These deciduous and smoky air fryer BBQ meatballs are tangy with a hint of spice, perfect as an appetizer or served for dinner.
Air fryer BBQ meatballs are so easy to make yourself and much tastier than any you can buy in the store. Plus, when you make meatballs yourself, you get to choose the meat that goes into them, so you know what you and your family are eating.
BBQ meatballs in air fryer are a taste and texture sensation! Air frying makes the meatballs succulent and tender, and finishing cooking the wonderfully savory meat in sticky, slightly sweet BBQ sauce creates a winning combination.
Homemade BBQ meatballs are earthy and smoky and packed full of protein. These are the perfect family dinner after a busy day.
Ingredients for BBQ meatballs
**Find the full list of ingredients along with the recipe instructions at the end of this post**
Ground beef (93% lean): Using lean ground beef to make these easy BBQ meatballs means that they have less fat, which means you can still enjoy this satisfying dish while watching your intake.
Dried basil and oregano: Adding a slight sweetness and a fresh, herby undertone, adding dried herbs brings out the best in your beef. You could also use thyme or Italian seasoning.
Garlic and onion powder: This earthy combination is a winner with all kinds of meat! If you don’t have powdered onion and garlic, you can use fresh; just mince it up first.
Chili powder: Chili adds a little heat; you can opt for extra hot chili powder if you’re a fan of spice or the mild kind if you prefer. Paprika also works well here for a smokier flavor.
Meatloaf mix (optional): I like to add a little meatloaf mix to my meatballs for extra flavor! Meatloaf mix is optional but highly recommended.
Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs help the meatballs stay together and keep the moisture from the meat locked in to make them lovely and tender. You can make breadcrumbs by grating bread (or gluten-free bread).
BBQ Sauce: Use your favorite brand of BBQ sauce to make the recipe or a homemade sauce if you have a family recipe! If you’re buying a BBQ sauce, I’d recommend finding a low-sugar one.
Tools used to make the recipe:
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How to make BBQ meatballs in air fryer?
In a large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
Shape beef mixture into meatballs, about 1-2 tablespoons each. Arrange the meatballs in a single layer in the air fryer basket; spray with olive oil. Set the air fryer to 380ºF for 10-12 minutes.
Adding BBQ sauce:
- Transfer the meatballs to a large skillet with the bbq sauce.
- Stir gently to coat.
- Cook until the sauce is hot and bubbly.
The internal temperature of the meatballs should be 165ºF.
- Rather than transferring the BBQ meatballs to a skillet, you can toss them in the sauce and return them to the air fryer to cook for 3-5 minutes (until a meat thermometer registers 165°F in the center of the meatball).
- You can also use a crockpot rather than a skillet to finish cooking and keeping the meatballs warm; this is an excellent option if you make a big batch for a party! (set it to warm for 3 hours).
- When forming the meatballs, coat your hands with olive oil. Olive oil prevents the meat from sticking to you.
- To reheat cooked meatballs in the sauce, put them in a skillet or saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 165°F.
- Feel free to use your family's favorite BBQ sauce.
How long to cook BBQ meatballs in the air fryer?
It takes around 10-12 minutes at 380°F to cook the meatballs in the air fryer, plus a couple of minutes in the skillet with the sauce.
The exact amount of time it takes to cook the meatballs depends on how big you make them and on which model of air fryer you are using. Use a meat thermometer to check for a safe internal temperature of 165°F before serving.
What to serve with BBQ meatballs for dinner?
Never leave BBQ meatballs sitting out for longer than two hours. If you leave any perishable food out at a temperature between 40°F and 140°F for longer than two hours, there is a risk of bacteria growing.
I recommend 18 ounces of BBQ sauce per pound of meatballs; this way, there’s enough sauce to get absorbed by the meat and plenty leftover!
I like to use low-sugar BBQ sauces for meatballs. Wegmans food markets sell an excellent low-sugar BBQ sauce, and the brand Stubb’s also makes a delicious one.
More Air Fryer Recipes You’ll Love
- Air Fryer Lamb Meatballs
- Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs
- Ribeye Steak in Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Bacon Wrapped Corn
- Steak Bites in Air Fryer
- 1 pound ground beef (93% lean)
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sprayer bottle with olive oil
- 18 ounces bottle BBQ sauce
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
- Shape beef mixture into meatballs, about 1-2 tablespoons each. Arrange the meatballs in a single layer in the air fryer basket; spray with olive oil. Set the air fryer to 380ºF for 10-12 minutes.
- Transfer the meatballs to a large skillet with the bbq sauce, stir gently to coat, and cook until the sauce is hot and bubbly. The internal temperature of the meatballs should be 165ºF.
- if you don’t want to use a skillet, then you can transfer the meatballs to a large bowl and pour the bbq sauce, toss to coat, and return the meatballs to the air fryer and cook for extra 3- 5 minutes or until an instant meat thermometer registers 165ºF in the center of the meatballs.
- Coat your hands with little olive oil to prevent the meat from sticking to your hands.
- You can also use meatloaf mix for extra flavor.
- For a party, you can use a crockpot: air fry the meatballs as instructed, transfer them to the crockpot with the bbq sauce, and keep warm for up to 3 hours.
- Feel free to use your homemade bbq sauce if you have a favorite family recipe.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 4 meatballs
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 636Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 147mgSodium: 624mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 2gSugar: 43gProtein: 35g
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on products used. When the recipe list salt to taste the amount of salt is not calculated, only the sodium in the other ingredients is calculated.