These delicious cheese stuffed meatballs are made with ground beef, spices, and ricotta cheese to keep them moist then stuffed with gooey mozzarella cheese. Make them in minutes in an air fryer for a quick keto meal or appetizer the entire family will enjoy!
Sponsored by: Perdue Farms. All opinions are honest and my own.
As I’ve started trying to spend a little more time on myself and getting fit again (might even start half marathon training again), I’ve been going to boot camp, drinking more water, and trying my best to eat way more protein than ever before.
It’s been tough, especially if I don’t want to just down protein powder all day long.
One of my favorite ways to get protein is with meatballs. I don’t know what it is about having little balls of meat compared to a huge chunk of meat to eat, but meatballs are my jam.
And these keto friendly air fryer cheese stuffed meatballs are really my jam. They’ve got meat, cheese, and more cheese stuffed inside of them. Think stuffed crust pizza but cheese stuffed into the meatballs instead of the crust.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Moist – we tested out a bunch of variations of this recipe and these ones, with the ricotta added into the meat mixture, came out incredibly moist and delicious. Keeping things moist in an air fryer can be a challenge sometimes, but these meatballs are as moist as if you baked them!
- Cheesy – if you like cheese, you’ll love these. I mean there’s a reason everyone likes mozzarella sticks – there’s just something about eating something with cheese in the center. It’s delicious. And now I want mozzarella sticks.
- Keto friendly – if you’re doing keto, this recipe is for you. If you’re trying to eat more protein, this recipe is for you. If you just want delicious food, this recipe is for you.
- Fast – this recipe comes together fast and cooks even faster, especially if you have a Ninja® Foodi® 2-Basket Air Fryer that lets you cook two batches of meatballs at the same time!
- Mozzarella cheese sticks – also known as string cheese, you’ll need 2 to 3 of these, depending on how big you roll your meatballs. Cut them into 1 inch pieces that will fit into your meatballs.
- Egg – lightly beat the egg before you add it to the meatball mixture
- Ground beef – we love Niman Ranch’s 80/20 ground beef for this recipe because the added fat, along with the ricotta, keeps the meat nice and moist when it’s air fried. Plus, all Niman Ranch meat is 100% pure angus beef, antibiotic and hormone free, 100% vegetarian fed, and certified humane. The quality of meat is just as important as the taste and Niman Ranch is pure quality!
You can get Niman Ranch ground beef sent directly to your house if you order on the Perdue Farms website. PLUS, right now this Niman Ranch ground beef bundle is only $29.99 PLUS if you use this link, you get an extra 15% off AND a free product with your order!
In addition to all of the ingredients above, you’ll also need a Ninja Foodi Air Fryer. We just got the Ninja® Foodi® 2-Basket Air Fryer and it’s pretty much amazing!
Why is it better than another air fryer? I’ll tell you!
- Dualzone Technology – cook two things at once. Two of the same thing OR two different things with totally different settings. There’s even a Smart Finish feature that lets you put your food in and have it cook and finish together, even if the times are different! The Ninja Foodi is smart enough to do it all on its own!
- Six functions – it’s not just an air fryer. Use it to bake, reheat, air fry, air broil, roast, and even dehydrate. So many possibilities!
- Extra large space – the two baskets give you 8 quarts of space, which means you can cook a meal for your entire family all at once! Or two batches of these cheese stuffed meatballs, with plenty of space around them to give them the best finish!
- Crisper plates – the Ninja Foodi comes with nonstick crisper plates to allow air to get all around the food you’re air frying. It’s kind of like how we use wire racks to get these garlic parmesan wings as crispy as possible in the oven! Plus, they’re dishwasher safe!
How to make Cheese Stuffed Meatballs
As yummy as these are, you’d think they’d be harder to make. But no, they’re actually quite simple! And honestly pretty fun to make, kind of like making Rolo cookies but instead of stuffing a Rolo inside cookie dough, it’s a cheese stick inside meat!
The first thing you need to do is make your meat mixture.
Add the eggs, ricotta cheese, parmesan, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to a large bowl.
Mix until well combined so that it evenly combines with your meat.
Next you’re going to add the ground beef to the bowl but before you do this, spray or lightly coat your hands with olive oil to keep the meat from sticking.
Once the ground beef is in the bowl, use your hands to mix it with the other ingredients until combined.
Use a tablespoon to measure out two tablespoons of the meat mixture then use this as your gauge to get close to two tablespoons of meat for the other meatballs.
Place a one-inch piece of the cheese stick in the center of the meat and form a meatball around the cheese.
Repeat until you’ve done this with all of the meat. It should make 12-16 meatballs depending on how large you make the meatballs.
Once the meatballs are ready, it’s time to air fry! Make sure crisper plates are in both of your baskets then place half the meatballs in the Zone 1 basket and the other half in the Zone 2 basket.
Put both baskets back into the air fryer.
On zone 1, select the AIRFRY option, set the temperature to 375 degrees, and set the time to eight minutes. Then select MATCH COOK to match Zone 2 settings to Zone 1. This will ensure they both cook at the same temperate and for the same amount of time.
Press START/PAUSE to begin the cooking.
When the air fryer reaches six minutes, press START/PAUSE to pause cooking. Remove both baskets, flip the meatballs, then put both baskets back and hit START/PAUSE again.
Remove the meatballs when cooking is complete (internal temp should reach 165 degrees F) and allow them to rest for five minutes before serving to let the juices redistribute.
Serve warm with your favorite sauce, side dish, or just by themselves! They’re best warm so that you really get the goodness of the mozzarella cheese inside.
Oh and I like to top them with a little fresh grated parmesan cheese. You can never have too much cheese!
Make sure the meatballs stay in a single layer and aren’t touching each other in the air fryer. The Ninja® Foodi® 2-Basket Air Fryer means that you can cook double the amount of meatballs at once!
Coat your hands lightly with olive oil before mixing the meat to help keep the meat from sticking to your hands.
Store any leftover meatballs in the fridge in an airtight container for up to five days.
The ricotta cheese in the meatball mixture will keep these nice and tender. Also, make sure to not cook them too long so they don’t get dry.
More Easy Dinners
If you like these cheese stuffed meatballs, you’ll love these other quick and easy dinner recipes!
- Ham fried rice – better than takeout fried rice is a great way to use up leftover rice or leftover ham. Or substitute ham with your favorite meat instead!
- Easy shepherds pie – an Irish classic that combines homemade mashed potatoes, ground beef, and lots of yummy veggies!
- Coconut chicken tenders – delicious chicken coated in a sweet coconut breading, even better when they’re dipped in the homemade pina colada sauce!
- Balsamic grilled chicken – if you have a grill or grill pan, you can make this chicken in under 30 minutes!
- Sausage jambalaya – this quick version of traditional jambalaya will become a new family favorite!
Cheese Stuffed Meatballs
- 1 large egg beaten
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 pound Niman Ranch All Natural 80/20 Ground Beef at room temperature
- 2-3 mozzarella cheese sticks
- Mix egg, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl.
- Lightly coat hands with olive oil to keep the meat from sticking to them.
- Add meat to egg and cheese mixture then mix together by hand until well combined.
- Use a tablespoon to divide meat into two tablespoon portions of meat.
- Add a one-inch piece of mozzarella cheese on top of one of the portions of meat then wrap it around the cheese to make a meatball. Repeat with all portions of meat.
- Install crisper plate in both baskets.
- Place half the meatballs in the Zone 1 basket, then insert basket in unit. Place the other half in the Zone 2 basket, then insert basket in unit.
- Select Zone 1, select AIRFRY, set temperature to 375°F, and set time to 8 minutes. Select MATCH COOK to match Zone 2 settings with Zone 1. Press the START/PAUSE button to begin cooking.
- When time reaches 6 minutes, press START/PAUSE to pause the unit. Remove the baskets and flip the meatballs. Reinsert the baskets in the unit and press START/PAUSE to resume cooking. The meatballs are cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- When cooking is complete, remove the meatballs and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.