Floater Matzo Balls

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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Floater Matzo Balls

Ingredients

  • 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
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Servings: 16-20 matzo balls
Kosher Key: Meat
  • 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.

Comments (41)Post a Comment

  1. I use a “splash” of sparkling water… in my mix as I am beating the eggs… San Pelligrino sparkling water and it does make them light and fluffy !!!! enjoy !!

  2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I was taught by my mother-in-law B’H that once you put the lid on the pot, DO NOT LIFT THE LID. You let the steam out, and cool air in. This makes for what my husband B’H called *Golf* balls. You know, the ones with the hard center.

    To this day, any time I make matzo balls, I make *mama’s*. Light, fluffy, and so yummy.

    1. Hi Laurie– in the mix, the sodium bicarbonate is combined with monocalcium phosphate– when the two are combined, it creates baking powder. I will clarify the post. :)

  3. So that’s how the Manichewitz gets the matzo balls from that mix to be light and fluffy!!! I never knew and I have been using the stuff for years. Thanks for letting us know.

  4. Huh. Baking powder, you say? Matzoh ball lightness is a point of…um…discussion with the mom-in-law. She says Crisco as the shortening and her matzo balls are better than mine (ooh, that was painful). But maybe there’s more to her story? I’m going to try the baking powder before the holiday to make sure I can back up a new claim :) Thanks.

    1. Wlanut oil is heavily flavored. Grapeseed oil is neutral and does not add any discernable flavor. I think the walnut oil would be a msitske from a taste perspective.

    2. As I recall — Arthur Schwartz also suggests Corn Oil — not b/c of its lightness but because of its flavor, which he purports to agree with or even mimic that of meat.

  5. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Thank you for your website and recipes. I will certainly try both your sinker and floater matzo ball recipes to please the differing tastes of my family, but let me tell you about the time I made bouncers! My guess is too many eggs and too fast a boil (?). The matzo balls started out large enough but then shrunk down. Some of us went to dig into them and the balls jumped out of our shallow soup bowls and bounced across the table. Others chased their balls around the soup bowl with their spoons. We finally used forks to spear them, then cut them with knives before using our spoons. I was mortified, but the children had such fun! I’ve made many mistakes learning to cook unfamiliar jewish foods.Your website should help those new to kosher cooking since your amounts are measured and the steps are clear. Over the years, this shiksa has made some doozies. My stepchildren and now-grown grandchildren continue to tease me about the amazing matzo superballs . . . and my blue chicken is another failed recipe which still gets guffaws.

  6. How much to these expand by (to?). If they start off at 1 inch how large are they when they are cooked. I have seen some huge ones…like baseball size. Is there any problems when making them that big?

    1. Hi Bernadette, they expand to about 2.5 times the original size. Definitely not baseball sized, but if you cook them for longer than the suggested time they will expand more. You can make larger ones if you prefer, but I wouldn’t start any bigger than 2 inches– this will give you a nice, large matzo ball. You may need to cook a bit longer with the larger size to make sure it’s cooked all the way, through. Starting any larger than 2 inches may leave you with an uncooked middle, and they’ll be more difficult to handle and manage without falling apart (plus they’ll soak up a lot of the broth in the pot). Good luck!

  7. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I have always made my matzo balls the same day I serve them. Do they really stay fluffly and “floaters” if I make them a day before and store in refrigerator? Does freezing them change their “floating” power??!!
    P.S. Just made your chicken soup recipe and it was Excellant!

    1. So glad you liked the soup Sharon! To be honest, I’m not a big fan of making the matzo balls ahead. It can be done, but they won’t be quite as fluffy as they would be fresh. As for freezing, and if that will change their floating powers, it’s a great question… I’m not really sure!

    2. I have been freezing my matzoh balls for Passover every year for at least the last 10 years. We are floater fans and have not had any problems with lightness.

      The matzoh balls do shrivel a little when I remove them from the water but regain their shape when I reheat them in the soup.

      However I do separate the eggs and food in the whites last instead of using baking powder (which I didn’t think was K4P).

  8. I saw a similar recipe in Newsday this year, thought about trying it, but my family is *stuck* in their ways. My matzo balls had been inconsistant for a while, usually sinkers. What works for me is I make them ahead, beat the eggs frothy, add very cold water. Rest the mix at least 30 min in the fridge (like my mom taught me), I do the lidded pot-don’t lift it. BUT I freeze them immediately in muffin cups (kitchen aide silpats) then bag them up in a ziplock. I defrost them and reheat them in soup. That seemed to do the trick for me, but one day I will try your recipe.
    Best, Ruth

  9. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I like the recipe, everything makes great sense especially the baking powder and spices. The only thing I will do differently is use coconut oil instead of the shmaltz. It has rich flavor like the shmaltz and is the healthiest oil on the planet. I use it for almost everything.

  10. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    My Mom, who will be ninety next week and has always been the “Queen of floaters”, recently made two attempts at matzo balls, and both were failures. The first batch was made with matzo meal from my kitchen which she complained had a different texture than hers. When I looked at it, she was right! It looked and felt more like cake flour to me – it didn’t have that nice cornmeal texture that I was familiar with, and it made serious “sinkers”. We checked the box and it was Manischewitz matzo meal, not cake meal. I recently went to buy new matzo meal and it has that same fine texture as what I had on my shelf. I used to use my matzo meal to bread things with instead of bread crumbs, but this new stuff does not have the right consistency to do that. My Mom tried making matzo balls with it today and had the same thing happen. They poof up while cooking, but are very dense inside. She is ready to give up and move to the matzo ball mix in the box. I, however, am going to try your baking powder tip. Are we the only ones in the world who think that the texture of the matzo meal has changed recently????? THANKS!!

    1. I haven’t noticed a difference with the matzo meal… that’s really interesting! I wonder if it would be better to simply make your own meal by pulsing matzo in a food processor till it has the consistency you’re used to? The dense texture in the center means you’re not cooking the matzo balls long enough, they may look cooked on the outside but if they’re hard/dense inside it means they haven’t simmered long enough. Try this recipe and make sure you give them plenty of time to simmer. The Manischewitz matzo ball mix is very fluffy, too, but this recipe replicates that texture as long as it’s fully cooked. Good luck!

  11. Finally – fluffy matzoh balls without separating eggs, letting it sit overnight, etc. etc. I just threw out a whole batch of balls that had separated eggs and all of my chicken fat – (Ina Garten complicated and didnt work) and had to remake a fresh batch with your recipie. I was thrilled that it was so easy – and it worked!!
    Thank you Ms Shiksa – I love your recipes (the salmon with pesto rocked)! And I love the way you present with pictures. I will visit your site often!

  12. I recently had one of my “bucket list” wishes come true; going to New York! Although I am not Jewish, and never had matzo ball soup, I just felt like it would be a sin not to have it while there! Well, Katz’s deli was the place we chose and I was blown away! Before seeing your recipe, I used what was supposedly their recipe, and they turned out awful! Recipe didn’t say to keep the lid on and didn’t call for baking powder. I even tried cooking them longer, but that didn’t help. Hard rubbery consistency and I was so disappointed. But seeing all the positive comments here, I am trying it again today with your recipe. I have a feeling they will be a winner and am so excited!

  13. Years ago, my late husband found out that I Hop used club soda to make their pancakes fluffy….bet it would work in the matzo balls? Would it be kosher?

  14. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Hey,great recipe. On the question about whether baking powder is kosher for passover or not, I’m looking at my can of “Davis Baking Powder” and the first ingredient is Cornstarch. Looking fwd to enjoying your site! Josh

    1. Hi Josh! Yes, if you were to use baking powder during Passover you should first make sure that the brand you are using is certified for Passover use (which would mean no cornstarch). Welcome!

  15. will try the baking powder tip, one thing that happens sometimes which is annoying is that the balls fall apart even after I refrigerate them ahead of time and have it on a low boil. Don’t understand at all, I have tried adding more meal and less soup broth or water but it still has happened. Any tips to prevent the falling apart.

    1. Hi Kala, if they are falling apart you are either boiling them too strongly or cooking them too long. It sounds like you’re keeping them on a low simmer, so I suspect you’re overcooking them. Try reducing the cooking time, begin checking on them 5-10 minutes earlier than you normally do… cut through one of the bigger balls to ensure it is cooked through before removing from heat, and once they are cooked don’t let them sit in the hot liquid, as they will continue cooking… remove with a slotted spoon till ready to serve with soup.

  16. Just finished eating this for supper and this is, by far, the best recipe Ive tried! I have always made , not only sinkers, but lead sinkers. Yuk
    Turns out, I’m a “floater” person now = D thank you for sharing!

  17. After loving your hamantaschen and folding tips I thought I’d come back! Do you know what brands make klp baking powder? Thanks

    1. Hi Kim, there are actually a few different brands. The first one that comes to mind is Gefen, but I know there are others. Best to take a trip to your local kosher market to see if they stock them– mine carries around 4-5 brands each year.

  18. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi there:

    Just a question about how much salt to put in the water whilst cooking the matzo balls. I know it should be “heavily salted” but my balls were too salty. Any rules for X amount per quart of water?

    thanks for a wonderful post. My balls were very fluffy just salty.

    Blessings and Happy Passover.

    1. Hi Angela– the amount of salt is really a matter of personal taste. I generally use 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons for 4 quarts of water, but that might be too salty for some and not salty enough for others. If you taste the water before you cook the balls, it should taste mildly salty. Best to always use the same amount of water, and adjust the salt level until you find what works for you and your family. Happy Passover!

  19. I have a note to myself from last Pesah to try baking powder. I’m so glad I came across this recipe because they were perfect! I made the balls too big (~30 g…next time 20 g) and since I didn’t have garlic or onion powder, I upped the salt to a 1/2 tsp. I think, as you wrote several times, aside from the baking powder, cooking them thoroughly is key.
    Thank you and Moadim leSimha.

  20. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    You are definitely the mazha balls queen !!
    I’ve made them last night …. Ohhhhhhh they were so delicious light and fluffy !!!!!!
    Thank u

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