Panade: The Secret to Keeping Ground Meat Tender

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One simple way to keep your ground meat-based dishes moist, tender and flavorful is to add a Panade. Learn how to make one here using the following guide.

One simple way to keep your ground meat based dishes moist, tender and flavorful is to add a Panade. Learn how to make one here.

Have you ever eaten a hamburger or meatball that tasted dry and inedible like hockey pucks? Recipes that use ground meat can be spruced up with just a few ingredient tricks to turn dull dishes into ones people crave!

Whenever you bake, grill or braise meat that needs to be cooked well done, you run the risk of losing juiciness and flavor. One simple way to keep ground meat dishes moist and flavorful is to add a Panade.

Pieces of bread on a cutting board

What is a Panade?

A panade is a mixture of starch and liquid that is added to ground beef or other types of meat. Any combination of starch (bread, panko, crackers) and liquids (milk, buttermilk, yogurt, stock, water) can be used.

Varying the combination of panade ingredients and incorporating aromatics and spices can add more or less flavor depending on your taste preference.

Pieces of bread with milk in a bowl

Basic Panade Guide

The panade mixture consists of 1 cup bread crumbs or cubes plus 1 cup liquid, soaked for 10 minutes and mashed into a paste. I recommend the following based on specific recipes:

  • Meatballs and Meatloaf: 1 pound meat + 1 large egg + 1/2 cup panade
  • Burgers: 1 pound meat + 1/4 cup panade

Experiment with the panade amount until the desired texture is achieved. You can taste how adding a panade makes a recipe more moist and tender by trying my Italian Meatball Recipe.

Fork submerging bread mixture into milk liquid to create a panade

Meat cooked without a Panade

When the muscle fibers of meat proteins are cut or ground into smaller pieces, this causes sticky soluble proteins to be released which can then affect the texture of the meat.

After meat is mixed and cooked, the proteins tighten and contract which causes significant amounts of moisture to be squeezed out. If a panade is not added, then ground meat dishes may reduce in size and become dry or tough to eat. Source: The Science of Good Cooking

Spoon holding panade mixture to use with ground meat

Recipes that could incorporate a Panade

What is the Function of a Panade?

The starch in the bread absorbs the liquid in the mixture and creates a starch paste. The paste coats the proteins and sets into a gel when cooked, preventing the proteins from linking too tightly together and squeezing out moisture. This keeps the shape of the ground meat while moisture is retained.

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How to Make a Panade

A simple panade recipe to add to ground meat-based dishes to keep it tender and flavorful.
Pin Print Review
4.62 from 13 votes
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Total Time15 mins
Servings 1 cup
Course Condiment
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 1 cup bread, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 cup milk, plus more as needed to cover bread

Instructions 

  • Place bread into a medium-sized bowl and then pour 1 cup of milk or more as needed to cover the bread.
  • Allow bread cubes to soak for at least 10 minutes, until most of the milk has absorbed and bread is mushy in texture.
  • Pour off any excess milk and mash the bread mixture with a fork until there are no dry spots. The mixture should look like a starchy paste.

Notes

  • Buttermilk, non-dairy milk, stock or broth can be used instead of milk.
  • Dried breadcrumbs like cubes, panko, and smaller traditional breadcrumbs can be used. It may need more time to soak if cubed or less time if smaller sized. Just make sure the liquid is absorbed and the bread is not dry.
  • This recipe is for the panade mixture only. Incorporate into meat recipes such as:
    • For Meatballs and Meatloaf: Add 1/2 cup panade to 1 pound ground meat, 1 large egg and seasoning. Mix until combined and cook according to the recipe.
    • For Burgers: Add 1/4 cup panade to 1 pound ground meat and seasoning. Mix until combined and cook according to the recipe.

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Nutrition Facts
How to Make a Panade
Amount Per Serving
Calories 418 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Sodium 874mg36%
Potassium 25mg1%
Carbohydrates 72g24%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 15g30%
Vitamin A 500IU10%
Calcium 590mg59%
Iron 4.1mg23%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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70 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Elliott Chaska says

    Hi Jessica
    I just add oat meal from the round box that I powder up in the processor, and 1 egg. I don’t even add liquid, but you can. I find the moisture in the meat and egg is preserved while it is cooked. The oat meal also adds that slip for mouth feel people like. The bread panade is classic tho. I love all the info you give us from your education that a lot will not.

    Elliott

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for your feedback Elliott! I will have to try your oatmeal panade recipe, it sounds tasty!

  2. Nick Cioci says

    Good day Jessica.

    What ratio would/should I use if substituting Italian bread crumbs (Nonna’s favourite) for bread?

    I’ve also heard of using a baking soda solution (baking soda and water) to keep ground beef moist and tender vs. a panade. Your thoughts please!

    On another note, I understand that a panade was used as an extender for ground meat during hard times, to feed prisoners, etc.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Nick! Are you making meatballs? If so, I’ve found that if you are using the fine dried breadcrumbs, you don’t have to presoak them in liquid, they will absorb the liquid from the eggs and that would be sufficient to activate the starches. I found that a ratio of 1 pound beef, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, and 1 large egg is perfect. Check out my “grandma’s famous italian meatball recipe” for more info.

      As for using a baking soda solution, I have heard of that, especially in chinese cuisine to tenderize slices of meat. It helps to raise the pH on the surface of the meat, which makes it harder for the proteins to bonds tightly, preventing moisture loss. The result can be a more tender and moist product. I haven’t tried it yet for meatballs or meatloaf. I would still use a panade to give a consistent texture. You got me thinking though!

  3. Howard B Reisner says

    I never have milk in the house so I’m happy to hear that broth or water can be used. I only ever saw it made with milk.

  4. Sherry says

    How do you prevent overmixing when incorporating a panade, or does panade itself make overmixing/toughening not a concern?

  5. Sherry says

    Can i freeze leftover panade? I have a meatball recipe with breadcrumbs in it. I added milk to the bread and had seemingly too much panade. Can i freeze it?

  6. Nelson Jones says

    I use this in my cookies. I did not know it had a name and more uses.
    BUT milk is added to all meatloaf going in my oven.

  7. meann torres says

    HI jessica, thanks for sharing. can I also use Textured Vegetable Protein in making panade? thanks

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You could perhaps use 30% replacement using TVP, but since it’s made from soy flour and has a high amount of protein, the meatloaf may be tougher. You will be missing the starch component that helps will gelling and locking in the moisture. I would add in some rolled oats or something else to make up the remaining 1 cup for replacing breadcrumbs.

  8. Ken says

    Hi Jessica, i have been smoking and grilling burgers for over 40 yrs. I tried your recipe a few times now with milk one time, and yogurt another. Best burgers i have ever made. Thank you.

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