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Air Fryer Meatballs

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Get perfectly cooked meatballs using your air fryer! Air fryer meatballs have a crisp crust on the outside and a moist, tender texture inside. These flavorful meatballs are great for pasta night, using in sliders and sandwiches, or even using as an appetizer!

Close up of several air fryer meatballs set on top of a bed of spaghetti.

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This is the time of year in the Midwest when we all just want winter to be over. Unfortunately, we still have at least a couple more months to go.

My solution when I can’t stand the gray winter days any more is to make lots of comfort food dinners. Things like crockpot Mississippi pot roast, homemade sloppy joes, chicken and wild rice soup, and spaghetti and meatballs.

There are so many ways to make and cook meatballs, and one of my favorites is to cook them in the air fryer. Air fryer meatballs are crisp on the outside, moist and tender on the inside, and so versatile to use!

Bowl of air fryer meatballs on a countertop in front of an air fryer.

CAN YOU AIR FRY MEATBALLS?

Is there anything more comforting than a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs? 

If you’ve ever made homemade meatballs, you know that the most delicious, traditional way to cook them is to fry them. The browned, crispy crust that forms on the outside just can’t be beat!

The only problem is that frying meatballs is a real pain in the neck. I feel like my entire kitchen is covered in a fine layer of oil after frying a batch of meatballs. But baking them in the oven just isn’t the same.

If you have an air fryer, you might have wondered if you can just air fry your meatballs to get that crispy exterior without the mess.

The answer is: yes, you totally can!

Just like when we make air fryer chicken tenders, air frying gets us the same gorgeous, crispy results as frying – it’s just a whole lot easier and less messy.

If you haven’t invested in an air fryer of your own, I can guarantee you that you’ll get tons of use out of it. We use ours all of the time!

Ingredients for air fryer meatballs arranged on a beige countertop.

HOW TO MAKE AIR FRYER MEATBALLS

When making air fryer meatballs, you can use any meatball mix that you like. I’m going to share the recipe for my favorite meatballs, but you can use any other that you already love!

Ingredients you’ll need

To make my meatball mix, you will need:

  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup milk 
  • 1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs 
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 pound ground beef (I recommend using 80/20 ground beef)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ to ½ cup finely minced fresh parsley 
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for air fryer meatballs in a metal mixing bowl, about to be mixed together.

If you don’t like or can’t have pork, feel free to substitute the ground pork in this recipe with a second pound of ground beef instead. 

Some grocery stores will also carry a “meatball mix” or a “meatloaf mix” that contains a pre-mixed combination of ground beef and ground pork (and occasionally ground veal as well). You can use this instead if you like; you will need 2 pounds.

If you want less of an Italian spin on this recipe, use plain breadcrumbs in place of the Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs, leave out the Italian seasoning, and reduce the amount of parsley or omit it altogether. I personally would still include the Parmesan cheese because I like the nutty saltiness that it adds.

Mix for air fryer meatballs in a metal mixing bowl.

Making this recipe

If you are using my meatball mix recipe, start by whisking the eggs, milk, and sour cream or ricotta together. Add the breadcrumbs and let the mixture soak for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the shallots in the butter and olive oil until softened, then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Remove this from the heat and set it aside to cool.

In a large bowl, use your hands to mix the ground meat, parmesan, parsley, soaked breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, and the cooked shallots with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Once combined, let this mixture sit in the fridge for 20 minutes to help with portioning.

Rolled meatballs on a parchment-lined sheet tray, ready to go in the air fryer.

While the meatball mix chills, take about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and pat it into a small patty. Sear it in a skillet and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper to the remaining mix if needed.

Portion the chilled mix into 1.5-to-2-tablespoon portions onto a lined or greased baking sheet. Once all of the mix is portioned, coat your palms in olive oil and roll the meatballs between your palms.

Try not to squeeze the mix too tightly or else the meatballs will become very dense. 

Once the meatballs are all rolled, you’re ready to cook!

Several rolled meatballs in the basket of an air fryer, ready to be cooked.

Cooking the meatballs

When all of the meatballs are rolled, give them a light spray with some cooking spray or olive oil. This will help encourage them to brown nicely.

When ready to cook, preheat your air fryer to 400°F for 5 minutes.

Depending on the size of your air fryer basket, you will likely need to work in batches. Make sure you don’t overcrowd your air fryer or the meatballs won’t cook evenly.

Add the meatballs to the basket of your air fryer. If you’re worried about sticking, brush or spray the basket with olive oil or avocado oil. Don’t spray it with cooking spray, though, as that can degrade the nonstick coating if sprayed directly onto it.

Cook the meatballs at 400°F for 10 minutes, flipping them halfway through.

Add the cooked meatballs to your favorite pasta sauce, use in your recipe, or let them cool and freeze them for later.

Close up of air fryer meatballs in a white bowl.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

Of course you can serve these air fryer meatballs with quick marinara sauce and pasta for a delicious spaghetti dinner.

You can also use them to make meatball subs or even meatball sliders, for more of a game-day snack.

Or pop these meatballs into a sweet and tangy sauce for cocktail meatballs!

Overhead view of a bowl of air fryer meatballs flanked by bowls of cooked spaghetti and pasta sauce.

FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS

If you want to prepare air fryer meatballs ahead of time, you have a couple of options.

You can freeze the uncooked meatball mix for later. Portion out and cook as many meatballs as you like, then place the rest of the mix into a zip-top freezer bag.

Push out as much of the air as possible, then freeze for up to 3 months. From there, thaw, roll, and air fry the meatballs according to the recipe directions.

You can also cook all of the meatballs now and freeze the cooked meatballs for later. 

Place the cooked meatballs in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, you can simmer them in your favorite sauce until heated through or air fry them for about 5 minutes to reheat them.

Whether you enjoy them now or freeze them for quick meals later, these air fryer meatballs are a recipe you’ll want to keep on hand all of the time!

Bowl of spaghetti topped with air fryer meatballs in the foreground. A bowl of pasta sauce is in the background.
Air fryer meatballs on top of a bed of spaghetti.

Air Fryer Meatballs

Air fryer meatballs are crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. Use these versatile meatballs in pasta, sandwiches, or as an appetizer!
4.54 from 13 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 shallots finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced or grated
  • 1 pound ground beef I recommend using 80/20 ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ to ½ cup finely minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and sour cream or ricotta; add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Let soak for 20 minutes. 
  • While that soaks, heat butter and olive oil in a skillet until the butter is melted. Add the shallots and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Remove from the heat and set aside. 
  • In a large bowl, place ground beef and pork along with parmesan, parsley, soaked breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning and the shallot mixture, along with a couple of large pinches of salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix until well incorporated. 
  • Place the meatball mixture in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes. This helps with portioning. 
  • While the mixture rests, take a small amount (about 1 tablespoon) of the mixture and pat it into a small patty; sear it in a skillet. Taste the patty and add more salt and pepper to the meatball mix if needed.
  • Using a cookie scoop (about 2 tablespoons), portion all of the meat onto a lined or sprayed baking sheet. Once portioned, coat your palms in olive oil, then take each meatball and roll it into a ball with your palms. Try not to squeeze the mix too tightly; you don’t want the meatballs to be dense. Once rolled, lightly spray the meatballs with cooking spray. This will help them brown nicely.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 400°F for 5 minutes.
  • Working in batches as necessary depending on the size of your air fryer, place the meatballs into the air fryer basket.
  • Cook at 400°F for 10 minutes, flipping the meatballs halfway through.
  • Add to pasta sauce, use in your recipe, or let cool and freeze for later.

Notes

If you don’t wish to cook all of the meatballs, you can freeze the meatballs mix for later use. Place in a zip-top freezer bag, pushing out as much air as possible, and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw, shape, and cook according to the directions above.
Lightly spray or brush the bottom of your air fryer basket with olive oil or avocado oil if you’re worried about the meatballs sticking to the basket.
Makes about 24 meatballs.

Nutrition

Serving: 4meatballs | Calories: 589kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 180mg | Sodium: 479mg | Potassium: 571mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 611IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 168mg | Iron: 4mg
The default measuring system on My Baking Addiction is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided as a courtesy; please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.
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Recipe Rating




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Aurelia

Wednesday 18th of January 2023

Thanks for the recipe! If I don’t want to use dairy products, what would you use instead of the sour cream and milk?

Jamie

Thursday 19th of January 2023

Hi Aurelia – You could use a non-dairy milk (like unsweetened almond milk) and an unsweetened non-dairy yogurt should work just fine as well! Hope this helps! Happy baking – Jamie

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