How can I make my meat balls more ball-like?

By ball-like I mean round, of course, please don’t go elsewhere.

I don’t eat red meat or a lot of pork products (except bacon) so if that is the secret to round meat balls then I guess I will have to live with my non-round meat balls. I usually make my meat balls with ground chicken or turkey and I don’t really have a problem with them being dry. In fact, they are usually pretty awesome, but they are not round, they usually flatten out on the first side and slightly on the second side it turn them to. Sometimes they actually look at bit triangular. I fry them in a non-stick pan with no extra oil and have no problems with sticking. My mixture is usually really moist so I don’t know if that’s why they don’t retain their roundness or if it’s my cooking or prep method.

I don’t have a set recipe, I usually just eyeball it - add stuff until it looks like the right consistenct. Tonight I made the most awesome meatballs ever. I used a package of ground chicken and the insides of two Sweet Italian turkey sausages (this was a new addition to my recipe). 1/2 a diced onion. 1 Egg. About a 1/2 cup of Italian bread crumbs and around 1/4 cup of grated fresh parmesan cheese (not the canned stuff). Plus salt, pepper and garlic powder. I make smallish meatballs, just a little bigger than a golf ball. As I said I pan fry them but they don’t stay round. They do taste awesome and I’d be happy with that, I’d just like to try and improve them and make them more aesthetically pleasing.

Should I make the mixture, form it into balls and then refrigerate for a while to firm them up? Should I bake them instead? Add more bread crumbs for firmness? (I worry that would make them dry). Should I wrap them in bacon to hold their shape - hey, that’s not a bad idea. Any other suggestions?

Or just share your own awesome meatball recipes for the heck of it.

I always called mine “meat lumps” because their roundness wasn’t assured. I never considered baking them but that might help; I think moving them around to brown all sides is risky business with regard to the final shape. Once they’ve cooked in the oven, you could still cook them a bit in an oiled pan to give that taste of EVOO and/or brown further.

Egg is the glue…you might use an extra egg white if you think extra bread crumbs or parmesan will dry them out and/or make them crumbly.

I don’t notice any fresh parsley in there for color. Italian/pizza spices are good in them as well.

I make meatballs that sound very similar to yours, but instead of frying them, I put them in a pot with the sauce, get the sauce to a boil, cover, then let it simmer for a few hours.

It keeps them round, and I like them. :slight_smile:

Probably important to have very lean meat to do that…otherwise, grease ends up in the sauce. But OP is using chicken/turkey, so, cool!

The Italian bread crumbs have Italian seasonings in them, I don’t add extra because I don’t want it overpowering. Plus this time I used Italian sausage so the amount of spice was perfect.

I like them a little browned but I could try just for the sake of experimenting. They produce very little fat so there’s no worries about that.


Refrigerating them isn’t really going to do much, a short stay in the freezer would be better.

I make mine with a #60 disher about a half ounce, small walnut size. Even that small they get a flat spot from sitting on the freezer tray. If you really want them perfectly round you have to re-roll them after they’ve firmed up a bit, then I let 'em really freeze.

The big trick is don’t crowd the pan you need room for them to move around. Hot pan, REALLY HOT, frozen balls and keep them rolling! Your not cooking them at this point, your just browning them, so being frozen keeps them from getting those flat sides. Once they’re browned you can cook them through over low heat, bake, or simmer them in the sauce.

CMC +fnord!

Restaurants deep fry their meatballs in order to keep them round.


(Stomp stomp)


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Nibble around the outside.

A disher, and a quick freeze (30 min.) in an old egg carton does the trick for me.

Triangular lumps of meat that’s what I get too so I decided to try simmering them first in water as if Im doing meatball soup (I would use sauce but I ve got tomato haters) and then sauteing them quickly to brown. Never thought to freeze them first.

Depends on what meatballs we’re making.

Porcupines we bake, but just plain meatballs intended to be covered in sauce and poured over rice we boil in water to cook. Keeps them nice and round, and in the case of fatty meats it takes a lot of that out. When you pour off the water, you can brown them a bit on the stove before you pour the sauce over them.

Or you can just do as mshar253 as using chicken and turkey you don’t have to worry so much about the fat.

Freezing them a little and re-rolling when they’ve hardened will help. On the other hand, at work we bake them in small-size muffin pans. They’re round on top…

I just use extra lean beef, and drop them right into the simmering sauce. I don’t think they lose much by not browning them, as my sauce is pretty flavorful. This way they stay nice and round and it’s a much easier, cleaner meal to fix, too.

Some good suggestions above, but whatever you do, do NOT keep rolling them in order to get them ‘perfect’. Overworked ground meat makes for a dry, dense end-product. I make Italian-style meatballs, which are not much smaller than a tennis ball, and much prefer them to the Swedish-style, which are good for horsey doovers, but not much else.

[Frankie Laine]
Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’
‘Though they’re mostly frozen
Keep them meatballs rollin’

Put them two at a time in ravioli?

A lot of good suggestions, thanks! I also learned something extra, I never knew the little scoop thingy was called a disher. I think for my next batch I will make double the amount and try the immerse in sauce and freeze then brown methods. I need a double batch anyway because I keep making them with the idea to freeze most of them for later but I always end up eating them all within a couple days. I ate a few cold for lunch today, they’re even good cold.

Please keep on sharing any other ideas or recipes.

On an episode of “Good Eats” Alton Brown had a method for making Italian meatballs where he mixed up his ingredients, formed them into 1.5 ounce balls (relatively large meatballs, usual for Italian meatballs from what I understand), then baked them in a mini muffin pan. Using the mini muffin pan suspends the meatballs, so that a) they stay round, and b) whatever grease drips out winds up in the muffin pan cups, not all over the meatballs (or in your sauce). You use the mini muffin pan for the smaller cups; that’s why you need to make large meatballs, bigger than the cup openings–otherwise they just sit in the bottom of the cups and brown (even burn) on the bottom side. I suppose you could make smaller balls and suspend them over the cups using a couple of tooth picks, if you prefer smaller meatballs.

You can find the recipe on Food Network’s web site. No registration required. I’ve made them a few times, and I can vouch they’re very tasty, bake to a nice brownness, and keep a very round shape.

Italian Meatballs
Time: 20 minutes

2 pounds ground beef
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
3 tablespoons olive oil.

  1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except olive oil by hand, using a light touch. Take a portion of meat in hand, and roll between palms to form a ball that is firmly packed but not compressed. Repeat, making each meatball about 2 inches in diameter.
  2. In a large, heavy pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add meatballs in batches. Do not crowd. Brown well on bottoms before turning, or meatballs will break apart. Continue cooking until browned all over. Remove meatballs to a plate as each batch is finished. Let meatballs cool slightly; cover and refrigerate until needed.

Yield: About 16 meatballs.

These are then added to your spaghetti sauce to finish cooking.