Air Fryer Meatballs are the new star of “meatball night.” Made with lean ground turkey or chicken, Parmesan, and Italian spices, they have lusty, lightly crisp outsides and juicy interiors. The best of the meatball world!
Meatball night started when we first moved downtown and found ourselves within walking distance of a truly stellar Italian market.
The weekly Friday night routine became walking over there to pick up wine, homemade pasta, red sauce, and charcuterie.
We’d then sip and snack while I made a new meatball recipe to go along with our spoils.
Every now and then we change it up and go with homemade pizza (usually with this easy Whole Wheat Pizza Dough), but for a simple dinner at home that still feels special, Italian is hard to beat.
Plus, I am not sure when you last cooked meatballs, but they are SO GOOD and so rewarding.
Meatballs are a comfort food that speaks to my soul!
I started to wonder how they would fair in our air fryer (this is the air fryer model I purchased).
In a word: FAB-U-LOUS (or should I say, buonissimo)!
How to Make Air Fryer Meatballs
These air fryer Italian meatballs are made with a blend of healthy ground turkey, Parmesan, and pantry spices.
Despite their leaner profile, I promise you, they are juicy and anything but bland.
They are date-night, pasta-night, meatball-night worthy in every way!
- Ground Turkey. Lean, protein-packed ground turkey is a delicious base for air fryer meatballs. It’s lighter but still has wonderful flavor.
- Parmesan. The cheesy, salty element that makes these meatballs taste extra scrumptious.
- Breadcrumbs. Helps keep the meatballs moist. I used Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs because I love the extra flavor they add.
- Italian Seasoning. An easy way to incorporate an array of herbs and spices that give the recipe an Italian flair.
- Spices. Onion powder and garlic powder help incorporate onion and garlic flavor without disrupting the meatball texture.
- Red Pepper Flakes. While this is an optional addition, I think a little spice make the meatballs even tastier.
- Egg. The all-important binding agent.
- Stir the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, herbs, and spices together in a bowl.
- Add the turkey. Beat the egg, then add it to the bowl. Mix everything together.
- Shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Lay the meatballs in an air fryer basket coated with non-stick spray.
- Air fry the meatballs at 400 degrees F for 7 to 9 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
- Repeat with the remaining meatballs.
- Prepare any items you’re serving with the meatballs while they cook. ENJOY!
Ways to Serve Air Fryer Meatballs
- With Pasta. A classic (and my personal favorite) way to serve air fryer meatballs. Toss them into Garlic Pasta, Eggplant Pasta, or a simple bowl of spaghetti noodles and marinara sauce.
- On Pizza. Whether you’re making English Muffin Pizza or Broccoli Pizza Crust, you can upgrade pizza night by adding sliced meatballs.
- On a Sandwich. Turn air fryer meatballs into a sandwich by tucking them between two slices of bread with mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce.
- As an Appetizer. Serve these tasty meatballs with toothpicks for an easy appetizer. (These Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs are another tasty option.)
- In Soup. Bulk up your Minestrone Soup by adding some meatballs.
- On a Salad. For a fun protein addition, top your Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad or Caprese Pasta Salad with meatballs.
- To Store. Refrigerate meatballs in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Place meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer the frozen 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.
Meal Prep Tip
Prepare the meatballs as directed through Step 4. Place the baking sheet of 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 cook time.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Air Fryer. This is the air fryer I own and highly recommend.
- Baking Sheet. Incredibly versatile and necessary in every kitchen.
- Parchment Paper. Makes meatball cleanup a breeze.
The Best Air Fryer
No matter which air fryer recipe you’re making, this model is up for the task. It’s a larger size (more space for meatballs!) and has multiple cooking programs.
Let’s make every night meatball night!
Frequently Asked Questions
I haven’t tried this personally, but I do think you could experiment with cooking my Whole30 Meatballs (which do not contain breadcrumbs) in the air fryer.
Although you can put foil in the air fryer, I do not think it is necessary for this recipe. The basket is very easy to clean and the meatballs do not make much of a mess.
Yes, you can cook frozen meatballs in the air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Place frozen meatballs in a single layer in an air fryer basket coated with non-stick spray. Spray the top of the meatballs too. Cook for 9 to 11 minutes, until cooked through. Repeat with any remaining meatballs.
Fried meatballs give you a nice, crispy exterior, but they are very hands-on to make, can be a mess to clean, and are oily. Baked meatballs are cleaner and leaner. The air fryer gives you the best of both worlds! They are crispy inside and tender inside (like fried meatballs) but use very little fat or oil (like baked meatballs).
Air Fryer Meatballs Video
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Air Fryer Meatballs
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
- 1/3 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs whole wheat if possible
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes or 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey, chicken, or lean ground beef keep in your refrigerator until the last possible second so it stays very cold
- 1 large egg
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and keep it handy. To keep the meatballs warm between batches, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir well to combine.
- Add the ground turkey. In a small bowl, beat the egg, then add it to the bowl (you also can crack it into an open space in the big mixing bowl and lightly beat it there). With a fork or your fingers, mix lightly just until the ingredients are evenly combined, being careful not to compact the meat.
- Portion the meat and shape into 1 1/2-inch meatballs (you will have about 20 total), then arrange them on the first baking sheet.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Generously coat the basket with non-stick spray. Arrange a single layer of meatballs in the basket, ensuring they do not touch so air can circulate (you will need to cook them in batches). Mist the tops with non-stick spray.
- Air fry the meatballs at 400 degrees F for 7 to 9 minutes, sliding out the basket and using tongs to gently turn the meatballs over halfway through. The meatballs are done when they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. When a meatball is cut in half, the meat should look fully cooked.
- Place the first batch of cooked meatballs on the second, clean baking sheet, and transfer to the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
- While the meatballs air fry, warm the sauce on the stove, and prep any other items you’d like to serve them with them. Enjoy the meatballs hot, topped with the sauce, cheese, herbs, and any other additions.
- Adapted from my Baked Turkey Meatballs.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate meatballs in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Place meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer the frozen 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.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: Prepare the meatballs as directed through Step 4. Place the baking sheet of 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 cook time.
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