The Perfect Egg Substitute In Meatballs Is Mashed Potatoes

Who doesn't love a meatball? Whether coated in marinara, sandwiched in a hoagie roll for a meatball sub, or eaten alone, these delicious minced meat treats are a global favorite. To get meatballs to take on their spherical shape, however, many recipes call for using eggs as a binder — but there are numerous reasons you might not want to include eggs in your meatball recipe. For example, you or a loved one may be allergic to eggs, which, according to the FDA, is one of the most common food allergies. Alternately, you may get a bit squeamish when working with raw eggs, or you might be out of eggs at the moment. Thankfully, mashed potatoes work as an excellent egg substitute for meatballs. 

The function of egg in meatballs has very little to do with flavor and more to do with its binding properties, similar to why you might use breadcrumbs in meatloaf or burgers: to help everything hold together. On the other hand, mashed potatoes don't only work as an excellent binder due to their high starch content; they also add depth of flavor. This is especially true when they're prepared with cream and butter. In short, mashed potatoes not only help your meatballs keep their shape but also lend them a rich, delicious creaminess. 

Get your mash on to make meatballs

You have a few options when making mashed potatoes: use up a leftover batch for meatball night, prepare some fresh and serve the rest on the side with the meatballs, or buy premade mashed potatoes from the ready-meals section of the grocery store. We advise against using instant mashed potatoes, as they often include additives and extra stabilizers that might alter the texture of the meatballs. Since you should also season your meatballs, be careful not to over-salt or be heavy-handed with any salted butter added to your boiled potatoes before mashing them. To avoid this, you could use unsalted butter in your potatoes and always taste as you go. Finally, for every egg your meatball recipe calls for, add ¼ cup of mashed potatoes, then prepare as usual. 

When using mashed potatoes as a binder for meatballs, the potato flavor won't come through very strongly, but the butter and cream will enhance other flavors in the meatballs and keep them moist. If your meatballs are prone to being on the dry side, then this trick could be a perfect solution. While you might feel this is a strange ingredient swap, mashed potato meatballs make a hearty, delicious entrée or appetizer. You couldn't ask for an easier egg substitute, especially if you already have leftover mashed potatoes. But don't relegate this trick to only meatballs: Try adding mashed potatoes to meatloaf or other ground meat dinners that need extra help sticking together.