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Made with lean ground turkey, a blend of savory herbs, and sneaky veggies, these Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs are a flavorful, healthy, protein-rich addition to any meal.
Or try our beef version of Air Fryer Meatballs.
Reasons You’ll Love this Recipe
- If you don’t want to air fry them, you can also bake the turkey meatballs.
- It’s SO easy. Even a beginner cook could make these air fryer turkey meatballs.
- It’s healthy. Ground turkey is much leaner than other meats. Plus we sneak in some extra veggies that even the pickiest eater won’t notice.
- Turkey meatballs are freezer-friendly. This is such a great recipe to prep ahead for the freezer or to prep as a meal to take to others.
- This recipe can be used in many different ways: Over pasta, in a Meatball Sub, as an appetizer and so much more!
- It’s family-friendly. This recipe is one that all ages will enjoy.
What kind of air fryer do you use?
We both use the 6 quart Instant Pot Vortex Plus Air Fryer and highly recommend it.
Here’s what we love about it:
- America’s Test Kitchen said it’s #1 in their tests.
- Extra-large capacity. (I fit 12+ meatballs in it.)
- Wide drawer-style basket that is easy to remove and insert.
- The drawer and cooking rack are dish washer safe.
- Super easy to use digital controls.
- It cooks food to perfection!
- Lean ground turkey – You can also sub ground chicken. We recommend NOT using the 99% lean ground turkey. It’s much better to get turkey that’s less lean, so the meatballs are more moist and flavorful.
- Shredded zucchini or carrots – Use a food processor to make the job easier and to blend up the veggies even more.
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Panko bread crumbs – Preferably whole wheat. Or use gluten-free Panko bread crumbs.
- Minced fresh parsley
- Minced garlic
- Egg – This helps hold the meatballs together.
- Ketchup – Organic is preferred because it will have cleaner ingredients.
- Salt & Pepper
- Marinara sauce – You can make your own or buy it from the store. We love Raos brand.
- Optional for serving: 1 pound whole grain spaghetti or angel hair pasta
How to Make Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs
Make the Meat Mixture
In a large mixing bowl, you will add all of the meatball ingredients and mix together gently using your hands.
Roll the Meatballs
Roll the mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs. I use a small ice cream scoop and then my hands to form its shape.
Tip: Don’t roll the turkey meatballs too tightly or they will be too dense in the end. Roll them firmly enough so they stick together but gently enough where they aren’t too compact.
Air Fry the Meatballs
Preheat air fryer to 400°F. Arrange meatballs in air fryer basket, spaced evenly apart. You’ll likely have to cook these in two batches, depending on the size of your air fryer. Cook for 8-10 minutes per batch, tossing them halfway through cooking time. Meatballs are done when they register at least 160°F internally with a meat thermometer.
Warm in Sauce
Place all the cooked meatballs and marinara sauce in a large pot. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce is warmed through and the flavors blend, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve and Enjoy!
There are many ways you can serve your turkey meatballs.
- Over pasta: As mentioned in the method above, serve your turkey meatballs over your favorite pasta.
- With veggies: Serve your turkey meatballs with a side of roasted vegetables, such as broccoli, green beans, or carrots.
- Make a meatball sub: Make a turkey meatball sub by placing the meatballs in a roll or baguette with some marinara sauce and melted cheese.
- With rice or quinoa: Serve your turkey meatballs over a bed of rice or quinoa, along with roasted veggies.
- As an appetizer: Serve mini turkey meatballs as an appetizer at your next party or gathering. You can make them bite-sized and serve them on toothpicks with a dipping sauce.
Air Fryer Tips
Try these tips to get the best results when using an air fryer:
- Preheat your air fryer: Preheating your air fryer can help ensure that your food cooks evenly and becomes crispy.
- Use the right amount of oil: While air fryers require less oil than traditional frying methods, it is still important to use some oil to achieve a crispy texture. Use a small amount of oil (1-2 teaspoons) or cooking spray to coat your food before cooking.
- Don’t overcrowd the basket: It is important to leave some space between the food in the air fryer basket to ensure that the hot air can circulate around the food and cook it evenly.
- Shake the basket: Shaking the basket halfway through the cooking time can help ensure that your food cooks evenly on all sides.
- Use a meat thermometer: Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your food to ensure that it is cooked through and safe to eat.
- Experiment with cooking times and temperatures: Every air fryer is different, so it may take some trial and error to find the best cooking time and temperature for your favorite foods.
- Clean your air fryer regularly: Regular cleaning can help ensure that your air fryer operates at its best and that your food doesn’t pick up any off flavors or odors from previous cooking sessions.
How to Freeze Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs
You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for make-ahead freezer meals.
Freeze For Later: Roll meatball mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs and store in single layers in a freezer container or bag. Divide layers by parchment paper. Seal well and freeze.
Prepare From Frozen: Thaw in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. Cook according to instructions.
What type of ground turkey should I use?
We recommend NOT using the 99% lean ground turkey. It’s much better to get turkey that’s less lean, so the meatballs are more moist and flavorful. If you can get organic meat, that is also preferable.
Can I substitute ground chicken?
Yes, you can absolutely substitute ground chicken in this recipe without making any other recipe changes.
What is the benefit of using turkey instead of beef or pork for meatballs?
Turkey is a leaner meat than beef or pork, meaning it has less fat and fewer calories. This makes it a healthier choice for those watching what they eat.
How do you keep the meatballs from drying out?
Turkey meatballs can dry out quickly if overcooked or if the mixture is too lean. To prevent this, we have moist shredded veggies and egg in our recipe. Also, be sure not to overcook the meatballs – they should be cooked through but still moist and tender.
At what temperature are turkey meatballs safe to eat?
The safe cooking temperature for turkey meatballs (and all ground poultry) is 165°F. This is the temperature at which harmful bacteria like salmonella are destroyed. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meatballs.
More Meatball Recipes
We love meatballs because people of all ages love them, they are easy to make, and super easy to freeze for later. Try some of our other favorites.
Make 6 Dump-and-Go Freezer Meals in 1 Hour!
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- 1 1/4 pounds (20 ounces) lean ground turkey* (sub: ground chicken)
- 1/2 cup finely shredded zucchini or carrots
- 1/2 cup fresh, finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs (preferably whole wheat)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 tablespoons organic ketchup
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 5 cups marinara sauce (about 2 regular-sized jars)
- Optional for serving: 1 pound whole grain spaghetti or angel hair pasta
*We recommend NOT using the 99% lean ground turkey. It’s much better to get turkey that’s less lean, so the meatballs are more moist and flavorful.
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- Combine Meat Mixture: In a large mixing bowl, add the turkey, shredded zucchini (or carrots), Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, egg, ketchup, salt, and pepper. Mix gently using your hands just until combined.
- Prep Air Fryer: Spray air fryer basket with cooking spray. Preheat to 400°F.
- Roll Meatballs: To make the meatballs, scoop a heaping tablespoon of mixture per meatball and shape into 1 1/2-inch diameter meatballs.
- Cook: Once preheated, arrange meatballs in air fryer basket, spaced evenly apart. (Note: You’ll likely have to cook these in two batches or freeze half the meatballs for another meal.) Cook for 8-10 minutes, tossing them halfway through cooking time. Meatballs are done when they register at least 160°F internally with a meat thermometer.
- Warm in Sauce: Place all the meatballs and some marinara sauce in a stockpot. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors blend, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. (Make sure to put the lid on. It splatters!)
- Optional for Serving: Serve over whole grain spaghetti or angel hair pasta. Top with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.
Freeze For Later:
Roll meatball mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs and store in single layers in a freezer container or bag. Divide layers by parchment paper. Seal well and freeze.
Prepare From Frozen:
Thaw in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. Cook according to instructions.
- It worth noting that with so many different models of air fryers out there, the cooking time may vary a bit.
- It’s very likely you’ll have leftover meatballs. Freeze them for later!
- Dairy-Free Version: In place of Parmesan cheese, use more breadcrumbs and a pinch of salt.
- Gluten-Free Version: In place of the Panko bread crumbs, use almond meal or gluten-free bread crumbs (I prefer to make my own with GF bread). Serve over gluten-free pasta. I really like Banza brand.
- Where We Get Meat: We get our meat from ButcherBox. The chicken is organic and curated from small, trusted farms. We highly recommend this service to source healthy meat–like uncured bacon, wild salmon, and grass-fed beef–and have used it for years ourselves. Read my honest review here.