Easy Greek Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs (Keftedes)

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Homemade meatballs are a hassle, right? Not these easy Greek air fryer chicken meatballs. All you do is throw ground chicken in a bowl with a few Mediterranean flavours, panko crumbs and an egg. Mix, make bite-sized balls and air fry for just 10 minutes. No air fryer? Just bake.

A bowl of Greek air fryer chicken meatballs with slices of lemon and a spoon in - there's also a Greek salad in the background

Why you’ll love this recipe

Greek chicken meatballs (called keftedes or kef-ted-es in Greek) are a particularly tasty version of meatballs.

I don’t post a recipe here unless I can really get behind it, but this one I can REALLY get excited about. I think you will too and here’s why:

  • It’s Greek style, which is always something to get excited about. Add garlic, onion, lemon zest, dried oregano, mint and paprika for a classic Mediterranean burst of flavour.
  • They really are very easy chicken meatballs. No peeling, chopping or crushing. Just throw everything in a bowl and stir. Most of the flavours are in dried or powder form. The only real ‘work’ you have to do is zest a lemon.
  • They’re ready in around 20 minutes. If you’re oven baking them, 30.
  • The recipe makes 30 to 40 bite-sized meatballs. Perfect for feeding a small crowd.
  • They’re very versatile. Scroll down for serving ideas!

About the ingredients

Labelled ingredients for making air fryer Greek meatballs or chicken keftedes: ground chicken, panko breadcrumbs, olive oil, an egg, herbs and spices and lemon zest

The meat: I usually use good quality chicken mince/ground chicken to make my Greek meatballs. But use turkey, beef or even pork if you prefer.

The ‘fillers’: Meatballs usually contain breadcrumbs and an egg. I use panko breadcrumbs in my recipe for ease. No blitzing of stale bread required! If you want to make the meatballs gluten-free, simply use your favourite gluten-free breadcrumbs, or skip the breadcrumbs altogether. The recipe will still work well.

I like these organic gluten-free breadcrumbs in case you’d like to give them a try.

The flavours: Powdered garlic and onion, lemon zest, dried oregano, dried mint and paprika. These take seconds to add as no chopping is required!

What else: Apart from a tablespoon of olive oil to keep the meatballs moist, that’s it! I told you these are REALLY easy air fryer meatballs!

How to make chicken meatballs in your air fryer

If you’re a busy person (who isn’t?) you’ll love that all of the flavours in these particular Greek meatballs are in powder form – apart from the lemon zest of course. I also use shop/store bought breadcrumbs such as panko crumbs so there’s no blitzing of bread either.

Throw in the air fryer and a couple of easy sides (see ideas below!) and you have one very simple Mediterranean themed dinner idea. In a few very simple steps:

How to make air fryer Greek meatballs in 4 images: mix together ground meat, crumbs, an egg and spices, mix together, roll into bite-sized balls, and a dish of the finished meatballs

Step 1: Zest the lemon, then throw it plus everything else together. Yes, everything. I find the mixture is quite soft, especially if you’re using ground/minced chicken, so I just mix with a wooden spoon. I hate mixing with my hands!

Step 2: Roll the mixture into bite-sized meatballs. I use disposable gloves for this part! It’s quick and easy as the meatballs virtually form themselves. I usually get 30 to 40 little balls.

Step 3: Air fry for 8 to 12 minutes. A basket style air fryer tends to cook them a bit faster, but they’re ready when they’re lightly golden and starting to caramelise. Alternatively, bake for 25 to 30 minutes. If you shake or turn the meatballs half way through cooking you’ll get a more even colour, but it isn’t a disaster if you forget!

A note on different types of air fryers: I currently use an oven style air fryer that I can fit a medium-sized baking tray into. If you have a basket style air fryer, there won’t be room for all 30 to 40 meatballs. I’d suggest only cooking as many as you need for that meal and refrigerating or freezing the rest for later. Alternatively you can cook them in 2 batches – or just bake them all in one go!

How to serve Greek meatballs

There are more possibilities than you might think!

  • Classic spaghetti and meatballs. Grab a jar of your favourite good quality pasta sauce or make a quick Italian marinara sauce (definitely worth the small effort). Dinner is served!
  • Serve with sweet potato wedges/fries, air fried smashed Greek potatoes, a simple green vegetable like broccoli or sautéed green beans, and your favourite sauce – even ketchup, a nice chutney or mayo/aoli will do! As I have an oven style air fryer I can fit the wedges in the basket and the meatballs on a baking tray below. If you don’t you can just bake everything, or cook in batches. Broccoli can be microwaved, steamed or sautéed on the stovetop in just 10 minutes!
  • Serve them on cocktail sticks at a party with a bowl of Greek tsatziki on the side.
A plate of air fryer Greek meatballs from above with a spoon in and with a Greek salad in the background

Ways to vary them

  • I usually make Greek chicken meatballs, but you can use any other kind of ground/minced meat instead if you prefer.
  • I sometimes throw half a cup of cubed feta cheese into the meatball mixture. Other times I sprinkle a little over the top of the meatballs after they’re cooked. If I’m serving the meatballs with a Greek salad though I skip extra feta of course!
  • Grate a little zucchini into the mixture. It’s a little extra work, but it’s worth it if you want to add some hidden goodness for a picky child! Just make sure you blot the zucchini well with kitchen paper before adding it to remove any extra moisture.

FAQ

What kind of ground meat/mince works best?

I like chicken, but turkey, or lean beef or pork work well too.

Can you reheat them?

Yes, I do this all the time. Reheat in your air fryer for 4 to 6 minutes at 340F/170C until piping hot again. Or reheat at 350F/175 in the oven for around 15 minutes.

Can you freeze them?

Definitely! Freeze uncooked or cooked between sheets of baking paper in glass containers for up to 3 months. Let defrost then cook or reheat as normal.

Alternatively, you can cook these meatballs straight from frozen but for around 50% longer. Keep an eye on them though after the 10 minute mark as all air fryers are different. You don’t want them to burn or dry out.

Do you need to turn the meatballs half way through cooking?

I sometimes shake or turn the meatballs half way through cooking. They do brown more evenly this way, but it depends if I remember!

What’s the best air fryer to use?

I don’t think there’s a ‘best’ air fryer. Just pick one that’s the right size for your family. I use this Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer daily, but I also like this family sized basket-style Cosori Air Fryer XL 5.8Qt air fryer.

Of course, use the one you have. If your air fryer is on the smaller size, just cook the meatballs in batches! It won’t take too much longer.

Are these meatballs gluten free?

No they aren’t, because they contain panko breadcrumbs. However, you can easily make them gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs, or even by skipping the breadcrumbs altogether.

More easy air fryer recipes

Or browse this list of 10 best easy Greek chicken recipes.

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A bowl of Greek air fryer meatballs garnished with lemon wedges and feta and there's a Greek salad at the side
5 from 2 votes

Easy Greek Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs (Keftedes)

Greek chicken meatballs can be delicious AND quick and easy when you make them in your air fryer. Just mix together all the ingredients, shape quickly into bite-sized meatballs and air fry for around 10 minutes. They're incredible served with a Greek salad, tzatziki and toasted bread, but you can serve them in many other ways as well.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 pound ground chicken, UK/Australia = minced chicken – turkey, beef and pork also work
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs, or any breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon, zest only (then you can use the rest of the lemon for squeezing over at the end)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint, (1.5 teaspoons semi-dried, or 7 to 8 leaves of fresh mint, finely chopped)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

To serve (optional)

  • feta cheese, a little, to crumble over the top
  • fresh chopped mint or parsley
  • lemon wedges, (you can use the same lemon you used for the zest)

Instructions 

  • Line a baking tray with baking paper. Preheat the air fryer or oven to 400F/205C.
  • Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
  • Shape the mixture into small bite-sized meatballs and place on the baking paper.
  • Air fry for 8 to 12 minutes until starting to go golden brown (basket-style air fryers tend to cook faster than oven-style air fryers). Cook in 2 batches if necessary. Turn or shake lightly half way through cooking. If baking, bake for around 20 minutes, until lightly golden and cooked through. Turn half way through cooking.
  • Serve with a Greek salad, tzatziki and bread, sweet potato wedges and vegetables, or turn into Greek wraps or tacos.

Video

Notes

How to mix: I find the mixture is soft enough to mix easily with a wooden spoon, especially when using chicken or turkey mince. Use bare hands if you prefer!
What size to make the meatballs: I pinch a tiny bit of mixture (about a large teaspoon), roughly form a ball and place on the baking tray. It’s really quick and easy!
Different air fryers: If you have a basket style air fryer, you might need to cook the meatballs in 2 batches. Cook them directly in the air fryer basket.
If you have a larger oven style air fryer, you can probably cook them on the baking tray. I find that my oven style air fryer takes  a little longer to cook than a smaller basket-style air fryer. I usually air fry my meatballs for 11 to 12 minutes.
The meatballs might only take 8 minutes to cook in a basket style air fryer. Keep an eye on them. They’re ready when they’re going golden brown, are starting to caramelize and are 165F/75C inside. 

Nutrition

Calories: 168kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 92mg, Sodium: 287mg, Potassium: 457mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 143IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 33mg, Iron: 1mg
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About Helen Schofield

Don't expect to find anything fussy or complicated here. Just QUICK, EASY & (mostly!) HEALTHY recipes from the Mediterranean and beyond. ENJOY!

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16 Comments

  1. I don’t have an air fryer – how would I use a traditional oven? Would love to make this as it sounds delish!!

    1. Hello Oraia! It’s fine to bake instead of air fry! Just bake for around 20 minutes at the same temperature as mentioned in the air fryer instructions, until lightly golden and cooked through. Turn half way through cooking. I hope you enjoy them!

  2. Hi!
    How can I reheat these
    Meatballs at work? We only have a microwave :(… can I reheat them in a slow cooker?

    1. Hello Tania! Actually the microwave is perfect! just cover them and reheat on reduced heat so that they don’t go dry and tough. Start with a minute or two and go from there if they aren’t hot enough. I’m not sure about reheating in a slow cooker as I’ve never tried it. I would imagine it would work if there was a bit of liquid in it, but you wouldn’t want to overcook them. Enjoy!

  3. Hello! This recipes looks so good! Do you know how many meatballs is in a serving? Trying to watch my portion sizes, thanks!! 😊

    1. Hi Marissa! Nice to hear from you! There are 6 to 8 servings at about 170 calories per serving. Of course how many each person wants to eat depends on exactly how big they are but if they’re small (about a large teaspoon) I’d say 4 to 6 would be an average serving for one. I hope that helps a little, and that you give them a go. Let me know what you think!

  4. Sorry, I forgot to ask if I can bake these in a regular oven – what temp and how long. Hope to try them this weekend. Many thanks.

    1. Hello, Edith, yes you can! Bake for around 20 minutes at the same temperature. Hope you like them!

  5. Could I make these larger to serve as a meal – they sound so very delicious. Thanks

    1. Hello Edith! I usually do serve these as a meal, but you can definitely make them a bit larger if you like. You may need just 5 minutes extra cooking time, but no more than that. Enjoy!

  6. 5 stars
    These were a hit! So easy, I served with Greek salad and Greek potatoes. Delicious. Putting this one into weekly rotation for dinners!

      1. Hi. Could I coarsley chop rotisserie chicken to use instead of ground? Sounds great!

      2. Hello Cindy! I actually wouldn’t recommend that – I think ground meat is better for meatballs. You can use any kind of ground meat you like though – not only chicken.

  7. I’ll definitely be trying the meatballs, so versatile.
    Everything crossed for your move to your new home.

    1. Hi Ann! I’d love to know what you think of the meatballs. They really are very easy and versatile, as you say. Thanks for the good wishes, too. We’re pretty excited about about upcoming reno although it’ll be a lot of work. I hope all is good where you are! Australia seems to be doing pretty well again. So grateful 🙂