Be Sure To Use Finely Ground Meat For The Juiciest Meatballs

Making perfectly textured meatballs can be trickier than you'd think, and many chefs have devoted their time to creating the most tender meatballs they can. Essential tips range from selecting ground beef with an ideal fat content to making a proper milk-soaked panade to mix in. But while these elements are key to contributing to a moist meatball, there's an even more fundamental step that you should be taking to ensure that perfectly firm but juicy texture: using meat with a fine grind.

As any home cook knows, all meatball and meatloaf mixes begin with a blend of ground meat. Whether a combination of pork and lamb or a straightforward all-beef choice, the meat is always ground because you're often utilizing tough cuts of meat. These sinewy cuts become tender through grinding, with the fibers broken down by mechanical gears. Simply put, the finer the grind, the more tender the meat — which leads to better-textured meatballs.

While it's easy enough to go with the pre-ground meat offered at the grocery store, sometimes you'll run into a mix that's more coarsely ground than desired. Luckily, you can make your store-bought item even more finely ground at home, provided you have the right tools.

How to get a particularly fine grind on your meat

Before you make your meatballs, make sure that you've invested in a ground meat mix with 20% to 30% fat. (If it's a little too lean, you can always fix that by grating in a few tablespoons of frozen butter or lard.) To then make a chunky grind even finer, pull out your food processor. Don't throw in all the meat at once — pulse about one cup at a time so that the blades can properly mince it without getting overwhelmed. A few brief pulses should get you the consistency you want. 

Of course, you can also grind your own meat if you'd like to go in the DIY direction. Just make sure you're choosing the finest grind attachment possible and that you're working with cold tools and frozen meat — cold meat grinds much better than room temperature or warm meat. After that, all that's left to ensure you turn out perfectly tender meatballs is to make sure you're not overcooking them. Keep in mind that this fine grind tip works for hamburgers and meatloaf as well, so think about incorporating this step into your other recipes for other super tender ground meat-based meals.