What Is a Matzo Ball?

They're not strictly for Passover.

Bubbie's Hearty Matzo Ball Soup
Photo: Linda T

Simple, yet widely celebrated, matzo (or matzah) balls step into the spotlight each year for Passover. But they're not limited to this Jewish holiday. Perhaps you've tried matzo ball soup — if you haven't, you've at least heard of it. These fluffy, dumpling-like balls of starch provide substance to your run-of-the-mill bowl of soup, as they soak up the hearty broth.

But what are matzo balls actually made of? And what do they have to do with Passover? Learn the answers to these questions and more so you can have all the knowledge you need to impress your Bubbe. Plus, learn how to make matzo balls step-by-step to enjoy during Passover or year-round.

What Are Matzo Balls Made Of?

While each family has its own recipe, all matzo balls are made of three key components: matzo meal, fat, and eggs. Matzo meal simply refers to matzo crackers that are ground up into a fine meal. You can also find matzo ball mix in most supermarkets; it consists of matzo meal, spices, and preservatives.

You can use any fat of your choice, but chicken fat is the most common. Oil or margarine can also be used in place of fat. To make matzo balls, your matzo meal, fat, and eggs are mixed along with a little water/broth and any seasonings of your choice. This mixture is then formed into balls and poached.

Well-done matzo balls shouldn't be so dense that they sink, but they shouldn't be too light either. You want nice, middle-of-the-road matzo balls that are easily sliced with a spoon and float on the surface of your soup.

Why Are Matzo Balls Eaten During Passover?

We've already established that matzo balls aren't just for Passover. That being said, there's no denying the importance of matzo balls to a Passover Seder. A Passover Seder refers to the ritual meal that's celebrated in Israel on the first night of the holiday, and outside Israel on the first two.

Much of the food served is deeply symbolic, and matzo is no exception. The story goes that matzo represents the unleavened bread the Jews ate as they fled Egypt. They had no time to wait for the dough to rise, so they baked it off into crackers, hence matzo crackers.

How to Make Matzo Balls

Here's a step-by-step tutorial for making basic matzo balls, according to this recipe from JANINE123.


  • 3 tablespoons margarine, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup water or broth


  1. Whisk together margarine and eggs until well blended. Combine the matzo meal and salt. Lightly stir into the egg mixture until the liquid is absorbed.
  2. Gradually mix in the water or broth. The mixture should hold together, but it shouldn't be too wet. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Remove the matzo mixture from the refrigerator. Wet hands so the dough doesn't stick, and form the mixture into balls about the size of the walnut.
  4. Drop balls into boiling water and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from water and serve in soup.


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