Substitute for Breadcrumbs in Meatballs

When making meatballs, many people use breadcrumbs.  There are any number of reasons you may want to cut this out, such as an allergy, being on a gluten free diet, or being on the keto diet.  You may also just want to cut carbs.  The good news is there are many other substitues that can be used.

Let’s take a closer look at why people use breadcrumbs in meatballs, and some ideas for replacing them.

Why are breadcrumbs used in meatballs?

Breadcrumbs are used in meatballs because they act as a binder for meatballs – they hold the meat together. They also add flavor and texture to the dish.  If you’re used to eating meatballs made with breadcrumbs, you will find the texture to be a little bit different without them, but they will still be delicious.

This is a big hurdle for some people to get over when they are using recipe substitutions due to food allergies, the new recipe might not be exactly the same as what they are used to, but sometimes it can be better!

What can I use in meatballs instead of bread crumbs?

When it comes to ditching breadcrumbs in meatballs, you can use things like crushed crackers, oats that have been pulsed in a food processor.  You can use regular or gluten free crackers.

If you are looking for gluten free alternatives, or to cut carbs, diced vegetables and some extra liquid are great for substituting breadcrumbs in meatloaf.

You can even leave out the breadcrumbs all together, and simply not worry about it at all.

I’m serious!  I come from an Italian family and have been gluten free (dairy free and egg free too) for over a decade, and I simply don’t even bother substituting bread crumbs in meatballs – I leave them out.

The secret is adding extra liquid, and mixing the meat mixture very very well before shaping the meatballs.  This also holds true for replacing breadcrumbs in meatloaf.

Substitutes for Breadcrumbs in Meatballs

Looking for a list of ideas to substitute breadcrumbs in meatballs?  Here you go!

  • Crushed crackers (saltine crackers or ritz crackers work well)
  • Crushed potato chips
  • Crushed corn-based cereal
  • Slices of bread, soaked in liquid
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Flax Seeds
  • Oats pulsed in the blender or food processor
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Vegetables (ground carrots, celery, peppers, and mushrooms all work well)

Remember, you can always just leave out the breadcrumbs and not worry about it as long as you add some additional liquid and mix the meat mixture well!  Don’t miss our full list of breadcrumb substitute ideas.

Meatballs are one of our favorite meals around here, whether they be traditional meatballs or buffalo chicken meatballs.  Here are some helpful hints when it comes to making meatballs.

How to Freeze Meatballs

To freeze meatballs, mix the ground meat with all of the other ingredients you will be using.  Once everything is mixed together, form the meat mixture into balls. Then, spread the balls out on a baking sheet and freeze them for about 2 hours. Once they are frozen, put them into a freezer bag or container.

When you’re ready to cook them, take them out of the freezer and bake them in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes depending on their size.  Always be sure to use a thermometer to check their temperature to make sure they are done.

How to store leftover meatballs

You can store leftover meatballs in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for a few months.

To store them in the fridge, put them in an airtight container or wrap them individually in plastic wrap.

To store them in the freezer, put them in a freezer bag or container. Make sure to label and date them so you know what’s in them.

What is the Best Meat for Meatballs?

There are a few factors to consider when choosing the best meat for meatballs:

  • Type of meat: You can use ground beef, pork, turkey, lamb, or chicken.
  • Texture: The meat should be ground finely so that the balls hold together well.
  • Fat content: The higher the fat content, the juicier your meatballs will be

Ultimately, it’s up to you what type of meat you want to use. Experiment with different combinations and see what you like best.  Don’t miss our guide to how to substitute egg in meatballs too!

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