Cremini Mushrooms Are The Secret Ingredient That Gives Your Meatballs Better Texture

Meatballs are loved around the world in a huge variety of flavors. Whether formed as tiny shapes for soup or giant spheres for the center of the plate, meatballs are made with a handful of ingredients to add flavor and texture and to bind the meat into shape. One ingredient you might be missing out on not only adds rich umami flavor but also contributes a juicy texture -– minced cremini mushrooms.

Cremini mushrooms are those light tan button mushrooms you'll find at nearly every grocery store and produce stand. Although they're the same variety of mushroom as white button mushrooms, they've matured to have a deeper flavor, and the brown color blends nicely with darker meats. Mushrooms provide a chewy texture of their own, but they're also great at soaking up cooking liquids. For meatballs that means the flavorful juices will be absorbed and retained rather than leak out in the cooking pan.

How to blend mushrooms into your meatball recipe

Adding cremini mushrooms to your meatball recipe is easy. You can use a ratio of one part mushrooms for every three parts of meat as a guide. For example, a recipe using a pound of ground meat can hold about one third of a pound of mushrooms, but that can be adjusted based on personal taste. This stretches the recipe to make more meatballs, so we recommend that after you add the other ingredients, you cook a small pinch of the mixture to make sure the seasoning is right. It's easy to add additional flavors before the batch is cooked!

Be sure to clean the mushrooms well to remove dirt and grit that clings. Pat the mushrooms dry, then mince them so that they blend into the meatball mixture, either by hand or with a few pulses in a food processor. The goal is mushroom pieces about the size of rice. Stir the mince into your recipe, and be prepared for a juicy and tender bite, with the added boost of umami that mushrooms bring.