These air fryer chicken meatballs are perfect for serving in a variety of ways! Use them in a classic meal of spaghetti and meatballs, as a quick and healthy appetizer, I even love them for meal prep. Option for dairy-free and gluten-free air fryer meatballs included!
Why You'll Love These Chicken Meatballs
- Quick and easy. Don't be afraid of making homemade meatballs from scratch. It's super simple and worth it to avoid the excess sodium, fat, additives, and preservatives. Plus, you can make homemade meatballs faster than it'll take you to place a grocery pickup order, so there's really no reason not to.
- Easy peasy meal prep. These chicken meatballs are super easy to double or triple and last for up to 4 days once cooked. Make enough for the whole family to grab easy lunches on the way out of the house every morning. Or, try adding them to my Gluten Free Family Meal Plan #3!
- Freezer friendly. Stashing any extra meatballs away in the freezer for an easy meal in the future is always a good idea. And just like my Turkey, Bacon and Gorgonzola Meatballs, these air fryer chicken meatballs freeze extremely well.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Ground chicken - Any kind of ground chicken or ground turkey will work well here. I prefer to use 92/8 leanness. If you have ground turkey, you may also like my Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Taco Skillet or Turkey, Bacon and Gorgonzola Meatballs.
- Almond flour - Almond flour is one of my favorite ingredients to use as a naturally gluten free bread crumbs substitute. Super fine blanched almond flour is best, but you can substitute wheat or gluten free breadcrumbs as well.
- Pesto - Use your favorite pesto here, homemade or store-bought. If you are dairy free, the vegan pesto from Trader Joe's is really flavorful and one of my favorites! You can also make homemade dairy free pesto using kale and fresh herbs.
- Egg - When making meatballs, eggs are used to keep the chicken moist and juicy as well as bind the ingredients together. I have not tested these meatballs without eggs or an egg substitute, but if you are looking for an egg free meatball recipe, try my Baked Gluten Free Meatballs.
- Garlic - Freshly minced garlic adds fresh flavor that you cannot replicate with garlic powder.
How to Cook Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs
- Preheat your air fryer. Not all air fryer models require preheating, but if yours does, preheat the air fryer to 400°F before making the meatballs.
- Add ingredients to a large bowl.
- Mix to combine. I find it easiest to mix with clean hands, but you can also use a wooden spatula.
- Spray your air fryer. Lightly coat the inside of your air fryer basket with cooking spray to prevent the meatballs from sticking. I use avocado oil.
- Roll the meatballs. Using a 1 ½ inch cookie scoop, scoop the meatballs into round balls and place them evenly into the air fryer tray. Do not let the meatballs touch. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to work in batches.
- Air fry. Air fry your chicken meatballs for 6 minutes at 400°F, then flip and cook for another 4 minutes or until your meatballs have reached an internal temperature of 160°F with a meat thermometer. Depending on your air fryer and the size you make your meatballs, cooking times may vary.
- Serve. Enjoy these air fryer chicken meatballs warm as an appetizer or lean protein in a main dish.
What can I make with chicken meatballs?
These pesto chicken meatballs can be served as an appetizer or a protein served along with a main dish.
Here are some of my favorite healthy appetizers you can serve alongside air fryer chicken meatballs at parties, game days, and family get togethers:
- Sweet and Savory Paleo Chicken Wings
- Irresistible Healthy Buffalo Chicken Sliders
- Gluten Free Queso Blanco
If you're looking to serve the chicken meatballs as lunch or dinner, try adding them to these easy recipes to make a complete meal:
- Gluten Free Pesto Pasta
- Instant Pot Rice and Lemon Rosemary Broccoli
- Flavorful Air Fryer Diced Potatoes or Gluten Free Parmesan and Chive Scalloped Potatoes.
Can you make chicken meatballs with chicken breast?
I have personally not tested these air fryer chicken meatballs using chicken breast and cannot advise.
If you have chicken breasts, I'd recommend making The Best Grilled Chicken for Meal Prep instead!
How do I make sure my chicken meatballs are moist?
Don't overcook them. Use a meat thermometer and remove the meatballs once they have reached 160°F. If the meatballs are cooked too long, they will begin to dry out.
Can I bake these chicken meatballs in the oven?
Homemade Meatball Making Tips
- Ground chicken is more wet than ground beef. If you've ever made my beef meatballs, you'll know that that working with ground beef is less mushy and sticky than ground chicken. To keep the ground chicken meatball mixture from sticking to your hands, lightly wet or oil your hands before rolling. Or, you can stick the raw meatball mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes to set and firm up.
- Use a cookie scoop to form the meatballs. This will make them uniform in size and allow them to cook through evenly. It also makes the prep time faster and less messy.