Homemade Matzo Ball Soup is to Jewish families what I expect homemade pasta is to Italian families. That is to say that every family has their own recipe and preferred way to serve and enjoy it. This is ours.
What Are Matzo Balls?
Matzo balls are those delightful soup dumplings, often floating around in chicken soup, made with matzo meal, eggs, and fat (often chicken schmaltz). Because they are made with matzo (also called ‘matza’ or ‘matzah’), they are traditionally enjoyed on Passover, the Jewish holiday where we refrain from eating leavened bread (anything containing yeast).
As you’ve probably seen on countless deli menus, however, matzo ball soup is actually a year round staple. You can enjoy it on Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, or literally any day of the week where you want comfort in a bowl. There is a reason it’s referred to as Jewish penicillin…. it’s a cure all for whatever ails you, and it tastes great!
Within the world of homemade matzo balls, people are generally divided into two teams: floaters or sinkers. The former are for people who want light, airy matzo balls that are tender and cut into easily. Why the name floaters? Because when you cook they, they float to the top of the cooking liquid. The latter are for people who want a dense, firmer matzo ball.
We’re team floaters, so that’s the type of recipe we’re sharing. There are tips below if you want a more solid matzo ball, but in general, these will still be light.
- 2-3 quarts of either chicken broth or water and a chicken bouillon cube: the matzo balls will absorb the liquid they cook in and expand, so instead of cooking them in water, cook them in something with a good amount of flavor.
- Eggs, separated: This is certainly a matter of personal preference, but for the lightest imaginable matzo balls, whisk the egg whites separately until soft peaks form, then fold into the matzo ball mixture.
- Plain seltzer: To keep the texture extremely light!
- Matzo meal: Essentially breadcrumbs made from finely ground matzo.
- Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or duck fat: Adds a lot of flavor to the homemade matzo balls!
- Fresh herbs: Dill and parsley, finely chopped. We also love to finish the soup with fresh dill!
- Kosher salt and a pinch of black pepper: To season the matzo balls.
Our Best Matzo Ball Soup Tip
Make the matzo balls separate from the chicken soup base.
The water or broth that you cook the matzo balls in will become cloudy. And since we want our matzo ball soup to be light and clear, we recommend cooking the matzo balls in a separate pot — either water and bouillon or stock — then transferring them to bowls and serving with your favorite chicken soup recipe.
How To Make Matzo Balls
- Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Whisk the egg yolks separately, along with cold seltzer, schmaltz, fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
- Fold in the egg whites, then gently stir in matzo meal.
- Cover and refrigerate — the mixture needs to chill for at least 1-2 hours, or even overnight, for the matzo meal to absorb the liquid. Do not skip this step!
- Warm the chicken stock or water with bouillon in a large stockpot. Once simmering, form the matzo balls, then carefully lower into the water. Cover with a lid.
- Cook for 30 minutes, then serve with your favorite chicken soup.
How To Serve Matzo Ball Soup
Once the matzo balls are cooked, serve in your favorite homemade chicken soup (our recipe is below!) with carrots, fresh dill, and if you like, a pinch of flaky sea salt.
If serving matzo ball soup as part of your Pesach (Passover) dinner, consider serving with the following menu:
To Make Homemade Chicken Soup
Place the following ingredients in a large pot, then cover with water: 1 bunch of celery (cut into 3″ pieces), about 6-9 large carrots (cut into 3″ pieces), 2 heads of garlic (unpeeled and cut in half across the cloves), 2 large onions (unpeeled and halved), 1 whole chicken, 1 Tbsp whole peppercorns, 2 dried bay leaves, and a small bunch of fresh parsley.
Bring to a rapid boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 3 hours, then strain the stock into a large bowl, discard the veggies, and finally peel and shred the chicken. Return the chicken to the soup, then add additional sliced carrots if you like and simmer until tender.
Quick tip: you can use the leftover bones from a store-bought rotisserie chicken to make stock, too!
Cook the matzo balls in 2-3 quarts of water and 1 chicken bouillon cube.
Schmaltz (also sometimes spelled schmalz or shmalz) is rendered chicken fat. It’s a common ingredient in Jewish and Eastern European cooking. You can keep it forever in a freezer!
Duck fat is a great substitute! If you don’t have access to that, vegetable oil or melted coconut oil works great too.
No. The matzo meal is coarse and dry; it needs time to absorb the liquid or they’ll be extremely dense.
Nothing, they’re the same! Kneidlach is another name for the Ashkenazi Jewish soup dumplings, more commonly referred to as matzo balls (also sometimes called matza balls or matzah balls)
This is a traditional Kosher for Passover matzo ball recipe. If it’s not Passover or you don’t observe, baking powder creates a lighter, fluffy texture. Feel free to add ½ tsp per cup of matzo meal.
Leave out the seltzer water, which helps to aerate the ingredients. You can also increase the matzo meal by ¼ cup for a firmer, dense texture.
Make Ahead, Leftovers, and Storage
Make ahead: You can make the matzo balls 1-2 days in advance, then drain from the cooking liquid and store in an airtight container in a fridge. Be careful during transfer, as these are soft, delicate matzo balls, and they will break easily if you’re rough with them.
Reheating: To reheat refrigerated matzo balls, heat up your favorite chicken soup on a stove top, adding the cooked matzo balls directly to the stock pot to warm along with the soup. Soup should reheat in about 10 minutes over medium heat.
Leftovers where the matzo balls are already combined with soup: Allow to cool completely, then transfer to a fridge in an air-tight container. Leftover matzo ball soup will keep for up to 5 days.
Freezing: Allow matzo balls to cool completely to room temperature, then place in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours until solid. Transfer to a freezer safe bag or container (vacuum seal bags are great here, but only after the matzo balls are frozen solid), then freeze for up to 3 months. Note: we recommend freezing matzo balls separate from soup!
Thawing: Thaw matzo balls overnight (or at least a few hours until softened) before reheating in soup or stock.
- Herbs: You can omit the herbs for a standard, classic matzo ball recipe. Personally, I prefer the herbs. Matzo is about as flavorless as it gets (sorry, not sorry…) and it needs all the help it can get!
- Baking powder: If using baking powder (not Kosher for Passover), add ½ tsp per 1 cup of matzo meal. This takes into account the added seltzer too, no need to omit that!
- In a hurry? Omit the beaten egg whites. They contribute to an even lighter texture, which we love, but if you don’t want to dirty one more appliance, we get it. Simply whisk all ingredients together, the matzo balls will still be great.
We hope this soup brings your family just as much comfort as it brings to ours. It really is comfort in a bowl.
If you make this Matzo Ball Soup recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
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More soup recipes to try!Easy, Dairy-Free Beef Barley Soup Greek Lemon Chicken Soup (Dairy Free!) Rich, Hearty Green Chicken Chili Soup (Dairy-Free) Rich & Creamy Potato Leek Soup (Gluten-Free) Thick, Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup (with Grilled Cheese Croutons!)
Light As Air Matzo Ball Soup
- 3 quarts water
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 5 large eggs separated
- ½ cup plain seltzer cold
- 1 cup matzo meal
- 2 Tbsp schmaltz or duck fat
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped dill
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 8-10 cups Homemade chicken soup see note below
- Whisk the egg whites. Place the 5 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, then whisk until soft peaks form.
- Whisk the egg yolks. In a separate bowl, whisk together 5 egg yolks with ½ cup cold seltzer, 2 Tbsp schmaltz, 1 Tbsp chopped parsley, 1 Tbsp chopped dill, 1 tsp Kosher salt, and 1 pinch of black pepper.
- Make the matzo ball mixture. Carefully fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until just combined. Add 1 cup of matzo meal, then stir gently until thoroughly mixed. Cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or up to overnight.
- Warm the chicken stock. Place 3 quarts of water in a large soup pot with 1 bouillon cube, then bring to a gentle boil. Scoop about ¼ cup of batter at a time (using a small cookie scoop makes this easy), then with slightly wet hands, roll gently into a ball, about 1½ inches round. When ready, lower the heat of the stock to a gentle simmer, then use a slotted spoon to carefully lower each matzo ball into the stock. Repeat until all matzo balls are formed. Yield: 15-16 matzo balls.
- Simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes. While it's tempting, do not remove the lid to check on the matzo balls before the timer goes off.
- Garnish, then serve. Transfer 1 or 2 matzo balls to each serving bowl, then serve with your favorite chicken soup. Garnish with additional parsley or dill.
- Serving size: 1-2 matzo balls per person, depending on whether other dishes are served.
- Can use 2-3 quarts of chicken stock in place of water and bouillon .
- Make ahead: You can make the matzo balls 1-2 days in advance, then drain from the cooking liquid and store in an airtight container in a fridge. Be careful during transfer, as the matzo balls are delicate. They will break if you’re rough with them.
- Reheating: To reheat refrigerated matzo balls, heat chicken soup on a stove top, adding the cooked matzo balls directly to the stock pot to warm along with the soup. Soup should reheat in about 10 minutes over medium heat.
- Leftovers where the matzo balls are already combined with soup: Allow to cool completely, then transfer to a fridge in an air-tight container. Leftover matzo ball soup will keep for up to 5 days.
- Freezing: Allow matzo balls to cool completely to room temperature, then place in a single layer on a parchment lined sheet pan and freeze for 2 hours until solid. Transfer to a freezer safe bag or container (vacuum seal bags are great here, but only after the matzo balls are frozen solid, otherwise they will crush), then freeze for up to 3 months. Note: we recommend freezing matzo balls separate from soup!
- Thawing: Thaw matzo balls overnight (or at least a few hours until softened) before reheating in soup or stock.