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Round Meatballs

For the life of me I can't figure out how to keep meatballs round. I create round meatballs, but as soon as I put them in the hot oil in the pan, they start to flatten out against the pan and I wind up with 5- or 6-sided critters that may taste great, but are certainly not really balls.

Anyone know how to keep meatballs actually spherical?

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  1. Mine kinda do the same thing. They taste GREAT, but not round. Have a feeling the mix is probably a little "loose"... thus the flattening?? Have NO intention on worrying about them not being round!?!

    1. You could boil or deep fry them for a few moments to firm up the exterior.

      or bake them so that only one side flattens a little

      Or make smaller balls so that the flat side is less apparent.

      1. r u adding any binders to the meat?

        4 Replies
        1. re: jpr54_1

          Yes. Eggs and bread that has been soaked and then squeezed dry. My concern was the bread. Maybe I'm adding too much moisture.

          1. re: chicgail

            I would skip the soaking and squeezing for the bread -- that is adding moisture that you don't need. I mix ground meat with egg, seasonings and fresh breadcrumbs(made from the odds and ends of loaves that I collect in my freezer). Hot pan, cold oil, add the meatballs & handle very gently. They come out nice & round.

            1. re: almond tree

              It's called a panade, almond tree, and is actually quite critical and essential to good meatball making so , no, i would NOT skip the milk and bread mixture.

              I would suggest adding more binder in the form of bread crumbs, oatmeal, etc. and bake them if roundness is essential.

              Pretty for the sake of pretty is trumped by flavor and the yummy factor in my world.

              Good luck.

              1. re: jjjrfoodie

                If I make good meatballs without soaking & squeezing the bread, obviously this step cannot be called essential.
                With my method, the moisture in the fresh breadcrumbs, egg and the meat itself is sufficient to make moist, delicious -- and round! -- meatballs.

        2. We always firm them up in the freezer for a while or freeze them hard if you want . It has the side benefit of keeping them from picking up too much flour.
          Works well.

          2 Replies
          1. re: chefj

            Freezing them is a great idea.
            What flour would they pick up? I don't flour them before I brown then.

            1. re: chicgail

              I do. So having them firm allows me to get the excess flour off easily

          2. I recently made the best meatballs ever, following a recipe from a thread here on CH. Beef + pork, bread soaked in milk, egg, fresh parsley, Romano cheese...formed into balls and baked on a rack over a half sheet pan, then put into a pot of marinara sauce.

            They were tender, savory, and ROUND! We liked them better than the browned-in-the-skillet variety.

            1. roast them in the oven in a mini muffin tin. make the meat balls the right size so that they fit just right. plus the grease will drain away. or deep fry them.

              1. I find that you can only get perfectly round meatballs cooking them in the oven but they will not come out as tender. I'd rather have tender not quite round meatballs. With deep frying you lose that yummy pan browning.

                1 Reply
                1. You may not want to read this, but the smaller they are, the easier it is to keep them round.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Joebob

                    That's what I say as well. I keep to about a heaping TBS and have no issue. But they are not the honking meatballs you see at restaurants.... but really who wants to eat a meatball with a knife and fork?

                  2. No idea whatsoever how to keep them spherical. I'm more than happy that they manage to stay together in any shape, rather than just falling apart in the pan.

                    1. Small ones do seem to stay rounder (but see below). I do 3/4" or 1". When you say "hot oil" are you shallow frying them? I tend to brown in a lightly oiled pan that I move around a lot to keep them rolling then a) simmer in sauce, b) deep fry or c) bake on a rack in a sheet pan. I generally get round meatballs with these methods.

                      I also get round meatballs when I do what I consider big ones: golf ball+ size where a person gets a serving of one or two.

                      1. Boil them for 6-9 minutes depending on size, put them on a preheated sheet pan and run them under the broiler for a minute or so until they achieve your desired level of browning. They will stay perfectly round.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: CDouglas

                          boil them? yuk. why on earth would boil meat?

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            I got the idea from the way I make Italian Wedding soup. Those chicken meatballs are bouncy-ball round when boiled in the broth. I added the broil step to get some browning as that is the way I think of meatballs for pasta or sandwiches which sounds more appropriate to the OPs situation.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              I guess it's sort of along the lines of sous vide cooking in a professional kitchen. Poach in plastic and finish in the pan or under the salamander.

                              1. re: Harters

                                except it's not. sous vide is outside heat, with an impermeable barrier. i'd much rather sacrifice shape for flavor.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  Absolutely. As you'll have noticed, I didnt say it was sous vide, only that it is "sort of along the lines of sous vide". Which it is.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    Here is a recipe for sopa de Albondigas de Pollo that simmers the meatballs in broth:

                                    The picture shows the results of meatballs prepared in this fashion.

                                    1. re: CDouglas

                                      that recipe relies on quite a lot of masa -- making them more like dumplings, imho.

                          2. I agree with the diagnosis that your mixture is too loose, and with the idea of freezing but even some time in the fridge will keep them firm enough to stay round.

                            I like to put a LOT of vegetables in my meatballs and hit upon the method of finely slicing the onions and bell pepper into very thin rings with my mandoline. As I mix up the mixture with my hands, though the rings tear into long threads, they still form a matrix that holds the mixture together. The longer you mix, the more the mixture firms up. Some people complain that the meatballs will be tough that way, but, probably because I use so much filler, mine do not come out tough. I do not find it is necessary to chill my mixture before forming the meatballs or cooking them.

                            1. I think I'd rather have a flat, moist meatball than a bouncy-ball.

                              1. The closest to round I've come to is to get the meatballs in the pan and keep the pan in motion. Let them sit for a bit, then shake. Sit, shake. YMMV.

                                1. I use the muffin pan technique that I saw on some cooking show (maybe Alton B?). It works pretty well for keeping that round shape.

                                  Anyway you can use a small muffin pan and make the balls so that the sides just touch the sloped edges of the indentations and barely touches the bottom. Cook in a 375 oven for 8-10 min and turn over to brown the other side. Once browned and round finish cooking them off in your favorite marinara

                                  1. I agree that having spherical meatballs is less important than a good texture. That being said, I use Marcalla Hazan's polpettine recipe, and she says to roll the finished meatball in fine bread crumbs, which I find helps them to keep their shape.