Go Ahead, Deep Fry Your Meatballs

Go Ahead, Deep Fry Your Meatballs

A well-constructed meatball is an inherently perfect food. Tender, flavorful meat gently compacted into a burly sphere—big or small—always feels like a special reward. Improving upon it isn’t necessary, so I consider the following embellishment as a way to honor the meatball’s innate perfection: You should try deep frying your meatballs.

The idea of breading and deep frying the illustrious meatball didn’t come to me the usual way (a stroke of inspiration bestowed upon me by the angel of food). Instead, I caught news that this season, Yankee Stadium is serving up fried meatballs. Meatball makers everywhere know that technically all the best meatballs get a quick pan-fry before being finished off with a sauce (unless you’re baking them so there’s less mess, which I respect), and the stadium’s preparation method remains a bit unclear.

Whether or not Yankee Stadium’s fried meatballs are just regular meatballs dunked in a fryer, the idea certainly inspired me to step it up and create my own vision for the perfect fried meat orb.

How to make deep-fried meatballs

The whole point of deep-frying anything is to get a crunchy crust on the outside and a tender interior. While something like a falafel doesn’t need extra starch on the outside to develop a crispy shell, meatballs do. I breaded the outside of my meatballs with a panko and fine bread crumb mixture, and the results were incredible. The meatballs had a crackling crust yet retained plenty of moisture. It was, frankly, one of the juiciest meatballs I’ve ever had.

Here’s how to recreate it:

1. Make your meatball mix

Deep-fried meatballs can be made with any recipe, so I suggest you use your favorite. That said, it’s helpful for the breading step if the mixture has an egg in it, so if you can add an egg to your recipe, great, but it isn’t essential. Raw meat is usually sticky enough anyway. Once you’ve made the mix, roll the meatballs and place them on a foil-lined sheet tray.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

2. Coat them in crumbs

In a bowl, add an equal-parts mixture of panko and fine breadcrumbs. I used store bought Kikkoman panko and Progresso breadcrumbs. If you’re feeling inspired, add a spoonful of grated parmesan to the mix. (I only had shredded, but I managed.) Thoroughly roll each meatball in the breading mixture and return it to the sheet tray.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

3. Fry ‘em up

Depending on how big your meatballs are, add enough neutral oil to a pot to cover them. Bring the oil up to 350°F. Use a deep frying thermometer or candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. Ideally, you’ll keep it around 335°F to 350°F. This frying range will ensure the meatballs cook through to the center without over-browning. Fry the meatballs for three to five minutes, depending on the size of the meatballs. Use a probe thermometer to test the internal temperature if you’re unsure about doneness.

If you’ve ever experienced the sadness of dry meatballs, deep frying is the remedy. I’ve never had a juicier meatball, and the initial crunch creates a swoon-worthy textural juxtaposition. My meatballs were two inches in diameter—perhaps a tad large. If you want them any bigger than that, I’d recommend breading and baking them on a wire rack over a sheet tray for 15 minutes at 400°F before frying to ensure they cook through. That way when you get to deep frying them you can focus on forming a nice crust and trust they’ll be safe to eat.

(Also, because I know you’re wondering, air frying them is just okay. They’ll develop a subtle crust—and again, meatballs are always flawless—but a deep fry just hits different.)

Take the guess-work out of deep frying with these tools:

Deep-fried Meatball Recipe


  • 1 slice of sandwich bread, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons of grated onion (juice included)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 3 dashes worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup panko
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • Neutral oil for deep frying

1. Crumble the slice of toast into a medium mixing bowl. You want small pieces; about the size of a pea or smaller. Add the grated onion and juice, and the milk. Stir to moisten the bread. Feel free to add a splash more milk if there are any remaining dry hunks of bread. Add the beef, pork, salt, seasonings, sauces, and the egg. Mix until combined.

2. Divide and roll the mixture into balls (the size is up to you). Place them on a foil-lined sheet tray.

3. Combine the panko, breadcrumbs, and cheese in a small bowl. Roll each meatball in the breading until well-coated. Replace them on the sheet tray.

4. Add enough oil to a pot to cover a meatball, about two inches of oil. Heat the oil to 350°F and deep fry a couple meatballs at a time for 3 to 5 minutes, or until well browned and the center registers a safe temperature (usually 160°F) for your mixture. Cool the meatballs for about five minutes on a wire rack before serving with your favorite sauce and a dusting of grated parm.

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