The Best Way to Make Meatloaf & Meatballs That Are Always Tasty

The Best Way to Make Meatloaf & Meatballs That Are Always Tasty

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

One thing I find frustrating about baking is that, most of the time, you don't really know how something will taste or turn out until the very end. You keep your fingers crossed that the cake, muffins, or cookies will be delicious, but you can't taste along the way and fix something if it doesn't taste quite right.

A lot of savory cooking, however, lets you troubleshoot along the way since you can taste and adjust seasoning as necessary at different points in the cooking process. But what about mixtures like meatloaf or meatballs, where you don't really want to taste raw meat and eggs? Instead of keeping your fingers crossed that you added enough seasoning, here's an easy way to actually test it to find out!

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Copy What Sausage-Makers Do

This tip comes from a practice veteran sausage-makers employ all the time: making a test patty. In order to taste if a sausage mixture is seasoned properly, they take a small amount of the mixture (about a tablespoon), form it into a tiny patty, and brown it in a frying pan until it's cooked through. Then comes the fun part: tasting!

By doing this, you safely taste what the finished product will be like and can add more seasoning to the mixture if you need to before forming it into patties, stuffing it into casing, or cooking it. This is the best point to troubleshoot and fix the mixture so you don't end up with a bland-tasting finished product.

Other Times You Should Make Test Patties

Now most of us probably don't make sausage very often, but this wise tip really applies to any mixtures that you can't taste raw. Think meatloaf, meatballs, crab or seafood cakes, seasoned burger mixtures, or even veggie-based mixtures like falafel or latkes. I especially recommend doing this if you're trying a recipe for the first time or cooking on the fly; times when you're not exactly sure what the outcome will be like.

Save yourself any disappointment with the finished result by spending a few extra minutes making a test patty. Not only do you get a little cook's treat, but you can finish the dish with the confidence knowing you like how it tastes!

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