26 January 2017

Making the best meatballs

Happy Australia Day to all my Australian friends and neighbours. I hope you enjoy whatever you do today in this great country of ours.
Meatballs, whether they be rissoles, small Italian-style meatballs or Swedish meatballs are a popular meal, are fabulous as leftovers the follow day and make wonderful lunchbox food.  The problem with meatballs is that often they're tasteless and dry. I'd like to introduce you to my meatball recipe. You can use beef, pork or lamb, the choice is yours, the other ingredients are always the same.  The secret is to use milk-soaked stale bread instead of breadcrumbs. Doing that will give you moist meatballs every time. But you also have to add flavour. I add onion, grated carrot, spices, parsley, egg, salt and pepper but you can add whatever you fancy as long as it boosts the flavour.

  • 3 slices stale bread
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 500 grams or 1 pound minced meat - beef pork or lamb (I used pork)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium egg
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Soak the bread in milk for about 15 minutes and break it up with your clean hands. It should look like a lumpy paste when it's ready to use.

I processed the onion, carrot and parsley in a small food processor for about 30 seconds.
Place the soaked bread in a large bowl, add all the other ingredients and mix it all together  thoroughly.

Form into balls about the size of a small golf ball.  Place all the meatballs on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. That will help the meatballs firm up and stay together when you cook them.

Add a small amount of olive oil to a frying pan and when it's hot, add the meatballs. Cook on a medium heat for about 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes.  You can also brown the meatballs in the frying pan and finish cooking them in the oven but it was too hot to do that here when I cooked mine.

I made a nice sauce to go with these.  When cooked, I removed the meatballs from the pan and added ¼ teaspoon of paprika, a sprinkling of celery salt, white pepper and stirred so it didn't burn. I added ½ cup of water, I let that come to the boil and left it on a medium heat for about 2 minutes. Just before I served the meal, I added ¼ cup sour cream to the sauce and stirred it through.

I served these with pan fried cabbage and onion, boiled potatoes and parsley.  You could just as easily make this recipe into a meatloaf to serve hot or cold, or around the outside of boiled eggs to make Scotch eggs.

If you make these, don't forget to adjust them to your taste but to get the moistness and a good flavour you should always include the milk soaked bread, the onion and carrot.  I hope you try them.



  1. Good morning Rhonda, happy Australia Day to you too. I love a good rissole, I make up a container of them when we go camping, so good for dinner and then cold the next day with lashings of BBQ sauce. Have a great day.

  2. Hi, Rhonda. I make little meatballs too but I use mushrooms. I make breadcrumbs out of the breadcrusts that I keep in the freezer but the I blend those with some mushrooms. I then mix this mushroomy paste into the meatballs. It keeps them quite moist. Meg:)

  3. Rhonda, I made your salmon rissoles the other day, and - how delicious! I will say I sauteed the onion and pepper first, because I knew someone might not like any semi-raw onion (I didn't know if they'd be entirely cooked in such a short time), but we loved them. We're eating the leftovers tonight. Thank you!

  4. Aha - what a great tip with the bread being soaked in milk. I am a big fan of any type of meatball so will incorporate this in my next batch. Thank you for sharing that.

  5. Hope you enjoy the day with family.
    This recipe was given to me over 40 years ago but the milk was tinned evaporated milk ( Carnation) I used to freeze the rest of the tin in ice cubes for next time. It does make a difference and they are delicious cold too, great picnic snack.

  6. Hi Rhonda...early Wednesday evening here in Florida. It just so happens that I will be making Italian meatballs tomorrow and I will use your suggestion for the milk soaked stale bread and the grated carrot. Will let you know how they turn out. Blessings,Carolyn

  7. Thank you! Close to my mother's recipe though hers had sauteed peppers and sour cream in the meatballs, as well...I think I will make these Friday when my daughter and granddaughters come for dinner...The cabbage will just be cabbage alone.

  8. Sounds delish! And for those who are "gluten-free" I use rice krispies in place of bread crumbs so I can still enjoy my meatballs!

  9. My Italian grandfather's meatball recipe called for the milk soaked stale bread, plus 2 teaspoons each of basil and oregano and he said: " a handful of Romano cheese" A few cloves of garlic in the olive oil used for frying and that was it. Finished cooking them in the tomato sauce that had been simmering on the stove all day. Served with homemade ravioli! Yum :) I was a very fortunate child. Your flavorings sound delicious as well. Can't wait to try them.

  10. As long as I cooked like my mother, I always used milk-soaked stale bread. It was only when I started to use recipes from cookbooks that my meatballs were always dry no matter what I tried. Now I finally know why!
    Btw, I really would like to see your meatballs in a "flying pan"!

    1. Hilde, I thought surely I haven't written that but yes, I searched and I found it. LOL

  11. Looks like a tasty recipe and meal. I've added it to my menu rotation. Thank you.

  12. My little ones love meatballs! I'll have to try your recipe. I've never used milk-soaked bread or carrots (always breadcrumbs and egg) but it sounds delicious. I've got ground beef in the freezer - maybe dinner tomorrow! Our bread never lasts long enough to get stale - perhaps I'll toast it first instead. Thanks!

  13. What sauce did you use? It all looks delicious! I will certainly try this next time I make meatballs.

    1. Beth, I write about the sauce just above the last photo.

  14. Made these meatballs for the last two nights for tea. Why two nights? Because they were so damn delicious I made them again. Will become a frequent recipe in my house. Easy and so tasty!

  15. Thanks so much for the recipe! I soaked some old fashioned oats in almond milk to make a lower carb version and they turned out great. Never would have thought to do that had you not told us about the milk soaked bread. Love these meatballs. I'll use this recipe also to make meat balls with pasta sauce, served over spiralized zucchini.


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