Are you craving a delicious and quick dinner option? These 20 minute air fryer meatballs are not only flavorful and juicy, but also incredibly easy to make. Using the air fryer cuts down on cooking time and leaves you with perfectly cooked meatballs that are juicy on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside.
Do kids love air fryer meatballs?
Meatballs are a versatile and kid-friendly dish that often appeals to a wide range of tastes. Here are a few reasons why kids love meatballs:
- Fun to Eat: Meatballs are bite-sized and can be easily picked up or speared with a toothpick. This makes them fun to eat and encourages kids to use their hands, which adds an element of enjoyment to the meal. Kids love having toothpick feast!
- Versatility: Meatballs can be made with various meats, spices, and flavors. This versatility allows parents to tailor the recipe to suit their child’s preferences, making it more likely that the kids will enjoy the meal. My kids love this recipe for meatballs and gravy over rice.
- Sauce Options: Meatballs pair well with different sauces, whether it’s a classic marinara, a sweet and sour glaze, or a creamy Alfredo. The variety of sauce options adds excitement to the dish and allows for experimentation.
- Creative Shapes: Get creative with meatball shapes to make them even more appealing to kids. You can form them into fun shapes like stars, animals, or even use cookie cutters to create interesting designs. If you want to easily make meatballs, use a cookie dough scoop.
- Easy to Handle: The small size of meatballs makes them easy for kids to handle, making them a great finger food option. This can be especially appealing to younger children who are still developing their fine motor skills.
- Customizable Ingredients: Parents can sneak in vegetables or other nutritious ingredients into meatball mixtures without kids necessarily noticing. This is a great way to ensure they get some essential nutrients in a dish they love.
- Pairing Possibilities: Meatballs can be paired with a variety of side dishes, from pasta and rice to veggies and salads. This flexibility allows parents to create well-balanced meals that cater to their child’s preferences.
- Comfort Food Appeal: The familiar and comforting nature of meatballs can make them a hit with kids. The combination of meat, breadcrumbs, and seasonings often appeals to their taste buds.
- Interactive Cooking: Involving kids in the cooking process, such as helping to roll the meatballs or mix ingredients, can make the meal even more enjoyable. Kids often love being hands-on in the kitchen.
- Dipping Fun: Provide a variety of dipping sauces, such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, or a yogurt-based dressing. Kids enjoy the interactive element of dipping their meatballs into different sauces.
Why is the air fryer good for cooking meatballs?
The air fryer is an excellent kitchen appliance for cooking meatballs for several reasons, making it a popular choice for many home cooks. Here are some of the advantages of using an air fryer for cooking meatballs:
- Quick Cooking Time: Air fryers use circulating hot air to cook food quickly and evenly. This rapid cooking process means that meatballs can be cooked in a fraction of the time compared to traditional methods like baking or pan-frying.
- Even Browning: The hot air circulation in the air fryer promotes even browning on all sides of the meatballs. This results in a delicious crispy exterior, adding a desirable texture to the meatballs without the need for excessive oil.
- Reduced Oil Usage: Air frying requires significantly less oil compared to deep frying or pan-frying. This makes air-fried meatballs a healthier option, as they have less fat content while still achieving a crispy exterior.
- Healthier Cooking Option: As mentioned, air fryers generally require less oil, reducing the overall calorie and fat content of the meatballs. This can be particularly beneficial for those looking to make healthier food choices for themselves and their families.
- Ease of Use: Air fryers are user-friendly with simple controls. You can set the temperature and cooking time easily, allowing for a hassle-free cooking experience. This simplicity makes air frying a convenient option for busy households.
- Less Mess: Air fryers are known for being relatively mess-free. There’s no splattering of oil, and the removable trays and baskets are often dishwasher safe, making cleanup quick and easy.
- Retains Moisture: The circulating hot air in the air fryer helps to seal in the moisture of the meatballs. This ensures that the meatballs remain juicy and flavorful on the inside while achieving a crispy exterior.
- Versatility: Air fryers are versatile appliances that can handle a variety of recipes, making them useful for cooking a range of foods beyond meatballs. This versatility makes them a valuable addition to the kitchen.
- Consistent Results: The controlled cooking environment of the air fryer helps achieve consistent results. You can expect each batch of meatballs to have the same level of doneness and texture.
- Energy Efficiency: Air fryers are generally more energy-efficient than traditional ovens. The shorter cooking times contribute to reduced energy consumption, making them an eco-friendly option.
Which air fryer is best?
The best part of these air fryer meatballs, even better than the ease of preparing and cooking is that the leftover air fryer meatballs are just as good and reheat quickly and easily the next day. Just either place meatballs back in the air fryer and cook for 2-3 minutes, or if sauce has already been added, warm on the stove top or in the microwave for a few minutes.
Can I use a different kind of meat for meatballs?
Yes! You can use anything that you have, ground chicken, a mixture of lean ground beef and ground pork, ground turkey, or any ground meat that you have. Although I haven’t tried it, a ground meat substitute should work, too.
Can you freeze air fryer meatballs?
Freezing air fryer meatballs is easy! Just place the cooked or uncooked meatballs on a cookie sheet, not touching, and freeze for about 30 minutes to an hour, then remove and add to a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. I would suggest maybe cooking them in the air fryer so you can pop frozen meatballs out quickly and just reheat to serve and you don’t have to worry about getting them cooked all of the way. But if you are short on time and can only cook a few, then freezing raw meatballs can definitely work.
How do I mix meatballs?
Honestly, just dive right on in there and mix it with your hands. Or at least that is what I prefer. You can use a spoon or fork and a large mixing bowl, a blender or a food processor, but honestly I don’t like using those for raw meat because then you have to clean it properly. And food processors and blenders don’t really hold up for long if you wash them in the dishwasher and I feel that’s the best way to get them sterilized again, but it’s definitely up to you!
You will love these air fryer meatballs! Experiment with different things to add for different flavors. Spicy meatballs may be more up your alley and if so, you can add spice to the meatballs or add a spicy marinara!