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Air Fryer Meatballs – Quick and Easy Dinner Idea

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These easy air fryer meatballs are juicy and tender and make a hearty meal. This simple meatball recipe cooks in minutes, so you can prepare them even on busy weeknights.

When dinner is minutes away, I reach for my air fryer. It cooks fast, tasty, and healthy food, making it easy to throw together meals in just minutes! The meatballs cook in about 10 minutes, which means you can have an entire dinner ready in no time at all.

These are versatile too. Serve these as a meatball sandwich, combine them with rice or pasta or eat them as a snack. Your family will devour this classic favorite no matter how you serve them.

This is a great recipe for beginners because it has simple directions and basic ingredients. And if you want to do meal prep, you can make a big batch to freeze and have on hand for a quick dinner.

closeup of plate of meatballs

Why Cook Meatballs in the Air Fryer?

Air fryer meatballs come out perfect every time. They are soft and juicy inside, with just a little bit of a crispy exterior.

Browning meatballs on the stove is frustrating and tedious. It is messy, and you have to stand over the pan, flipping them over periodically. No matter how careful I try to be, I always seem to end up with ones that lose their shape or fall apart!

The air fryer, on the other hand, could not be easier. Just roll the meatballs, put them in the basket, and let them cook. They come out round and brown without much effort from me! And all the grease is contained in the air fryer basket instead of ending up all over the stove.

meatball ingredients
Ingredients for Meatballs

Key Meatball Ingredients

For exact amounts needed see the recipe card below

Ground meat – I used ground beef in these pictures, but you can use any ground meat you like. Ground turkey, ground pork, ground chicken, or sausage work well in this simple recipe. 

Egg – The egg helps bind all the ingredients together, so they stay nice and round. After cooking, many meatballs are simmered in a sauce, like marinara or gravy. The egg helps make sure they don’t fall apart in the sauce.

Breadcrumbs – The breadcrumbs give them a softer texture. They absorb some moisture from the meat as it cooks, which keeps them juicier after cooking.

For this recipe, fine breadcrumbs work better than panko. You can also use Italian breadcrumbs if you prefer.

Onion, garlic, and parsley – These vegetables are finely chopped and add flavor.

Seasoning – I used salt and black pepper to season these. Add a little bit of Italian seasoning to make Italian meatballs or five-spice powder to make Chinese meatballs.

Parmesan cheese – You can replace some, or all, of the breadcrumbs with Parmesan. This makes them low carb and keto-friendly. This is especially good if you are making an Italian-style dinner.

meatballs on a plate with sauces

How to Make Meatballs in the Air Fryer

1. Mince the Vegetables

Ideally, the vegetables will be diced very small. A food processor works well for cutting the onion, garlic, and parsley.

food processor with minced meatball ingredients
Dicing the vegetables

It quickly turns the vegetables into tiny pieces which disappear into the meat while still adding flavor. You can also dice the veggies by hand if you prefer.

2. Mix the Meatball Ingredients

Put the diced vegetables in a mixing bowl. Add the beef, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to squish all the ingredients together and mix.

mixing meatballs ingredients in a bowl
Mixing the ingredients

Using a spoon just doesn’t do a good enough job combining the meat with the other ingredients. Keep mixing until the bread crumbs are mixed in and the other ingredients are well distributed.

3. Shape the Meatballs

Take about 2 tablespoons of the mixture in your hands and gently form it into a 1-inch ball. It is tempting to squeeze hard when shaping it – but resist the urge.

raw meatball
Rolling the meatballs

Squeezing the mixture will overwork the meat and make it less tender. Gently rolling the balls between your palms works well to shape them.

Keep shaping meatballs and put them on a tray as you go. This recipe should make about 24 1 inch round balls.

4. Air Fry

Put the balls in the basket of your air fryer. It is essential to keep them in a single layer and not crowd the them in the air fryer.

There needs to be circulating air for them to cook. So don’t stack them and make sure some space is visible between the balls.

raw meatballs in air fryer basket
Meatballs in air fryer basket

My air fryer can hold the 24 meatballs in one batch. If you have a smaller air fryer, you might need to cook in batches. Set the air fryer at 400 degrees F and cook for 10 minutes. There is no need to flip them as they cook.

5. Check the Meatballs

After the 10 minutes are up, check the internal temperature with an instant-read meat thermometer. The beef should reach 165 degrees F to be safe to eat.

meatballs in basket of air fryer after cooking
Meatballs after cooking

If they aren’t entirely done, add another two minutes to the cooking time and recheck them. It is also important not to overcook the air fryer meatballs, so add time in two-minute increments if it is necessary.

If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, I recommend buying one! But you can also cut one in half and visually check to see if the meat is no longer pink.

meatball sub

Serving Suggestions

There are many different ways to can serve meatballs. My family enjoys having meatball subs for dinner, a quick and easy-to-make weeknight meal.

Simply heat up homemade or jarred Marinara sauce while the meatballs air fry. Then serve them on a bun topped with sauce and provolone or mozzarella cheese. These are filling and yet super easy to make!

Of course, few meals are more family-friendly than spaghetti and meatballs. You can air fry these while heating up the sauce and boiling pasta. Dinner will be ready in about 20 minutes! And don’t forget to make some garlic bread to go with the meatballs!

These also make a great appetizer. Just make a big batch and serve them with barbecue sauce or marinara sauce at your next party.

dipping a meatball in bbq sauce

How to Store Leftovers

You can store leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To reheat cooked meatballs, simmer them in your favorite sauce or air fry them at 370 degrees F for 3-4 minutes.

How to Freeze

These also freeze very well. Put the balls on a baking sheet and freeze them flat for a few hours. Then put them plastic freezer bag or another airtight container. Freezing them flat will allow you to get out less than an entire bag for thawing. They will keep frozen for about 3 months.

Can I Cook Frozen Meatballs in the Air Fryer?

Absolutely. Cook precooked, frozen meatballs in the air fryer at 370 degrees F for about 10 minutes cook time. Always check the internal temperature to make sure they are cooked through to 165 degrees F internally. Check out my article on Air Frying Frozen Meatballs for more details.

top view of meatballs on a plate for dipping

Key Tips for the Best Meatballs

Be sure to check out the step by step instructions

Don’t overmix the ground meat mixture, and don’t squish it together. They will have a lighter texture if they are mixed gently.

Cook them in a single layer in the air fryer.

Change up the types of meat and spices to make multiple types from one recipe.

Did You Make This? Leave a Star Rating!

Yield: 4

Air Fryer Meatballs Recipe

top view of meatballs on a plate for dipping

With an air fryer you can have homemade meatballs ready to serve in about 20 minutes.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or other ground meat
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Put the onion, garlic, and parsley in a food processor and process until minced.
  2. Put the vegetables in a bowl and add the ground meat, bread crumbs, egg, salt, and pepper.
  3. Use your hands to mix the ingredients until combined, but don't overmix.
  4. Gently shape the mixture into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter. This recipe will make about 24 balls.
  5. Place them in the basket of an air fryer. Cook at 400 F for 10 minutes. There is no need to flip them over.
  6. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer and verify that it has reached 165 degrees F internally.

    Notes

    • You can also bake these in the oven at 350 F for 25-30 minutes.
    • To flavor these you can add more seasoning, such as Italian seasoning.
    • Replace some, or all, of the breadcrumbs with parmesan cheese if desired.
    • Don't overmix the ground meat mixture, and don't squish it together. These will have a lighter texture if they are mixed gently.
    • Change up the types of meat and spices to make multiple types from one recipe.

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    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    4

    Serving Size:

    1

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 450Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 147mgSodium: 851mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 36g

    Nutrition facts are estimates.

    meatball in front of air fryer

    By on January 28th, 2022

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