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Easy Air Fryer Meatballs

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These easy air fryer meatballs are quick to make and delicious. With an air fryer you can have homemade meatballs ready to serve in about 20 minutes. Eat as is, make a meatball sub or combine with pasta or rice for a tasty family dinner.

meatball on a fork in front of air fryer

Cooking homemade meatballs in the air fryer is quick and easy! The meatballs cook in about 10 minutes, which means you can have an entire dinner ready less than 30 minutes.

sub made with air fryer meatballs, sauce and cheese

The meatballs are versatile too. You can use the meatballs in a Meatball Casserole, combine them with Marinara sauce for a pasta dinner, or make quick meatball subs.

This recipe is also great for making a big batch of meatballs to freeze and have on hand for quick dinners.

Why Cook Meatballs in the Air Fryer?

Air fryers are excellent at cooking meatballs because the meatballs come out perfect every time. They are tender and moist inside and a little bit crispy on the outside.

Personally I find it very frustrating to try and brown meatballs on the stove. Every time I do this the meatballs end up falling apart – no matter how careful I am.

Using the air fryer means the meatballs brown as they bake. This is much simpler, and means the meatballs actually come out intact.

side view of air fryer meatballs on a platter


This recipe for meatballs is pretty basic. I want to be able to use these meatballs in lots of different ways, so I don’t flavor them to be specifically Italian or Spanish or Turkish or whatever.

meatball ingredients

The ingredients in the meatballs are:

  • Ground beef
  • Bread crumbs
  • Egg
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Parsely
  • Salt & pepper

Why Use Breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs in meatballs help bind the meatballs and keeps them moist. Meatballs are usually submerged in a sauce after cooking, like Marinara sauce or gravy.

Breadcrumbs help keep them together so they don’t fall apart in the sauce. They also absorb moisture from the meat as it fries, which keeps them juicier after they are cooked.

Some people use cheese in place of breadcrumbs or in addition to breadcrumbs. That makes meatballs more low carb or keto friendly.

Can I use Different Meat?

These meatballs will be tasty with almost any kind of ground meat. You can substitute chicken, turkey or pork without any changes. Use whatever kind of ground meat you like.

How to Make Air Fryer Meatballs

1. Mince the Vegetables

I like to make the vegetables in my meatballs really small. This means I use a food processor to cut the onion, garlic and parsley.

food processor with minced meatball ingredients

The food processor quickly turns the vegetables into tiny pieces which disappear into the meatballs while still adding flavor.

If you don’t have a food processor you can cut the vegetables by hand, but you need to make sure the pieces are small so that the meatballs don’t end up chunky.

2. Mix the Ingredients

Once the vegetables are nice and small add them to a bowl. Add the beef, breadcrumbs, egg, salt and pepper to the same bowl.

mixing meatballs ingredients in a bowl

Use your hands to squish all the ingredients together and mix. Using a spoon just doesn’t do a good enough job of combining the meat with the other ingredients.

Keep squeezing the mixture until the bread crumbs are all mixed in and the other ingredients are well distributed throughout the meat.

3. Shape the Meatballs

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

raw meatball

Squeezing the mixture will overwork the meat and make the meatballs less tender. Gently rolling the meatballs 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 meatballs.

4. Cook the Meatballs

Once they are all shaped put them in the basket of your air fryer. It is important not to crowd the meatballs in the air fryer.

raw meatballs in air fryer basket

There needs to be circulating air for the meatballs to cook. So don’t stack them, keep them in a single layer with some space visible between the meatballs.

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 F and cook the meatballs for 10 minutes.

5. Check the Meatballs

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

meatballs in basket of air fryer after cooking

If they aren’t quite done add another two minutes to the cooking time and check them again. Air fryers can vary in how fast they cook.

Always check the temperature of the meat before eating it, never just go by time. However you also don’t want to overcook the meatballs, so if it is necessary to add time do it in 2 minute increments.

How to Store

You can store the meatballs in a container in the refrigerator for a few days. They also freeze very well.

To freeze them put them in a plastic freezer bag that is stored flat for the first few hours until they freeze. Freezing them flat will allow you to get out less than a full bag for thawing.

meatball on a fork in front of air fryer

How to Serve

There are lots of different ways you can serve meatballs. My family enjoys having meatball subs for dinner, which is quick and easy to make.

Simply heat up homemade or jarred Marinara sauce while the meatballs cook. Then serve the meatballs on a roll topped with sauce and cheese. These are filling and yet super easy to make!

meatball sub with sauce and cheese

Of course few meals are more family friendly than spaghetti and meatballs. With these homemade air fryer meatballs you can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Instant Pot Meatball Soup and Meatball casserole are two more meatball recipes I love. Now that I can make these tasty meatballs in about 20 minutes I am finding all kinds of ways to use them!

Find More Air Fryer Recipes

Yield: 4

Air Fryer Meatballs

meatball on a fork in front of air fryer

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


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


  1. Put the onion, garlic and parsley in a food processor and process.
  2. In a bowl combine the ground beef with the bread crumbs, minced vegetables, egg, salt and pepper.
  3. Use your hands to mix the ingredients until they are all well combined.
  4. Gently shape the mixture into small balls,, about 1 inch in diameter. It will make about 24 meatballs.
  5. Place the meatballs in the basket of an air fryer. Cook at 400 F for 10 minutes.


You can also bake these meatballs in the oven at 350 F for 25-30 minutes.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


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

Nutrition facts are estimates.

top view of air fryer meatballs on a platter
These easy air fryer meatballs are quick to make and delicious. With an air fryer you can have homemade meatballs ready to serve in about 20 minutes. Eat as is, make a meatball sub or combine with pasta or rice for a tasty family dinner.
By on May 11th, 2020

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