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Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs

Homemade Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs are tender, juicy, cheesy and delicious. They are flavorful, freezer friendly and is perfect with spaghetti, made into a meatball sub or served as an appetizer.

Apart from making a delicious dinner idea, this recipe also serves as a wonderful appetizer for any party or game day. Some of our favorite appetizers include Air Fryer Buffalo Wings, Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower, Asparagus Fries or Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms.

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cooked chicken meatballs in an air fryer basket.

Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs

Meatballs in Air Fryer are tender, juicy, much easier and faster than cooking on the stove or oven baking. Clean up is easy because you don’t have any oil splattering from the pan.

If you are new to air fryer cooking, then this is a great beginner recipe. It’s so easy and the balls turn out perfectly tender, juicy and tasty!

Ground chicken is combined with our favorite Italian inspired flavors to make these juicy bites a crowd pleaser! Save on time, clean up, and even calories by using the air fryer! If you like baking instead, then try these oven baked chicken meatballs.

These balls will cook in almost the time it takes to boil your pasta. Heat up some marinara sauce you’ve got the perfect Spaghetti and Meatballs dinner or made into meatball subs. They don’t just have to be a meal, they’re great for snacking or as an appetizer too!

Why you’ll love this recipe?

  1. Air Fried – Making them much healthier without any oil and easy clean up.
  2. Juicy and tender – The mozzarella cheese is the secret in keeping them moist and also removing them as soon as it is done without overcooking.
  3. Switch up the meat – Use ground turkey instead.
  4. Easy clean up – They use one bowl and then air fried <—- Clean up couldn’t be easier.
  5. Perfect for meal prep and freezer friendly.
  6. They can be served in numerous ways.

When are they cooked through?

It depends on the size! We made 2 to 3 tablespoons measure balls that took about 8 minutes at 375 degrees F. They are cooked through when they reach 165 degrees F internally. We recommend using an instant-read thermometer to avoid over cooking, which might make them dry.

How to keep them moist?

There are a few tricks to keep your meatballs moist.

  1. Use ground chicken thighs or about 90 to 92% lean mince to make sure they have enough moisture.
  2. Avoid using ground breast.
  3. Make sure you add the olive oil indicated in this recipe.
  4. Use a good melting cheese like mozzarella which adds moisture and flavor.
  5. Mix the mince thoroughly so the eggs and bread crumbs are evenly distributed.
  6. Don’t over cook. Take them out of the fryer when they are just cooked through.

Can you freeze homemade meatballs? 

Sure can! We recommend freezing the cooked balls to make a perfect quick dinner or snack.

Here is how to freeze –  Cool them to room temperature, then put in a ziplock bag and freeze them for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight or reheat frozen meatballs in marinara sauce on the stove until they are heated through.

Pro Tips for Success

  1. Avoid over-mixing the mixture since that usually results in tough meatballs. We like using our hands to combine the ingredients.
  2. Using olive oil adds more moisture which makes them juicy and tender, especially when using leaner meat.
  3. Use ground turkey instead of chicken.
  4. Make them big or small. Make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  5. If the mixture sticks to your hands when rolling, then try putting a little cooking oil on your hands when you shape the meatballs. That helps keep the meat from sticking to you and gives you smoother balls.
  6. Double the recipe – Double all the ingredients and cook in two batches.
  7. Air Fryer used – We used Instant Vortex 6 quart and was able to cook one pound meat mixture in one batch.
  8. Make it gluten-free – Use gluten free panko instead.

Ingredients

Made up of common ingredients that you have in your kitchen, these are a breeze to make! See the recipe card below for a list of exact ingredient measurements.

  • Chicken – When you select your ground chicken, pick 90-93% lean ground chicken. Avoid 99% lean ground breast.
  • Egg – Use a large room temperature egg, if possible.
  • Breadcrumbs – Panko helps in binding and not make them heavy.
  • Cheese – We use mozzarella which melts into the meat while cooking and adds juiciness.
  • Onion and Garlic – Chop onion into fine pieces and mince garlic.
  • Seasonings – Basic seasoning like salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Variations

These are fantastic recipe since they can be used in practically any sauce or modified as you like. Here are some changes you can try.

  • Cheesy – Add 1/2 cup cheddar cheese to the mixture.
  • Italian – Add about 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning and 1/4 cup grated parmesan to the mixture.
  • Spicy – Increase red pepper flakes and replace mozzarella with shredded pepper jack cheese.
  • Greek – Add 1/2 cup chopped cooked spinach and substitute feta cheese for the mozzarella cheese.
  • Mexican – Replace mozzarella cheese with Mexican blend cheese. Add minced cilantro, jalapeños pepper and chili powder to the mixture.
  • Stuffed meatballs – Put a 1/2 inch cube of mozzarella cheese inside each ball and make sure the meatballs are large enough. The cheese will be melted and gooey when you cut into the cooked balls.
  • Use Italian style breadcrumbs instead of plain panko.
ingredients needed to make ground chicken balls.

chicken mince along with egg and spices stirred in a bowl.

shaped meatballs mixture with ground mixture on a black plate.

How to Make?

These are so easy to make and is ready in under 17 minutes including the cooking time.

  1. Combine all ingredients: In a medium sized bowl combine the ground chicken, onion, garlic, mozzarella cheese, panko, seasonings and egg.
  2. Form into balls: Shape into 3 tablespoons measure balls and place in the basket of your air fryer in an even layer.
  3. Cook: Cook at 375 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes or until cooked through.

How to Serve?

  1. With Spaghetti – A classic way to serve air fryer meatballs. Toss them into Penne alla Vodka, Alfredo Noodles, Instant Pot Spaghetti or Instant Pot Pasta.
  2. On Pizza. Whether you’re making homemade pizza dough or using store bought, you can upgrade pizza night by adding sliced meatballs.
  3. On a Sandwich. Turn them into a sandwich by tucking them between two slices of bread with mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce <— Homemade meatball sub!
  4. As an Appetizer. Serve these with toothpicks for an easy appetizer along marinara sauce or tomato cream sauce.
  5. Into a salad – Toss into Caesar salad or use instead of rotisserie chicken in this pesto pasta salad.
  6. In Soup – Slice and add to your favorite soup recipes for added protein.
  7. Toss into your favorite sauce – Like lemon butter sauce, pesto sauce, marinara sauce, creamy tomato sauce, fire cracker sauce or bbq sauce.

How to Store leftovers?

  • Refrigerator: Once they have cooled, place them in an airtight container. They will last in your fridge for up to 4 days!
  • Freezer: Place cooled balls in a zip lock bag, seal well and freeze for up to 2 months.

How to Reheat?

You can reheat these straight from the fridge or freezer. If they are frozen, then cook them in the air fryer at 375 degrees for 3 to 6 minutes, until warmed through or 2 to 3 minutes, if from the refrigerator.

Another favorite way to re heat is to add them into your favorite marinara sauce and simmer on the stove top for a few minutes.

How To Freeze?

We recommend freezing them after are completely cooked. Place them into zip lock bag or freezer safe air tight container and freeze for up to 2 months.

More recipes using ground chicken:

cooked meatballs in an air fryer basket.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use ground turkey ?

Sure can! Simple replace ground chicken with ground turkey (we recommend dark meat ground turkey for both flavor and moisture).

Can I use onion and garlic powders instead of fresh?

If you are not in the mood for chopping or just ran out of fresh produce, then replace chopped and garlic with powders instead. We love the freshly chopped onion and garlic for the added texture and flavor.

These meatballs cook golden on the outside and moist on the inside. They work perfectly in your favorite pasta, pizza topping, meatball sandwich or as an appetizer. The possibilities are endless and makes a great kid friendly meal.

More Air Fryer appetizer:

white platter with cooked meat balls on a white platter with marinara sauce.

More Air Fryer Chicken Dinners to try:

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cooked chicken meatballs in an air fryer basket.

Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs

Yield: 5 Servings
Prep Time: 6 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 14 minutes

Homemade Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs are tender, juicy, cheesy and delicious. They are flavorful, freezer friendly and is perfect with spaghetti, made into a meatball sub or served as an appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 egg, large
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella (or any other melting cheese)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, optional
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or as needed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Add all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well until thoroughly combined.
2. Divide into 20 to 22 portions and gently roll them into balls (about 3 tablespoon measure for each meatball).
3. Pre heat air fryer to 375°F for 9 minutes. When hot, place the shaped meatballs in the basket (spacing evenly) and cook for 7 to 9 minutes or until cooked through (depends on the size of the meatballs).
4. Let rest for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

Notes

Cheese – Shredded mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey jack, pepper jack or Mexican blend are all great options.

Avoid over-mixing the mixture since that usually results in tough meatballs. We like using our hands to combine the ingredients.

Using olive oil adds more moisture which makes them juicy and tender, especially when using leaner meat.

Make them big or small. Make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Air Fryer used – We used Instant Vortex 6 quart and was able to cook one pound meat mixture in one batch.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 293Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 145mgSodium: 597mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 28g

I am not a certified dietician or nutritionist. The information is a product of online calculator such as Nutrifox.com, although Kitchen at Hoskins attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates and not be construed as a guarantee. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the nutritional information in any recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their fact algorithms. Under no circumstances will Kitchen at Hoskins be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on the nutritional information. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health and ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate.

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