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Italian-American Meatballs
The Secrets of the Juiciest, Most Tender and Flavorful
  • Buttermilk ended up winning in my taste tests, its tartness boosting the flavor of the meatballs and helping to balance some of the richness of the meat and fat. Red wine, if you're curious, is absolutely awful.
  • It's important to make sure that the bread is completely moist throughout; after letting it stand for several minutes, mash it with your fingers or a spoon to make sure.
  • The Flavorings
  • I wanted a meatball with tons of flavor, so I went with a more-is-more approach. That said, if you don't want to use one of these ingredients, like the fennel seed I flavored mine with, you can just leave it out, or add a different seasoning instead. This part is highly customizable.
  • I started with plenty of minced onion, leaving it raw so that it would retain some texture in the finished meatballs.
  • I also added a really generous dose of minced garlic to the stand mixer. (Read our article on different methods of mincing garlic to learn more about how each affects your food.)
  • Parsley adds a fresh flavor.
  • And dried oregano gives the meatballs that quintessential Italian-American profile.
  • Then I let the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano rain down.
  • For the salt, I've found in my tests that four teaspoons of kosher salt provides just the right amount of seasoning for this amount of meatball mixture.
  • It's worth pointing out that you need to take into account the differences between types of salt when measuring by volume. Fine table salt is denser, and therefore more salty, teaspoon for teaspoon, than coarse kosher salt. So, for example, four teaspoons of table or fine sea salt will make these meatballs too salty.
  • You can avoid this problem by weighing the salt (18 grams, in this case) on a kitchen scale. (If you don't already own a scale, it's past time to fix that! See our review of the best kitchen scales for recommendations.)
  • How to Achieve Ultimate Tenderness and Juiciness
  • Perhaps the most important thing—even more important than flavorings—is that the meatballs are tender and juicy. I took a few different steps to get there.
  • Fat
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