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Air Fryer Beef Meatballs (Juiciest Ever)

One of my favorite things to make in the air fryer is meatballs. This recipe is simple and delicious. These meatballs are flavorful, juicy on the inside, and ideal for serving with marinara sauce.

Air Fryer Meatballs are tender, juicy, and bursting with flavor. They make an excellent appetizer but also pair well with spaghetti and marinara sauce!

Cooking the meatballs in the air fryer is faster than on the stove or in the oven. They will not fall apart because you will be handling them less; they will remain perfectly ball-shaped, and they will brown evenly.

It’s also less messy because there’s no splattering of oil from the pan.

An air fryer is a very convenient and accessible option for the one who has kids or less time on their hand to keep a tab on their food cooking. It can cook for you in the time you set it on and you don’t have to worry about flipping the food or lowering the temperature.

Can You air-fry meatballs?

Yes, you can air-fry meatballs without any hassle.

Air frying is simply cooking your food without oil, which means it’s not even close to deep frying. This way, you can save oil while avoiding the consumption of too many calories.

Air frying is a conventional fan circulating air around your food which cooks the food evenly, in most cases you don’t have to flip your food.

There are many benefits when it comes to cooking in the air fryer, such as less consumption of oil, your kitchen doesn’t heat up just like when you light up your oven, easy cleaning afterward, and giving an accurate number for temperature and time.

is it better to bake or air fry meatballs?

Meatballs in a pan
Meatballs can be cooked in a pan with sauce.

Now baking or air frying meatball is a personal preference and is easily debatable. You can bake your meatballs if you want dry meatballs, however, air frying can cook your meatballs close to juicy and tender just like you get them while deep frying.

Fried meatballs have a nice, crispy exterior, but they are time-consuming to make, painful to clean, and oily. Meatballs that have been baked are cleaner and leaner.

The air fryer allows you to have the best of both worlds! They are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, similar to fried meatballs, but use very little fat or oil, like baked meatballs.

Baked meatballs on the other hand have a soft outer texture rather than a crispy exterior. It’s soft but dry on the inside and is not as juicy as the one air fried or deep-fried.

However, you might want to keep an eye on your air fryer so that you know you’re not overcooking it.

how long do you heat meatballs in an air fryer?

The time the meatballs need to cook in the air fryer depends on their size. Golf-ball-sized meatballs take about 10–12 minutes to cook at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, they are done. I recommend using an instant-read thermometer to prevent overcooking, which results in dry, tough meat.

You can even cook your meatballs at 350 degrees Fahrenheit but then you will have to cook them for more than 30 minutes so they are cooked evenly.

can you place frozen meatballs in an air fryer?

meatballs prepared in a pan with sauce by its side
Frozen meatballs don’t need to be thawed.

Yes, frozen meatballs can be cooked in the air fryer. You don’t even have to thaw your meatballs, because then they will fall apart from all the water draining from inside.

First, preheat the air fryer to 400° F. Place the frozen meatballs in an air fryer basket coated with nonstick spray in a single layer.

Also, spray the tops of the meatballs; cook for 9 to 11 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked. Repeat this with the rest of the meatballs.

ingredients you need to cook meatballs in the air fryer

Making meatballs is pretty tough but easy at the same time, you have to gather all the ingredients and start by mixing all the spices and then the beef, let’s take a look:

  • Ground beef: For this recipe, I prefer lean ground beef!
  • Onion: Dice your onion into small, similar-sized pieces to ensure even cooking.
  • Garlic cloves: I used fresh garlic cloves in this recipe, but you can substitute minced garlic if you only have minced garlic in your fridge. About 12 teaspoons go in for 1 garlic clove.
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  • Italian breadcrumbs: The perfect blend of seasonings in Italian breadcrumbs adds to the delicious flavor of these meatballs!
  • You can use fresh or dried parsley.
  • Salt and pepper: Adding these to the meatballs will greatly enhance the flavor of all of the other flavors.
  • When I use eggs in recipes, I like to make sure they are at room temperature. This makes them blend better.
  • You can use either 1% or 2% milk in this recipe.

how to cook meatballs in an air fryer?

  • Combine the ground meats in a mixing bowl. Combine the minced garlic, egg, grated cheese, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.
  • Combine bread crumbs with the mixture. Pour in the milk.
  • Make evenly sized balls (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) with a cookie spoon.
  • Cook the meatballs in the Air Fryer basket in a single layer for 10–12 minutes at 400 degrees F. If necessary, cook in batches.
  • When the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, they are done. If you don’t have a thermometer, cut through a meatball to check for doneness.

Nutrition in air-fried meatballs

Meatballs are not like any other calorie-filled items that you come across on daily basis. However, if you’re looking for low-calorie food, this one is not for you.

Let’s take a look at the table below for 1 serving of meatballs:

NutritionValue (28g)
Calories81 kcal
Fat6.3 g
Sodium189 mg
Potassium84 mg
Protein4.1 g
Carbohydrate2.3 g
Cholesterol19 mg
Table consisting of the nutritional value of 1 meatball

tips on making perfect air-fried meatballs

  • Over-mixing the mixture will usually result in tough meatballs. I recommend combining the ingredients with your hands.
  • You can substitute Italian-style breadcrumbs for plain breadcrumbs.
  • I like to preheat my air fryer first. Cooking times are more accurate, and food cooks more evenly this way.
  • This recipe does not require any additional oil. The meatballs fry in their fat because the meat mixture contains enough fat.
  • You can substitute 1 pound of ground beef, 1/2 pound of ground pork, and 1/2 pound of ground veal for the ground beef and the ground pork. This is the combination that most authentic Italian meatball recipes call for.
  • To make uniform-sized balls, use a cookie scoop.
  • Feel free to experiment with different spices or fresh herbs, such as chopped fresh parsley or basil. If you want to add some heat, add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
  • These are cooked at 400°F, however, cooking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit will take closer to 30 minutes.

How to store and freeze meatballs?

meatball sub placed on a wooden board
You can always make a sub out of your leftover meatballs

Storage – You can always store the leftover meatballs in the refrigerator.

Once the meatballs have been cooked and cooled, place them on a baking sheet and flash freeze for 1 hour before transferring them to a freezer bag. Meatballs can be stored for up to 4 months.

You may or may not need to thaw the meatballs first, depending on the recipe. Thaw frozen meatballs in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

Ways to serve meatballs

Served with pasta. A traditional method of serving air fryer meatballs. Toss them into Garlic Pasta, Eggplant Pasta, or a simple bowl of spaghetti with marinara sauce.

On the pizza. You can upgrade pizza night by adding sliced meatballs to English Muffin Pizza or Broccoli Pizza Crust.

On a sandwich, of course. As an appetizer, tuck air fryer meatballs between two slices of bread and top with mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce.

For a quick appetizer, serve these tasty meatballs with toothpicks.

Another tasty option is these Cheese Stuffed Apple Chicken Meatballs.

In the soup. Add some meatballs to your Minestrone Soup to make it more filling.

On a salad, of course. Meatballs are a fun protein addition to your Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad.

Here’s how you can serve party meatballs in four different ways:

Check out this delicious recipe for different types of meatballs

What’s The Key To Perfect Meatballs?

A particularly nice meatball is roughly half meat and half breadcrumbs.

To add lightness to the mixture, soak day-old bread in milk or water overnight. When you cook beef, pork, or veal for an extended period of time, it becomes tougher. However, the bread in meatballs never becomes tough.

Do Meatballs Really Require Eggs?

You can cook meatballs without using eggs.

If you have an egg allergy or are unable to consume eggs, there are numerous substitutes such as mashed potatoes, unsweetened applesauce, cheese, and mayonnaise. These options will help prevent your meatballs from breaking apart while cooking.

Summary

  • Making meatballs in an air fryer is pretty easy and comfortable, all you have to do is gather all the ingredients listed above.
  • Having the perfect meatball is all about consistency, trial, and error.
  • You can start by preheating your air fryer and mixing all the ingredients with the egg to form a meatball.
  • Meatballs can be cooked at about 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or at 350 degrees for about 30 or more minutes.
  • However, you have to keep a tab on the temperature and time limit of your air fryer so you don’t end up overcooking your meatballs.

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