Chicken Chia Meatballs for Picky Kids Moving on from Chicken Nuggets

Kid Approved Chicken Meatballs

For kids, MEAT is either a “Love it” or “Leave it”.  Meat is a textural minefield and many of the problems result from how it is prepared.  In another post, I talk about why meat aversion is common and some strategies to help your child approach more meats.

Did you know that you can substitute egg with chia seeds?  This works when the seeds are left to soak in water.  Chia works to bind the ingredients in these chicken meatballs in lieu of egg. These make a good meal for families that have to consider an egg allergy.  Or even in lunchboxes as a protein component when eggs aren’t allowed at school.

This recipe for chicken meatballs is good for children transitioning to foods that need greater oral motor strength / skills.  Or for children that have goal foods of a whole piece of meat from processed meat (eg. wanting your kids to have chicken breast as opposed to chicken nuggets).

When you are forming the meat balls you need to be considerate of the size. As a rule of thumb people like to open their mouths to the combined height of their index and pointer fingers. Check what size this is for your child. The more manageable the food the more acceptable it may be to have them investigate it by taking a bite. There are many sensory properties about foods that need to be considered for fussy children.


Chia & Chicken Balls | Why they are great for fussy kids | Play with Food


  • 2tsp chia seeds
  • 1 clove of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 rasher of bacon (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup multigrain breadcrumbs
  • 2tbsp (2 x 20ml) tomato paste
  • 1tbsp (1 x 20ml) Worcestershire sauce
  • 350g chicken mince
  • Olive oil for pan


  1. Soak 2tsp of chia seeds in 4tsp of water for at least 10mins (until gluggy).
  2. In the meantime, sautee the garlic & a rasher of finely chopped bacon. Allow to cool down a bit.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the bacon mix, breadcrumbs, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, chia mix and chicken mince.
  4. Roll into small balls & cook a lightly oiled pan turning regularly until cooked through. Cook in small batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.

To make this recipe “witching hour” friendly, you can prepare the meatballs the night before or earlier in the day (steps 1-3) and store covered in the fridge until it is time to cook.


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  • Reply
    Maria @ Feisty Tapas
    July 31, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Oooh I have a jar of chia seeds waiting to know what to do with them, this sounds like a delicious option, thank you! Here via Fabulous Foodie Fridays 🙂

    • Reply
      July 31, 2014 at 9:26 pm

      They are awesome! Great replacement for eggs, especially if you are small batch baking. The soaking is essential. Glad to see you from Fabulous Foodie Friday! 🙂

  • Reply
    Lauren @ Create Bake Make
    July 31, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    What a great recipe, perfect for my little boy! Thank you for linking up with us for Fabulous Foodie Fridays 🙂

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