Fried Nacho Cheese Meatballs
May 25, 2022
Say hello to this Tex-Mex spin on a classic meatball recipe!
It’s safe to say that Texans love having friends and family over for some quality time. Add a golden touch to your get-togethers with these deliciously tender meatballs! Whether it’s a game day, a holiday, or even a casual Sunday cookout, meatballs have always been a crowd favorite, perfect for any occasion. They’re super quick to make and, with an air fryer at hand, easy to cook too. Just make sure you have enough for everyone, as they will go fast!
What are nacho cheese meatballs?
These air-fried meatballs bring your classic meatball recipe to the next level! With a Tex-Mex twist, this recipe is designed to satisfy our love for beef, cheese, chillies, and (of course) nachos.
Naturally, meat is the most important part of all great meatball recipes. Brisket, in particular, is the quintessential meat of choice for Texans. Replacing ground beef with this beloved cut means these Southwest-inspired meatballs are absolutely bursting with flavor. The fat from the brisket renders as it cooks, making them extra tasty, all while preventing the meatballs from drying out.
The second key ingredient in this recipe are store-bought tortilla chips. Coating your meatballs in the salty crunch of crushed nacho cheese tortilla chips makes them out of this world. The crispy texture of the chips pairs perfectly with the tenderness of the meat.
High-quality pepper jack cheese and chopped mild chillies add a fun twist to this recipe. You’ll find that the chillies give just the right amount of spice. But if you want your meatballs even hotter, then replace them with some jalapenos for that extra zip!
A mix of chili powder, ground mustard and cumin works perfectly to create the Tex-Mex-inspired flavors in this dish.
Delicious Tejano sauce
A sweet, hot Tejano sauce wonderfully complements the rich flavors of the meatballs. The acidity from the tomatillos and the earthy spice from the guajillo chiles come together to create this traditional sauce.
The air fryer
Let’s face it – deep frying often brings with it a lot of stress and mess. So, why not use an alternative, healthier method? I like to use an air fryer for fast cooking and a quick clean up. It eliminates the need for a ton of oil, meaning you can still get that delicious texture from fried food without your meal being overly greasy.
Remember, foods that are naturally rich in fat, such as meatballs, are some of the best things to cook in your air fryer. They stay moist on the inside but get extra crispy on the outside.
- 2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed
- 4 oz dried guajillo chiles
- 16 garlic cloves
- 4 tsp olive oil
- 2 ½ tsp salt
- Toast the chiles in an oven at 500°F for 1–2 minutes or until the chiles puff up and become fragrant.
- Sauté the garlic in hot oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until the garlic begins to brown. Add the tomatillos, salt, and 1 quart of water. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring often. Add the chiles and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes or until the tomatillos are soft and the peppers have rehydrated. Cool for 10 minutes.
- Purée the mixture in batches using a blender or food processor. Pour it through a fine-mesh strainer into a container, discarding any solids. Let it cool down completely. Refrigerate the sauce in an airtight container for up to four days.
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- 1 lb ground brisket
- 4 oz mild green chillies
- ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 16 cubes pepper jack cheese (½ inch squares)
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 cups nacho cheese flavored tortilla chips, crushed
- Add the ground brisket to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Add the breadcrumbs, egg, brown sugar, chillies, chili powder, ground mustard, ground cumin, salt and liquid smoke. Stir until well combined. It’s easy to mix it together with your hands!
- Divide the beef mixture into 16 portions. Shape each portion around a cheese cube, making sure to completely cover the cheese.
- Beat the egg whites with water in a shallow dish until thoroughly mixed. Add the crushed chips to a second shallow dish. Dip each meatball into the egg white mixture, then into the chips, and coat them completely.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F for 5 minutes.
- Cook for 14 minutes at 400°F, or until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F. Be sure to flip the meatballs at the halfway point.