Switch up your normal meatball recipe and make them in the air fryer instead! These air fryer turkey meatballs are so easy to make! They are slightly crispy on the outside, and juicy and tender on the inside. This make the perfect healthy lunch, dinner or appetizer!
This healthy meatball recipe is packed with flavor! The air fryer creates a slightly crisp exterior yet it is still a very moist meatball. It takes less than 10 minutes to cook!
I have been making the meatball recipe for years- it is my go to meatball recipe. I typically bake them in the oven, however lately I’ve been on an air fryer kick. This air fryer creates such a good texture of meatball and it cooks super fast!
Why Cook Meatballs in An Air Fryer?
Wondering why you should cook turkey meatballs in the air fryer? Here's several convincing reasons:
Healthier: Meatballs cooked in the air fryer will be lower in fat and calories compared to meatballs that are deep fat fried on the stove. Oil can add a lot of extra calories/fat.
Holds together better: Meatballs that are cooked in the air fryer will have a slightly crispy exterior, yet tender interior. This helps hold them together better, yet still retain a juicy inside!
Only one cooking step: Many recipes require you to fry them on the stove, and then finish baking in the oven. With this recipe, there is only one cooking step needed!
- Ground Turkey: I’ve found this works best with 93% lean ground turkey or 85% ground turkey. I have tried the 99% lean ground turkey, and while it has less calories, the meatball is not as moist.
- Seasoned Bread Crumbs: use a gluten free bread crumb if concerned about food allergies. If you cannot find seasoned bread crumbs, you can substitute with regular bread crumbs and add an extra tablespoon of Italian seasoning.
- Egg: This helps everything stick together.
- Seasonings: Onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and basil all add flavor to the meatballs.
- Parmesan Cheese: use either parmesan cheese that comes in the cylinder container, or freshly grated parmesan cheese. This recipe will work with either type.
How to Make Ground Turkey Meatballs in the Air Fryer
- Combine the ground turkey, egg (whisk first), and garlic in a large bowl. Mix well.
- In a small bowl, combine the onion powder, italian seasoning, basil and parmesan cheese. Mix until combined, then add to the ground turkey and mix well using either your hands, an electric mixer or multiple spoons.
Tip: For easy mixing and less mess, combine all ingredients in a gallon size zip lock bag. Seal shut and mix from the outside of the bag.
- Once everything is mixed, scoop the meatballs into balls that are about 1 inch wide. Try to make all meatballs the same size, so they cook evenly.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400F. Once preheated, spray the bottom of the air fryer with nonstick pan spray. Place the meatballs evenly in the bottom. The meatballs should not be touching (it may take a couple of batches depending on the air fryer).
- Cook for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through to prevent burning.
Tip: the cooking time may vary based on brand of air fryer. The best way to cook these is based on internal temperature of the meatball. The meatball is fully cooked when it reaches 165F, as measured with a meat thermometer.
- Remove the meatballs from the air fryer. Use a pastry brush to glaze with either BBQ sauce or with hot sauce. Serve warm.
How Long to Cook the Meatballs
I strongly recommend that you cook these meatballs based on the internal temperature of the meatball, rather than a set amount of time. This is because everyone’s size of meatball is different, and all air fryers are different.
Some brands have a larger cooking basket than others, and not every brand is consistent on cooking times.
The meatballs are done when they reach an internal temperature of 165F. You can measure this by sticking a meat thermometer into the center of the meatball (don’t let the tip of the thermometer touch the air fryer or it will produce a false reading!).
For reference, my meatballs were about 1-inch-wide and took about ten minutes to cook.
These meatballs can be refrigerated or frozen.
Refrigerator: store the meatballs in an air tight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top.
Freezer: these meatballs freeze great. In fact, they make an excellent freezer meal for new moms! Store them in a Ziploc freezer bag or air tight container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave prior to serving.
Meal Prep Suggestions
These air fryer meatballs are an excellent meal prep option. My favorite way to meal prep and serve these meals is in a ‘bowl style’. I follow a certain formula to build a healthy bowl, which I’ve shared below. If you decide meal prep these bowls, simply add everything into an airtight container and refrigerate for a 3 days.
Meal Prep Bowl = Protein + Healthy Carb + Veggies + Healthy Fat
Protein – the meatballs provide the protein
Healthy Carb – sweet potatoes, whole wheat noodles, brown rice
Veggies – Cauliflower, broccoli, riced cauliflower, zoodles (zucchini noodles), mushrooms
Healthy Fat – olive oil, avocado, walnuts
Ideas For Meal Prep Combinations
Bowl #1: Meat balls with zucchini noodles topped with avocado pesto (LINK) and sweet potato slices on the side
Bowl # 2: meatballs with brown rice, topped with spaghetti sauce and avocado slices
Bowl option 3: meatballs over fresh romaine lettuce, topped with a vinaigrette dressing and a side of whole wheat toast
Bowl # 4: meatballs over brown rice topped with teriyaki sauce. Serve mushrooms sautéed in olive oil and teriyaki sauce on the side.
A serving size is ⅙th of the batch of meatballs. This will vary based on how large you make your meatballs. For me, 5 meatballs were 1 serving.
These are considered an overall healthy meatball. The ground turkey helps provide a leaner option, and the air fryer eliminates calories/fat that are often added when frying meatballs on the stove.
Protein: These air fryer meatballs are high in protein! One serving contains 20 grams of protein!
Calories: The turkey meatballs have 200 calories per serving. This is relatively low, compared to meatballs that are purchased from the store.
Fat: The meatballs have 3 grams of fat per serving (if you use the 93% lean ground turkey). They are also low in fat and healthier because they are not fried in oil.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How Do I Keep the Meatballs from Drying Out?
The trick to preventing the meatballs from drying out is to avoid overcooking them! Since every brand of air fryer is different and will cook differently, set the meatballs for the lowest amount of time, and cook based on the internal temperature.
- Do you have to flip the meatballs?
Yes! It is very important to flip the meatball halfway through to keep them from burning!
Tips to Make the Best Turkey Meatballs
- Mess-free method: use a large zip lock bag to mix the meat with the seasonings and keep your hands clean. Simply add all ingredients to the zip lock bag and seal it shut. Mix all ingredients well using your hands on the outside of the bag. Remove contents from the bag and make into round meatballs.
- Grease the bottom of the air fryer! This is a really important step to prevent the meatball from sticking.
- Flip the meatballs half way through using a pair of tongs. Simply turn them upside down. This prevents burning and also makes them easier to remove.
- Cooked based on temperature, as the cooking time will vary based on brand of air fryer.
More Air Fryer Recipes
- Almond Flour Chicken Tenders in the Air Fryer
- Air Fryer French Toast
- Tilapia in the Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Sweet Potatoes
- Air Fryer Salmon
Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs
- 1 pound ground turkey breast 93% lean or 85% lean
- 1 egg mixed
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ cup seasoned bread crumbs substitute oat flour to make GF
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- ½ cup BBQ Sauce warmed, optional
- Preheat the air fryer to 400F.
- Combine the ground turkey, whisked egg and minced garlic in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine the onion powder, italian seasoning, seasoned bread crumbs, dried basil and parmesan cheese. Mix well.
- Add the spice mixture to the ground turkey and mix well, until evenly distributed throughout the meat. (Use your hands or an electric mixer).
- Place the meatballs in the air fryer. They should not be touching or stacked on top of each other.
- Cook for 9 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to flip the meatballs over ½ way through (they will get too crispy on the outside if this step is skipped!)
- The meatballs are done with they reach an internal temperature of 165F, which can be measured using a meat thermometer.
- Remove the meatballs from the air fryer. Use a pastry brush and top with warmed bbq sauce. Enjoy!
- When combining the ground turkey and spices, add everything into a large ziplock bag and seal shut. Mix from the outside of the bag. This eliminates a big mess.
- Use a cookie dough scoop when forming the meatballs, so that they are all the same size. This will help make sure they cook evenly.
- If you are planning to serve the meatballs with marinara sauce, do not add the bbq sauce glaze.