Top | Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook

Matzah Balls

(recipe, Joan Nathan)

primary-image, l


There is a light-and-fluffy school of matzah balls, and there are those of cannonball persuasion, who hold that matzah balls should plummet to the floor. After much experimentation in both categories, I have concluded that heavier matzah balls take a higher proportion of matzah meal to eggs and fat and should cook for 20 minutes or less. You need some fat, but I have reduced mine by half. Contrary to popular opinion, the substitution of soda water for water does not lighten matzah balls. To prepare light matzah balls, you can increase the number of eggs and simmer the matzah balls 30 minutes or longer. Never take the lid off until you have finished cooking them. Patty Unterman, chef of the Hayes Street Grill in San Francisco, insists that the secret of perfect matzah balls is simmering them in a huge quantity of chicken soup for at least an hour. The lightest versions usually call for stiffly beaten egg whites folded into the mixture. Matzah balls can be made ahead of time, drained, and then placed in the broth. Freeze the entire pot full of soup; when ready to serve, defrost and reheat. Another trick is to make the matzah balls, squeeze them out, freeze them on a cookie tray, and then throw them into a plastic freezer bag for your next occasion. Extra matzah balls can be served the next day, although the texture will be a little denser. They are also good as a starch when browned in margarine or chicken fat. Refrigerate them thoroughly before frying or they will fall apart.


  1. 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  2. 2 Tbsp. chicken fat, skimmed from the top of the soup
  3. 1 cup matzah meal
  4. 2 tsp. salt
  5. 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  6. 6 Tbsp. chicken soup or water


  1. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and the fat together. Stir in the matzah meal, salt, and parsley. Add the chicken soup or water. Refrigerate 1 hour or more, to permit the meal to absorb the liquids.
  2. In a 6-quart pot with a lid, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil. Reduce the water to a simmer and drop in balls of matzah mixture about 1½ inches in diameter. Cover the pot and cook just at a simmer for 20 to 40 minutes. (The longer you cook them, the softer the matzah balls will be.) When they are ready, they may be placed in chicken soup to serve.