Easy to make, quick, and delicious, these Air Fryer Meatball Subs made with homemade meatballs are better than takeout. They will be a hit with your family.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these companies and their products because of their quality, not because of the commission we may receive from purchases.
Why Make Meatball Subs In An Air Fryer?
There are a few good reasons to cook in an air fryer. And this recipe is one of them.
Using an air fryer to cook takes less time than a traditional oven. They heat faster and the temperature stays consistent throughout the cooking process.
Air fryers also use less electricity than conventional ovens.
How Long To Cook Meatballs in Air Fryer
The meatballs in this recipe take 9 minutes to cook. Although air fryers can differ so the time for cooking could take longer.
The size of the meatballs also makes a difference when cooking. This recipe calls for 65-70 grams per meatball, before cooking. This size takes 9 minutes in our air fryer.
Tools To Make Air Fryer Meatball Subs
When it comes to making these Meatball Subs, there are a few tools that I use to make the recipe easier and faster.
The two main time-saving tools for making this recipe are a scoop and a food scale. Both these tools help to make more uniform-sized meatballs. A medium-sized scoop is used to form the meatball before weighing it. Both these tools make it easier to cook the meatballs evenly.
What Kind Of Air Fryer Is Used To Make This Recipe
The air fryer we use is Kalorik Maxx Air Fryer Oven. It is an oven-type with glass doors. We like this style because we can see the food while it’s cooking, without having to open a basket that allows heat to escape.
A basket-style air fryer can also be used. The time and temperatures are not different for using a different type of air fryer.
Ingredients for Air Fryer Meatball Subs
There are simple ingredients in this recipe. All these ingredients are staples in most kitchens.
Medium ground beef (77% lean) is what we usually use, but lean (83% lean) can also be used. Or even a 50/50 mix. Extra-lean ground beef is 90% lean and we have found this type of ground beef to become too dry in the air fryer, resulting in a less appetizing meatball.
Italian seasoned bread crumbs are called for in the recipe, but plain bread crumbs have been used in a pinch by adjusting the seasonings added to the meat.
The recipe uses large eggs which is what most recipes call for.
Fresh garlic cloves or minced garlic can be used. In most cases, when we are making this recipe, we use minced garlic that we buy in a jar. It is faster and easier to use, especially when making these on a weeknight.
Dried basil, dried thyme, garlic powder, and onion powder are the seasonings in these meatballs. Salt and pepper are also added.
Jarred or homemade marinara sauce. It is your preference. We normally have jarred sauce on hand, which we use. A simple spaghetti sauce can be used in place of the marinara.
The buns are different almost every time we make these subs. It depends on our mood and if we have any buns on hand.
There are times we use panini buns, and other times we use sub buns. We have also used sausage buns. Basically, any soft, long bun will work. Even a sesame bun works for these subs.
Most of the time we use whatever cheese we have on hand, marble or cheddar. But there are a few cheeses we recommend to make these meatball subs taste more like ones from a sub shop.
Provolone is a good choice for making Air fryer Meatball Subs. Provolone boosts the overall flavour of the finished subs.
Mozzarella is also a good choice.
Variations and Substitutions
There are a few additions that can spice up these meatball subs.
Hot peppers on top of the cheese before toasting the sub add a different flavour with a little heat.
Instead of making these with beef, ground pork, chicken or turkey can be substituted for a different flavour. Ground chicken and turkey also make a good substitution if you don’t eat red meat.
Sliced sweet peppers are also a great addition. They can be placed in the air fryer basket and cooked at the same time as the meatballs. A sliced onion also makes a good addition.
Can Air Fryer Meatballs Be Made Ahead Of Time?
Absolutely! These meatballs can be made and stored in the fridge for 24 hours before cooking, (if the use-before date of the meat is later than 24 hours from the time you make them).
The meatballs can also be made and frozen in an air-tight container or freezer bag for up to three months. When freezing, make the meatballs and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or aluminum foil. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until fully frozen. Once frozen, transfer them to a container or freezer bag before placing them back in the freezer. Thaw in the fridge before cooking.
Can Frozen Meatballs Be Used in Place Of Homemade?
The answer is yes, but why buy frozen meatballs when you can easily make your own with no additives or fillers, or preservatives? We have purchased frozen meatballs in the past and stopped when Mike dropped one on the floor and it bounced!
We have also read the ingredients for some of the meatballs in the frozen section. Some brands include too much salt or they contain soy, which two of our kids are allergic to. By making your own meatballs, at least you know the ingredients in them.
And since these meatballs can be frozen to use later, we make a double batch and freeze half for another day.
What Goes Well With Meatball Subs?
These meatball subs can be served on their own or with a side. If you are looking for a side that pairs well with this sub, here are some suggestions:
If you have leftovers, store the meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
Cooked meatballs can also be frozen for later use. They will keep in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
Air Fryer Meatball Subs
- 1 Air Fryer
- 1 medium cookie scoop
- 1 food scale
- 2 pounds ground beef
- ⅓ cup Italian Seasoned bread crumbs
- 3 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp dried basil
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 large eggs
- 6 sub buns or panini buns
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 2 cups shredded cheese
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef with bread crumbs, garlic, spices, herbs, and eggs.
- Mix well to combine.
- Using a cookie scoop or your hands, measure and form evenly sized meatballs of approximately 2-2½ tablespoons of meat. (65 grams)
- Preheat air fryer for 2-3 minutes at 390°
- Place meatballs in the air fryer and cook 9 minutes
- Heat marinara sauce in a large saucepan
- When meatballs are cooked, place in the sauce. Stir gently to coat.
- Slice buns lengthwise.
- Spoon meatballs onto buns, top with 2-3 tablespoons of sauce and shredded chees.e
- Place subs in air fryer and heat until cheese is melted.
- Top with chopped fresh basil and serve