Cooking Tips

The Key to Easier Plant-Based Meatballs? Wet Hands.

Keeping your hands wet will make handling this meat so much easier.

Published May 12, 2022.

If you’ve decided to limit your meat intake, whether for your health or the environment, you might be missing your favorite meaty meals. So thank goodness for plant-based meat. Working it into your diet can make your meatless Mondays a little, well, meatier, and are perfect for quieting your meatball or taco cravings without really feeling like you’re sacrificing much at all.

But if you’ve mixed up a batch of plant-based meatballs you may have noticed it doesn’t behave quite like regular beef. In fact, it’s a heck of a lot stickier. What gives?

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Because plant-based meat lacks the myosin proteins that help bind the foundations of animal meat, it is softer and stickier than regular beef. With less protein to bind the connections between the meat, picking up, handling, and creating different shapes (like meatballs) from plant-based meat can be trickier than it would be with animal meat.

The last thing you want to be dealing with when making plant-based meatballs is getting more of the meat stuck to your hands than you can get into the frypan.


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Luckily, our cookbook Cooking with Plant-Based Meat has the solution: just moisten your hands with a little bit of water as needed to prevent sticking. Whether you’re forming meatballs or just moving ground meat from one place to another, this simple trick will help you get all of it where it needs to be, and not on your hands. You also could use plastic gloves as an extra layer of protection to keep your hands clean, but even then it's helpful to run your gloved hands under the water first.

So the next time you’re hoping to make salty, savory plant-based chorizo or a meat-free Double Smashie Burger, get your hands slick and work quick.

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