How to Make Matzo Balls

Learn how to make matzo balls as good as Bubbe's with this family recipe.

For many people around the world, there is no greater comfort food than a warm bowl of matzo ball soup. It was my family’s starter for every Jewish holiday, and often made an appearance at our Friday night Shabbat dinner. I would forget there was a full meal to follow and instead fill up on the fluffy, slightly salty matzo balls. I couldn’t get enough!

For a long time, I only used a matzo ball mix, but once I learned how to make matzo balls from scratch, I’ve never gone back. They’re fast to make and only use a handful of ingredients. You’re sure to love them, but what’s more, everyone else is sure to love you for bringing the best-ever matzo balls to the table.

What Are Matzo Balls Made Of?

Matzo balls are made from matzo meal. Matzo is an unleavened bread made of flour and water that’s eaten during Passover. The matzo is baked, and has the texture and look of a really large cracker. There are plenty of ways to cook with matzo, and it makes a versatile ingredient for Passover because it can be used whole, cracked or ground.

Matzo balls are also made of a few other key ingredients, which can differ recipe to recipe, but generally include oil or schmaltz, eggs, baking powder or soda water and sometimes herbs.

There’s a longstanding debate of which matzo balls are better, “floaters” vs. “sinkers”—or light and airy vs. dense. The baking soda and soda water are key for a good floater, which is my personal favorite type.

How to Make Matzo Balls

portioned out ingredients on a white counter topJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup matzo meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons schmaltz or neutral oil
  • 2 tablespoons seltzer
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill

Directions

Step 1: Mix matzo ingredients

two mixing bowls, one with breadcrumbs and the other with eggs and a whiskJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Mix the matzo meal, baking powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs for a minute until they’re beaten together. Add the schmaltz or oil, seltzer and dill to the eggs and mix.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk just until incorporated. Do not overmix! The batter will be on the runnier side at this point.

Step 2: Rest the batter

Allow the batter to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge. When it’s done resting, it will no longer be runny, and the batter will be thick enough to form into balls.

While it’s resting, heat a large pot of water with plenty of salt.

Step 3: Shape matzo balls

a bowl with matzo batter next to a cookie sheet with an ice cream scoop for shaping into ballsJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Using a cookie scoop is the easiest way to form matzo balls! But if you don’t have a scoop, use a spoon instead.

Have a small bowl of water ready and a plate with a drizzle of olive oil on it. Scoop out evenly sized matzo balls, roughly 1 ounce each. Then wet the palms of your hands and, gently but quickly, shape the matzo balls. Place them on the oiled plate after they’re formed.

Step 4: Cook matzo balls

matzo balls in a pot of water on a stoveJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

When the water is up to a boil and well salted (take a taste; it should taste like salt water), it’s time to cook the matzo balls. Gently drop them into the boiling water one at a time, being careful not to splash hot water.

Cover the pot and turn down the heat to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. Peek on them a few times to make sure they’re still at a gentle simmer.

Step 5: Cool and serve

Remove matzo balls from the liquid. Let them cool, which will allow them to tighten up a bit and create the right texture.

If you want to store the matzo balls overnight, pour some of the liquid back over them to hold them. Otherwise, serve immediately with some chicken soup.

Tips for Making Matzo Balls

Serving matzo in a bowl with chicken soup brothJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Can you make matzo balls without matzo meal?

You’ve got a few different options. There’s quinoa flour or almond flour, or if it’s not Passover, you can use regular bread crumbs. But since matzo is baked, it absorbs liquid differently than other flours or bread crumbs, so the closest you’ll come to matzo meal will be matzo cake meal or making your own meal by grinding up matzo.

How can you prevent your matzo balls from falling apart?

The egg and the matzo meal should do the binding for you if you allow your batter to rest properly. Be careful when handling the matzo balls—from the shaping to the cooking and even while they’re cooling—because they will break or fall apart if you handle them too much.

Can you make matzo balls ahead of time?

You can definitely make matzo balls ahead of time! You can make the batter and shape your balls and let them sit overnight to cook off the next day. Or you can cook them fully, then cover them with cooking water and store in the fridge. You can either reheat them in the soup or separately in some simmering salted water.

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Risa Lichtman
Risa Lichtman is a chef and writer living in Portland, Oregon. She is the owner/chef of Lepage Food & Drinks, a small food company featuring Jewish seasonal foods, providing takeaway all around Portland. She has previously published poems in Poetica Magazine, the anthology The Art of Bicycling, Maggid: A Journal of Jewish Literature, and The Dos Passos Review. She lives with her wife Jamie, their dog Isaac, and their cat Sylvia. Follow her at @risaexpizza, or find her delicious food offerings on @lepagefoodanddrinks.