These tender and tasty air fryer frozen meatballs just couldn't be any easier to make, and they're so incredibly versatile too! Sauce 'em and serve as an appetizer or snack, or serve with rice or pasta as a fast and easy dinner!
Super simple, tasty, and juicy air fryer meatballs you’ll love!
It’s not a secret. I love my air fryer. The number of quick recipes you can make in that thing is endless! Meatballs are no exception. 🙂
You can get perfectly cooked meatballs covered in just 15 minutes! Plus, you can pop them in the air fryer directly from frozen - without even thawing them!
This recipe also goes over well with kids. It’s a crowd-pleaser that can be customized in many different ways. Pick your sauce. Spice your meat.
Serve over rice as noted in the recipe, by themselves as an appetizer, in a soup, or even on a meatball sub sandwich. It’s up to you. There’s no wrong way to eat a meatball!
For anyone looking for a good weeknight meal with versatile leftover options, air fryer meatballs is a real winner. But don’t take it from me. Try them out!
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe!
Super Quick and Easy! Meatballs go straight from the freezer into your air fryer. They cook up in just minutes to make a meal in no time!
Kid-Friendly! The kids (and the rest of the family) will be thrilled to find these on the table!
It's Delicious! Meatballs are great no matter how you serve them! Plain, sauced, sandwiched, or tossed with pasta you're sure to love these easy air fryer frozen meatballs!
It doesn’t get easier than this. There are only 2 ingredients!
- Frozen Meatballs - Make sure you don’t thaw these before they go in the fryer! You don’t even need any extra oil!
- BBQ Sauce - Make your own or pick some up at the store.
Top off a plate of spaghetti with meatballs and marinara. Serve them with toothpicks for an easy-to-share appetizer. You could also swap out the BBQ sauce for buffalo sauce, teriyaki, sweet & sour, or marinara.
Think of this recipe as a base for how to use the air fryer to cook meatballs. The way in which you flavor and serve them is easy to adjust every time you make them!
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
With 3 minutes of prep time and an air fryer, this will be the easiest thing you make all week! Grab a bowl or serving tray, too.
- First, preheat your air fryer. Set the temperature to 390℉ (199℃). All air fryers are a little different, so consult your owner’s manual for more detailed operating instructions.
- Add the meatballs. Put 16 ounces of frozen (not thawed!) meatballs in the basket of your air fryer in a single layer.
- Bake. When the fryer is fully preheated, replace the filled basket. Cook for approximately 10 minutes. Rotate the meatballs halfway through in order to cook things evenly. You can also just shake the basket to keep a more rounded shape vs. getting a crust on just the top and bottom.
- Finally, mix with barbecue sauce. When your timer goes off and the meat is cooked, transfer the contents of the basket to a bowl or serving dish. Stir in ½ cup barbecue sauce making sure to coat each piece thoroughly.
- Serve. The meatballs will be hot right out of the air fryer. You can plate up immediately or give them a minute or two to cool down.
💭 Angela's Tips & Recipe Notes
Don’t use cooking spray on your air fryer basket.
- Aerosol cooking sprays degrade the non-stick coating in your air fryer basket.
- Try pouring oil on a paper towel and wiping it on or using a mister filled with the oil of your choice. You can also opt for a pastry brush.
Adjust your cooking time according to the size of your meatballs.
- Frozen meatballs come in different sizes, so you might need to increase cooking time for larger varieties and reduce it for mini-meatballs.
- For tips on how to know when they’re done, see the FAQ section below.
Cook these in batches.
- If you’re serving a crowd, you might need to do a few meatballs at a time. Most air fryer baskets will only be able to fit 16 to 20 at once.
- It’s perfect for appetizers, bringing out hot food at various intervals, but if you need everything to be hot at the same time, you can pop these in a warm oven on a large tray for a few minutes before serving them.
On the off chance that your meatballs fall apart while cooking or get dried out from overcooking, make bolognese.
- Don’t stress if your meatballs don’t keep their shape. Even leftover meatballs can be ground up for a meat sauce for pasta. They really are versatile.
🧆 Types Of Meatballs To Buy
Any brand you find in the freezer section, including the generic brand, will work. You can tailor them to your meal after they’re cooked by adding different sauces.
If you live near Sam’s Club, you have lots of options: Angus beef meatballs, Good & Gather, Earth’s Best, Simek’s, or Beetnik’s Organic Grass-Fed Beef meatballs. For a plant-based option, try Morning Star or Gardein. The cooking times are very similar.
🥡 Storing & Reheating
If you have leftovers, put them in an airtight storage container with a lid or a plastic bag in the fridge when they’re cool. They’ll be good for 3 to 4 days.
For longer storage, drop leftovers in a plastic freezer bag or an airtight container. Keep them in a single layer to make it easier to remove and cook just a few.
You can also put parchment paper between layers in a larger container. These are best if eaten within 3 to 4 months.
Reheating Air Fryer Meatballs
The best way to reheat these from the fridge is to stick them back in the air fryer! Put them in at 350℉ (175℃) for about 5 minutes, adjusted for size and desired temperature, for a delicious meal the next day.
Frozen meatballs are already fully cooked, so the only thing you’ll need to worry about is that they’re heated all the way through. They’ll be a golden brown when finished.
When in doubt, cut a meatball in half and check. It’s important not to overcook them, as they’ll become dry and hard.
Yes. Any time you cook things in close proximity to each other, they will start to steam. This will cause them to be soft.
So if you want the meatballs extra-crisp, make sure they've got plenty of room in your air fryer basket or on the racks. Don’t crowd them while they’re cooking. You may need to cook fewer pieces at a time in order to give them enough space.
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Air Fryer Frozen Meatballs
- 16 oz meatballs (frozen not thawed)
- ½ cup BBQ sauce (homemade or store bought)
- Preheat your air fryer to 390°F (198°C).
- Place the frozen meatballs in the air fryer basket. Arrange in a single layer.16 oz meatballs
- Cook at 390°F (198°C) for about 10 minutes. Stopping about midway (5 minutes) to rotate the meatballs for even cooking.
- Remove the cooked meatballs and place them in a mixing bowl. Toss with BBQ sauce to coat meatballs if desired.½ cup BBQ sauce
- Serve over rice and enjoy!
- Don't crowd the basket, arrange in an even layer. You may have to cook in batches.
- Rotate or shake the basket about halfway through the cooking time to get an evenly cooked meatball.
- Try different sauces for variety like bbq, hot sauce, teriyaki, sweet and sour, etc.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!