The Best Substitutes For Eggs In Meatballs

Meatballs are a great crowd-pleaser for any meal. The savory balls of ground meat can be baked, fried, and served with a sauce of your choice. Another benefit is that this delicious meal is easy to make.

Besides ground meat, you need seasonings, breadcrumbs, and an egg in the meatball mixture. The egg helps bind the mixture together and lightens the texture. Without the egg, you would have a denser, stodgy meatball.

Eggs are important to the meatball mixture, but sometimes you run out of them, or you are making meatballs for someone who is allergic to eggs. 

There are a few ingredients you can use to replace eggs in meatballs no matter the situation.

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes seem like an unexpected meatball ingredient, but their starchy, soft texture acts as a binder the same way that eggs do. Mashed potatoes can be made from regular potatoes and sweet potatoes, along with milk, butter, and even sour cream.

About one-fourth cup of mashed potatoes is the equivalent of one egg in a meatball mixture. The meatballs will still have their soft, pillowy texture when using mashed potatoes. However, this substitution requires a bit of extra work as you have to make the mashed potatoes in advance.

Panade

Panade is a French recipe and an excellent substitute for eggs in meatballs. This mixture is made with bread/breadcrumbs soaked in milk until soggy.

This creates a gelatinous skin that helps encase and protect your meatballs during the cooking process, as well as working as a good binding agent.

Panade is ideal for meatballs when fried or cooked in the oven because it is ideal for meats that require a longer cooking time, as opposed to something like hamburgers which are cooked quickly.

Making meatballs with a buttermilk panade.

Cheese

Many meatball recipes already call for a bit of cheese to add flavor to the mixture. The most common ones are parmesan, a hard, savory Italian cheese usually grated over pasta, and ricotta, a soft, spreadable curd-like cheese. 

Adding more cheese brings more flavor to the meatball and helps bind the ingredients together. However, you may need to mix and match a bit to get the right texture. 

Use a combination of ricotta and parmesan, or add some butter and breadcrumbs.

Aquafaba

Aquafaba is the liquid from canned chickpeas. It has a thick, viscous texture and slightly bean-like flavor that goes away when it is whisked. Aquafaba is a common egg substitute in vegan recipes because it has the same texture as egg whites when it is whisked. 

Aquafaba is very starchy, which helps it bind the ingredients in a meatball mixture together. If you are making vegan meatballs with Beyond meat or a similar meat replacement, aquafaba is a great vegan egg replacement. However, it does require some elbow grease and additional preparation because you need to whisk the aquafaba before adding it to the meatballs.

Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is an egg-based, emulsified condiment that also contains oil and vinegar. You can use this versatile ingredient in salad dressings, sandwiches, marinades, and more. Mayonnaise is an affordable ingredient at any supermarket, but you can easily make your own with just three ingredients and a bit of elbow grease.

Mayonnaise contains eggs, so it works as an egg substitute in an emergency. The thick, sticky texture of mayonnaise helps bind the other ingredients in a meatball mixture together. However, if you are looking for an egg substitute to accommodate an allergy, then mayonnaise will not work because it also contains egg.

Panade

Many meatball recipes call for breadcrumbs. However, you can use breadcrumbs to replace eggs by making a panade. A panade is a slurry made out of bread or breadcrumbs soaked in milk. French chefs use panade to keep ground meat tender, but it can also be used to add texture to ground meat.

To make a panade, soak one-half cup of breadcrumbs in two tablespoons of milk or another daily product. 

Instead of adding it to the meatball mixture like you would an egg, soak the outside of each meatball in the panade. This will form a film that will keep the meatball together. 

However, only use a panade if you plan to cook the meatballs for a long time as it makes quick-cooking meats, such as hamburger and mushy.

Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a fermented, slightly acidic dairy product often used in baking. Traditionally, it was made from the liquid left behind after churning butter, but today it is made out of cream.

Buttermilk’s high liquid content helps bind the ingredients together in meatballs. When adding buttermilk, be sure to add plenty of flour or breadcrumbs to the mixture as well. The acidity of the buttermilk breaks down the gluten, resulting in tender meatballs.

Even if you don’t have eggs on hand, you can make delicious meatballs thanks to these substitutions.