The Absolute Best Way To Cook Meatballs In The Air Fryer

Italian meatballs take about 30 minutes to fully bake in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven. Considering it typically only takes about 10 minutes to cook pasta on the stove, that leaves you with quite a bit of time spent twiddling your thumbs while you wait for your meatballs to finish. But if you want to cut those 30 minutes essentially in half, just pop your meatballs in the air fryer.

Just like the oven, the air fryer is a conveniently hands-off method, so you can let your meat cook while you prepare the rest of your dinner. However, the latter will also give you the added benefit of your meat developing a mildly crispy coating on the outside, while staying tender and juicy on the inside, all without added oil. The time it takes until your balls are out of the air fryer depends on the temperature your device is set to. At 400 degrees Fahrenheit, it typically takes 2-inch meatballs 12 minutes to finish cooking — but the exact time will depend on your specific air fryer, so be sure to monitor your meatballs closely the first time you make them.

How to make air fryer meatballs

As with many air fryer recipes, you'll want to preheat your device beforehand, since the aforementioned cooking time assumes the basket is already at 400 degrees Fahrenheit when you plop your meatballs in. Make sure they're in a single layer with no overlap — and if you can't fit them all, you may want to cook them in batches. To ensure even air frying, try to roll uniformly sized meatballs and turn them over halfway through cooking. When they're done, use a meat thermometer to ensure they've made it to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recommended internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit for ground meat. While 12 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit is a safe bet for your first try, it's important to ensure the meat ends up at a safe-to-eat temperature.

But fresh meatballs aren't the only ones that will benefit from the air fryer. If you have frozen ones on hand — either freshly made balls that you froze or a package that you bought frozen — you can air fry them as well. Since they're already cooked, you only need to heat your meat for about 10 minutes at 320 degrees Fahrenheit — but again, make sure they've reached the required internal temperature before enjoying.