For Better Caramelized Meatballs, Bake Them On A Wire Rack

Does the secret to a great meatball lie in its ingredients or how it's cooked? Although a recipe characterized by its fresh and flavorsome ingredients plays a significant role in the quality of meatballs, the truth is that how you cook them can play an equally important role, impacting texture as well as taste. Baking meatballs on a wire rack is the ultimate way to amp up caramelization and give spaghetti's favorite companion that extra bit of oomph.

Baking meatballs is an awesome, hands-off, and mostly mess-free cooking method that won't compromise flavor, but only when done correctly. Rather than just set meatballs on a sheet pan and let them bake, it's critical that you line them on a wire rack first. This is because elevating the meatballs allows the fat to drip away, eliminating excess moisture that would otherwise create steam and lead to a less-than-crispy result. The rack also guarantees air can fully circulate around the meatballs during cooking, ensuring a more evenly crispy and caramelized exterior. Not to mention, it helps the meatballs stay firm and round rather than fall flat. 

Setting up for success

The process of baking meatballs on a wire rack is straightforward enough. Simply layer a rack on top of a lined baking dish or sheet pan, making sure that it fits snugly to avoid any roll-away meatballs. After brushing olive oil or coating the rack with nonstick spray, space the evenly-shaped meatballs on top, placing them on the middle oven rack. Then, let the little protein mounds bake until they're perfectly caramelized and crisp, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

While caramelization will no doubt impart a slightly sweet and toasted quality to meatballs, if you want to maintain the same degree of richness from frying or baking the meatballs in their own drippings, there's another creative solution. Rather than prop a wire rack over an empty baking dish, layer the meatball-laden rack directly over a baking dish full of sauce! Catching all the juices and decadence of the meaty morsels, nothing goes to waste, and no extra steps are necessary.

What are you waiting for? Test out the wire rack hack for yourself, and you'll quickly understand why this method of cooking meatballs is far superior to any other.