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Lemon Butter Chicken Meatballs

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Make lemon butter chicken meatballs in the air fryer. Light and tender on the inside, they’re crisp and golden on the outside. They’re drizzled with a rich and savory lemon brown butter sauce assembled on stovetop.

PIN AIR FRYER CHICKEN MEATBALLS

Lemon butter chicken meatballs served on orzo and drizzled with lemon brown butter sauce.

During a time when grocery prices are sky high, using ground chicken is a cost-effective option compared to ground beef or ground pork. And compared with those two meats, which can be tough or stringy, ground chicken has a much better texture for meatballs. And it’s a leaner option.

During the hot summer months, I prefer air frying instead of heating up the whole kitchen by turning on the full-size oven for baking. And for busy families like mine, air fryer chicken meatballs are heaven sent. This easy ground chicken recipe is assembled, cooked and ready in just 25 minutes.

NO AIR FRYER? No problem. You can bake these meatballs in the oven. See the “Recipe FAQ” section on this page for baking instructions.

Chicken meatballs and orzo plated in a wide bowl with microgreens.

Filled with wholesome goodness, these tender ground chicken meatballs are flavored with plenty of lemon and a hint of garlic. So delicious. And the rich and savory lemon brown butter sauce takes things to the next level.

For an easy healthy meal, pair lemon butter chicken meatballs with orzo, pasta or rice. Garnish with a sprinkling of freshly-grated parmesan cheese and a scattering of fresh herbs. For additional color, texture and nutrients, serve and enjoy this dish with bright fresh microgreens.

When making air fryer chicken meatballs I recommend doubling the recipe. Use them to assemble a variety of quick easy meals. Like this meatball gyro sandwich or Italian wedding soup. Cut them in half and make a meatball pizza, a meatball sub, or sliders. Serve them as party appetizers.

Five lemon butter chicken meatballs served in a bowl with a bite taken out of one.

INGREDIENTS

Lemon Butter Chicken Meatballs

  • Breadcrumbs: Provide these tender chicken meatballs with structure. This ingredient also serves to absorb extra moisture to prevent the ground chicken mixture from becoming mushy.
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese: This salty cheese has amazing flavor power. It’s bold, rich and savory. It adds an amazing umami taste to this recipe.
  • Lemon Zest: Brightens the taste of the meatballs creating a delicious savory flavor when paired with the butter and garlic.
  • Sea Salt: This seasoning enhances the flavor of the other ingredients.
  • Ground Black Pepper: This warm earthy spice adds a touch of bold rustic taste to the recipe.
  • Dried Oregano: This subtly-sweet herb adds an earthy taste with a hint of mint. It pairs well with lemon and garlic.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Adds a bit of zest and complexity with just a subtle amount of heat. It boosts the flavor of the other ingredients. If you’d like, add a pinch or two more.
  • Large Egg: Helps bind the meatball ingredients together.
  • Garlic Cloves: This root veggie adds a deep rustic taste with just a hint of sweet, and a fragrant nutty aroma.
  • Ground Chicken: For the juiciest air fryer chicken meatballs, select ground chicken that’s a mix of both white and dark meat. Ground chicken breasts can be used for this recipe, but the meatballs will be less juicy than those made with thigh meat in the grind.
  • Olive Oil: Prevent meatballs from sticking to the air fryer basket. It also helps the exterior of the meatballs become golden brown and crisp.
Ingredients for air fryer lemon butter chicken meatballs.

Lemon Brown Butter Sauce

  • Salted Butter: Is the base for this rich, silky brown butter sauce. Whenever possible, use high-quality butter like Tillamook or Kirkland Butter from Costco. They have a higher percentage of milk fat and less water. If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the sauce.
  • Fresh Garlic: Adds an earthy taste to this rich and luxurious lemon butter sauce.
  • Lemon Juice: Adds a burst of delicious citrus flavor that contributes to the overall vibrancy of this buttery sauce.

Garnishes

  • Grated Parmesan Cheese: Generously sprinkle it over lemon butter chicken meatballs. Its sharp bold flavor and beautiful texture greatly enhances the look and taste of this gorgeous dish.
  • Fresh Herbs – Basil, Italian Parsley, or Oregano: Any of these herbs is a great choice for lemon butter chicken meatballs. Basil has a light peppery flavor with a fresh aroma. Italian parsley has a fresh clean taste with a hint of citrus. Oregano has a peppery flavor that’s a bit spicy yet grassy with a hint of mint. Just pick your favorite.
  • Flaky Salt: This delicious seasoning enhances the flavor of air fryer meatballs and adds beautiful texture to the finished dish.
The tines of a silver fork piercing an air fryer chicken meatball.

AIR FRYER RECIPE

RECIPE PREP: Zest the fresh lemon before juicing it. Lightly grease the air fryer basket with olive oil. Set it aside.

  • STEP 1: In a large mixing bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and ground black pepper.
  • STEP 2: Add beaten egg and grated garlic to the bowl. Mix to combine.
  • STEP 3: Add ground chicken to the bowl. Mix gently to incorporate the ingredients. Do not overmix.
  • STEP 4: Lightly coat your hands and fingers with olive oil. Form golf-ball-size meatballs by hand, or use a metal scoop. Between the palms of your hands, gently roll each chicken meatball into a smooth ball. Place meatballs inside the prepared air fryer basket. Arrange them in a single layer leaving space between pieces so the meatballs can become crisp. Do not overcrowd the basket. We’ll be cooking in batches.

RECIPE TIP: For meatballs with a light tender texture (instead of a heavy dense texture), don’t overwork or compact the meat mixture. Use a light hand when forming the meatballs or when using a metal scoop.

How to assemble lemon butter chicken meatballs and cook them in an air fryer.
  • STEP 5: Air fry the lemon butter chicken meatballs at 375°F. Cook for 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown and the interior of the meatballs register 165°F on an instant read thermometer.
  • STEP 6: Assemble the lemon brown butter sauce on stovetop. Set a small saucepan over medium heat. Add butter and garlic. Once the butter melts, cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until a foam develops on top. Gently swirl the pan for 30 to 45 seconds, or until the butter turns brown. The foam will clear. The sauce will be richly aromatic. Remove the pan from heat. Stir in lemon juice.
  • STEP 7: Transfer the cooked meatballs to a bowl. Drizzle them with lemon brown butter sauce, then toss until well coated.
  • STEP 8: Plate the meatballs with your favorite sides. Garnish with a pinch of flaky salt, freshly-grated parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.
How to air fry chicken meatballs and make a brown butter sauce for them on stovetop..

RECIPE FAQ

These are the most commonly-asked questions for making the BEST lemon butter chicken meatballs, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.

HOW TO PREVENT MEATBALL MIXTURE FROM STICKING TO HANDS?

Before forming the meatballs, coat your hands and fingers with a bit of olive oil (either liquid or spray). This will help prevent the meat from sticking to your hands when handling the mixture.

CAN I SPRAY THE AIR FRYER BASKET WITH PAM COOKING SPRAY?

No. This is not recommended. Aerosol cooking sprays have soy lecithin. This ingredient can destroy the non-stick coating on your appliance and leave behind a thick brown layer of sticky gunk. Instead, use olive oil and a pastry brush to grease the air fryer basket.

CAN I BAKE CHICKEN MEATBALLS INSTEAD OF AIR FRYING THEM?

Yes. And it’s super easy to do. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Place uncooked meatballs on the tray, leaving a bit of space between each. Bake 25 minutes or until golden and done. For best results, rotate the meatballs after the first 15 minutes of baking.

RECOMMENDED COOKING TEMPERATURE FOR GROUND CHICKEN?

According to the USDA government blog, the safe internal temperature for ground chicken is 165ºF. Use a food thermometer to check for doneness. For food safety, clean this cooking tool with hot soapy water before and after each use.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH AIR FRYER MEATBALLS?

Serve with orzo, rice, mashed potatoes, or buttered noodles. Or pair the meatballs with sautéed mushrooms, green beans almondine, caesar salad or your favorite veggies. Enjoy them with crusty bread.

HOW LONG DO COOKED MEATBALLS LAST IN THE FRIDGE?

When tightly wrapped in a foil packet (or placed in a shallow airtight container) and refrigerated, cooked meatballs can stay fresh for up to 3 days. After this time, they’re expired and no longer safe to eat.

Overhead view of air fryer chicken meatballs with lemon brown butter sauce served with orzo.

more savory meatball recipes

If you enjoy easy delicious meals, up your game with these simple recipes for tender juicy meatballs! These crowd-pleasing favorites are family tested and kid approved. Save them for later. Pin them to Pinterest.

RATE THIS RECIPE ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Flavor testers rated these the BEST air fryer chicken meatballs. They loved how light and fluffy they are on the inside, while crisp and caramelized on the outside. They savored the bright lemony flavor evenly disbursed throughout the meatballs, and the rich and savory brown butter sauce.

If you too enjoyed these lemon butter chicken meatballs, give them a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero! Share it with a friend.

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Lemon butter chicken meatballs served on orzo and drizzled with lemon brown butter sauce.

Lemon Butter Chicken Meatballs


  • Author: Denay DeGuzman
  • Total Time: 25 Minutes
  • Yield: 20 Meatballs 1x

Description

These lemon butter chicken meatballs are made in the air fryer. But they can also be baked in the oven. Light and lemony, they’re coated in a rich and savory lemon brown butter sauce. So delicious.


Ingredients

Units Scale

Lemon Butter Chicken Meatballs

  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 large clove garlic, grated
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, for greasing air fryer basket and hands

Lemon Brown Butter Sauce

  • 5 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

Optional Garnishes

  • Flaky sea salt
  • Freshly-grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh herbs (choose your favorite): oregano, basil, or Italian parsley

Instructions

RECIPE PREP: This is an air fryer recipe. Lightly grease the air fryer basket with olive oil. Set it aside. 

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and ground black pepper. Add beaten egg and grated garlic to the bowl. Mix to combine. Add ground chicken to the bowl. Mix gently to incorporate the ingredients. Do not overmix.
  2. Lightly coat your hands and fingers with olive oil. Form golf-ball-size meatballs by hand, or use a metal scoop. Between the palms of your hands, gently roll each chicken meatball into a smooth ball. Place meatballs inside the prepared air fryer basket. Arrange them in a single layer leaving space between pieces so the meatballs can become crisp. Don’t overcrowd the basket. We’ll be cooking in batches.
  3. Air fry the lemon butter chicken meatballs at 375°F. Cook for 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown and the interior of the meatballs register 165°F on an instant read thermometer.
  4. Assemble the lemon brown butter sauce on stovetop. Set a small saucepan over medium heat. Add butter and garlic. Once the butter melts, cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until a foam develops on top. Gently swirl the pan for 30 to 45 seconds, or until the butter turns brown. The foam will clear. The sauce will be richly aromatic. Remove the pan from heat. Stir in lemon juice.
  5. Transfer the cooked meatballs to a bowl. Drizzle them with lemon brown butter sauce, then toss until well coated. Plate the meatballs with your favorite sides. Garnish with a pinch of flaky salt, freshly-grated parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.

Notes

FRESH LEMON: Working with a fresh lemon is easy if you remember to zest it first before slicing it in half and juicing.

FOR LIGHT TENDER MEATBALLS: Take care not to overwork or compact the meat mixture. Use a light hand when forming the meatballs or when using a metal scoop. If the meat is overmixed or pressed too hard during meatball formation, the texture will be heavy and dense.

HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER MEATBALLS: Transfer cooked meatballs to an airtight container and refrigerate. They’ll stay fresh for up to 3 days.

OVEN BAKING INSTRUCTIONS: No air fryer? No problem. Bake these meatballs in the oven. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Place uncooked meatballs on the tray, leaving a bit of space between each. Bake 25 minutes or until golden and done. For best results, rotate the meatballs after the first 15 minutes of baking.

  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 Minutes
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Air Fryer
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Lemon Butter Chicken Meatballs, Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs, Lemon Chicken Meatballs, Ground Chicken Meatballs Recipe

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

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