • Olive-oil cooking spray
  • 2 jars, 10 oz each prepared mild harissa sauce (I love Mina Harissa)


  • Place chicken in a large mixing bowl, break- up slightly. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and smoked paprika.
  • Add frozen cauliflower, parsley, onion, garlic, and egg and mix just until ingredients are combined.  Avoid over-mixing. Divide chicken mixture into 16 portions ( about 1 1/4 ounce each); gently shape into balls.
  • Heat a heavy-duty non-stick large skillet (with tall sides) over medium-high heat.
  • Spray with olive oil cooking spray, add meatballs and cook, turning occasionally to brown on all sides, about 6 minutes.
  • Pour in harissa and allow mixture to reach a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.

Last Step:

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Refrigerate up to 4 days. Freeze up to 6 months.


Serving: 4 meatballs with 1/2 cup sauce, Calories: 290 kcal, Carbohydrates: 12.5 g, Protein: 22 g, Fat: 20.5 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 142.5 mg, Sodium: 1520 mg, Fiber: 11 g, Sugar: 11 g