Easy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs are meaty, spicy, and tangy, just like hot wings—but without the hassle! Dress these babies with a side of ranch, celery, and carrot sticks for a fun party appetizer that everyone will devour.
The Perfect Party Appetizer, Loaded with Buffalo Flavor!
Do you love wings, but feel like you could live without the mess? I have a friend who loves spicy buffalo wings, but hardly ever orders them because she hates picking the meat away from the bones. It’s true, when you indulge in wings, you’re going to need a lot of napkins. But these buffalo chicken meatballs solve that problem! Honestly, they’re kind of the perfect appetizer. Each tender meatball is packed with authentic buffalo flavor, in a cute and tempting bite.
Using healthy ground chicken, Panko breadcrumbs, a bit of Parmesan cheese, and some easy seasonings, buffalo chicken meatballs are zesty and flavorful even without the sauce! But once you add a coating of your favorite wing sauce, and a little time in the slow cooker, they become addictively delicious morsels that disappear in a flash, once you put them on the table!
What’s in These Meatballs?
Using prepared buffalo wing sauce makes the prep even quicker and easier for this simple recipe. Prefer to make your own? That works perfectly, as well!
- Ground Chicken: I usually use ground chicken, but you could substitute ground turkey, if you’d rather. A mix of dark and light meat is good, or you could just use one type.
- Panko: Panko bread crumbs (regular or seasoned) help bring the mixture together and make the meatballs tender.
- Egg: Lightly beat one large, whole egg.
- Parmesan: Shredded Parmesan makes the recipe extra-flavorful! Freshly grated is best, or pre-grated in the refrigerated section rather than the shelf-stable Parmesan in jars.
- Garlic Powder and Onion Powder: These handy spices add tons of flavor!
- Paprika: For this recipe, I like smoked paprika, but you could also use sweet paprika.
- Prepared Buffalo Sauce: I use Frank’s wing sauce. Make sure to use wing sauce and not just hot sauce, or the meatballs will be very, very spicy!
- Ranch Dressing: A little bit of ranch dressing adds the perfect cool and savory touch.
Let’s Make Buffalo Chicken Meatballs!
The method for making these is so easy, I just love it! A quick bake in the oven helps the meatballs start cooking and keep their shape, while a slow simmer in the sauce cooks the spicy, tangy flavor right in.
- Prepare Your Baking Sheet and Preheat the Oven. First things first! Before you get started, preheat the oven to 400°F. Next, line a jelly roll pan or large cookie sheet with parchment paper. (You can also use foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.)
- Make the Meatball Mixture. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients except the buffalo sauce and ranch: ground chicken, panko crumbs, beaten egg, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika. Mix just until combined, but don’t over-mix or the meatballs will be tough.
- Shape the Meatballs. Using your hands, a spoon or a scoop (my personal favorite), roll the meatball mixture into 1-inch balls, and place them on the prepared baking sheet as you go. Wet your hands and/or utensils with water to help keep the meatball mixture from sticking.
- Bake. Bake the meatballs on the center rack of the oven for 8 minutes. The meatballs will finish cooking in the slow cooker! We’re not looking to cook them all the way through at this point, just get them started. If you put all the raw meatballs in the slow cooker, they would lose their shape and mash together. This way, they’ll keep their shape as they finish cooking in the sauce.
- Slow Cook in the Sauce. Remove the partially-cooked meatballs from the oven, and transfer them to the slow cooker (they’ll be hot, so be careful not to burn your hands!). Pour the buffalo sauce over them, and gently toss to coat. Slow cook the meatballs on LOW for 2 hours.
- Enjoy! Serve your meatballs on a platter with toothpicks, or straight from the crockpot. Pair them with ranch dressing, carrot sticks, and celery sticks as desired.
My Favorite Tips and Variation Ideas
So there you have it! An amazing buffalo chicken recipe that only needs a tiny bit of prep and makes an amazing result. And handy tips make this recipe even more amazing!
- Perfect Scoops: Use a cookie scoop to easily get evenly-sized meatballs. Evenly-sized meatballs ensure even cooking! I prefer a one to one-and-a-half-inch meatball.
- Skip the Slow Cooker: If you don’t want to use a slow cooker, you can bake the meatballs for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Then, just coat them with the sauce, and bake for another 5 minutes to finish. Easy!
- Make a Salad: Top a crunchy chopped salad (make your own, or use a bagged salad) with buffalo chicken meatballs for a delicious dinner or lunch option. A swirl of ranch, and you’ve got a mouthwatering meal.
- Make a Sub: Line these yummy meatballs up in a hoagie roll and top with mozzarella for a fabulous melted sub!
- Sauce It Your Way: The base recipe for these meatballs is versatile, and can easily be used with teriyaki sauce or barbecue sauce for a different flavor profile. I recommend omitting the paprika if you use teriyaki sauce.
To serve, you can just do ranch and raw veggies, or you could make the meatballs a meal with one or more of these yummy sides. It’s up to you!
- Coleslaw: A crisp side of coleslaw is perfect for cooling off between bites of tasty buffalo meatballs. You’ll find my easy recipe for Cilantro Citrus Coleslaw here!
- Fresh Salad: How about an easy Cucumber Tomato Salad? Nice, light and refreshing.
- Fries: Regular fries are awesome with buffalo chicken meatballs, but I especially like the salty-sweet flavor of Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries. Or how about some Texas Cheese Fries?
- Mac and Cheese: You can’t go wrong with everyone’s favorite: Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese. If you’d rather go for a low-carb version (I hear you!), try this simple Cauliflower Mac and Cheese.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
To refrigerate, place the meatballs and sauce in an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to 7 days.
To freeze, place meatballs and sauce in a freezer bag or container, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Reheat in a covered skillet over low heat, or in the microwave for one minute at a time, until heated through.
You can make these meatballs up to 6 days in advance, and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Reheat on the stovetop as directed, and then move to a slow cooker to keep warm (if desired).
Remember not to refrigerate the meatballs for more than seven days, total!
More Mouthwatering Appetizers
Looking for more fun party appetizers? We love to entertain and I have a ton of great party apps! Here are a few more of my favorites:
- Cheesy Ranch Pigs in a Blanket
- Hot Spinach Dip
- Authentic Guacamole Recipe
- Easy Grape Jelly Meatballs
- Best Texas Caviar
- Crockpot Jalapeno Corn Dip
- Bisquick Sausage Balls
- Cranberry Pecan Goat Cheese Truffles
- 1 lb ground chicken (or ground turkey)
- ½ cup Panko bread crumbs (regular or seasoned)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan (freshly grated is best, or pre-grated in the refrigerator section, not from a jar)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (I use Frank’s)
- ¾ cup buffalo sauce
- ¼ cup ranch dressing
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a pan with parchment paper, or foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, panko, egg, parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika, until well-combined.
- Using a spoon or scoop, roll the mixture into 1-inch balls, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake on the center rack of the oven for 8 minutes. (The meatballs will finish cooking in the slow cooker; you are not looking to cook them all the way through in the oven.)
- Remove the meatballs from the oven, and carefully transfer them to the slow cooker. Pour buffalo sauce over the meatballs and gently toss to coat.
- Slow cook on LOW for 2 hours.
- Serve with ranch dressing, carrot sticks, and celery sticks as desired.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 228Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 102mgSodium: 935mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 19g
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.