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You’ve probably come across meatballs of every kind. Some made with breadcrumbs and soaked in milk, others combined with different types of meat for the perfect texture, and some made with herbs.  However, if you’ve never made meatballs before, this can be intimidating.  It can be difficult to tell if the texture is right or if you’ve seasoned the meat enough.

Not to worry. This guide will explain the mistakes you need to avoid, get you tips to get your meat deliciously crisply, and even give you the menu to use to succeed to get the tailgate menu right.

Essential Tips For Making Juicy and Tender Meatballs

Although a good recipe comes in handy, sometimes you need a few tips that will help you make tender meatballs. These tips include:

Go for the Right Meats

There is an assumption that any ground meat can make meatballs. Unfortunately, this is not true. You’ll be surprised to learn that fattier meats yield softer meatballs.  Excellent options include pork, lamb, or beef. You may choose to pick turkey or chicken. While they can also work, they tend to cook fast and can become tough. Mixing different kinds of ground meat gives you a great flavor.

Keep Your Ingredients Cold

When using fatty meats, you don’t want it to break or melt before you cook the balls. Keep the meat and other ingredients you intend to use as cold as possible.

Add in Moisture

Cooking meat on its own can leave you with tough and soggy meatballs. You need to prevent this by using breadcrumbs mixed with milk and eggs. These two ingredients help to keep your ground meat moist and tender.

Use Your Hands to Mix

Of course, you want things perfect and not messy. If you’re used to a spoon, you might need to change this when mixing your ingredients. The problem is that a spoon tends to crush the meat. Remember that you want your ground meat to be visible. Use your hand to mix in all the ingredients, but don’t overdo it.

Experiment with Different Herbs

No one wants meatballs that taste like a burger. Herbs are a great way to give your meatballs a unique taste. Season your meat with oregano, marjoram, nutmeg, or mint for that extra flavor.

Be Gentle

Meatballs tend to turn out rubbery and tough if they are packed too tightly. When forming the balls, oil your hands to avoid a sticky mess.  Also, make the balls based on how you intend to serve them. Sometimes you may need to serve the meatballs in sauce, and other times, you’ll need to serve the balls on their own.

What’s more, stay away from frying as it doesn’t evenly brown the meat. Bake them instead to retain the color and crunch.

Test the Mixture

It’s imperative to taste if the seasoning is right before you make the balls. This doesn’t mean that you should eat raw meat. All you need is a tinny patty cooked in some oil.  You can then adjust the seasoning based on what you’ve tasted. You no longer have to get embarrassed because of bland meatballs.

Do not Skip the Sear

Meat gets a fantastic flavor when it hits a pan. If you’re serving a small crowd, sear the balls on a hot pan to get a nice brown crust.  But, if you have a crowd, place the balls on a pan. Place it in a hot oven to get that crust.  You can then braise then until you’re ready to serve them.

Recipe for Spicy Tailgate Meatballs

Here’s the ingredients needed:

  • A half-pound of lean ground beef
  • A half-pound of ground turkey breast
  • A quarter teaspoon salt
  • A teaspoon chilli powder
  • Two egg whites
  • A half teaspoon ground cumin
  • A quarter teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Fresh cilantro
  • A half cup finely minced onion


Preheat your oven to 420 degrees. Take a pan and spray it with a nonstick spray coating.

In a bowl, mix your egg whites, pepper, salt, cumin, chilli, onion, beef and turkey. Mix everything with your hands.  While at it, form several meatballs and place them on a baking sheet. Wash your hands after handling raw meat to avoid contamination.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Check to see if they are thoroughly cooked.  You can choose to refrigerate the meatballs to cool or leave them on a baking sheet.  You can then garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.

Alternatively, you can choose to fry the balls on a pan over medium heat. Use a spoon to add the meatballs and cook until golden brown. Place them on a tray and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Tailgating should be more fun than wings and burgers. Try this meatballs recipe that is easy to make and requires minimal ingredients.

Feature image via Tastemade

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