5 Secrets for Making Juicy Meatballs

Dry meatballs can be a thing of the past with our 5 tips for making juicy meatballs!

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • July 23, 2019

Whether you love classic spaghetti and meatballs, moist turkey meatballs, or inventive Tex Mex meatballs, the secret to any delicious homemade meatball lies in just how juicy it is. If you’ve never been fully satisfied with your meatballs in the past, we have good news! We’ve put together 5 tips so you’ll never experience the disappointment of dry, tough meatballs again:

1. Embrace Fat

Making sure you have a high fat content in your meatballs is the best way to ensure they stay juicy and don’t dry out. Our ideal ratio is 80/20, with 20% being fat. Now, if you like to eat leaner meats like turkey or chicken, you can easily choose ground dark meat or mix in a small percentage of fattier ground meat (like pork) to still achieve a higher fat content.

Also, it’s important to note that having enough fat in your meatballs doesn’t only make them juicier, it makes them more flavorful, too. For anyone who has read Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat Acid, Heat book, you know that fat carries flavor, so getting the ratio right will bring tastier meatballs to your table every time.

2. Visit the Dairy Section

If you prefer light poultry meat or the meat you are using doesn’t have enough fat, don’t fret – you can still enjoy juicy homemade meatballs! All you need to do is peruse the dairy section of your local grocery store and choose milk, an egg, or cheese to add to your meatballs. All of these products will bring fat and moisture.

3. Get Your Hands Dirty

Cooking up juicy meatballs depends heavily on not overmixing. Overworking ground meat makes it tough and will never lend itself to a tender and light meatball. The best way to combine your ingredients to perfection is by using your fingers, which are much lighter than a hard spoon, and will keep the meatball mix from turning into a paste.

4. Taste Test

Tasting your recipe before you cook everything is always a good idea. You can easily microwave or saute 1 tablespoon of your mixture for 15 to 20 seconds and then taste it to determine if you need to add more fat and / or flavor. With this handy testing method, you can kiss dry meatballs goodbye.

5. Cook Them Right

Whether you are baking your meatballs or cooking them on the stovetop, pay close attention to the time! Overcooked meatballs will always come out tough and dry, so to combat this, cook meatballs up to right below the desired temperature since there will be carryover cooking (i.e., the meatballs will continue to cook after they’re removed from their heat source).

To understand animal proteins and cooking temperatures better, check out our Meat Temperature Guide:


Meat Temperature Guide

Cook meat to perfection with this helpful cooking infographic from Cook Smarts.

Now that you know how to make delicious meatballs, send these tips along to anyone in your life who loves meatballs! Also, do you have any other tips for making juicy meatballs? Let us know what they are in the comments below!

As always, we’re here to help you live your best life in the kitchen and provide delicious memories for you and your family. If you sign up for our newsletter below, we’ll send you great cooking tips and resources that will help you raise your kitchen IQ and cook with confidence.

5 Secrets for Making Juicy Meatballs | Cook Smarts


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