By Eileen Goltz
I’m not a huge meatball fan. Nor is anyone else in my immediate family. But when I got an e-mail from a reader asking for a post-yom tov, had-way-too-much-meat-but-need-to-have-meat-for-Shabbos appetizer, I thought, OK, challenge accepted, and I went to work testing and tasting. Turns out that I kinda like meatballs! In order to get to that taste-bud happy place, I learned that there are a few tricks that can turn a humdrum meatball recipe into a spectacular one. First, you do not want a bland meatball. The kind of meat you use, what you add, how you cook it, and for how long you cook it are key to getting the perfect mix of flavor, fat, seasoning, and sauce.
You can use either ground beef or lamb, turkey, or chicken. Just remember that the more fat in the meat you use, the more tender the meatball will be. The less fat you use, the tougher the meatballs will be if you overcook them.
Many of the recipes I tried used a panade (a fancy name for a binder mixture). The binder is usually bread soaked in milk then mixed into the meat. Since mixing milk and meat is a no-no, I use almond or rice milk instead. The binder adds moisture to the mixture and keeps it from shrinking as it cooks. Some people prefer to use eggs as their binder or just plain old breadcrumbs.
I also discovered that the less you mix up the meat and other ingredients, the better the consistency of the cooked meatball. You can use a spoon or spatula to mix but I think just mixing everything up with your hands until combined is the best way to go.
There is a real debate in the food world as to the best way to cook a meatball–simmer or roast. The easy answer regarding which method to use is what the end product will be. If the meatballs are going into a sandwich, are being frozen to use later, or will be served with a dipping sauce, roast them. If they are being served in a sauce, then cook them right in the sauce.
The following recipes are easy to throw together when time is short and the hunger level is high. All the recipes can easily be doubled or tripled.

Crock Pot Sweet
Sour Meatballs

Serves 4, over rice
1 lb. ground beef or chicken
1 (13.25 oz.) can pineapple chunks in juice
1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
½ cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Roll the beef into golf-ball sized balls. Place them on a cookie sheet and set aside. Pour pineapple chunks with juice into a saucepan.
Stir green bell pepper, water chestnuts, brown sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, and lemon juice through the pineapple chunks until sugar and cornstarch dissolve. Bring the mixture to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Place meatballs into a crockpot; pour pineapple mixture over meatballs. Cook on medium for three hours.
My files, source unknown

Stuffed Meatballs

Serves 4 (2 meatballs each)
½ cup chopped Portobello mushroom, chopped small
½ cup chopped onion
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. pepper
1-1 ½ lbs. ground beef
½-1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 egg
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. olive oil
In a skillet, sauté the mushrooms and onions until there is no liquid left. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine ground beef, onion, garlic, parsley, egg, salt, pepper, and breadcrumbs. Don’t over-mix. Divide into eight balls. Flatten each ball slightly, and place a teaspoon of the mushroom mixture in the center. Fold the sides up around the mushroom mixture and press to close.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet and fry until browned. Serve immediately. Tastes great on a sub or on top of spaghetti with sauce.
Modified from

Meatball Soup

Serves 4
2 Tbsp. oil
1 cup red onion, diced
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 can (15 oz.) stewed tomatoes
1 beaten egg
2 lbs. ground beef
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. oregano
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 cup cooked rice
6 cups beef broth
2 carrots, diced
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 avocado, chopped, for garnish
2 stalks celery, chopped, for garnish
1 tomato, diced, for garnish
In a skillet, heat the oil, then sauté the onion and garlic. (Don’t clean the pan when done, just set it aside). Cook the onion mixture for 5 minutes. In a blender, combine the tomatoes and onion mixture. Process until smooth.
In a bowl, combine the egg, ground beef, cumin, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper, and rice. Mix to combine. (Tip: wet your hands to mix and form the mixture into golf-ball sized balls.)
Heat oil in a skillet and then cook the meatballs in batches. They should be slightly golden and crusty on the outside. Set aside on a plate.
In a stock pot, combine the tomato mixture with beef broth. Heat to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add the carrots and cabbage. Add the meatballs to the soup; cover and cook at a simmer for 20-30 minutes. Ladle the soup into 4 bowls and top with the diced avocado, celery, and fresh tomato.
Submitted by Angie Macelroy, Southfield, MI

Thai Turkey Meatballs With Peanut Sauce

Serves 4
1 ½ lbs. ground turkey
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
2-inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 jalapeño chilies, seeded and minced (you can use half a red bell pepper instead)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 egg
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
½ cup hot water
Dipping Sauce
½ cup peanut butter
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. ketchup
½ cup hot water
In a mixing bowl, combine the turkey, garlic, ginger, chili pepper, basil, egg, and pinch of salt and pepper. Mix to combine. Shape the mixture into one-and-a-half-inch balls.
In a skillet, heat the oil. Cook the meatballs, turning as they cook. They can burn easily, so watch and turn them frequently. After 10-15 minutes they should be done. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.
To make the dipping sauce, combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, ketchup, and ½ cup hot water in a bowl. Whisk until smooth.
Submitted by Carla Santorer, Teaneck, NJ–modified

Lamb Meatball Sub

Makes 4 to 6 sub sandwiches
1 piece bread
¼ cup almond or soy milk
1 lb. ground lamb
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 hoagie rolls
1 cucumber, peeled, grated and excess water squeezed out
2 cups non-dairy sour cream substitute
1 tsp. lemon juice
In a bowl, combine the bread and almond or soy milk. Let sit for 2 minutes, then press the bread down and drain the excess liquid. Add the ground lamb, garlic, rosemary, parsley, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 20–30 minutes.
While the meat is chilling, make the sauce. In a bowl, combine the cucumber, non-dairy sour cream, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour for the flavors to blend.
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet (with sides) with foil. Bake for 20 minutes or until the meatballs are sizzling and cooked throughout. Divide the meatballs between the 4 buns, top with sauce, and serve.
My files, source unknown
© Eileen Goltz
Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher foods writer. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes columns for the CJN in Chicago,, and the OU Shabbat Shalom website, She also wrote the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim).


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here