When it comes to quick and easy weeknight meals, it’s hard to beat good ol’ fashioned meatballs. And if you’re looking for a quick, healthy way to cook meatballs, look no further than the air fryer! Air fryer meatballs cook in a fraction of the time of traditional meatballs without all the oil and mess.
Why you’ll love this recipe
These air fryer meatballs are easy to make (especially if you have a food processor), and so quick to cook dinner can be on the table in under 30 minutes. You can use this same recipe to make rissoles, just flatten the balls slightly when you are forming them.
This is one of my favorite recipes for a quick dinner, perfect for a weeknight meal.
Scroll down for the recipe card for these air fryer meatballs, or read on for all the details!
Full ingredients list and quantities are given in the recipe card below.
Lean ground beef
Choose lean ground beef – leaner is better when you are air frying. Ground beef with a lot of fat in it (while delicious) can lead to your air fryer producing a lot of smoke during cooking. I would recommend using 90% lean or even leaner if you can get it.
You can mix things up by using a different type of ground meat if you prefer, try ground pork, ground chicken, or ground turkey.
Breadcrumbs help to make moist meatballs, by keeping the mixture a bit lighter and retaining more moisture during cooking. No one wants tough meatballs!
For low-carb meatballs, skip the breadcrumbs, or use a low-carb alternative like almond meal.
An egg is needed to help bind all the other ingredients together so your meatballs don’t fall apart.
Onion and garlic
Onion and garlic add flavor and texture to the meatballs.
This recipe uses 2 cloves of fresh crushed garlic. You can substitute a teaspoon of minced garlic from a jar.
Use fresh herbs if you can, but dried herbs will also work! The recipe below calls for parsley and oregano, but you can use Italian seasoning or your favorite seasoning mix for ground beef.
Salt and pepper
This recipe is seasoned with salt and ground black pepper.
If you are using kosher salt, flaked salt or coarse sea salt use ½ teaspoon salt. If you are using table salt or fine ground sea salt use ¼ teaspoon.
If your air fryer basket is prone to food sticking, you can use a small spritz of olive oil or avocado oil to stop the meatballs sticking. Alternatively, you could cook them on a small baking sheet.
When choosing an olive oil spray for your air fryer, look for the type that spritzes rather than an aerosol. The propellant in aerosol oil sprays can damage the non-stick coating of your air fryer.
How to cook meatballs in an air fryer
This recipe is very simple, it just has a few key steps to get it just right:
- Make the meatball mixture. Add all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl, and mix well to combine. The easiest way to do this is with your hands, but you can use a wooden spoon, or a food processor if you prefer. Preheat the air fryer to 390°F/ 195°C (takes approximately 3 minutes).
- Form the meatballs. Form the meat mixture into tablespoon sized balls, try to make equal size meatballs. I use a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon, but a cookie scoop or a small ice cream scoop is also ideal for this job! Flatten the meatballs if you want to make rissoles.
- Air fry meatballs. Place meatballs in the air fryer basket, ensuring they are not touching. Air fry for 10-15 minutes.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce or see below for more serving suggestions!
How long to cook meatballs in the air fryer
Cooking times vary and will depend on a few factors, including exactly how big the meatballs are, and how powerful your air fryer is.
Test meatballs using an instant-read thermometer to check that they have reached the safe internal temperature of 160°F/72°C in the center of the largest one before consuming. Air fry for additional 2-3 minute intervals if required until the safe temperature is reached.
One of the reasons I love this air fryer meatball recipe is because of how versatile it is, you can serve the cooked meatballs in so many ways! Here are some ways I like to serve homemade meatballs:
- On a bed of Instant Pot mashed potato, with steamed green beans, smothered in mushroom gravy
- With spaghetti and marinara sauce, topped with Parmesan cheese.
- As a party snack – stick a toothpick in each meatball and serve with your favorite dipping sauce, try hot sauce, tomato sauce, or ranch dressing.
- In wraps with hummus and salad.
- With fries on the side, and your favorite sauce.
- In a sub roll with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. You can fill the sub with meatballs, top with sauce and cheese, then place it back in the air fryer for 1-2 minutes until the cheese has melted.
Storing and reheating leftovers
If you have any leftover meatballs, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and use within 3 days.
You can reheat them in the microwave or in the air fryer. Microwave for a couple of minutes, or air fry for 3-4 minutes, until meatballs are warmed through.
Freezing raw meatballs
You can freeze the raw meatballs as long as you used fresh ground beef to make them (don’t refreeze meatball if the ground beef you used to make them was originally frozen).
Just put them in a lidded freezer-safe container, and place in the freezer until frozen, then you can transfer them to a freezer bag for easier storage. Use within 3 months.
You can air fry frozen meatballs straight from the freezer, but they will take a few more minutes to cook than thawed meatballs. Make sure you check that the internal temperature has reached the safe temp of 160°F/72°C in the center of the largest few meatballs.
How to cook meatballs or rissoles in an air fryer.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt (kosher or flaked salt) [Note 1]
- Olive oil or avocado spray (for air fryer basket)
- Place all the meatball mixture ingredients in a bowl (everything except the cooking oil), and mix well to ensure it is thoroughly combined.
- Scoop up a tablespoon sized amount of the meatball mixture and roll into a ball (approximately 1.5 inch is a good size). Continue until you have used all the meatball mixture.
- Preheat air fryer to 390°F/ 195°C.
- Spritz the air fryer basket with oil if it is prone to sticking, and place meatballs in air fryer basket in a single layer. Arrange them so that they are not touching.
- Air fry meatballs for 10-15 minutes until golden brown, and the internal temperature in the center of the largest meatball has reached at least 160°F/72°C [Note 2].
- If you are using table salt or fine sea salt, use ¼ teaspoon.
- Cook times vary. Test the internal temperature with an instant meat thermometer to ensure it has reached at least 160°F/72°C in the center of the largest meatball.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 473Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 147mgSodium: 175mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 4gSugar: 2gProtein: 34g
Nutrition information is an estimate and provided for informational purposes only.
You may also like:
- Air fryer steak
- Air fryer sausages
- Air fryer pork burgers
- Air fryer chicken wings
- Air Fryer Pork Chops (boneless or bone-in)