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Frozen Meatballs in the Air Fryer – Quick and Versatile

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Cook frozen meatballs in the air fryer for meatballs that are juicy and tender inside and just a little bit crispy on the outside. Frozen meatballs are inexpensive and kid friendly and versatile enough to part of many quick and easy meals! The meatballs will be ready to eat in only 15 minutes and are perfect for a meatball sandwich, added to pasta or as a quick appetizer.

closeup of air fryer meatball

Frozen meatballs are one of the best convenience foods ever! Whether you are buying a bag at the store or making your own and freezing them having a bag of meatballs in the freezer is perfect when you want dinner fast.

And with an air fryer you can have frozen meatballs heated up and on the table in only 15 minutes, about half the time it would take to heat them in the oven. This means I can put meatballs in the air fryer and boil some pasta and heat some sauce while they cook for a quick and easy spaghetti dinner in about 15 minutes.

meatballs with pasta on a plate

Or serve the meatballs with sauce on a bun for a meatball sub. Coat them in your favorite local barbecue sauce for a quick and effortless appetizer. There are lots of ways to turn meatballs into a delicious and fast meal!

Need more tips on cooking frozen food in the air fryer? Check out how to cook frozen burgers in the air fryer or how to make frozen egg rolls for more great ideas!

Pre-cooked Frozen Meatballs

These directions work for any type of precooked meatballs whether they are Italian meatballs, all beef meatballs, turkey meatballs, vegan meatballs or whatever. Once they are precooked and frozen it doesn’t matter what they are made from.

These directions are mostly about heating up precooked meatballs, not raw ones. If you have frozen raw meatballs this section of the post gives some important extra tips!

You can buy a bag of precooked frozen meatballs at any grocery store. Check the package carefully and make sure that you are buying meatballs that don’t have a lot of filler, artificial ingredients, or things you are avoiding like gluten or dairy.

Or you can make your own meatballs, cook them and freeze them. That way you know exactly what they contain! Check out recipe for air fryer meatballs from scratch here for my favorite homemade meatball recipe.

bag of frozen meatballs
Bag of frozen meatballs

How to Cook Meatballs in Air Fryer

1. Preheat the Air Fryer

I don’t always preheat my air fryer, but it helps when cooking frozen food. So set the air fryer at 380 degrees F and let it preheat for 3 minutes.

2. Add the Meatballs

Put the meatballs in your air fryer basket, spreading them out in a single layer. You don’t need to add any oil to cook the meatballs.

It is important not to crowd or stack the meatballs. If you have too many meatballs for a single layer then make multiple batches.

frozen meatballs in air fryer basket
Frozen meatballs in air fryer basket

I have no trouble fitting over 1 pound of frozen meatballs in my 5.8 quart Cosori air fryer. But sizes and shapes of air fryers vary and the appliance won’t work if the air doesn’t circulate.

Set the air fryer at 380 degrees F for 10 minutes. After about 5 minutes pull the basket out and shake it gently to move the meatballs around.

3. Check the Meatballs

After the cooking time is up use an instant read thermometer to test the internal temperature of the meatballs. Precooked meatballs don’t have to be heated all the way to 165 degrees F as they would if they were raw.

The meatballs need to be hot, but a temperature around 130 degrees F is hot enough. If you don’t have a thermometer then take one out of the basket, cut it open and touch the interior to make sure it is hot to the touch. If they need more time put them back in for another few minutes.

cooked meatballs in air fryer
Cooked meatballs in air fryer basket

Variation in Cooking Time

The size of the frozen meatballs you buy will vary by brand – sometimes you can buy jumbo meatballs or mini meatballs. I usually end up with meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in size, which seems to be in the middle of the meatball size range.

The cooking time will be affected by the size of the meatball and by your brand of air fryer. So the first few times you make them you might need to adjust the cooking time until you figure out how your air fryer cooks.

Find More Air Fryer Recipes!

Raw Frozen Meatballs

If you have raw frozen meatballs they must be cooked to at least 165 degrees F internally. This will take longer, probably about twice as long.

I like to cook frozen raw meatballs at a lower temperature of 350 degrees F. The outsides will brown too much at the higher temperature.

So set the air fryer at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes you should definitely use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature and make sure they reach 165 degrees F.

dipping the meatball in barbecue sauce
Dipping a meatball in barbecue sauce

How to Serve

There are lots of easy ways to turn these meatballs into a delicious meal or appetizer. Here are some of my favorites.

  • Serve them with pasta or zoodles and marinara sauce, which you can quickly heat up while the meatballs cook.
  • Add them to buns with sauce and cheese for tasty meatball subs.
  • Serve them as a quick appetizer along with barbecue sauce or ketchup for dipping.
  • Coat them with an Asian inspired sauce like teriyaki or sweet chili sauce and serve them over instant rice for a 15 minute meal low effort meal.
meatballs with zoodles on a plate in front of air fryer
Meatballs on zoodles

How to Store

If you have leftover meatballs they can be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Don’t refreeze previously frozen meatballs.

FAQ

What about air frying frozen homemade meatballs?

If your homemade frozen meatballs were cooked before freezing there is no difference between store bought and homemade meatballs. If your homemade meatballs are raw then follow the directions for cooking raw frozen meatballs.

Where the meatballs were made and whether they are beef or chicken or turkey doesn’t affect the cooking time. The size of the meatballs and type of air fryer will determine the cooking time for frozen meatballs.

How to reheat meatballs in the air fryer?

If you have leftover meatballs reheat them in air fryer at 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes, depending on the size. Then serve them as you like.

spaghetti and meatballs on a plate

Find More Easy Air Fryer Recipes

Yield: 4

Air Fryer Frozen Meatballs

spaghetti and meatballs on a plate

Cook frozen meatballs in the air fryer for meatballs that are juicy and tender inside and just a little bit crispy on the outside.

Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of frozen precooked meatballs (size varies)

Instructions

Frozen Precooked Meatballs

  1. Set the air fryer at 380 degrees F. Set it to preheat for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the meatballs to the air fryer basket and spread them out in a single layer. Do not overcrowd the basket.
  3. Set the air fryer at 380 degrees F for 10 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time pull the basket out and shake it to mix the meatballs around, then put it back in to finish cooking.
  4. Test the meatballs with an instant read thermometer. Since they are precooked they don't need to reach as high an internal temperature and you can eat them once they are 130 degrees or so. If you don't have a thermometer cut one open and make sure it is hot to the touch inside.

Frozen Raw Meatballs

  1. Meatballs are almost always sold precooked. But if you have raw frozen ones or made your own the directions are slightly different.
  2. Set the air fryer at 350 degrees F. Set it to preheat for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the meatballs to the air fryer basket and spread them out in a single layer. Do not overcrowd the basket.
  4. Set the air fryer at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time pull the basket out and shake it to mix the meatballs around, then put it back in to finish cooking.
  5. Test the meatballs with an instant read thermometer. and make sure they reach at least 165 degrees F internally before serving.

Notes

Cooking times might vary depending on the size of the meatballs and brand of air fryer.

It doesn't matter if the meatballs are made of beef, pork, turkey or are vegan. It doesn't matter if they are homemade or store bought. Once they are precooked and frozen cooking the directions for cooking meatballs in the air fryer are the same.

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meatballs in barbecue sauce with toothpicks
frozen meatballs in the air fryer pinterest collage
By on May 27th, 2021

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