These homemade air fryer chicken meatballs are extra juicy, flavorful, and so easy to make in 15 minutes. Serve them with your favorite red sauce or pesto pasta for an easy meal prep or weeknight dinner. They’re healthy, oil-free, and gluten-free!
The best 15-minute air fryer chicken meatball recipe
Meatballs are a staple in our household. They are easy to make, everyone loves them, and they are super flavorful. You guys loved these healthy teriyaki turkey meatballs and these zucchini turkey meatballs so much that I had to make this chicken version for you. And let me tell you, these air-fried chicken meatballs are exceptionally delicious!
One of the best things about this healthy meatball recipe is that they are cooked in the air fryer without oil. Plus, they are ready in 15 minutes, and you don’t have to wait 20 to 30 minutes for your oven to preheat.
These air fryer chicken meatballs are super tender, juicy, and so much easier to make than cooking them on the stove or baking them in the oven. They are filled with Italian flavors like parmesan cheese, parsley, and garlic. Plus, they have hidden spinach, so your kids can eat healthier without knowing.
If you’re looking for a quick, healthy, and flavorful meal, try this air fryer chicken meatballs recipe. They’re not only made with lean ground chicken but also gluten-free, healthy, and oil-free. Plus, chicken meatballs keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days, making them the perfect healthy meal prep.
Why you’ll love this air fryer recipe:
- Quick and Easy: The recipe is simple to prepare and takes under 15 minutes to make.
- High protein: There are over 26 grams of protein per serving.
- Healthy: Air fryer chicken meatballs are high in lean protein and are healthier than beef and pork meatballs.
- No Oil: These meatballs are cooked without oil since we use an air fryer.
- Delicious and Flavorful: The meatballs are packed with delicious flavors like parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley, and onion.
- Family-Friendly: Air fryer chicken meatballs are perfect for kids and adults.
- Gluten-free: You can make these air fryer chicken meatballs gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs.
- Meal Prep: This recipe is perfect for meal prep since chicken meatballs last up to 4 days in the fridge.
- Appetizer or Main Course: Serve these meatballs with a dipping sauce as an appetizer or with pasta and sauce as a main course.
- Try these next: If you love meatballs, you need to try these Asian chicken meatballs and these Greek chicken meatballs with homemade tzatziki next!
Ingredients and substitutions
You need a few simple, healthy, and wholesome ingredients to make these air fryer chicken meatballs. Here is a list of ingredients so you have every prepared:
- Ground Chicken: I recommend using 93% lean ground chicken for juicy meatballs, not 99% lean. You can also use ground turkey as a substitute.
- Egg: You only need one egg to help bind the meatballs and keep them extra moist. If you want to leave the egg off, keep reading! I left the best substitutes is the frequently asked questions section.
- Breadcrumbs: Feel free to use regular, whole wheat, panko, or gluten-free breadcrumbs. They add structure and help hold the meatballs together.
- Yellow Onion: This adds the best flavor and helps keep the meatballs extra moist as they air fry. You can substitute yellow onion with sweet onion, white onion, or red onion.
- Baby Spinach: You cannot taste it, I promise! The spinach is an optional ingredient, but it is the best way to sneak in vegetables since it adds so much nutritional value and no flavor to these meatballs.
- Grated Parmesan: For the best cheesy, Italian meatball flavor. You can use shredded or grated parmesan. Feel free to use Romano cheese if needed.
- Dijon Mustard: This is my secret ingredient! It adds a tangy flavor to the mixture, but you cannot taste the “mustard.”
- Garlic: Freshly minced garlic is best, but you can also use 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Fresh Parsley: Chopped parsley adds the best herb flavor.
- Spices: You need paprika, salt, pepper, and red chili flakes.
Kitchen tools required
Here is a list of kitchen utensils you will need to make these high-protein air fryer chicken meatballs.
How to make air fryer chicken meatballs
These air fryer chicken meatballs are easy to make in under 15 minutes. They make for the best lunch, meal prep, appetizer, or dinner. Here are detailed step-by-step instructions with pictures for visual reference:
First, preheat your air fryer to 370°F (188°C) and lightly grease the basket with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, finely chopped yellow onion, baby spinach (if using), grated parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, chopped parsley, paprika, salt, black pepper, red chili flakes (if desired).
Gently mix all the ingredients together using your hands. Avoid overworking the mixture to ensure tender meatballs. Then, shape the mixture into 16 – 20 meatballs using a scooper or your hands, and place them on a plate.
Once the air fryer is preheated, arrange the meatballs evenly in the basket, ensuring they do not overlap. If your air fryer is small, cook the meatballs in batches.
Finally, air fry the meatballs for 8 – 10 minutes, flipping them halfway through the cooking time. Ensure the meatballs’ internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) to ensure they are fully cooked.
Serve the delicious chicken meatballs with your favorite marinara sauce or pesto on a bed of pasta or zucchini noodles, and garnish with fresh basil for added flavor. Enjoy!
Expert recipe tips and variations:
- Don’t Overwork the Meatball Mixture: Gently mix the meatball ingredients until just combined. Overmixing can result in tough and dry meatballs.
- Lightly Grease the Air Fryer Basket: This prevents the meatballs from sticking to the air fryer basket. I like to use olive oil spray, avocado oil spray, cooking spray, or using parchment paper.
- Consistent Meatball Size: Use a scooper or tablespoon to portion out the meatball mixture for consistent cooking times.
- Flip Halfway Through: Flip the meatballs halfway through cooking to ensure even browning on both sides.
- Avoid Overcooking: Keep an eye on cooking time, as air fryers can cook quickly. Overcooked chicken meatballs will be dry.
- Make Them Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs and serve the meatballs with gluten-free pasta.
- Use Ground Turkey: You can certainly use ground turkey in place of chicken if you don’t have ground chicken or a preference for ground turkey. Check out this air fryer turkey meatball recipe too!
What to serve with chicken meatballs:
Here is a list of what to serve with your air fryer chicken meatballs:
- Pasta: Serve chicken meatballs over your favorite pasta, such as spaghetti, linguine, or penne, along with marinara sauce or pesto. I love this homemade nut-free basil pesto recipe.
- Salad: Serve your chicken meatballs over a bed of mixed greens or a hearty salad with your choice of vegetables and a light dressing. I love this kale salad or this strawberry goat cheese salad.
- Rice: Chicken meatballs pair super well with brown rice or rice pilaf.
- Vegetables: Serve alongside roasted or steamed vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, carrots, green beans, or caramelized brussel sprouts.
- Garlic Bread: You need to try this irresistible gluten-free garlic bread or this air fryer garlic bread!
- Zoodles: Serve these flavorful chicken meatballs with spiralized zucchini (zoodles) as a low-carb alternative to pasta.
- Mashed Potatoes: Enjoy the meatballs with creamy mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, or mashed cauliflower for a comforting meal.
- Dips: You can even serve chicken meatballs as appetizers with dipping sauces like marinara, ranch, buffalo, tzatziki, or hummus.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are meatballs healthy?
Chicken meatballs are a healthy option for many reasons: (1) they are often lower in saturated fat compared to beef or pork meatballs, (2) we use lean ground chicken, which is high in protein, (3) we added spinach for health benefits (you can’t taste it, I promise), and (4) they are made while wholesome ingredients and are gluten-free.
Can I use ground turkey instead of ground chicken in the meatball recipe?
Yes, you can substitute ground turkey for ground chicken in this recipe. The flavor and texture may differ slightly, but the recipe should work well. They are both lean, healthy protein sources.
Do I have to use breadcrumbs in the meatball mixture?
Breadcrumbs act as a binding agent in meatball mixtures, giving them a good texture. You certainly use gluten-free breadcrumbs or crushed gluten-free crackers as a substitute.
What’s the best egg substitute for meatballs?
The best substitute for egg in meatball mixtures is a flax egg. Make a flax egg by combining one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds or chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Let it sit for 5 minutes before adding to the meatball mixture. Alternatively, you can use 3 – 4 Tablespoons of blended silken tofu or mashed potatoes to help bind the meatballs.
Can I cook frozen meatballs in the air fryer?
Yes, you can cook frozen chicken meatballs in the air fryer. Preheat your air fryer to 370°F (188°C) and cook the frozen meatballs for 12 – 14 minutes.
Are these chicken meatballs gluten-free?
Yes, these air fryer chicken meatballs are 100% gluten-free. Remember to use gluten-free breadcrumbs and serve them with your favorite gluten-free pasta.
How do I know when the chicken meatballs are fully cooked?
Chicken meatballs are cooked when the internal temperature is 165°F (74°C). I like to use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.
What’s the best temperature to air fry chicken meatballs?
You should air fry tuna chicken meatballs at 370 degrees Fahrenheit (188°C) for 8 to 10 minutes.
Can I use an air fryer oven for this recipe?
Yes, you can use an air fryer oven for this recipe. Follow the exact instructions for cooking and ensure the meatballs are evenly spaced on the parchment-lined rack.
Can you freeze chicken meatballs?
You can freeze uncooked or cooked chicken meatballs. Freeze raw meatballs by shaping the mixture into balls, arranging them on a baking sheet, and freezing until firm. Then, transfer the frozen meatballs to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and store them for up to 2-3 months. When ready to use, air fryer them directly from frozen, adding 2 – 3 extra cooking minutes.
You can also freeze cooked meatballs. Allow them to cool to room temperate, transfer them to a freezer-safe container, and store them for up to 2-3 months. Follow the exact reheating instructions below.
How to store and reheat leftovers:
Storing: Store leftover cooked chicken meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 – 4 days.
Reheating: For best results, microwave gently, air fryer for 5 – 6 minutes at 350°F, or warm in a covered skillet with a bit of liquid to prevent drying out.
If you love this recipe, try these next!
- Zucchini Turkey Meatballs (keto)
- Asian Chicken Meatballs
- Air Fryer Chicken Burgers
- Air Fryer Chicken Sausages
- Chicken Bolognese
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs
- 1 lb ground chicken, 93% lean
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs, gluten-free if needed
- ⅓ cup yellow onion, shredded or minced
- 1 ½ cups baby spinach, finely chopped (optional)
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped or 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ – 1 tsp red chili flakes, optional for spice
- Preheat your air fryer to 370°F (188°C) and lightly grease the basket with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, finely chopped yellow onion, baby spinach (if using), grated parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, chopped parsley, paprika, salt, black pepper, red chili flakes (if desired).
- Gently mix all the ingredients together using your hands. Avoid overworking the mixture to ensure tender meatballs.
- Shape the mixture into 16 – 20 meatballs using a scooper or your hands, and place them on a plate.
- Once the air fryer is preheated, arrange the meatballs evenly in the basket, ensuring they do not overlap. If your air fryer is small, cook the meatballs in batches.
- Air fry the meatballs for 8 – 10 minutes, flipping them halfway through the cooking time. Make sure the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 165°F (74°C) to ensure they are fully cooked.
- Serve the delicious chicken meatballs with your favorite marinara sauce or pesto, on a bed of pasta or zucchini noodles, and garnish with fresh basil for added flavor. Enjoy!
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