Peruvian Chicken Meatballs with Creamy Aji Verde

Juicy and flavor-packed Peruvian Chicken Meatballs are served over green rice and drizzled with homemade green sauce (aji verde). It’s an unforgettable meal with an irresistible twist on tradition!

Peruvian chicken is one of my favorite meals, so capturing those vibrant flavors in a meatball was a no-brainer! These juicy homemade Peruvian chicken meatballs have the same bold flavors as my Peruvian chicken recipe but are made bite-sized for a tasty appetizer or main dish.

The meatballs are baked to perfection, then served over vibrant homemade green rice and dressed in the iconic Peruvian green sauce. With addictively delicious flavors in every bite, you’ll be dreaming about this meal before your plate is empty!

What is Peruvian chicken?

Peruvian chicken (or pollo a la brasa in Spanish) is traditionally marinated in a garlicky, spicy, and herbaceous marinade before it’s roasted or grilled. This process results in tender and juicy meat that’s perfectly seasoned and lightly charred.

Check out my Peruvian Chicken with Green Sauce recipe to learn more about this authentic dish.

Close up of Prepared peruvian chicken meatballs served over green rice and drizzled with green sauce.

Ingredients 

For the meatballs:

  • Ground chicken – This lean meat absorbs the flavors from the rest of the ingredients well, producing juicy and tender meatballs. Feel free to experiment with the flavors more by using a combination of ground white and dark chicken or swapping the chicken for ground turkey.
  • Egg – To bind the meatballs together.
  • Breadcrumbs – You can use regular breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs for a little more crunch.
  • Cilantro – Fresh cilantro is a key ingredient in Peruvian cuisine. It adds freshness and an herbaceous flavor to the meatballs.
  • Garlic cloves
  • Soy sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Lime juice – You’ll find fresh citrus juice in many authentic Peruvian recipes, especially chicken marinades. In these meatballs, it lends subtle tangy citrus notes that balance the richness perfectly.
  • Seasonings – You need cumin, coriander, paprika, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper to round out the classic pollo a la brassa flavor profile.

For the green rice: 

  • Chicken broth – Cooking the rice in chicken broth or bone broth instead of water leads to more flavorful green rice. 
  • Bay leaf
  • White rice – Long-grain white is preferred, like basmati or jasmine rice. If you want to save a little time, cook the rice in the Instant Pot instead!
  • Green flavor boosters – Blended cilantro, spinach, green onions, lime juice and zest, and olive oil give the rice its distinctive green color and refreshing flavor. 

For the green sauce (aji verde)

  • Jalapeños – You can remove the seeds and ribs to make the sauce less spicy. 
  • Cilantro 
  • Green onions – You only need the green parts. Save the white parts as a topping on baked potatoes
  • Garlic cloves
  • Mayonnaise and Greek yogurt – Using both gives the green sauce a thicker consistency and tangier flavor. Feel free to use sour cream or regular yogurt instead of Greek yogurt.
  • Lime juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil

How to make Peruvian chicken meatballs with green rice

Stir the meatball ingredients in a large bowl until combined. Roll pieces of the mixture into about 30 small balls and place them on a baking sheet. 

Bake the chicken meatballs until they’re cooked through. Meanwhile, prepare the rice. 

How to make green rice

Add the broth and bay leaf to a medium pot and heat to a boil on the stove. Add the rice, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until tender. 

While you wait, blitz the cilantro, spinach, green onions, lime juice and zest, olive oil, and remaining broth in a food processor or blender until it resembles a coarse green paste. 

Stir the paste into the cooked rice and let it stand, covered, while you make the green sauce.

How to make the green sauce

Add all of the sauce ingredients (except the olive oil) to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth, then slowly drizzle in the oil with the motor still running until the sauce is emulsified.

To serve, portion the green rice into bowls and place the meatballs on top. Drizzle with the green sauce, and enjoy!

Tips and tricks

  • Don’t overmix the meatball mixture or compact the meatballs too tightly. This is how they can become tough or dry.
  • For easy cleanup, consider lining your baking sheet with parchment paper or foil before baking the meatballs.
  • Form evenly-sized meatballs for even cooking. I like to shape them with a small 1-teaspoon cookie scoop.
  • You’ll know the meatballs are done cooking when a meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Let the meatballs rest for a few minutes after baking to allow the juices to redistribute. This keeps them moist and flavorful.
Prepared peruvian chicken meatballs served over green rice and drizzled with aji verde.

Serving suggestions

Peruvian chicken meatballs and rice is a hearty meal all on its own! While the vibrant and fresh green rice beautifully complements the seasoned meatballs, you can easily swap it for another side dish, like:

For non-traditional pairings, you can’t go wrong with:

FAQs

Can I make Peruvian chicken meatballs gluten-free? 

Yes! To make this recipe gluten-free, substitute gluten-free breadcrumbs and use certified gluten-free soy sauce or tamari instead of regular soy sauce.

What are some alternative sauces to serve with Peruvian chicken dishes?

To switch things up, try these meatballs with Peruvian aji amarillo, mojo sauce, or chimichurri instead of the green sauce from this recipe. There are even more to choose from in this list of Sauces for Chicken Meatballs.

Make ahead and storing

To make this recipe ahead of time, prepare the meatballs as normal, then place them in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours or in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

To store leftover Peruvian chicken meatballs, let them cool to room temperature before placing them in an airtight container. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat the meatballs in the oven or microwave before serving.

Wine pairings for Peruvian chicken dishes

  • A crisp and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc complements Peruvian cuisine’s vibrant flavors perfectly. 
  • A light to medium-bodied Pinot Noir pairs well with the dish’s savory notes without overpowering them. Alternatively, a dry Rosé is an acidic option with hints of red fruit.
Prepared peruvian chicken meatballs served over green rice and drizzled with aji verde.

More meatball recipes

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Prepared peruvian chicken meatballs served over green rice and drizzled with aji verde.

Peruvian Chicken Meatballs

Juicy and flavor-packed Peruvian Chicken Meatballs are served over green rice and drizzled with homemade green sauce (aji verde). It’s an unforgettable meal with an irresistible twist on tradition!
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

Chicken Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chicken (or turkey)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs or panko
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves (minced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper (to taste)

Green Rice

Green Sauce

Instructions

Meatballs

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
  • Roll the mixture into about 30 small balls. I like to use a 1 TBSP cookie scoop to do this. Place on baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15-17 minutes, until cooked through. Meanwhile, make the sauce and rice.

Green Rice

  • Add 3 ½ cups chicken broth and bay leaf to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add rice, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15-18 minutes, until the rice is tender.
  • Meanwhile, add the cilantro, spinach, green onions, lime juice, lime zest, olive oil and remaining ½ cup broth to a food processor or blender and process into coarse green paste. Stir into the cooked rice and allow to stand, covered, for a few minutes. Meanwhile, make the green sauce.

Green Sauce

  • To the now empty food processor or blender, add all the sauce ingredients except for the olive oil. Process until smooth. Then, with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

To Serve

  • Portion the rice into bowls and place the meatballs on top. Drizzle with the green sauce and enjoy.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!

Equipment

Blender or Food Processor

Nutrition

Calories: 934kcal | Carbohydrates: 92g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 156mg | Sodium: 2095mg | Potassium: 1063mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2394IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 141mg | Iron: 4mg

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