These air fryer meatballs pair lean ground chicken with Panko breadcrumbs, spices, and sweet chili sauce to make a low calorie protein option or high protein snack. They’re easy to make and can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.
And you can get creative with meatball seasonings to make air fried meatballs with everything from beef and pork to chicken and turkey. Don’t worry, I’ve included a few recipe ideas to get you started!
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How to Make Air Fryer Meatballs
I’ve included a visual recipe walkthrough below with a few tips, tricks, and ingredient substitution notes. If you’re feeling confident, feel free to skip down to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Mix Panko breadcrumbs, shredded parmesan, garlic powder, ground ginger, chili powder, and salt together before adding ground chicken, sweet chili sauce, and an egg.
These meatballs closely resemble my BBQ chicken meatballs. Aside from adding a few spices and swapping sweet chili for BBQ sauce, the only other difference you might notice is the protein source. Both recipes call for ground chicken, but this version calls for 97/3 ground chicken instead of 92/8. If possible, try to stick with the leaner ground chicken or ground turkey so you won’t have much rendered fat cook off during air frying.
For the sweet chili sauce, I used Trader Joe’s sweet chili sauce, which has a macro friendly 25 calories per tablespoon. Feel free to use other sweet chili sauces, as they should all get the job done for these chicken meatballs. In case you want to make your own, here’s a great sweet chili sauce recipe.
And if you don’t have Panko breadcrumbs in your pantry, I’ve successfully tested these meatballs with traditional breadcrumbs.
Line an air fryer basket with parchment paper and place 12 50-gram meatballs inside.
I used a 6.5-quart Ninja Foodi to make these air fryer meatballs. If you’re using a smaller air fryer, you may have trouble fitting all the meatballs in one batch. And if you’re using a larger air fryer, your meatballs may cook a bit faster with the extra surface area.
I’ve tested these meatballs without lining the air fryer basket with parchment paper, and they tend to stick a little bit. Since you’ll want to flip your meatballs for even browning, the parchment paper makes life much easier.
Air fry the meatballs for 15 minutes at 400ºF, flipping halfway through.
The air fryer does a fantastic job of browning the meatballs, so you’ll want to make sure you flip them to avoid burning. If you check on your meatballs halfway and they’re not quite brown, you can go a few minutes longer before flipping and reduce the cook time on the second side. It’s better to have browning on one side than none!
You want your meatballs fully cooked (an internal temperature of 165ºF) before glazing with the additional sweet chili sauce in the next step.
Brush additional sweet chili sauce on top and air fry an additional 2 minutes at 400ºF.
And that’s a wrap. You’re ready to roll. Top your air fried chicken meatballs with toasted sesame seeds and scallions to serve over rice or on their own with toothpicks for an easy, healthy game day snack.
They would also be a great paired with the cucumber crunch from my sweet chili chicken bites recipe, my air fryer fried cauliflower rice, or my honey soy glazed air fryer brussels sprouts.
Other Meatball Seasoning Ideas
Now that you know how to make air fryer meatballs, you can take just about any baked meatball recipe and make it work as an air fried meatballs recipe. Here’s a handful of ideas from our recipe catalog and friends of the blog:
- Ground Turkey Teriyaki Meatballs
- Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
- Classic Beef Baked Meatballs
- Low Carb Paleo Turkey Meatballs
- Swap the sweet chili for the sauce in my Firecracker Ground Chicken
However you end up making air fryer chicken meatballs, I’d love to hear about it. Come back and let me know in a comment or what you thought about the sweet chili version in a recipe review. I hope you enjoy!
Air Fryer Sweet Chili Chicken Meatballs
Lean ground chicken meatballs made with Panko breadcrumbs, a blend of spices, and sweet chili sauce.
- 1 lb Lean Ground Chicken or Turkey*
- 1/4 C (30g) Panko Breadcrumbs
- 1 oz Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Ground Ginger
- 1 tsp Chili Powder
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 large Egg
- 2 Tbsp (30g) Sweet Chili Sauce
- 1/4 C (60g) Sweet Chili Sauce
- Mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, and spices together in a large bowl before adding the ground chicken, egg, and sweet chili sauce (30g). Work everything together to form a large ball.
- Line an air fryer basket with parchment paper before forming 12 meatballs (50 grams each) and placing in the basket.
- Air fry for 8 minutes at 400ºF, flip, and air fry an additional 6-8 minutes at 400ºF until the meatballs are cooked through (165ºF internal temp).
- Brush the remaining sweet chili sauce (60g) on top of the meatballs and air fry an additional 2 minutes at 400ºF.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion. Serve with rice and lime wedges.
*I used 97% lean ground chicken. Nutrition facts are with HEB 97/3 ground chicken.
Each meatball has 1 WW SmartPoint (blue).
For Oven Baked Meatballs
Using my Baked BBQ Chicken Meatballs as a guide, you could bake these meatballs on a parchment lined sheet pan for 18-20 minutes at 400ºF. Then glaze with the additional sweet chili sauce and bake an additional 3-5 minutes.
For Pan Fried Meatballs
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the meatballs in the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes before flipping. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side until the meatballs are golden brown all over and fully cooked, about 10-12 minutes total. Turn the heat down and add the additional sweet chili sauce to glaze. Check out my firecracker chicken meatballs recipe for more notes/tips.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Meatballs Serving Size: 1 Meatball
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 75Total Fat: 2gCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 10g
Friday 19th of November 2021
Do you use just regular chili powder here? Like Mexene, (what I would put in beef chili? )
Tuesday 23rd of November 2021
Yes, any chili powder should work as long as it's not a distinctive flavor like chipotle chiles.
Tuesday 29th of June 2021
Wow! These exceeded my expectations and were so good and full of flavor!
Wednesday 30th of June 2021
Thanks, Hannah! The power of sweet chili sauce is in full force here.
Saturday 17th of April 2021
These are great for meal prep! Depending on your air fryer you may need to lessen the time so they don’t burn. My first batch over cooked a bit, but still soo good paired with some Cauli rice and veggies!
Saturday 17th of April 2021
I made these for dinner the other night and they were great! We've been in a dinner rut lately and wanted to try something new. Definitely something different for us and my fiance may have been a little skeptical at first, but they were really easy and super tasty!
Wednesday 14th of April 2021
I made these for a meal prep and they’re delicious and easy. Definitely check out the sriracha bbq meatballs if you liked these! Also make sure to decrease your cooking time if you don’t make your meatballs as hefty as Mason’s because I accidentally burnt my first batch 😅