Baking powder is the secret to really fluffy, light matzo balls. Before you jump on me about baking powder not being kosher for Passover, please read the full post– I’ll address your concerns, promise.
For many years, I used Manischewitz matzo ball mix to make my matzo balls. It always cooked up so fluffy and light, and I really couldn’t replicate the texture when making it from scratch. One day, I studied the ingredients, and noticed sodium bicarbonate and monocalcium phosphate– both are the active ingredients in baking powder. So, I started doing a little research. Turns out, baking powder is key to creating fluffy, light, “floater” style matzo balls. I’ve tried the carbonated water trick (some people say seltzer will help make a lighter matzo ball), but I never noticed a big different in texture. The only change that really worked was adding baking powder.
Curious about how baking powder could be kosher for Passover? This issue has been discussed at length on kosher websites across the web– Arthur Schwartz wrote a post about the issue when a radio listener scolded him for discussing a Passover recipe that included baking powder. Baking powder is mineral based, not grain based, and therefore it does not fall under the banner of “chametz,” the group of foods that are banned for Passover. There are, in fact, several brands of kosher for Passover baking powder. Some will choose not to use baking powder because it doesn’t jibe with the “spirit” of the Passover holiday (since it is an artificial, non-grain-based form of leavening). Others have no problem using baking powder, as long as it has a kosher hechsher. Suffice it to say, the choice to use baking powder is a matter of tradition and preference. One thing is for sure, it definitely makes for lighter, fluffier matzo balls. If you’d rather not use it, try my “Sinker” Matzo Balls recipe– it’s also super yummy, producing tender matzo balls with a lovely texture and the same flavor as these floaters.
If you need a good chicken soup recipe to cook your matzo balls in, click here.
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- 3/4 cup matzo meal
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp white pepper (optional)
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tbsp melted schmaltz (or substitute grapeseed oil)
- 1 tbsp minced fresh dill (optional)
- 3-4 quarts soup broth or salted water
- In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to mix together the matzo meal, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.
- In another bowl, use another fork to mix together the eggs and schmaltz.
- Pour egg mixture into the dry ingredients, and add the minced dill. Mix all ingredients together with a fork till just combined. Do not overmix.
- Put the bowl of matzo ball mixture into the refrigerator and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.
- There are two ways to cook your matzo balls-- in boiling water or in the soup broth. Cook them in boiling water if you are feeding a large crowd; the matzo balls will soak up some of the broth, which will make for less servings of soup. I prefer to cook them straight in the broth so they soak up the chicken flavor-- you may end up with a little less broth, but your matzo balls will taste amazing. You can always top the soup off with a little canned or boxed chicken broth, or water and bouillon, if you need to.
- Bring your 3-4 quarts of soup broth or salted water to a boil over medium heat.
- While your broth or water is warming, form the chilled matzo ball mixture into 1 inch balls. Don't overwork the mixture when you roll the balls.
- When your broth or water boils, lower it to an even bubbling simmer and drop the matzo balls gently into the liquid.
- Cover the pot with a lid and let the balls cook for 30-35 minutes till fluffy and soft. Keep the pot covered-- no peeking till 30 minutes have gone by! If you've followed instructions carefully, the balls should be floating on the surface of the water like billowy clouds of deliciousness.
- Serve two or three matzo balls per bowl with hot chicken soup ladled over them. If you don’t plan on serving the whole pot of soup at one sitting, make sure you remove the matzo balls from the broth and let them come to room temperature before storing them in a separate container. If left to sit in the broth, they'll become mushy.