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Air Fryer Meatballs are the epitome of an easy, delicious, homemade recipe. Ready in minutes, they’re juicy, flavorful, and healthier with less oil. Perfect for quick dinners or entertaining guests, they pair beautifully with pasta or as appetizers, making meal prep a breeze (freezer-friendly, too).

Meatball on a white plate with carrots and parsley with an air fryer in the background.

Why our Air Fryer Meatballs Recipe

  • The air fryer cooks the meatballs so fast!
  • It gives them an oven or pan-fried flavor without turning on the oven or preheating and splattering mess on the stovetop from frying them. Keeping the kitchen cool and clean!
  • It yields a crisp exterior while the meatballs stay juicy and delicious inside.
  • This recipe is versatile and pairs with almost any meal or as an appetizer! Plus you can use this for a quick way to cook meatballs and add to your favorite Italian Recipes.

I’m back this summer, beating the heat and creating new air fryer recipes. I just keep adding to my collection and will keep making more. This one has become a favorite of mine because it really is so versatile.

It’s a hit with my family, too, because of all the delicious ways we serve it up. You can change up the sauce or make it into a whole new recipe by how and what you serve it with. Endless possibilities!! Check out our “ways to serve this recipe” section for lots of ideas!

It’s sure to become a staple on your meal plan rotation as much as it is for my house.

Ingredient Notes for Meatballs in the Air Fryer

  • Meat: This meat is the shining star of a great meatball recipe. Lean ground beef and pork are a delicious blend to give you both amazing flavor and juiciness.
  • Eggs & Breadcrumbs will bind the meatballs, so they hold together.
  • Milk: Just a little bit of milk will help keep the meatballs moist and juicy on the inside.
  • Seasonings: Chopped parsley, Italian seasoning, parmesan cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, dried minced onion, salt, and pepper are our favorites. I like to use onion powder and minced onion over raw because these cook so quickly. You could grate raw onion if you prefer.
Labeled image of ingredients needed to make air fryer meatballs.

Variations and Substitutions

One of the great things about air fryer meatballs is their versatility. You can easily swap out ingredients to suit your taste or dietary needs. The possibilities are endless, allowing you to tailor this easy and delicious recipe to your personal preferences.

  • Meat: If you aren’t a fan of pork you can use all beef.
  • Breadcrumb Substitutions: I usually use seasoned breadcrumbs for extra flavor, but you can use seasoned or nonseasoned breadcrumbs or panko crumbs. Wanting to keep it low-carb, use pork panko.
  • Cheesy Meatballs: We already have parmesan cheese, but you can add in a handful of shredded cheddar, Colby jack, mozzarella, or your favorite cheese.
  • Leaner Proteins: For a leaner option, use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef. I have only tested these with beef and pork, so adjust cook time accordingly.
  • Vegetarian: If you’re vegetarian, try a plant-based ground meat substitute. You can also mix in grated vegetables like zucchini or carrots for added nutrition and moisture.
  • Gluten-Free: For those with gluten sensitivities, use gluten-free breadcrumbs or oats.
  • Seasonings: Adding different herbs and spices can transform the flavor profile. For a cajun kick- replace the Italian seasoning with a cajun seasoning or even a dash of chili flakes for a spicy kick.

How To Make Juicy Air Fryer Meatballs

Be sure to see the recipe card below for exact ingredients and full recipe instructions!

A collage image of steps needed to make meatballs for the air fryer.
  1. Preheat the air fryer to 380℉.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients: In a medium-sized bowl, combine the bread crumbs, egg, milk, chopped parsley, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, dried minced onion, salt, and pepper. Mix together. Then add ground beef and pork and mix to combine.
  3. Form into balls: Shape the meatballs into about 1½ inch-sized meatballs.
  4. Cook: Spray the air fryer tray and place meatballs on the tray in an even layer. Then, place the tray into the basket of your air fryer and cook at 380 degrees for about 12 minutes or until the center of the meatball reaches an internal temperature of 165℉.
  5. Remove the cooked meatballs from the air fryer and place them on a serving plate.
  6. Let meatballs rest a few minutes before serving or using in a recipe. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired.
Removing cooked meatballs from the air fryer.

Air Fryer Meatball Tips

  • Preheat your air fryer: If you turn your air fryer to 380 degrees as you are mixing up your meatballs, then it will be heated up by the time you add them in! This helps your food cook more evenly and takes less time to cook them!
  • Spray your Pan: Some say that a cooking spray will damage or cause your pan to chip. I usually grab good-quality olive oil or avocado oil, and I have not had an issue with it. But you can pick a good quality oil mister in lieu of a bottled spray.
  • Don’t compact or overwork the meat mixture: When preparing the mixture, mix it until it is just combined. When you form the meatballs, press them gently together and do not compact them too tightly. This will give a chewy texture and make the meatballs tough.
  • Don’t stack or overlap your food: Make sure that when you place your meatballs into the air fryer, they are in one single layer. Don’t stack them, or they will cook unevenly. This will cause some of the meatballs to be undercooked, and others may be burned. The key to successful air frying food is to do it in smaller batches and in one layer!
  • Making Larger Meatballs: This recipe is tested with 1 1/2 to 2-inch meatballs. If you would like larger meatballs, you can certainly make them. Just increase the cooking time and adjust according to the size you make them.
A plate of meatballs, garnished with parsley with a picture of lemonade in the background.

Recipe FAQs

Are air fryer meatballs healthier than traditional fried meatballs?

Yes, air frying typically uses less oil than traditional frying methods, reducing the overall fat content while still providing a delicious, crispy texture.

Can I use any type of ground meat for air fryer meatballs?

Yes, you can use beef, pork, turkey, chicken, or even a plant-based meat substitute. Adjust the cooking time slightly depending on the type and fat content of the meat.

How can I prevent my meatballs from sticking to the air fryer basket?

Lightly spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray or brush with a small amount of oil to prevent sticking. You can also use an air fryer liner. Avoid overcrowding the basket to allow proper air circulation.

How do I ensure my meatballs stay moist?

Avoid overmixing the meat mixture, as this can make the meatballs dense. We are using a little milk in this recipe to help keep them juicy. Mixing in ingredients like grated onions or a bit of ricotta cheese can also help keep meatballs moist.

Can I cook vegetables with my meatballs in the air fryer?

Yes, adding vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, or onions alongside the meatballs can make for a complete meal. I like to make them in batches to avoid overcrowding. Just ensure to cut them into similar sizes for even cooking.

Eight fort picking up a meatball with a bite taken out of it.

Storage, Freezer, & Make Ahead Instructions

  • TO STORE: Completely cool meatballs and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • MAKE-AHEAD: Prepare the meatballs and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before cooking. This can save time, especially when entertaining guests or meal-prepping for the week.
  • TO FREEZE COOKED MEATBALLS: Place completely cooked and cooled meatballs in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer the frozen cooked meatballs to an airtight freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating, or use frozen for recipes calling for frozen meatballs.
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in the air fryer at 350°F or warm in the microwave at 30-second intervals until warmed through.

How to Prepare Frozen Air Fryer Meatballs

Make-Ahead and Freezing Uncooked Meatballs: Prepare the meatballs as directed prior to cooking. Place the lined baking sheet of uncooked meatballs in the freezer until solid. Transfer the uncooked frozen meatballs to an airtight freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Cook directly from frozen as directed, adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time.

Cooking from Frozen (Raw): Air fry frozen meatballs directly from frozen (no need to thaw) at 380°F for 12 to 16 minutes until cooked through, shaking the basket at about 9-10 minutes into cooking.

Ways to Serve Air Fryer Meatballs

  • With Pasta A classic pairing, spaghetti or any pasta tossed in marinara sauce or meat sauce complements the savory flavor of meatballs perfectly. It’s a comforting and filling option.
  • In a Sandwich: Make a meatball sandwich by placing the meatballs in a sub or hoagie roll topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Stick them back in the air fryer for a minute or two to toast.
  • Rice: Serve meatballs over a bed of fluffy white or brown rice. For added flavor, consider using herbed or pilaf rice. Make a brown gravy to go on top for an even more savory meal.
  • Garlic Bread or Knots: Crunchy, buttery garlic bread is perfect for soaking up any extra sauce and adds a delicious, aromatic touch to the meal. Top with marinara for a knife-and-fork kind of meal or appetizer like my Slow Cooker Jalapeno Jelly Meatballs (take a look to see how I made these into a fun appetizer).
  • Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes provide a rich and satisfying comfort food dish. Use mashed cauliflower for a low-carb alternative.
  • On a Pizza: Meatballs are a classic topping for your favorite pizza. You can cut them into bite-sized pieces, slice them, or leave them whole. They are also delicious in our pizza pasta bake!
  • Salad: A fresh, crisp salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a tangy vinaigrette adds a refreshing contrast to the hearty meatballs. We always get a marinara-baked meatball appetizer at our favorite pizza place, along with a Strawberry Pecan Salad.
  • Air Fryer Baked Meatballs: Add the air-fried meatballs into a ramakin or dish that will fit into your air fryer. Top with your favorite marinara or pizza sauce, mozzarella or provolone cheese, and sliced bell peppers. Air fry for 5 minutes or until saucy and the cheese is golden brown- for a delicious appetizer or low-carb dinner.

What are some good sauces to serve with air fryer meatballs?

Marinara, barbecue, teriyaki, sweet and sour, pepper jelly, or even a creamy garlic sauce are all great options.

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Air fryer meatballs on a white plate garnished with parsley.
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Air Fryer Meatballs Recipe

Prep Time: 14 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Resting Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes
Servings: 16 meatballs
Author: Nikki Lee
Air Fryer Meatballs- ready in minutes, they’re juicy, flavorful, and healthier with less oil. Perfect for quick dinners, as appetizers, and make meal prep a breeze. (Homemade Fresh and Frozen Meatball Instructions include)
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Ingredients 

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork sausage
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, plus more for garnish (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried minced onion
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat air fryer to 380°F.
  • Combine all of the ingredients: In a medium-sized bowl, combine the bread crumbs, egg, milk, chopped parsley, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, dried minced onion, salt, and pepper. Mix together. Then add ground beef and pork and mix to combine.
  • Form into balls: Divide the meat mixture into 16 balls, about 1 ½ inch-sized meatballs.
  • Cook: Spray the air fryer tray and place meatballs on the tray. Then, place the tray into the basket of your air fryer and cook at 380°F for about 12 minutes or until the center of the meatball reaches an internal temperature of 165℉.
  • Remove the cooked meatballs from the air fryer and place them on a serving plate.
  • Let meatballs rest for a couple of (2) minutes before serving or using in a recipe. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired.

Notes

    • TO STORE: Completely cool meatballs and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
    • MAKE-AHEAD: Prepare the meatballs and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before cooking. This can save time, especially when entertaining guests or meal-prepping for the week.
    • TO FREEZE COOKED MEATBALLS: Place completely cooked and cooled meatballs in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer the frozen cooked meatballs to an airtight freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating, or use frozen for recipes calling for frozen meatballs.
    • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in the air fryer at 350°F or warm in the microwave at 30-second intervals until warmed through.

How to Prepare Frozen Air Fryer Meatballs

Make-Ahead and Freezing Uncooked Meatballs: Prepare the meatballs as directed prior to cooking. Place the lined baking sheet of uncooked meatballs in the freezer until solid. Transfer the uncooked frozen meatballs to an airtight freezer-safe storage container or zip-top bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Cook directly from frozen as directed, adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time.
Cooking from Frozen (Raw): Air fry frozen meatballs directly from frozen (no need to thaw) at 380°F for 12 to 16 minutes until cooked through, shaking the basket at about halfway 5 to 6 minutes into cooking. 
If you are cooking frozen meatballs from the grocery store they may be smaller and need less cook time. Check at 8-10 and then add addition time  if needed.
See our Air Fryer Tips & FAQs for more helpful tips.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1meatball Calories: 90kcal (5%) Carbohydrates: 2g (1%) Protein: 9g (18%) Fat: 6g (9%) Saturated Fat: 2g (13%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0.1g Cholesterol: 40mg (13%) Sodium: 226mg (10%) Potassium: 155mg (4%) Fiber: 0.2g (1%) Sugar: 0.3g Vitamin A: 81IU (2%) Vitamin C: 1mg (1%) Calcium: 18mg (2%) Iron: 1mg (6%)

Nutritional Disclaimer

Soulfully Made is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

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