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Neapolitan Meatballs - Breadcrumb Paste

I made the Neapolitan Meatballs, but my panko "paste" was so thick that it was more like a mostly solid, rubbery playdough. That didn't seem right. To thin it out, I wound up adding over two times the amount of water, which I overdid and everything turned out soggy. Still tasted good, but they didn't keep their shape and were too soft.

Am I using too much panko? I wasn't sure how much variance panko would have between brands. I am using Wegman's if that matters. Otherwise, is there something commonplace that resembles the consistency of the panko paste I should strive for?

The thing is, this Neapolitan meatball has been so hyped up as this abnormally large, overly breadcrumbed, still meaty, but totally not your average fare food that I don't really have anything to gauge by as I go.

Thanks for any help!


  • FWIW, I used 4C brand Panko Plain breadcrumbs and followed the recipe exactly. I can't think of anything with similar consistency to the moistened breadcrumbs, but from your description, it sounds as though you only needed to add a bit more water. Mine wasn't "solid and rubbery" but was also definitely not "soggy" at all.

    They came out absolutely fantastic. Best meatballs I have ever had, and one of the top 5 recipes I've ever made.

  • Hi Brice - In response to your question about the panade for the meatballs being too thick, I got in 5 different brands of Panko. I measured 2 ½ cups by volume of each in dry measuring cups using a dip and sweep method, then weighed each brand. The difference between the 4-C (very coarse) and Wegmans (the finest) would mean ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons difference, which is a lot. For breading a cutlet, it doesn't matter as much. I developed the recipe with 4-C brand, which weighed in at 166 grams (5 ⅛ ounces). The mixture is quite thick after you mash it, like Play-Doh, but will loosen up after you add the onion and egg.

    Here are a couple of other tips when making the meatballs to prevent them from falling apart:

    1.  It's very important to let the crumbs sit with the water to fully hydrate the crumbs.
    2. Make sure to refrigerate the meatballs for the full 20 minutes before baking them. The cold meatballs will hold their shape better during baking. After baking, let them cool for 10 minutes on the sheet. The meatballs are still pretty soft when they are fresh out of the oven and hot. Allowing them to cool will firm them up before you add them to the sauce.
    3. Make sure your sauce is at a gentle simmer when you add the meatballs. If the sauce is bubbling too much the agitation will break the delicate meatballs apart.

    Hope this helps!

    Diane Unger

  • Thanks Diane. It looks like I might just try again with only 2 cups panko or try with 4-C depending what I have on hand.

    Thanks for following up.

  • I had the same issue as Brice S. had. My panko and water was a pasty play-doh consistency. I ended up adding just a bit more water and then really made sure that the panko mixture and the meat mixture combine completely. I was unsure how it would taste, but they were great. I appreciate the comments above by Diane. Thank you!

  • We have made this twice,my question is weather we over mixed the meat balls by hand. The first batch before and after baking were light in color. The second batch were darker, probably under mixed, both batches were very good, the first were softer and held together better, very smooth texture. I would have liked to see a picture before the bake or after to determine if I over mixed the meat balls before I put them in the sauce.

  • edited April 1

    Hi Louis - Attached are a couple of photos. The first is how the meatball mixture should look before forming, the second is of the meatballs after they are formed into a ball. Hopefully this helps! Let me know if you have trouble viewing these. Best, Lynn C.

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