Reuben Meatballs in the Air Fryer or Oven: Savory Delight

If you love a Reuben sandwich, then this twist is for you! These Reuben meatballs are simple to prepare in your air fryer or oven. Featuring classic corned beef, swiss, rye, and sauerkraut, they’re a bite-sized version of the handheld classic. Serve them up for St Patrick’s Day or anytime!

reuben meatballs recipe dinners done quick featured image

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Reuben meatballs are savory, moist, delicious, and the perfect unique spin on the classic Reuben sandwich. They’re also a great way to use up leftover corned beef from your St. Patrick’s Day dinner!

Meatballs are so versatile, since you can use them in so many ways! Turn them into sliders, a meatball hoagie, or a casserole. They can also be served with toothpicks as an appetizer, or atop a bed of pasta.

While these meatballs may be bite-sized, they pack a ton of flavor! Corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and rye bread make the perfect combination. They’re a savory and hearty option that’s great for entertaining and for your tailgate party!

air fryer reuben meatballs with thousand island dressing on pretzel sliders

Ingredients List

ingredients to make reuben meatballs
  • 1 pound corned beef, trimmed of excess fat (a little is fine, trim the big pieces)
  • 1 cup shredded swiss cheese
  • ½ cup sauerkraut (drained)
  • 3 slices stale rye bread (for breadcrumbs)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion (or ½ cup fresh, finely diced)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • ½ tsp black pepper (or more to taste)
  • ¼ cup Thousand Island dressing

Ingredient Tips and Substitutions

  • Corned beef brisket works the best for this (but you can use deli style too). Use a food processor to pulse it into fine pieces, similar to ground beef. Feel free to use a mix of corned beef and ground beef as well if you don’t have enough leftovers! Note that if you’re cooking a corned beef brisket from fresh to use for this, it takes 3-4 hours in the oven so I recommend cooking it a day in advance
  • You can use cooked cabbage instead of the sauerkraut if preferred. In either case, make sure to drain well and remove as much moisture as possible
  • Instead of swiss cheese, you can use Gruyere, or sub mozzarella (though it won’t be as “classic” of a Reuben in this case)
  • If your rye bread isn’t stale, toast in the oven for about 10 minutes at 200°F, or in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes at 400°F. You just want it to try out and be crispy like breadcrumbs
  • Seasonings are all adjustable to taste. Caraway seeds are another great addition (I just don’t prefer them myself, so I don’t put them in)
  • While these Reuben meatballs are great on their own, consider serving ingredients like pretzel slider rolls, hoagie rolls, pasta, extra cheese for topping a casserole, etc

How to Cook Reuben Meatballs: Step By Step

  1. Use a food processor to finely grind your stale rye bread into breadcrumbs, and your corned beef into a fine mince. Note: if you don’t have a food processor, you can use a Chef’s knife to chop the meat by hand, and a bag to crush the toasted bread; it’s just a lot more work this way
grind rye bread and corned beef into a fine mince
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground corned beef, shredded swiss cheese, rye breadcrumbs, drained sauerkraut, eggs, and all the seasonings. Mix well until everything is evenly distributed
combine corned beef, shredded swiss cheese, rye breadcrumbs, sauerkraut, eggs, and seasoning in a mixing bowl
  1. Form mixture into approximately 1” balls (you can use a Tablespoon or cookie scoop to make this easier) by rolling between your palms
form corned beef mixture into balls
  1. To cook in the air fryer: place in the air fryer basket or rack in a single layer with air space between each meatball. Cook on the air fry setting at 400°F for 10-15 minutes, until browned as desired and cooked through. For the oven: bake on a parchment lined baking sheet in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes. In either case, the center should reach 165°F for food safety
place reuben meatballs in air fryer basket
  1. Serve hot, with Thousand Island dressing for dipping (or with pretzel slider buns, extra kraut, and dressing for Reuben meatball sliders)!
overhead view of reuben meatballs surrounding a bowl of thousand island dressing

What to Serve With Reuben Meatballs

  • Thousand Island dressing
  • Pretzel rolls
  • Hoagie rolls
  • Egg noodles
  • Colcannon
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Pickles
  • Potato chips
  • French fries
  • Coleslaw
  • Onion rings
  • Deviled eggs
  • Porter style beers
  • Rye based beers
  • Martinis

There are lots of great items to serve alongside Reuben meatballs, as a base, side dish, or drink to accompany them!

Try them with my Air Fryer Deviled Eggs, Air Fryer Beer Batter Onion Rings, or some Air Fryer Accordion Potatoes. Wash it down with my Irish Margarita Recipe or a Tipperary Cocktail, and finish with Leprechaun Bark or Lucky Charms Rice Krispies for dessert!

Recipe FAQs

What Are Reuben Meatballs?

Reuben meatballs are a delicious twist on the classic Reuben sandwich, featuring ground meat mixed with traditional Reuben ingredients like corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing.

They’re a bite sized version which can be served as an appetizer, or entree when paired with bread, pasta, or potatoes.

Can I Use Any Type of Ground Meat for Making Reuben Meatballs?

To make a truly “Reuben” meatball, use ground corned beef for the base. It can also be split 50/50 with regular ground beef if preferred.

For a leaner version, use turkey instead (which might make it a “Rachel” meatball instead).

What Is the Best Method for Cooking Reuben Meatballs to Ensure They Are Moist and Flavorful?

Reuben meatballs can be baked in the oven, air fried, or cooked in a skillet on the stovetop.

Baking them in the oven allows for even cooking and ensures they retain their moisture, while cooking them in a skillet adds a crispy exterior. The air fryer does both, with a brown exterior and juicy interior.

Are There Any Variations of Reuben Meatballs to Try?

Absolutely! You can experiment with different variations of Reuben meatballs by adding ingredients like diced onions, garlic, caraway seeds, or chopped pickles to the meat mixture.

You can also add variety in presentation, using pretzel buns, mashed potatoes, or colcannon as a base.

Can I Make Reuben Meatballs in Advance and Reheat Them Later?

Reuben meatballs can be made in advance and reheated later for convenience.

Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, then reheat them in the oven, air fryer, or microwave until heated through before serving.

What Is the Recommended Serving Size for Reuben Meatballs, and How Many Meatballs Should I Plan per Person?

The recommended serving size for Reuben meatballs depends on whether they are served as an appetizer or a main course.

As an appetizer, plan for 3-4 meatballs per person, while as a main course, aim for 5-6 meatballs per serving.

Can I Freeze Reuben Meatballs?

Yes, you can freeze Reuben meatballs for later consumption. Allow them to cool completely, then transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag.

They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and then heat them in the oven, air fryer, or microwave until warmed through.

Are Reuben Meatballs Suitable for Special Dietary Restrictions?

As is, Reuben meatballs are not suitable for most dietary restrictions, as they contain meat, gluten, dairy, and carbs.

However, they can be adapted to suit various dietary restrictions. For a gluten-free option, use gluten-free breadcrumbs. For a low-carb option, substitute breadcrumbs with almond flour or crushed pork rinds.

Recipe Pro Tips

  • I prepared my Reuben meatballs in my Ninja air fryer and they were fully cooked (verified via thermometer) at 10 minutes total, without preheating. I added 2 additional minutes for a darker brown exterior, but this is personal preference
  • The meatballs are very soft while cooking, so I actually do not recommend flipping them. If you want to (to brown the bottoms more), do so gently with a pair of tongs
  • You can use perforated parchment paper in the air fryer as well if preferred, to make cleanup easier and to help prevent the cheese from dripping through the grates
  • For a stuffed meatball option, add a cube of swiss cheese to the center of the meatball instead of incorporating it into the meat. Make sure to seal it well to prevent leaking
  • This recipe should make about two dozen meatballs, but it can vary slightly depending on the exact size of your meatballs
holding up half of an air fryer reuben meatball on a fork

Storage and Serving Tips

  • Store any leftover Reuben meatballs in the refrigerator for 2-3 days in an airtight container. They can also be frozen (cooked or uncooked) for up to 2 months for a longer term option
  • To reheat your Reuben meatballs, air fry at 325°F for 3-4 minutes (add 1-2 minutes if frozen), or place in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes (add 3 minutes if frozen)

More Air Fryer Corned Beef Recipes to Try

Final Thoughts

These Reuben meatballs are a great way to use up leftover corned beef from your St Paddy’s celebration! However, they’re equally tasty with deli corned beef any time you have a craving.

Meatballs are great because they have so much versatility. You can serve them with toothpicks for appetizers, or add them to slider rolls with kraut and dressing for game day.

They also go well on a hoagie roll for a sub, or with pasta, potatoes (use up that colcannon) and more. I’ve even turned them into a meatball casserole!

If you’re looking for some other creative meatball recipes, make sure to check out my Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Meatballs and Greek Meatballs in the Air Fryer for other great options!

reuben meatballs recipe dinners done quick featured image

Reuben Meatballs (Air Fryer or Oven)

These Reuben meatballs have all the flavors of the classic sandwich in a bite sized format! They’re a great way to use up leftover corned beef from St Patrick’s Day too.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American, Irish
Servings 6
Calories 374 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Pound corned beef (trimmed of excess fat)
  • 1 Cup shredded swiss cheese
  • ½ Cup sauerkraut (drained)
  • 3 Slices stale rye bread (for breadcrumbs)
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion (or ½ cup fresh, finely diced)
  • 1 Tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tsp salt (or to taste)
  • ½ Tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • ¼ Cup Thousand Island dressing

Instructions
 

  • Use a food processor to finely grind your stale rye bread into breadcrumbs, and your corned beef into a fine mince. Note: if you don’t have a food processor, you can use a Chef’s knife to chop the meat by hand, and a bag to crush the toasted bread; it’s just a lot more work this way
    1 Pound corned beef, 3 Slices stale rye bread
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the ground corned beef, shredded swiss cheese, rye breadcrumbs, drained sauerkraut, eggs, and all the seasonings. Mix well until everything is evenly distributed
    1 Cup shredded swiss cheese, ½ Cup sauerkraut, 2 Large eggs, 1 Tbsp dried minced onion, 1 Tsp minced garlic, 1 Tsp dried parsley, 1 Tsp salt, ½ Tsp black pepper
  • Form mixture into approximately 1” balls (you can use a Tablespoon or cookie scoop to make this easier) by rolling between your palms
  • To cook in the air fryer: place in the air fryer basket or rack in a single layer with air space between each meatball. Cook on the air fry setting at 400°F for 10-15 minutes, until browned as desired and cooked through. For the oven: bake on a parchment lined baking sheet in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes.  In either case, the center should reach 165°F for food safety
  • Serve hot, with Thousand Island dressing for dipping (or with pretzel slider buns, extra kraut, and dressing for reuben meatball sliders)!
    ¼ Cup Thousand Island dressing

Notes

  • Corned beef brisket works the best for this (but you can use deli style too). Feel free to use a mix of corned beef and ground beef as well if you don’t have enough leftovers! Note that if you’re cooking a corned beef brisket from fresh to use for this, it takes 3-4 hours in the oven so I recommend cooking it a day in advance
  • You can use cooked cabbage instead of the sauerkraut if preferred. In either case, make sure to drain well and remove as much moisture as possible
  • Instead of swiss cheese, you can use Gruyere, or sub mozzarella (though it won’t be as “classic” of a reuben in this case)
  • If your rye bread isn’t stale, toast in the oven for about 10 minutes at 200°F, or in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes at 400°F. You just want it to try out and be crispy like breadcrumbs
  • Seasonings are all adjustable to taste. Caraway seeds are another great addition (I just don’t prefer them myself, so I don’t put them in)
  • While these Rueben meatballs are great on their own, consider serving ingredients like pretzel slider rolls, hoagie rolls, pasta, extra cheese for topping a casserole, etc
  • I prepared my Rueben meatballs in my Ninja air fryer and they were fully cooked (verified via thermometer) at 10 minutes total, without preheating. I added 2 additional minutes for a darker brown exterior, but this is personal preference
  • The meatballs are very soft while cooking, so I actually do not recommend flipping them. If you want to (to brown the bottoms more), do so gently with a pair of tongs. They firm up after sitting for a few minutes post-cooking
  • You can use perforated parchment paper in the air fryer if desired to make cleanup easier and to help prevent cheese from dripping through the grates
  • For a stuffed meatball option, add a cube of swiss cheese to the center of the meatball instead of incorporating it into the meat. Make sure to seal it well to prevent leaking
  • This recipe should make about two dozen meatballs, but it can vary slightly depending on the exact size of your meatballs
  • Store any leftover Rueben meatballs in the refrigerator for 2-3 days in an airtight container. They can also be frozen (cooked or uncooked) for up to 2 months for a longer term option
  • To reheat your Rueben meatballs, air fry at 325°F for 3-4 minutes (add 1-2 minutes if frozen), or place in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes (add 3 minutes if frozen)
  • Exact nutritional values will vary based on brand and flavor of ingredients, amount of sauce used, any sides added, size of meatballs, and total quantity consumed, so please consider this a guideline only

Nutrition

Serving: 151gCalories: 374kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 33gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 9.4gCholesterol: 156mgSodium: 1455mgPotassium: 209mgFiber: 1.6gSugar: 2.8gVitamin A: 276IUVitamin C: 1.8mgCalcium: 195mgIron: 2.5mg
Keyword air fryer meatballs, air fryer party appetizers, corned beef and sauerkraut, corned beef meatballs, creative st patrick’s day dishes, irish meatballs, meatballs with sauerkraut, reuben meatballs, st patrick’s day appetizers
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Katie Vine
5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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