Food & Recipes

Adding This Unexpected Ingredient to Your Meatballs Will Make Them Extra Juicy


I’m a sucker for some meatballs. They can serve as a whole meal, a topping, or a side. Recently I’ve started making them in the air fryer since it’s so much faster than an oven. But this trick also tends to leave them a little dry, and it doesn’t satisfy my craving as much as I’d like. Then I came across this recipe, and had the best air fryer meatballs. Here’s how to elevate your dish with one secret ingredient that will make all the difference.

The recipe comes from The Kitchn writer Tara Holland, who said she tried lots of recipe variations before landing on this one. This recipe delivers perfectly firm-but-juicy meatballs thanks to a secret ingredient you’d never guess.

First, Holland said mixing the types of meats you use is a great way to have more flavor or texture. A meatloaf mix — or 50 percent ground beef, 25 percent ground pork, and 25 percent ground veal — is the optimal combination. But you can also skip the veal if it’s too hard to find and make it 70 percent beef and 30 percent pork.

Next comes the secret ingredient: Ricotta! The creamy and rich cheese will mix perfectly with your meat combo and keep it moist. Since the air fryer uses, well, air to cook, your meats can seriously dry out in there. The ricotta adds the perfect amount of moisture inside to protect them from getting dry.

The rest of the recipe is just like any other. Follow along below to make the best meatballs.

How to make air fryer meatballs:

What you’ll need:

  • 1 small onion.
  • 2 cloves of garlic.
  • 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs, preferably Italian style.
  • 1 large egg.
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh basil or parsley, or a combination of both if you prefer.
  • 1 pound of meatloaf mix meat.
  • 1/2 cup of whole-milk ricotta (4 oz.).
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano and black pepper.

To make the meatballs, grate the onion and garlic in a bowl and combine with the breadcrumbs. Then add the egg, ground meatloaf mix, chopped parsley or basil, ricotta, salt, oregano and black pepper. Mix well with a spoon or your hands, but make sure you don’t mix so much that your meatballs turn out tough. Scoop the mixture into ping-pong ball sized circles and cook in an air fryer set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until your meatballs are browned and firm to the touch.

These juicy meatballs will be great any way you have them, so don’t overthink them. Just serve and enjoy!

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