These Classic Air Fryer Meatballs are ready in 20 minutes and so versatile! Pair this meal prep recipe with your favorite sauce for an easy appetizer or dinner.
Air Fryer Classic Meatballs
These easy Classic Meatballs are perfect for an easy appetizer or meal! With a bit of tasty sauce, you can make this a simple app or quick dinner as a lettuce wrap. With some toothpicks or little serving forks, these simple meatballs can become an easy, no-stress dinner or party app.
We love serving these classic meatballs as a quick app with sauces to dip on the side, but leftovers become great lunch opportunities! You can easily turn these into sub sandwiches or a full pasta dish. Whether you want a dish in 20 minutes or a meal-prep recipe to cover you next month, this recipe can handle it.
Ingredients for Classic Meatballs
Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need for this recipe. For exact measurements, keep scrolling down to the printable recipe card.
- Ground beef – I used 85/15 for a great meat-to-fat ratio. If you are using something leaner, you might want to reduce the breadcrumbs a bit.
- Yellow onion & Garlic cloves – Yellow onion has a nice mild, sweeter flavor. If you only have white onions available, soak them in ice water for 10-15 minutes ahead of time to mellow the flavor if you’d like. Feel free to use the jarred pre-minced garlic if that makes these easier!
- Breadcrumbs & Large egg – These will help it all stay together without feeling too dense. If you want to reduce the carbs, you could replace the breadcrumbs with finely-ground pork rinds, too.
- Oregano, Thyme, Parsley, Salt, Pepper, and Red pepper flakes – These will give that great classic flavor you get from a traditional meatball! It’s not overwhelmingly Italian-flavored, so it works well with other sauces like A1 or BBQ.
How to Make Classic Meatballs in the Air Fryer
This is a simple recipe perfect for beginners. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making these easy meatballs.
Combine & roll mixture
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix together until seasonings, breadcrumbs, and the egg are all well-incorporated into the meat. Don’t overmix as this can create a gummy texture. Shape the mixture into 20 2-inch meatballs. Place on a plate until ready to cook.
Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray, then place the meatballs in a single layer in the basket (about 1 inch apart). You might have to cook in batches to ensure they all have enough room around to circulate. Air fry at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until cooked through
*NOTE* When cooking multiple batches, your first batch will take the longest because we didn’t preheat the air fryer. My first batch took 10 minutes, and the second batch only took 9. Just keep this in mind and watch the subsequent batches to be safe.
What to serve with meatballs
For a great presentation, sprinkle with chopped parsley and some parmesan cheese. These work as an easy appetizer, especially when served with sauces and dips. We’ve had these with chimichurri, marinara, A1 sauce, BBQ sauce, and Smoked Queso — Each one has been delicious!
More ways to enjoy meatballs:
- With spaghetti – Pasta with meatballs and marinara or pesto is the perfect comfort meal! It’s inexpensive, quick, and great for meal prepping and singles cooking.
- On veggie noodles – You can easily go low-carb with meatballs and veggie noodles! Toss spaghetti squash or zoodles with meatballs and marinara, pesto, brown butter, or other sauce. This is such a simple way to lower your carbs and increase your veggies.
- Use as a pizza topping – Meatballs are great for people who like a heavy protein bite! Quarter the meatballs (or slice them into 6ths or 8ths if you prefer a less meaty bite) and add to a pizza. It’s a great substitute for pepperoni or sausage in pizza skillets, bites, or quesadillas.
- Make a meatball sub – All you need is a good bun, a bit of marinara sauce, some mozzarella and/or parmesan, and a touch of basil or other herbs for a delicious sandwich!
How to Store Meatballs
Meatballs should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container, and they’ll last up to 3 days. They make great leftover lunches, so it’s never a meal that ends up wasting away in the fridge!
Meatballs also handle freezing and reheating well, so they’ll last up to 3 months in the freezer if you store them correctly. You want to protect them from freezer burn — Vacuum seal them to keep them fresh longer. If you want to be able to pull out small amounts whenever convenient (great for kids or snacking), freeze them in a single layer on a plate or baking sheet for 1-2 hours before transferring to a bag.
How to Reheat Meatballs
Meatballs are easy to reheat and work with many different methods! Here are the best ways to reheat meatballs without drying them out.
- Microwave – You can easily reheat meatballs in the microwave, just blast in 1-minute increments at 50% power. You can use this method with the meatballs in sauce or on their own.
- Air Fryer – You can reheat meatballs in the air fryer at 350 degrees F for 3+ minutes (timing depends on how many meatballs you’re heating at once).
- Oven – Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, then heat meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet. If you’re worried that they might get too browned or burn, simply cover them with aluminum foil while they reheat. I highly recommend at least uncovering for the last 1-3 minutes for crispy bits on the edges!
- Skillet – Preheat a large skillet to medium low and add in meatballs. If serving with a sauce, you can add this in as well if you prefer. Stir and shake pan occasionally for even cooking, then remove once warmed all the way through.
If you love these classic meatballs, you’ll love these easy dinners:
- Air Fryer Italian Sausage – This is another easy meal prep protein! Easily customize everyone’s pasta with these easy air fryer meats.
- Keto Meatloaf – This is a great traditional dinner with a low-carb twist. It has the great texture you love without the gluten and carbs a meatloaf normally has.
- Crock Pot Ribs – These come together with basically no work! Tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs are achievable while you’re at work.
- Air Fryer Steak – This is the BEST surprise “important company has come for dinner” meal ever. The super flavorful butter really puts this juicy steak over the top.
- Air Fryer Ravioli – Frozen breaded ravioli becomes a crispy, inexpensive, easy appetizer that everyone will love! The air fryer makes it extra crispy and extra easy.
Yes, meatballs handle the freezing and reheating process wonderfully! This is a great recipe to double or triple for meal prepping. It’s perfect for stocking the freezer of new parents, sick neighbors, or stressed family members.
– For snacking: Freeze meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet or plate for 1-2 hours until firm, then transfer to a freezer bag. These are great for pulling 1-2 servings out at a time whenever someone’s hungry. These will last 1-2 months in a freezer bag.
– For long term planning: Vacuum seal meatballs to protect them from freezer burn. You could easily freeze these in a sauce if you’d like. They’ll last 3 months this way.
Yes, other ground meats can easily be used for meatballs — I focused on ground beef because this is a classic meatball recipe. Just keep in mind that some meats are leaner than ground beef which could make your meatballs tough, dense, overcooked, or dry. If using a lean meat, add in only half the recommended breadcrumbs, then continue adding little by little until the mixture isn’t sticky yet isn’t crumbly.
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ cup finely diced yellow onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup breadcrumbs* (pork rind panko if keto)
- ½ tsp dry oregano
- ½ tsp dry thyme
- ½ tsp dry parsley
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 large egg
- Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.
- Shape into 2-inch balls and place on a plate until ready to cook.
- Spray your air fryer basket with cooking spray, then place the meatballs about 1 inch apart in a single layer in your air fryer basket (you may have to cook in batches). Air fry at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until cooked through.
- For a keto-friendly version use this pork rind panko in place of the breadcrumbs.
If doing these in batches, I found that the first batch takes about 10 minutes, the second batch takes about 9 minutes (just because the air fryer is already preheated at that point).
These were really good served with chimichurri, marinara, A1 sauce, and BBQ. They really are so versatile!
I sprinkled them with fresh parsley and a little grated parmesan cheese for the photos.
Meatballs freeze really well for up to 3 months, and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
*Nutrition if using breadcrumbs: Calories 328, total fat 19g, cholesterol 123mg, sodium 629mg, total carbs 12. 8, fiber, 1.2g, sugars 1.8, protein 25
Serving Size:5 meatballs (nutrition calculated using keto options)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 283Total Fat: 11gCholesterol: 134mgSodium: 817mgCarbohydrates: 3.1gNet Carbohydrates: 2.5gFiber: 0.6gSugar: 0.9gProtein: 39g