The Ingredient Swap You Should Try Next In Your Meatballs

Whether you're making them with spaghetti for an easy dinner, or serving them on toothpicks as an hors d'oeuvre for a party, meatballs in any form are a great addition to any meal. But as delicious and filling as they are, meatballs aren't exactly the lightest food item. And if you want to make a low-calorie version of them, most recipes leave you with little choice but to substitute the beef and pork for ground turkey.

This unfortunately lends itself to much drier, blander meatballs (via The Kitchn). The truth is that it's much easier to preserve the integrity of a meatball not by substituting the meat, but by swapping out the breadcrumbs for oats. According to Good Housekeeping, oats work well in meatballs because they're similar in texture to breadcrumbs, making them the perfect medium for binding together the meat, eggs, and seasoning. And because oats are a lot lower in salt and calories but higher in fiber, per SFGATE, using them in your meatball recipes is a great way to make them healthier.

Try using oats if your meatballs tend to be dry

Any time you use ground turkey or lean beef in a healthy recipe, because of the lower fat content, the end result will be lacking in moisture. For meatballs, this can be easily counteracted through the addition of oats.

As Laura Fuentes explains, oats are naturally predisposed to absorbing liquid. In the same way that breakfast oatmeal expands and absorbs the hot water you pour over it, the oats you add to meatballs will absorb any liquid ingredients — milk, Worcestershire sauce, even eggs — while also retaining whatever seasoning you decide to add. And because oats naturally absorb moisture, they also make for softer meatballs.

Of course, that also means, according to Good Housekeeping, that meatballs with a crusty exterior are out of the question when using oats. Breadcrumbs crisp up well; however, oats do not. But if juicier, low-cal meatballs sound delicious to you, oats are definitely the ideal ingredient substitution.