A Chicken Kofta (Ground Chicken Meatballs) recipe with tender meatballs and bold yet bright, Desi-inspired flavor. Recipe includes pan-frying, baking, and air-frying instructions. Tested to perfection!

A platter with Baked Chicken Kofta garnished with chopped cilantro.

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Chicken Kofta (Ground Chicken Meatballs)

A while ago, I shared these Chicken Koftas on Instagram and within days, I got several pictures of remakes in my DMs. I should have known my readers would love them, considering how easy, kid-friendly, and make-able they are. Still, I hesitated to share them on the blog because:

  1. They aren’t traditional Koftey/Koftas, like the ones you’d find in a Kofta Curry, but a Pakistani/Indian-style riff on Pinch of Yum’s Chicken Meatballs. So think: Natural conclusion of giving ovens to South Asians.
  2. Apart from recipe testing to finalize ‘the best ever version‘ for the blog, I’d be lying if I said I’ve made them the same way twice. They’re just too flexible to be strict or consistent with.

But, a kick from my sister who’s resorted to these on many weeknights, and bit of fine-tuning (trying variations, realizing they’re all good) gave me the push that I needed. I’m excited to see these in many more kitchens.

More Effortless, Fusion Dinner Recipes: 25-Minute Fish Tikka, 5-ingredient Stovetop Chicken, Baked Tandoori Chicken Curry

A bowl with Baked Chicken Kofta garnished with raita and chopped cilantro with one Kofta cut to show interior.

Kofta vs Kebab

In the South Asian context, Koftas are just a type of Kebab.

  • Kofta means meatball in Urdu and Hindi, but also refers to any type of round balls in the broader Indian Subcontinent (ex. Veg Kofta or Malai Kofta). Seekh Kebab, similar to Middle Eastern Kofta Kebabs, don’t fall into Kofta category simply because they aren’t round.
  • Kebab refers to any type of skewered, grilled, or pan-fried meat, formed or cut into individual pieces. Kebabs can be anything from Chapli Kabab to Shami Kabab.
A bowl of Baked Chicken Kofta garnished with yogurt, chopped cilantro and arugula.

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Ground chicken: Both chicken breast and thighs are fine, though I usually use the latter.
  • Egg: Binds the meatballs together while adding moisture and flavor.
  • Very finely chopped red onion: Adds flavor, brightness, and crunch.
  • Panko breadcrumbs: The dry ingredient that helps hold them together.
  • Cheese: Both shredded mozzarella or grated parmesan cheese work. I’m more likely to have shredded mozzarella on hand, and I love how it gives these meatballs bits of oozing cheese once they’re baked or air-fried. Grated parmesan (I use the vegetarian kind) gives flavor without making them overtly cheesy.
  • Olive oil: Keeps them moist. May sub with oil of your choice.
  • Garlic cloves: In a pinch, you can substitute with 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Ground Spices: For flavor! You’ll need coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder or cayenne pepper (which you can adjust for spiciness), black pepper, garam masala, and turmeric if you’d like.
  • Kosher salt: You’ll need a little less if using table salt or sea salt.
  • Herbs: For freshness and a touch of green. Cilantro leaves are an essential here, but I also love a bit of mint for its refreshing scent and complementary flavor.
Chicken Kofta Ingredients

How To Make Chicken Kofta

  1. Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix to combine, ensuring all the spices are mixed well. Now is a good time to do a taste test, for which I’ve included the instructions in the recipe card.
  1. Take about 2 tbsp of the chicken mixture (I do this using a cookie scoop), and gently form into meatballs using slightly oiled hands.
  1. Bake, Air-fry, or Pan-Fry.

The cooking methods are all detailed in the recipe card, but here are some thoughts on the cooking options:

  • Pan-Frying: Gives juicy results with a perfectly crisp exterior. I’ve even formed them into chicken patties and served as burgers. However, it takes away the ease factor, and it’s not how I was introduced to these.
  • Air-Frying: I find air-frying gives juicier, more tender results than baking them. You will have to air-fry in batches though, and turn them mid-way for best results.
  • Baking: Most convenient and the method I’ve most often used for these particular meatballs. Less of the seared effect, but still juicy and tender and so flavorful. Plus, unlike pan-frying or air-frying, you can bake them all in one go without having to flip them.
  • Tip for those conflicted between pan-frying and baking: Instead of pan-frying to cook them through, you can also lightly pan sear *after* baking half-way. It gives them a nice char without you having to keep them perfectly round and golden.
  1. You’ll know they’re done when the exterior is golden brown and inside is no longer pink. If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should register to at least 165 ºF. Garnish with more cilantro.
Top view of a platter of Baked Chicken Kofta garnished with chopped cilantro.

Serving Ideas

Any type of raita or chutney would add an essential sauce component to complement the meatballs. A sprinkle of lemon juice would also be great to brighten.

In terms of pairing, you can serve these with:

To serve these at a dinner party: After cooking, cover with aluminum foil and keep warm in the oven at 170-200°F.

A bowl of Baked Chicken Kofta garnished with chopped cilantro with raita and chutney on the side.

How To Store

  • Fridge:
    • Cooked: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
    • Raw: Store the yet-to-be formed mixture in an airtight container or cling-wrapped bowl in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
  • Freezer:
    • Cooked: Store in an airtight bag or container for up to 2 months. To reheat, thaw and warm up again in the microwave, oven, stovetop, or air-fryer.
    • Raw: Freeze only once formed into meatballs. Bake or air-fry directly from frozen, increasing the cook time as needed.

Leftover Ideas: Add leftovers to your pasta sauce, roll them up in parathas with some raita or use them in these Chicken Puff Pastries!

A bowl of Baked Chicken Kofta garnished with raita and chopped cilantro with chutney on the side.
Top view of a bowl of Baked Chicken Kofta garnished with raita, chopped cilantro and arugula.

Tried this recipe? If you have a minute, please consider leaving a comment telling me how it was! If you’re on Instagram, please tag me so I can see your creations. I truly love hearing from you. Thank you!

A platter with Baked Chicken Kofta garnished with chopped cilantro.
5 (9 ratings)

Chicken Kofta (Ground Chicken Meatballs)

A quick and easy Chicken Kofta (or Ground Chicken Meatballs) recipe packed with spices and aromatics for fresh, fusion flavor. This recipe includes pan-frying, baking, and air-frying instructions.

Watch the Video

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb (454 g) ground chicken, preferably thighs but breast is fine
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup (~70 g) very finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup (~36 g) panko breadcrumbs, GF or regular
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella or grated parmesan cheese, finely chop if using shredded cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed – sub 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 3/4-1 tsp red chili powder, sub crushed chili flakes or cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, optional
  • 1 – 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, may vary depending on your cheese
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped

Equipment

  • Baking Sheet (if baking)

Instructions 

  • If baking, preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place a baking rack on the parchment or aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Lightly grease the rack with baking spray. (If you don’t have a rack, lightly grease the parchment paper or aluminum.)
  • Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix to combine, ensuring all the spices are mixed well. See Note 1 for taste testing.
  • Take about 2 tbsp of the mixture (I do this using a cookie scoop), and form into meatballs using slightly oiled hands.
  • To Bake: (See Note 2 for Air-fry and Pan-fry Options) Place onto the rack or directly on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining meatballs. Bake for 25-26 minutes (no need to turn), until golden on top. To get them brown on top, transfer the oven rack close to the heat source for 1 minute.
  • Garnish with cilantro. Serve with mint raita or your favorite chutney. For a complete meal, serve with pasta, veggies, rice, or salad. The options are endless!

Notes

Note 1 – Taste test: To test a piece for taste, heat a small pan over medium-high heat. Add a small amount of neutral oil and place a piece of the chicken mixture on the pan to cook, turning over as needed, until golden. Taste and add salt and seasoning if you want a bit more kick or herbs if you want more brightness.
Note 2 – Alternate Cooking Methods:
To Air-fry: Preheat Air-fryer to 400°F for 5 minutes. Lightly coat the air-fryer basket with cooking spray. Arrange half the meatballs in the basket, spacing about 1/2″ apart. Cook at 370° for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining meatballs.
To Pan-fry: Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Place around half the meatballs in the skillet and allow them to cook, turning often, for 8-9 minutes, until golden brown all over. You may have to reduce the heat as needed to allow for even cooking. Wipe any darkened oil and add more before repeating with the next batch.  
Calories: 316kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 146mg, Sodium: 936mg, Potassium: 714mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 394IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 105mg, Iron: 3mg