Making meatballs is very similar to making meatloaf. Follow these tips and learn how to make the best meatballs every time. You can use meatballs in sandwiches, in pasta sauce, or as an easy and delicious appetizer.
How to Make the Best Meatballs
- Combine all of the other ingredients first before adding the meat. Meatballs are usually made with some type of bread or cracker, a liquid, and seasonings. Mix those first so make sure these ingredients are evenly distributed, and so the meat isn't handled too much. As with all ground meat recipes, too much handling will make the meatballs tough.
- Vegetables like onions or shredded carrots should be cooked before adding the raw meat. The cooking time for meatballs isn't long enough to make the vegetables tender. Chopped onions are very strong before they are cooked, and will make the meatballs unpleasant to eat.
- You can make meatballs out of ground beef, ground pork, ground chicken or turkey, or even ground sausage. Combine different types of meat for interesting flavors. Just make sure that you cook the meatballs to a final internal temperature of 160°F for pork and beef, and 165°F for chicken and turkey for food safety reasons.
- When forming the meatballs, use a small ice cream scoop or melon baller so they are all the same size. They must be the same size so they cook evenly.
- Wet your hands with cool water when shaping the meatballs to help prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands. And remember to wash your hands well after handling raw meat. Use soap and water and scrub your hands well, especially under the nails.
- You can cook meatballs by browning in a skillet, simmering in liquid, or baking in the oven.
- When browning meatballs, don't try to move them until they release easily from the pan. One side may be more browned than the others, but the meatballs will stay together.
- Baking meatballs is very easy and takes less hands-on effort. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is 160°F for pork and beef, and 165°F for poultry meatbals.
- When making meatballs that you will put into a sauce raw, so they cook in the sauce or soup, use very lean meat or the finished product may be too greasy.
- Meatballs freeze very well. Cool them completely so they stay separate, then freeze in a single layer. When frozen solid, place gently into a hard-sided freezer container, label, seal, and freeze up to 3 months. To thaw, let stand in the refrigerator overnight, thaw in the microwave oven at 30% power, or just use as directed in recipe.