11 Finest Egg Substitutes for Meatballs

When my friend called me one morning, informing me that she would be visiting in the afternoon, I was delighted beyond measure. I decided to make her favorite Meatballs. Once I was done with the batter, I went on to prepare the binding.

Unfortunately, all the eggs I cracked had gone bad. Out of time and desperate to give my friend a memorable time, I decided to go on with the cooking.

If your meatball isn’t round, is it a meatball at all? Fearful of the outcome, I put into use my years of experience as a cook. Fortunately, while the egg makes an excellent binder, it isn’t the only one. So people with egg allergies, vegans, and those unfortunate like me have a handful of other substitutes.

But before I begin, let’s do a cursory review on the most popular staple, Eggs.

Egg and its Benefits

Nature has blessed us with a lot of beneficial food. But none compare to her original superfood; eggs. And humanity has benefited from this food since the dawning of time. Eggs are easy to cook, relatively inexpensive, and delicious even with minimal use of spice.

Moreover, Eggs are packed with 13 essential vitamins and minerals, which our body requires to flourish best. It provides the healthiest proteins and is also rich in antioxidants. Egg white contains 60% of the protein, while the rest is in its yolk. Moreover, eggs are also enriched with omega-3 fatty acids.

Egg Alternatives

Eggs are so nutritious that eating even one every day will do wonders for your health. Some of its benefits include:

  • Eggs are rich in HDL (high-density lipoproteins) or ‘good cholesterol.’ 
  • Eggs have a high satiety level that helps in weight management.
  • Eggs provide double the amount of Choline than any other food. Choline is necessary for optimum brain health and activity.
  • Eggs contain plenty of lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which play a vital role in preventing certain eye diseases.
  • Eggs contain a brilliant assortment of nutrients, all of which contribute to relieving the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Eggs help in naturally inducing sleep.
Nutrients (boiled egg) Value Per 100 g
Calories 155
Total Fat 11 g
Proteins 13 g

Now let’s do an even briefer overview of the world’s most favorite dish; Meatballs.

What are Meatballs?

Meatballs are small round balls of ground meat, typically beef, which is flavored with various spices and herbs. It is unclear where they originated from, but common knowledge suggests they came from Persia, modern-day Iran. In Iran, meatballs are known by the name Kofta and are loved nationwide.

Nutrients  Value Per 100 g
Calories 197
Total fat 9 g
Proteins 21 g

Meat lovers worldwide love meatballs and have incorporated them in most cultural cuisines, if not all. 

Egg Alternatives

11 Finest Substitutes for Egg in Meatballs

You can choose which binder you prefer as there is a list of ingredients that perform the exact function:

1. Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are perhaps the best egg substitute for meatballs. They have a starchy texture that holds moisture well, so the resulting meatballs are soft and chewy. You can use either sweet potato or normal ones depending upon your preference. ¼ cup of mashed potatoes is equivalent to one egg for binding.

If you find mashed potatoes too bland, you are free to spice it up a bit with garlic powder, chili flakes, and sour cream. You may use mashed potatoes in vegan recipes too. But don’t go on using sour cream in this mix.

Egg Alternatives - Mashed Potatoes

2. Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is one of man’s best creations. The best quality of this sauce is that you can use it anywhere. Out of ketchup for your fries? Use mayonnaise. No oil to grill your sandwich? Use mayonnaise. No eggs to bind your mix? Use mayonnaise!

You need three tablespoons of mayonnaise to replace one egg. Since mayonnaise contains some egg itself, it will bring the required egg flavor to your recipe. However, don’t use mayonnaise as an egg substitute if you have an egg allergy.

Egg Alternatives - Mayonnaise

3. Panade

Panade is a readily available substitute for eggs. You only have to take some bread or breadcrumbs and soak them in milk until it becomes soggy. Once the mixture is ready, you can lather the balls with this mixture.

The best thing about panade is that the starch in bread absorbs the milk and forms a gel-like skin. This skin protects the protein in the meat from shrinking and becoming tough. 

You must use ½ cup of breadcrumbs or one slice of bread with two tablespoons of milk. This will be enough for about half a pound of ground meat. Remember to only use panade for meats that you’ll need to cook for a long time. For example, don’t use panade as a binder in a hamburger as it will give it a mushy texture. 

Feel free to toss in some thinned yogurt, heavy cream, or buttermilk if you want to add flavor to the mixture. I’ve noticed greek yogurt gives the best flavor. Remember to only use water as a thinner and not as a replacement for water.

Egg Alternatives -Panade

4. Aquafaba

The fancy name leaves many quizzical, but fret not. Aquafaba is not an uncommon ingredient; It is the liquid in our food cans. As per my observation, chickpeas and garbanzo beans have the best Aquafaba. It is slightly viscous and gelatinous in appearance. Aquafaba is rich in starch which makes it the best vegan egg substitute for baking

Three tablespoons of Aquafaba are equivalent to one whole egg, and two tablespoons of it can replace egg white only. However, I’ve noticed whisked foamy Aquafaba works better as a binder. Apart from replacing egg white in baking, you can also use it as an alternative to vegetable oil.

Egg Alternatives - Aquafaba

5. Buttermilk

Buttermilk as an egg substitute for binding breadcrumbs or flour is yet another substitution you can enjoy. While other kinds of milk also work well in its place, buttermilk has an acidic tendency.

This breaks down the gluten in the flour. Resultantly the meatballs are tender and soft without being mushy. 

You can use ¼ cup or 60 g of buttermilk to replace one egg. You can also use plain yogurt for the same amount. This substitution works well in baking cakes and muffins too.

Egg Alternatives - Buttermilk

6. Cheese: Parmesan or Ricotta

Of Italian origin, Ricotta cheese is another general substitute for eggs in meatballs. It is already an integral part of several dishes like lasagna and marinara sauce. Moreover, it’s high in water and low in fat, making it an ideal substitute quality-wise. 

You can use ¼ cup of ricotta cheese to replace one egg in a recipe. I’d suggest adding little breadcrumbs for a more reliable outcome, or better yet, try Parmesan cheese. It is a household cheese in most western households.

Speaking from experience Parmesan cheese is the most tantalizing egg substitute on the list. When used with butter to coat meat, the cheese browns up beautifully, lending your dish an irresistible aroma and look.

Egg Alternatives - Cheese: Parmesan or Ricotta

7. Crumbled Saltine Crackers

The easiest and most readily available bread crumbs aren’t made at home from bread but Saltine crackers. Start stocking these crackers up in the pantry, and you will never be out of breadcrumbs. Use them in the same amount as breadcrumbs.

Egg Alternatives - Crumbled Saltine Crackers

8. Baking Powder

Baking powder is another excellent egg substitute for both cooking and baking. All you must do is add two teaspoons of baking powder, a tablespoon of oil, and two tablespoons of water to a bowl, mix until smooth, and use as per requirements! This mixture replaces one egg and can also be used to make an eggless cake.

Egg Alternatives - Baking Powder

9. Ground Flaxseed or Chia Seeds

Apart from using it as a diluting agent in nut butter, you can also use chia seed as an egg substitute. Ground flaxseed egg substitute works well enough too. You may grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or manually.  Add the grounded seeds to three tablespoons of chilled water and wait for the mixture to gelatinize before using.

Egg Alternatives - Ground Flaxseed or Chia Seeds

 10. Nut Butters

Nut butters are enriched with healthy fat and fiber. Thus it’s no surprise they make excellent binders. In addition, you can use nut butters as binders without worrying about too much moisture.

You can replace one egg with three tablespoons of nut butter. However, it may affect the flavor and texture of your dish. So, I recommend that you dilute the binding mixture with chia or flax seeds. 

Flax seeds have a mildly nutty flavor that will enhance the taste of your dish. If you find the mixture too thick, add a little water to perfect the consistency.

Egg Alternatives - Nut Butters

11. Applesauce

Unsweetened applesauce is your best egg substitute for vegans. It is made from cooked apples and proves a sturdy binder. It is inexpensive and possesses tangy undertones. You can further enhance its tart-like flavor by seasoning with other spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg. 

Substitute cup of unsweetened applesauce for one large egg. Make sure it has no added sugars in it. Applesauce is enriched with fibers and Pectin, just like eggs, and makes a perfect thickening agent.

Egg Alternatives - Applesauce

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better if I bake or fry meatballs?
Frying is the fastest way to cook meatballs, but the healthier way is to bake them.
Why do my meatballs get hard?
Meatballs harden when they lack moisture. Meatballs need some kind of moisture, like eggs or any other binder, to cook properly. Without it, the protein content forces the meat to shrink, which gives it a tough finish.
Why are my meatballs sticking to the pan?
Either you are using a non-stick pan, or your pan has become non-stick. To prevent meatballs from sticking to the pan, add a little butter or dust the meatballs with flour.
How do you keep meatballs round when frying?
If Your meatballs are falling apart, there’s a high chance it’s the binder that’s the problem. If you use an egg substitute, make sure it is not too thin, and the meatball has been lathered properly. Also, avoid moving meatballs too much and gently turn them to the side instead of flipping.
How do I tell if baked meatballs are done?
Use a thermometer. If the temperature is 140°C, then it’s done. If you don’t have a thermometer, wait until all the meatballs are evenly browned.

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