Gluten free matzo balls? Believe it. This recipe turns chickpea flour into a darn fine substitute that allows all of us who keep gluten-free to take part in a familiar Passover tradition.
Gluten Free Matzo Balls
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 3 H, 45 M
- Makes 18 large matzo balls
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil until just combined.
Make a hole in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mixture. Using a rubber spatula, stir everything together until thoroughly incorporated. The batter will be very thick and sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours.
Fill a large pot with a lid 3/4 full of water and bring to a simmer. In another large pot, bring the stock to a simmer, cover, and turn the heat to low.
While the water is heating, remove the matzo ball batter from the refrigerator. Take about 2 teaspoons’ worth of batter (roughly 20 to 22 grams) and, with wet hands, roll the dough between your palms to make balls. [Editor’s Note: The matzo balls may look teensy but they’ll increase dramatically in size when added to the water.] Repeat with the remaining batter.
Bring the simmering water to a boil. Gently drop half the matzo balls into the water; when the balls rise to the surface, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 20 to 22 minutes, until the matzo balls are cooked through and the centers are light. If the center is hard and dark, cook until the center is cooked and light, up to 3 or 5 minutes more.
You’ll want to handle the matzo balls carefully as they’re a touch more delicate than your usual matzo balls. Transfer the cooked matzo balls to the pot of warm broth and repeat with the remaining matzo balls and the simmering water.
Bring the broth with the matzo balls to a simmer. Ladle the soup into bowls, allowing 1 to 2 matzo balls per serving, and garnish with dill. Originally published April 5, 2016.
Recipe Testers' Tips
I grew up eating my Lithuanian mother's home cooking. It seems to be little known that a lot of traditional Eastern European food is shared across the cultures of the region. One of my favorite dishes was her simple soup with cabbage and klazkius, which were matzo balls all but in name. So what I'm saying is, I know my matzo balls. I love them so much that ever since I went gluten free 6 years ago, I've searched and searched for a worthy alternative to my mom's wheat flour version. Only once before now had I come across a potato flour-based recipe I thought was worth its salt—and I lost it. That was a year ago, and try as I might, I couldn't ever get hold of another one....until now!
I was skeptical of the chickpea flour (though granted I've never used it before now) and wondered if this wouldn't turn out like some kind of mushy falafel. Instead, the matzo balls were tender without being mushy and held together beautifully, even after soaking in a chicken and leek broth for a bit. They took on the flavor of the lightly seasoned broth and were appropriately subdued. This was a warm and hearty addition to the table that I will definitely be making again and again!
In some ways, these gluten free matzo balls are nicer than regular matzo balls. These are floaters—traditional matzo balls come in floaters and sinkers—and whereas floaters made with matzo can be really, really dry, these stayed nicely moist. I would probably tweak the recipe for daily use but for a very, elegant Ashkenazi meal, this recipe is an A. I would probably use it instead of a traditional matzo ball recipe, actually, even for those who are not gluten free, as they don't have the "I just ate a loaf of bread" effect you get from a traditional matzo ball soup.
The uncooked chickpea flour dough was really, really "green" tasting, like uncooked beans, so I was worried, but the finished matzo balls were really nice. There was no chickpea flavor at all once cooked. I found the total hands-on time to be adequate—mine went to like 25 minutes, but with the speed I work at, which is somewhere between glacial and a mosey, the difference is negligible.
The matzo balls increase in size quite dramatically in the simmering water. Using 2 tablespoons dough gives you a New York deli-style matzo ball—the one-really-big-matzo-ball-in-a-dish-of-soup effect. We both prefer them as a one- or two-bite affair, with several in a bowl of soup. I did make my own chicken broth, and as this is a minimalist affair, the overall result rides very heavily on the quality of the broth. I would definitely recommend others do the same. I will make these again.