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Sharp Health News

Air fryer Italian meatballs (recipe)

Aug. 9, 2022

Italian meatballs on a cutting board

Think an air fryer can’t make a mean meatball? Think again.

These meatballs, seasoned with Italian herbs and spices, retain all their moisture despite using an air fryer as a cooking method. And finely chopped shallots and Dijon mustard add a tasty tang.

Due to the saturated fat, meat is always something that should be eaten in moderation. But because these meatballs combine lean beef with turkey sausage, they’re lower in fat than their traditional counterparts.

“You can’t beat a warm plate of spaghetti and meatballs,” says Melissa Hughes, a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified wellness and health coach, and program manager for the Sharp Rees-Stealy Center for Health Management. “You can make the dish healthier by swapping the ground beef with a leaner meat, such as ground turkey or chicken, and serving the meatballs over a veggie option, such as zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.”

Air Fryer Italian Meatballs

Prep time: 10 minutes / Total time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12 (2 meatballs per person)
Nutrition facts per serving: Calories = 122; Fat = 8 grams; Sugar = 0 grams

These lighter meatballs are great over pasta, zucchini noodles or served on their own as an appetizer.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat panko crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2/3 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/3 pound bulk lean turkey sausage
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Step 1: Cook the Shallot and Garlic

Preheat air fryer to 400° F.

In a medium nonstick pan over medium-high, heat olive oil. Add minced shallot and cook until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Step 2: Prep the Panko

In a large bowl, combine panko crumbs and milk. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Prep and Cook the Meatballs

Add the cooked shallot and garlic to the panko mixture, along with the beef, turkey sausage, egg, parsley, rosemary, thyme, mustard and salt. Stir to gently combine.

Gently shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls.

Place half of the meatballs in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook until lightly browned and cooked through, about 10 to 11 minutes. Remove meatballs and place on a plate; cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining meatballs.

Step 4: Serve and Enjoy

Serve warm meatballs over pasta or zoodles for a main dish, or with toothpicks as an appetizer.

This recipe was adapted from Cooking Light.

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