Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Prep 15 mins
Cook 8 mins
Add'l 2 hrs
Total 2 hrs 23 mins
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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!

Clockwise from top: Ranch dressing, Parmesan cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, an egg, Panko breadcrumbs, buffalo wing sauce.

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.

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
Slow-cooked buffalo meatballs in a serving bowl.

Serving Suggestions

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!

Close-up shot of chicken meatballs with buffalo sauce.

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.

Make-Ahead Instructions

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!

A hand holding one buffalo chicken meatball, to show texture.

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:

Yield: 30 Meatballs

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Close-up shot of chicken meatballs with buffalo sauce.

Easy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs are meaty, spicy, and tangy, just like hot wings—but without the hassle! They’re a fun party appetizer that everyone will devour!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 23 minutes

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a pan with parchment paper, or foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, panko, egg, parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika, until well-combined.
  3. Using a spoon or scoop, roll the mixture into 1-inch balls, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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. 
  6. Slow cook on LOW for 2 hours.
  7. Serve with ranch dressing, carrot sticks, and celery sticks as desired.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

7.5

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 228Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 102mgSodium: 935mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 19g

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Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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