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Food & Recipes

Air-Fryer Meatballs Are the Perfect Party Appetizer — Easy Recipe Ready in 12 Minutes

Turn frozen meatballs into delicious meaty bites to serve with any dipping sauce!

Keeping a stash of store-bought meatballs in your freezer means you always have a last-minute appetizer at your disposal! All it takes is cooking the meatballs in your air fryer and serving them with various dipping sauces. Before you know it, you’ll have a tray of tender, crispy and flavorful party meatballs that your crowd is sure to devour. You can even skip the thawing step and get straight into the air frying these meaty bites if you’re short on time. Keep reading for tips on cooking frozen meatballs in the air fryer and five tasty dipping sauces to serve with this speedy starter!

What are party meatballs?

Party meatballs are often small enough to fit onto a skewer and eaten as an appetizer. The meatballs can be smothered in a sauce or left plain for guests to dip on their own. There are many ways to make this snack, but a quick option is air frying store-bought frozen meatballs and enjoying them with the sauce on the side.

Why it’s best to cook frozen meatballs in the air fryer

To achieve a crispy exterior and juicy interior, your best bet is cooking the meatballs in an air fryer. The circulating heat from this appliance evenly cooks meatballs in less time than it takes to bake them. Also, air frying the meatballs requires just a spritz of cooking spray to crisp them up without making them greasy. If you’re planning on air frying a large bag of meatballs, it’s ideal to split them up in two or three batches for even cooking. Additionally, you don’t need to thaw the meatballs as the direct heat helps them come to temperature quickly.

Related: Absolutely Do Not Use Your Air Fryer Without Preheating — Here’s Why

Easy trick for extra flavorful air-fried meatballs

For an even tastier batch of meatballs, Rosie Elliot, owner of Kitchen Appliance Answer, suggests seasoning them before cooking. “First, give them a quick toss in some olive oil [spray], salt, pepper and Italian herbs before air frying,” she says. “The oil and seasonings add a ton of flavor as they cook.” While dried Italian herbs give the meatballs an earthy taste, you can use other seasoning like BBQ, chili flakes or powdered ranch mix for a customized flavor twist.

How to cook frozen meatballs in the air fryer

Below, Cathy Yoder, also known as “The REAL Air Fryer Queen” at EmpoweredCooks.com, shares a simple guide for air frying frozen meatballs in 12 minutes or less. Try it out before serving those meaty morsels with a yummy dipping sauce!

Air-Fried Meatballs

Meatballs served with a sweet tomato sauce as part of a guide on cooking the frozen variety in the air fryer
ALLEKO/Getty

Ingredients:

  • 1 (26 oz.) package frozen beef or turkey mini meatballs like Cooked Perfect’s Italian Beef Meatballs (Buy from Walmart, $7.24)
  • Olive oil spray
  • Seasonings like Italian herb blend, BBQ seasoning, salt and/or pepper (optional)

Directions:

  • Yield: approximately 52 meatballs (amount may vary depending on the brand)
  1. Preheat air fryer to 400°F.
  2. Evenly spread out 1 batch of meatballs on parchment-lined air fryer basket. Coat frozen meatballs with layer of oil spray. Sprinkle seasonings over meatballs to your liking, if desired. Using tongs, toss meatballs to ensure they’re completely covered in oil and seasonings.
  3. Cook about 8 to 12 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F for beef meatballs and 165°F for turkey. Remove from basket and cool on wire rack 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat process with remaining meatballs.
  4. Place a toothpick into each meatball. Serve on platter with sauce(s) of your choice. Enjoy!

5 delicious dipping sauce ideas for party meatballs

Turn your cooked meatballs into a fun appetizer by trying these dipping sauces ideas from Robert Smith, private chef at Culinary Collective ATL. Serving a few different kinds of sauces with meatballs allows guests to make their portion as sweet, savory, tangy or spicy as they wish!

1. Sweet and Sour Sauce

Combining ingredients like vinegar, sugar, ketchup, soy sauce and pineapple juice creates a tasty and tangy sauce.  

2. Teriyaki Sauce

Simmering a mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and sesame oil until thickened produces a sweet and savory condiment.

3. Honey Mustard Sauce

This creamy and sweet sauce can be made with honey, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and a splash of lemon juice. 

4. Buffalo Sauce

For guests who love heat, make this spicy and tangy sauce using hot sauce, melted butter and a sprinkle of garlic powder. 

5. Creamy Parmesan Sauce

Try this rich and cheesy sauce, which consists of Parmesan cheese, heavy cream, garlic, and herbs like dried basil and oregano.


For more air-fryer recipes, check out these stories!

Chickpea Fries Are the Perfect Crispy Snack That’s Packed With Protein — So Easy to Make in an Air Fryer

Air-Fryer Appetizers: 15 Deliciously Easy Recipes Perfect for Game Day and More!

Air-Fryer Carrots: How to Cook a Deliciously Caramelized Batch in Just 12 Minutes

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