Avoid This Meatball Shaping Mistake

Classic Italian meatballs are a family dinner night staple. Get some ground beef and seasoning, roll it into a ball, throw in some sauce and spaghetti, and voila: You've got a crowd-pleasing dinner ready to go. While they sound like a no-fuss cooking project, there are still plenty of mistakes you can make when bringing meatballs together.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to shape them incorrectly. According to Kitchn, a well-made meatball needs to be tender and juicy. You shouldn't need a knife to cut through it. It should be well-formed enough that it won't fall apart while cooking and won't be a brick of meat when it's served. One thing you might need to do in order to make the perfect meatballs is to stop overmixing your meat. Overhandling ground beef can cause it to bind up, and ruin the texture. Another thing to avoid is packing your meatballs too tightly. You want your meat to be gently bound together. Meatballs have the added benefit of ingredients like eggs and breadcrumbs to help them stick together and don't need to be packed together like a snowball to keep their shape. Luckily, there are a few ways to easily avoid these mistakes.

Meatballs need to be loosely packed

The easiest way to avoid overpacking the meat is to work with your hands, according to Bon App├ętit. Leave your spoons in the drawer the next time your shaping your meatballs, and learn to work by hand instead. This will give you a better feel for the density and texture of your meatball while it's being shaped. Kitchn says that another trick to help with this is to lightly oil your hands. This will keep meat from sticking to your hands too much, and give you a lighter touch while shaping your meatballs.

If you're squeamish about working raw meat with your hands, Cuisine At Home says you can also use an ice cream scoop. This helps to shape the ball quickly into a sphere without requiring a lot of fussing and prodding. This will help avoid overmixing or working your meat and give it an even shape to cook consistently as well.

If your meatballs are falling apart without being densely packed together, it's likely for another reason. Make sure that you're cutting your other ingredients as finely as possible so that they bind consistently together (via Home Cook World). Also, don't forget to use binding agents like flour, eggs, or breadcrumbs as well.