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. The following guide will teach you how to make one.

A Panade keeps ground meat based dishes moist, tender and flavorful.

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 + ½ cup panade
  • Burgers: 1 pound meat + ¼ 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

Recipe Science

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.

How to Make a Panade

A simple panade recipe to add to ground meat-based dishes to keep it tender and flavorful.
4.97 from 31 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings 1 cup
Course Condiment
Cuisine American


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


  • 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.


  • 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 ½ cup panade to 1 pound ground meat, 1 large egg and seasoning. Mix until combined and cook according to the recipe.
    • For Burgers: Add ¼ cup panade to 1 pound ground meat and seasoning. Mix until combined and cook according to the recipe.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 1 cup
Calories 418kcal (21%)Carbohydrates 72g (24%)Protein 15g (30%)Fat 7g (11%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Monounsaturated Fat 1gSodium 874mg (36%)Potassium 25mg (1%)Fiber 4g (16%)Sugar 7g (8%)Vitamin A 500IU (10%)Calcium 590mg (59%)Iron 4.1mg (23%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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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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104 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Leah Garcia says

    Hi. Just wondering if this would work well with burger mixture that also has ground pork or would that be too moist?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, you could use some panade in a burger recipe. I recommend using 3 to 4 tablespoons per pound. If you add too much, it will taste more like a meatball, and you want more of a meaty chew for burgers. The mixture will be slightly more wet, so I would form the patties and refrigerate uncovered for 30 minutes to let the surface dry a bit and for the starches in the panade to gel together. It will make it easier to cook on the stove top or grill.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      No, you can use any kinds of breads you want to make the panade. The flavor will impact the recipe, so just make sure it pairs well with the dish.

  2. LR says

    Jessica the Panade explanation was exactly what I was looking for. My mother used to make Albondigas soup and although I know how to make her soup I could not remember if she added an egg, breadcrumbs or both… So as I was looking through other recipes I saw so many variations and combination of egg, breadcrumbs, and milk, and some without anything. I wanted to know the necessity to use or not and you made it scientific enough that it absolutely clicked with me. I appreciate you taking the time to explain the binding of the proteins if you don’t use a Panade! Genius!!! I will definitely make the meatballs using your egg and Panade mixture!!!
    100 Thank yous!

  3. David says

    The Panade explanation is really interesting. I had no idea. So i tried it with the meatloaf yesterday, and it worked! Thank you for introducing this tool!

  4. Stephen Hill says

    Thank you the well thought out and written article! 🙂 I saw a recipe for meatloaf that I liked and it used a panade of saltines and milk. I do not eat a lot of saltines and buying so much would’ve been a huge waste.

    So, after looking at the various smaller sized cracker boxes I saw Chicken In A Biscuit Crackers which I love but they were a bit high in sodium for me…I’ve been diagnosed with High Blood Pressure. Then saw Sociables Savory Baked Crackers with herbs already baked into the crackers and would a boost in flavor as well as having lower sodium! They worked wonderfully! I’ve been using them ever since then! I assumed your readers may want to know about those. 🙂

  5. Patty says

    WOW!! Between Jessica’s knowledge and all the other suggestions and answered question I also learned a whole bunch of info!! Thank you again Jessica, I’m so lucky to have found your site!

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