Sage and Sharp White Cheddar Chicken Meatballs with a Pumpkin Tomato Vodka Sauce

Tons of Sharp White Cheddar get stuffed into delicious sage chicken meatballs then roasted in a cast iron to achieve that perfect crust. Served in a pumpkin tomato vodka sauce, the tangy sweetness pairs sumptuously against the cheddar meatball and some fresh pappardelle pasta.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword cheddar meatballs, chicken meatballs, fall recipe, meatballs, vodka sauce
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4


For the Sharp White Cheddar Sage Chicken Meatball

  • 1 pound of lean ground chicken
  • 10 large leaves of sage minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fennel
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 ½ cups of Tillamook Sharp White Cheddar Cheese

For the Pumpkin Tomato Vodka Sauce

  • 12 ounces of Fresh tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic sliced in half
  • 1/3 cup of pureed canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 of a large sweet onion diced
  • ½ teaspoon of dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 ounces of plain vodka
  • Salt and pepper to taste


For the Sharp White Cheddar Sage Chicken Meatball

  1. Heat oven to 400 °F.
  2. In a small bowl, a large mixing bowl, combine your ground chicken, egg, sage, spices, breadcrumbs, and cheddar. Mix thoroughly with your hands.
  3. Using your hands, mold the ground chicken mixture into spheres and place equally spaced into a greased cast iron. You should be left with 8 meatballs.
  4. Before you bake the meatballs, cook the meatballs on the stove top in the cast iron for 3-5 minutes on each side getting a nice sear on the exterior. Once they’ve browned, set aside and prepare your sauce.

For the Pumpkin Tomato Vodka Sauce

  1. Place your tomatoes, garlic olive oil, salt and pepper into a non-stick baking dish in a 400 °F oven. Cook for 15 minutes until the edges of the tomato have blackened and blistered.
  2. In a blender, combine your roasted tomatoes, garlic, and the sauce it cooked in and blend until smooth. Then add the pumpkin, onion, basil, and spices and blend until incorporated.
  3. Add your cream and pulse to combine. Finally slowly stream in the vodka and blend until smooth.
  4. To finish the meatballs, pour the sauce around the edges of the meatballs in the cast iron and place into the oven to finish baking the meatballs for 10-15 minutes until the chicken has cooked all the way through.
  5. Serve over pappardelle pasta or any other thick noodle and finish with a few more shreds of Tillamook Sharp White Cheddar.

Recipe Notes

If you plan on serving this with pasta, reserve some of the pasta water to thin out the sauce and toss the sauce with the noodles to combine. A few zests of lemon may also help brighten up the dish and add some freshness.