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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:

Harissa Chicken Meatballs

4.50 from 16 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 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 45 mins
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



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43 comments on “Harissa Chicken Meatballs”

  1. This was really tasty. I highly recommend getting the mild harissa, even if you are a spicy food person. I mixed one mild with one hot, and it was bordering on inedible.

  2. Avatar photo
    Adriana Skains

    Delicious….. I made the mistake of buying the spicy sauce….. it was so hot we almost couldn’t eat it and I love spicy food. I’ll get mild next time and add red pepper flakes 

  3. Any suggestions on how to make this lower fat? 20 grams of fat per serving seems awfully high. Cant wait to try it!

  4. This was delicious. I followed the suggestion to add chickpeas and shredded carrots to the sauce. I also added onions. Served over cauliflower rice. I love spicy food, so I got the spicy harissa, and this was a great slow burn. So much flavor and might be my favorite skinnytaste recipe. Highly recommend! 

  5. Avatar photo
    Susie @ Our Summer Table

    Made with only minor modifications. I cooked the meatballs in the oven at 400 for 25 minutes and then finished with the sauce. Added two diced carrots and chickpeas and thinned a tad with broth near the end of simmering. Would make again and definitely will use this method to keep bread crumbs out of the meatballs for lower carbs. Thank you!

  6. Made these tonight. The sauce was a little too thick so I just added broth to thin out the consistency. Added the feta and my did this have kick! Hubs wants to use leftovers in a sub sandwich. Will make again but likely use a little less harissa. Couldn’t find mild so used Trader Joe’s and it was spicy but delicious. Thanks again Gina

    1. I used Trader Joes as well last night and am usually the person who orders the spiciest food available. It was a bit too hot for me. Looking at the recipe Gina provided vs the paste from Trader Joe’s I think the jarred Trader Joe’s is more concentrated and had a lot more red pepper flake involved. I think in a pinch the Trader Joe’s paste is still a good use but sparingly – I cut it with crushed tomatoes.

  7. Avatar photo
    Lisa Tatonetti

    I was really excited about this recipe and it let me down. Way too wet, both the meatball mix, which was impossible to shape because so liquid and the sauce. Could maybe 1/3 to a 1/2 less Harissa? Basically, the meatballs were drowning in it. First Skinny taste recipe to give a thumbs down.

  8. Avatar photo
    Jessica Feinstein

    This is 9 green points not 8… FYI

    Meatballs fell apart really easily when cooking but  easily to pull together and But smells delicious 

    1. Using the Mina Harissa and 98% lean ground chicken, it comes out to 6 green points for me. Always use the recipe builder!