Meatballs are famous dishes all over the world. They are made of beef, mutton, or minced meat. The eggs work as the binder and contribute to the color, texture, and consistency. One thing you’ll love about meatballs is that they are easy to put together. Not to mention, they are perfect over mashed potatoes, rice, and noodles.
But have you ever thought of making meatballs without eggs? Well, they are easy to make and burst with flavor. This brings us to the question, which is the best substitute for eggs in meatballs?
Best substitutes for eggs in meatballs
The best substitute for eggs in meatballs are the ones that will make the meat stick together better. You can try using yogurt, ricotta, breadcrumbs, unsweetened applesauce, mashed potatoes, tomato sauce.
The whole reason eggs work in meatballs is because they provide extra protein, which keeps the meatballs firmly together when cooked. So other protein-based substitutes are ideal.
Substitutes that are not protein-based will simply make the mixture keep together, and the proteins in the ground meat will be the only thing keeping the meatballs together. You have to be careful to not add too much non-protein substitute. You can easily make the mixture too loose and end up with a mess.
So here are the ideas you can use, just remember to use them sparingly to keep the texture right.
1. Plain yogurt or buttermilk
Both yogurt and buttermilk have similar textures – you can’t differentiate by looking at them. Plain yogurt is thick, so it will keep your ball in shape. To ensure your meatballs are as firm as with eggs, you should take three substitutes of yogurt per egg. Don’t forget to use crackers to bring out the crispy texture.
Buttermilk has a pale-yellow color that turns white with time. It’s the perfect substitute for eggs because they share the same nutritional profile. Furthermore, it has a creamy taste that can be likened to that of eggs.
Read also: Does Risotto Have Cheese ?
2. Use ricotta cheese
It’s a great substitute for eggs that can help you add a special flavor. If you’re making the meatballs for your guests, they will soon call you to get that special recipe. Generally, you should substitute one egg with a quarter cup of ricotta.
You can find ricotta cheese in grocery stores. The moderate fat and delicious taste make it the perfect combination for pork. That’s not all – the high percentage of water helps to retain moisture in meatballs.
Ricotta cheese works well with yeast and baking powder. The amount you use will depend on the number of meatballs you need. On average, you should use 50 grams of cheese for every egg. However, you can use more if it feels delicious.
3. Soak bread crumbs with milk
One way to make a meatball without eggs is to soak the bread crumbs in milk and mix with meat. Since eggs are used as meat binders, the mixture will work correctly.
Just take a handful of bread crumbs, soak them in milk, and put the mixture in a meat bowl. This method works well if there’s someone in the family allergic to eggs or whenever you run out of stock.
When guests come over to your home without notice, you don’t just go to the store and grab some buttermilk. And because bread crumbs are available at home, mixing with milk will do the trick.
4. Unsweetened applesauce
Unsweetened applesauce is dairy-free, thus a suitable choice for those with dairy allergies. One tbsp. of applesauce is enough to substitute a single egg. Keep in mind the meat will be slightly sweet, so plan your meal accordingly.
5. Mashed potatoes
For starters, you may be surprised how this works. Ask any meatball enthusiast, and he will tell you nothing beats mashed potatoes. It gives a thick texture to hold the ingredients and is packed with starch. Another benefit is that potatoes suck lots of moisture to give a chewy texture.
Mashed potatoes can be used by anyone. And depending on your taste, you can use sweet or non-sweet mashed potatoes. If your mashed potatoes are rehydrated, you need two tablespoons for one egg. Of course, the near-identical operating method makes it the perfect substitute for eggs.
6. Tomato sauce
If you want to give your meatballs an Italian vibe, you can use tomato sauce in place of eggs. Due to the high water content, the meatballs will be chewy. Since a tomato paste is for every season, you get a sticky surface for the beef whenever you need it. For the best results, you ought to use two tbsp. of tomato paste per egg.
How to choose the best substitute for eggs in meatballs
The best substitute will depend on your taste, preferences, and dietary needs.
If you choose ricotta as a substitute, you should use a quarter cup per egg. Similarly, if you go for crumbled feta cheese, you should focus on the same ratio. Although the texture remains the same, you can be sure to get a tangy bite.
Dietitians recommend that you use a half cup of mashed potatoes in place of three eggs. If you want the least change in flavor, Yukon or russet potatoes are a sure bet. If you like the meatballs a bit richer, you can add sour cream or a significant amount of butter.
For Italian-style meatballs, you should use two tbsp. of tomato taste for every two eggs.
If you replace your eggs with cooked oatmeal or rolled oats, you should use a quarter cup per egg.
Will meatballs without eggs fall apart?
Eggless meatballs can fall apart if you don’t use the right amount of ingredients. The albumen in eggs is key to keeping everything sticking together, and the protein in egg white also keeps the meatball tight as it cooks.
To avoid eggless meatballs from falling apart don’t cook the meat right away without allowing it to rest in the refrigerator. Experts recommend that you wait for two hours to make the meatballs pliable and elastic. You can also leave eggless meatballs overnight. But never refrigerate for more than a night, otherwise, you can ruin the taste.
If you want to maintain thick consistency in your meatballs, you should choose meat high in fat. Lean meatballs won’t stick together as well, and till also result in dry, plain meatballs.
Do fattier meats give tender meatballs?
Yes, fatty meat does make a tender meatball. The meat should come from the back, thighs, or upper arms of the animal, as those are fatter and juicier. Meat from the chest (like chicken breast) tends to be very dry and will need a lot of help.
Fatty meats like pork or beef give more tender meatballs, so try and go for those. You should also keep an eye on the ingredients you use. If you’re not adding ingredients like finely chopped sauteed onions (or mushrooms), shredded carrots, or soaked breadcrumbs you risk getting dry meatballs.
However this only matters if you’re not going to boil the meatballs. If they will be included in a soup you have nothing to worry about, aside from them not falling apart.
While meatballs use eggs as binders, there are times you don’t use them. Maybe you’ve run out of eggs, or there are some dietary restrictions. Whatever the reason, you can make flavorful meatballs without sacrificing nutrition. Be sure to use any of the above substitutes to suit your taste. Don’t forget to experiment with the ingredient that works well in your recipe.