How to Make Meatballs

Keep your meatballs flavorful, tender and light.

All too often homemade meatballs turn out dense and hard, reminiscent of nothing more than round overcooked hamburgers with a touch of seasoning. But when we dig into a plateful of spaghetti and meatballs, we want our forks to sink into wonderfully flavored meatballs that are tender and light. Just how do we create the full flavor and tender texture we crave? By taking great care with the ingredients and mixing method, that's how!

Create great flavor by using a combination of ground meats and assertive seasoning. For tenderness, add a bread and buttermilk mixture to the meat, keep your mixing light and use a soft touch when shaping to produce the best-textured meatballs. Then grab your fork and get ready to sit down to one meaty plate of deliciousness.

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1 Prepare Bread Crumb Mixture

Including a mixture of bread and buttermilk creates a lighter texture and keeps the meatballs moist.  Remove the crusts from 3 slices of white bread and tear or cut each slice into small pieces.  In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs with 3/4 cup buttermilk.

Mash the bread and buttermilk together with a fork. Set aside and let stand about 15 minutes, mashing occasionally, until the mixture forms into a fairly smooth paste.

Milk can be substituted for buttermilk, though buttermilk produces creamier and lighter-textured meatballs.

2 Combine Meats

Use a combination of ground beef and pork to make a more flavorful meatball than with beef alone. Place 1 pound ground chuck and 1/2 pound ground pork in a bowl.

Experiment with different combinations of ground meats to suit your personal taste. Try meatballs made with only ground pork, or with differing amounts of ground beef, pork, chicken or turkey to see what you like best.

3 Add Seasonings and Binder

Add 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Stir or mash three or four times to just begin mixing ingredients together. Add 1 large egg and the prepared bread/buttermilk mixture. Mix until evenly combined.

Consider adding a bit of other seasonings, such as dried oregano, basil, sage, or mace, to suit your personal taste.

Take care to not overmix the meat mixture, as overmixing creates tough meatballs. Use your hands to keep the mixing light!

4 Shape Into Balls

With your hands, gently shape 3 tablespoons of the meat mixture into a 1 1/2-inch ball. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture, making about 20 meatballs.

If you'd like, meatballs can be shaped up to two days in advance and refrigerated until they're ready to be baked.

Use a light touch when shaping the meatballs. Overworking the meat and compressing it too much creates dense, hard, tough meatballs.

5 Bake

Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 22 – 25 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.

Make clean up easy by lining the baking sheet with aluminum foil.

6 Serve & Enjoy

Serve the prepared meatballs atop a big plate of spaghetti, or smothered with your favorite sauce. Enjoy!

For easy freezer meal prep, freeze cooked meatballs for up to two months. Cool them completely in the refrigerator, then place in freezer bags and freeze. When ready to serve, thaw and reheat by simmering in sauce or warming in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

About Kitchen Is My Playground

Tracey is the creator of the popular blog The Kitchen Is My Playground, which she founded in 2011. Her goal is to share recipes with other home cooks looking to create flavorful (and somewhat adventurous) food for their families and friends. Connect with her on PinterestFacebookTwitter or Google+.