Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs are great for meal prep because you can make them, freeze them, and then use them in so many different ways. They are quick and easy to make and you can enjoy the air fryer meatballs in a simple marinara sauce or tossed in your favorite sauce.
The best thing is this recipe only uses a handful of ingredients!
These easy air fryer turkey meatballs don't contain any fillers or any added sugars so they are perfect for low-carb meals. They are low in sugar and low in fat!
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! You can make up as many meatballs as you like and either air fry them and then freeze them or freeze them before cooking. The amount of meatballs that you can air fry at once will depend on your air fryer because you do want to air fry them in a single layer for the best results.
The freezing process is basically the same whether you have air fried them before freezing or not. The only difference is if you have cooked the meatballs, you want to make sure they are completely cool before freezing. If they are still hot, they will create steam in the freezer and that leads to ice crystals. I recommend refrigerating them overnight after cooking and before freezing.
Then, place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and line the cooked or raw meatballs on the parchment paper and put them in the freezer for several hours or overnight. When they are completely frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag or another freezer container and they will stay good for 3-6 months.
The technique is similar whether they have been frozen raw or cooked and the best way to start is with steam. Turkey meatballs tend to dry out fairly easily and if you try to air fry from frozen, they most likely will get pretty dry on the outside before they are thawed and/or cooked on the inside. To prevent this, I recommend steaming the frozen meatballs for about 5 minutes or until they are completely thawed. This will keep the moisture in the meatball. You can steam them using the steam function on the NInja Foodi or a steaming pot on the stove.
If they are already cooked, you can also add a little water to a sauté pan put the frozen meatballs in the pan and cover it. As the pan heats up, steam will be produced and that will thaw your meatballs. When they are thawed, remove the lid and let the water evaporate and pan fry them for a few minutes in some oil or throw them in a preheated air fryer on 400℉/200℃ to crisp up the outside.
If they are frozen raw, you either let them thaw in the refrigerator and then air fry them according the recipe directions or you can steam them for about 5 minutes and then finish cooking them in the air fryer.
Ground turkey can be very lean and the leaner it is, the more chance you have of your meatballs becoming rubbery and tough. To avoid rubbery meatballs, cook at a lower heat and make sure not to overcook them.
You can also steam them to keep moisture in the meatballs or add some finely diced vegetables for added moisture. You also don't want to overwork the turkey mixture or pack the meatballs too tight.
Using a cookie scoop helps to prevent this. I don't worry about perfectly round meatballs when making them with turkey.
What to serve with this air fryer turkey meatball recipe?
These homemade meatballs are so good, you can eat them just as they are! They are also great served with your favorite pasta sauce over a bed of zucchini noodles for a quick dinner.
Or add an Asian inspired sauce and serve them over cauliflower rice for another easy recipe.
They also make great appetizers! Toss the cooked meatballs in some BBQ sauce and serve them with toothpicks.
You can use these healthy turkey meatballs in any recipe that calls for traditional meatballs, so it's a great way to lower fat and calories in your favorite meatball recipes, including meatball subs!
Here are some recipes that will work perfectly with these air fryer ground turkey meatballs.
Ingredients & Substitutions
I used lean ground turkey in this recipe, but you can use the fattier blend if you want and they will be even juicier!
You can also substitute the ground turkey with ground beef, ground pork, or ground chicken. The main difference is going to be in the fat content and you many need to air fry meatballs that are made with ground beef or ground pork a little longer because of the higher fat content.
I always recommend using an instant read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meatball to ensure it is cooked all the way. The recommended temperature for ground meat is 165℉/74℃.
The egg in the recipe is what binds the meat together and I recommend using the whole egg because the fat from the yolk helps to keep the turkey moist while the white is mostly there for its binding action.
If you want to use a fattier ground meat, you can also add in some breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs to help absorb the fat that renders.
If you can't eat eggs, then leave it out and try adding a teaspoon or two of avocado or olive oil to the ground turkey.
You can also add some cheese to help bind the meatballs, mozzarella cheese works great for this.
I went with Italian flavors in this recipe, but you can season them any way you like. The seasoning blend in this recipe is simple and not overpowering so you can use them in just about any recipe.
However, if you want to customize the seasoning blends to an asian inspired meatball, switch out the Worcestershire sauce for about 1-2 teaspoons of soy sauce and maybe even a touch of orange juice to equal the 1½ Tablespoons. You do want to try to keep the liquid the same because it helps to keep the air fryer turkey meatballs moist.
Other Cooking Methods for Turkey Meatballs
Pan frying Low-Carb Turkey Meatballs
If you don't have an air fryer, no worries! You can still make this simple recipe using a pan on the stove.
I would follow the directions in my Asian Turkey Meatball recipe and you will have great results.
Oven Baked Healthy Turkey Meatballs
You can also bake them in the oven at 375℉/190℃ for 10-12 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165℉/74℃.
Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs
If you wanted to slow cook them, I would brown them first so they develop a crust and don't fall apart and then slow cook them in your favorite sauce for about 1 hour on low, 2 hours on low or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165℉/74℃.
How to Make Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs
Preheat the air fryer on the hottest setting (I used broil/grill on the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper) with the air fryer basket or cooking surface inside the appliance for a full 10 minutes.
Gather your ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey with the remaining ingredients.
When the air fryer is preheated, spritz a little oil on the basket or cooking surface. Using a medium size scoop (about 2 Tablespoons) or a small ice cream scoop, scoop out a meatball and place it in the air fryer basket. Repeat until you have the meatballs in a single layer.
Do not worry about trying to form the meatballs, the turkey mixture is very sticky and it is difficult to form them like you would ground beef meatballs.
Close the air fryer and air fry on 360℉/180℃ for 5-7 minutes, flipping the meatballs after about 3-4 minutes.
Make sure the internal temperature has reached 165℉/74℃. I usually take them out when they reach about 160-163℉ because they will rise in temperature as they sit.
Serve & Enjoy!
Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs
- Air Fryer
- 1 pound lean ground turkey (if the package is 1.2 pounds, use the whole thing)
- 1 large egg
- 1½ Tablespoons Worcheshire Sauce
- 1 teaspoon fine grind sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 Tablepsoon fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- Spritz of oil
- Preheat the air fryer on the hottest setting for 10 minutes. Have the basket or cooking inside the appliance during the preheat.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey and the remaining ingredients until well mixed.
- When the air fryer is preheated, spritz a little oil on the basket to prevent the meatballs from sticking.
- Using a medium scoop (about 2 Tablespoons) scoop out the meatball mixture and place each meatball in a single layer in the basket or on the cooking surface. Air Fry at 360°F/180°C for 5-7 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F/74°C.
- When the meatballs are done, remove them from the air fryer and let them rest for 5 minutes. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to do 2-3 batches.
- Serve & Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.
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