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No more boring chicken meatballs! These Firecracker Chicken Meatballs are delicious on their own, but SO much better with the sweet, savory and spicy firecracker sauce! Perfect for a party or fun dinner! #appetizer #meatballs #firecracker #airfryer
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5 from 6 votes

Air Fryer Firecracker Chicken Meatballs

These Firecracker Chicken Meatballs are delicious on their own, but SO much better with the sweet, savory and spicy firecracker sauce!
Prep Time18 mins
Cook Time12 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: air fryer meatballs
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 548kcal



  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp minced chives optional but recommended
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 lbs. ground chicken or ground turkey
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp minced parsley optional - for garnish

Firecracker Sauce

  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce we normally use Franks
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt use less if your soy sauce was regular instead of light or reduced sodium
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp red pepper flakes


Make firecracker sauce

  • In a small saucepan, add all firecracker sauce ingredients (brown sugar, hot sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic powder, salt, and red pepper flakes).
  • Cook over MED heat, stirring often, until sauce is combined and thickened. This will take about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Be aware the sauce will thicken as it cools, but if it gets TOO thick during the cooling process, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it reaches the consistency you're looking for.

Make the meatballs

  • In a large mixing bowl, add olive oil, garlic, chives, salt, onion powder, pepper, smoked paprika, and eggs, and whisk well to combine.
  • Add the ground chicken, panko, and Parmesan cheese and use your hands to combine, being careful not to over mix. Over mixing meatballs can yield meatballs that are tough, instead of tender.
  • Preheat air fryer to 400°F.
  • Scoop meat (we like to use a cookie scoop), and form into meatballs, roughly 2 inches in diameter.
  • Spray the basket of the air fryer with nonstick cooking spray (we like to use an olive oil or avocado oil spray), then add meatballs in a single layer. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to cook in batches.
  • Spray the meatballs with nonstick spray and air fry at 400°F for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes is up, use tongs to flip meatballs over, spray again with oil spray, then air fry another 5-7 minutes.
  • Meatballs are done cooking when an instant read thermometer reads 165°F.

Glaze meatballs

  • Remove meatballs and dip them, one at a time, in the firecracker sauce. After dipping one, return the meatball to the air fryer basket and repeat for all remaining meatballs.
  • Air fry for 2 more minutes, then remove and serve with any remaining sauce. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.


  1. Recipe will yield around 18-21 meatballs.
  2. Calorie information is for one serving, which is around 3-4 meatballs.  However the calorie count assumes you're using the entire sauce, which isn't generally the case.

Oven Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 475°F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  2. Cook sauce as directed.
  3. Assemble meatballs as directed.
  4. Add meatballs to prepared baking sheet, and bake for about 12-13 minutes, until cooked through.
  5. Dip meatballs, one at a time, in the sauce, then add back to baking sheet and bake another 2 minutes or so.


Calories: 548kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 205mg | Sodium: 1859mg | Potassium: 1005mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 1030IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 327mg | Iron: 4mg