Published March 25, 2012 - Last Updated March 25, 2021
Learn to cook the lightest, fluffiest matzo balls ever! In this post I’ll walk you through a few different techniques for making matzo balls that are light as air, soft and tender. Delicious!
Matzo balls, also known as matzah balls, are a traditional Jewish food that can be likened to a Kosher for Passover soup dumpling. In order to be considered kosher for passover, it cannot contain any leavened grain. The leavened grains are replaced with matzo meal and combined with eggs, water, fat, and any additional herbs or spices you may like.
There are two ways to make fluffy, light, airy matzo balls – baking powder, or whipped egg whites with seltzer. Baking powder is the secret to really fluffy, light matzo balls. However, some people don’t like to use baking powder for Passover.
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 the fluffiest, lightest “floater” style matzo balls. Using carbonated water or seltzer in combination with whipped egg whites will help get you fluffy matzo balls, but baking powder really makes the biggest difference.
Curious about how baking powder could be kosher for Passover? 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. This issue has been discussed at length on kosher websites across the web. Joan Nathan wrote an article about it for the New York Times in April 2006. In her article, Rabbi Moshe Elefant, executive rabbinic coordinator and chief operating officer of the Orthodox Union’s kosher division, says: “There is nothing wrong about a raised product at Passover per se.” The Orthodox Union is the oldest and most widely accepted certifier of kosher foods.
If the OU doesn’t have a problem with certifying baking powder for Passover, neither do I. There are, in fact, several brands of kosher for Passover baking powder (like this one). Some choose not to use baking powder because they feel 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. No judgement here, every family is different.
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.
Matzo balls actually freeze well and retain their flavor and texture. Simply cool the matzo balls to room temperature after cooking. Line a sheet tray with wax paper or plastic wrap, place the matzo balls on a sheet tray, and place in the freezer for 2 hours or so (until they get firm). Transfer to a freezer safe bag or container once frozen. When ready to serve, they can be added directly to your soup and reheated, no defrosting necessary.
If you need a good chicken soup recipe to serve with your matzo balls, click here.
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Thanks for stopping by! I am fascinated by the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the foods of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s food can inspire us in the kitchen today. Read more...