How To Make Matzo Balls

As with any food that comes in both homemade and boxed mix versions, matzo balls are best made from scratch. Just imagine how much prouder you'll be of your impressive, light-as-air matzo balls this Passover, or anytime you want to impress that certain someone's Bubbie.

Whether to use schmaltz, olive oil or tried-and-true canola is up to you. Generally, the precise formulas set by veteran matzo ball makers (old Jewish ladies) is discouragingly high. I'm not locating or creating schmaltz. So this Passover, I'm inclined to take advice from an impartial party.

Brooklyn native and "nice Italian boy" Michael Sullivan, executive chef at Veselka Bowery in NYC, oversees the crafting of hundreds of matzo balls every day. He recommends an equal blend of vegetable, canola and olive oil to balance the matzo balls' signature richness—without having rendered chicken fat all up in your soup.

I went over for soup and a lesson (mostly soup) with photographer Gabi Porter and discovered how geniunely easy it is to make a fluffy, delicious matzo ball. Here's what you'll need for 8-10 servings:

  • 2 1/2 cups matzo, ground medium-fine in a food processor. Toast these in a pan to bring out extra flavor.
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/3 cup each of vegetable, canola and olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • A very large pot of chicken soup (here's our primer on stocks, broths and bouillons, or you can try our chicken noodle soup recipe and leave out the noodles)
  • Cooked chicken and vegetables from the soup
  • Combine dry ingredients

    Combine matzo meal and baking powder in a large bowl. (Note: click on any of these images to enlarge and launch a step-by-step slideshow.)

    Add eggs

    Pour in the eggs. Since matzo balls use a lot of them, this is a good opportunity to invest in a dozen free-range eggs — it intensifies the flavor.

    Add oil

    Add the vegetable, canola and olive oils, then whisk until completely smooth. 

    Chill batter, then scoop

    Chill batter for half an hour in the refrigerator, then scoop out 1/4-cup portions. 

    Roll into balls

    Roll scoops between your palms to make balls, or simply dispense from scoop directly into boiling soup.

    Cook matzo balls in chicken soup

    Drop balls into boiling chicken soup, then reduce heat to lowest, cover with a tight-fitting lid and poach for 5 minutes.

    Finish cooking matzo balls

    Remove lid and continue cooking matzo balls at a simmer for 20 more minutes. 

    Serve with soup

    Transfer matzo balls to a bowl of soup and add shreds of chicken and vegetables if desired.