When you’re really craving a traditional meal just like Mom used to make, you can’t do better than a really great bunch of meatballs. Whether you’re serving them up Swedish-style or with spaghetti, meatballs are always guaranteed to please— unless they come out too dry.
It’s a more common problem than many of us home cooks would like to admit! While we all crave and strive for the perfectly-juicy balls of meat, we’ve all had a batch or two (or three or four) come out at least a little dry and far from the meatballs of our dreams.
The problem is particularly common if you’re trying to make healthier versions of traditional meatballs by using leaner meats like turkey or chicken, but we’ve seen it happen even with naturally juicier meats like beef or lamb, too.
While we here at TipHero have plenty of recipes we love for perfect juicy meatballs, we started wondering if there was a more universal trick out there to guarantee the desired juiciness level regardless of the recipe and/or the particular meat one was using.
Our search led us to our friends and food geniuses at Food52, who had also been wondering the same thing and came up with a novel, unexpected solution: steam.
Yes, steam! Hear us out here. Inspiration for using this technique came from observing how tender and juicy the meat in steamed dumplings and buns typically are. Because the steaming technique only exposes the meat to direct contact with the vaporized air, not the actual boiling water, the meat becomes much more moist and tender. Perfect!
You’re probably familiar with the idea of steamed meatballs from the menus of Cantonese and other Chinese-inspired restaurants, but as Food52 has proved, you can use it to make meatballs in any culinary tradition you want.
Best of all, you don’t need to buy a fancy steamer or special equipment especially for the meatballs; just keep using the same steaming technique you’ve already mastered. Here’s how it’s done.
Your favorite meatball recipe!
Prepare, mix, and roll your meatballs according to your favorite recipe. Food52 recommends using your hands for a more even mixture.
Using the same technique you would use for vegetables, steam the meatballs for 5 to 10 minutes until cooked-through. As you’ll see in the video below, Food52 has a fancy oven with a steam option, but we have an easy hack for simple steaming using aluminum foil you should definitely check out, too!
Continue preparing your meatball dish as you normally would, with the happy knowledge that your meatballs are the juiciest even.
And that’s it! How easy is that? You should definitely check out Food52’s video demonstration of this technique below – if you’re like me, you’ll come away with serious oven-envy! – especially since they share a final, special tip to finish the meatballs off with a crisp, caramelized outsides. Check it out!