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Super Contributor
Posts: 342
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

I made meatballs last night. Browned them in the pan, and then added them for a half hour or so to my tomato sauce.

But they were like hocky pucks! I'm thinking maybe I browned them too much? I always brown them first. I know some people just put the uncooked meatballs right in the sauce to cook, but I think browning them first in olive oil is better.

I make them all the time, and this is the first time they came out like this!

How do I get moist meatballs??

Honored Contributor
Posts: 13,459
Registered: ‎10-03-2011

Re: My meatballs were tough!

How did you make your meat mixture? Was there any milk or egg in it?

Super Contributor
Posts: 622
Registered: ‎11-13-2010

Re: My meatballs were tough!

qvc, maybe you over mixed w/ too heavy of a hand? That can make them tough.

ETA: Maybe you used lean beef? They need some fat.

Regular Contributor
Posts: 218
Registered: ‎01-12-2012

Re: My meatballs were tough!

Sabatini has nailed the two main causes of tough meatballs - meat too lean (makes them dry), and overmixing, which "angers up" the collagen in red meat and makes it tough.

Adding milk definitely helps, and I find that soaking the bread or breadcrumbs in the milk makes them softer.

For what it's worth, try Googling the meatball recipe from Carmine's (there is also a cookbook with all the recipes from the restaurant). They were the best I've ever made.

As a last possibility try baking the meatballs rather than pan frying, then adding them to your sauce. That's what they do at the Meatball Shop in Manhattan.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,320
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: My meatballs were tough!

Moist meatballs are achieved with a combination of ground beef, ground pork and ground veal. Italian breadcrumbs or even Panko breadcrumbs, egg, seasoning, milk or water.

Use a cookie scoop for same size meatballs, bake 350 deg on parchment paper then add to your sauce. Depending on the size of your meatball, it generally is about 20-30 minutes in the oven.

Hope that helps.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 13,459
Registered: ‎10-03-2011

Re: My meatballs were tough!

I prefer baking to pan frying, too, if I'm adding them to a spaghetti sauce.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 9,081
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: My meatballs were tough!

I agree with all the above--too lean of meat,over mixing is bad and also pressing them together to hard into a ball shape is bad too. And I prefer oven roasting/baking to frying.

Super Contributor
Posts: 2,313
Registered: ‎08-23-2012

Re: My meatballs were tough!

I have made about 10,000 meatballs in my lifetime. I was making them as a kid, too small to reach the stove.. had to stand on a chair.

Here's my recipe that never fails:

1 pound ground beef or ground turkey

2 eggs

1/4 cup whole milk

Italian flavored bread crumbs

Beat the eggs with the milk until well mixed. Add in the crumbs until the mixture is still pretty moist - too moist to form into a ball, but not wet enough to pour out of the bowl.

(If you goof up and make it too dry, just add some water.)

Add the meat in by hand. Use gloves if you feel weird about using your hands, but you do not want to overwork the mixture.

Form into balls and brown on all sides. (I don't add oil when I use beef, it's oily enough. If I'm making turkey meatballs I might add a little oil to the browning pan.)

Drop the meatballs into the sauce and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Super Contributor
Posts: 2,313
Registered: ‎08-23-2012

Re: My meatballs were tough!

I want to add something else. Pioneer Woman did the cutest thing this week. She used slider rolls and put one meatball and a little mozzarella on each one for an easy finger food lunch. I'm going to do this soon.

Valued Contributor
Posts: 619
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: My meatballs were tough!

I never brown the meatballs first. I always put them raw right into the simmering sauce on the stove and cook them low and slow.