I am looking at this recipe for gluten-free chicken meatballs and found this step to be odd. Anyone know what the purpose is? Is it related to the lack of gluten or somehow helping the balls to stay bound together? If so, how does it work?

Add 1/3 of ground chicken and cook just until cooked through, breaking up any clumps. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Add remaining chicken meat, salt, and several grindings of black pepper. Mix just to combine. Wipe out pot and add remaining Tbsp. oil. Heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Form meat mixture into 8 meatballs each about 2–2 1⁄2-inch in diameter and add to pot (mixture will be soft). Cook until light golden brown on all sides, 6–8 minutes total. Remove meatballs to a plate; set aside.

Thanks very much!

  • I'd guess it's textural. Ground chicken can be very paste-y and meatballs made from it can seem very dense if you're not gentle. If you pre-cook part of it, it will be looser/less dense/more textured.
    – Catija
    Jun 6, 2015 at 12:52
  • @Catija interesting. Maybe it prevents the chicken from being "overworked" simply because you can't overwork the pre-cooked portion Jun 7, 2015 at 1:22
  • The pre-cooked chicken will act as the meat-ball texture and the uncooked chicken will act as the binder.
    – Max
    Jul 28, 2015 at 10:39

1 Answer 1


Ground chicken can be very soft and sticky, and difficult to form into balls without everything sticking together or going "squish". If you tried to make balls from completely cooked chicken, though, the balls wouldn't stay together. So, cooking part of the chicken gives the mixture some structure so they can be formed, and will stay together when you put them in the pot.

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