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
4.55 from 22 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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92 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Mike says

    I live in France and I have to make my breakfast sausage from scratch. “One cup” of bread cubes confuses me. Is that one cup poured to the line of a measuring cup, is the bread cubes pressed and by how much? Wouldn’t it be easier and more accurate to use a scale? If using a scale, how much would that weigh?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great questions Mike! The 1 cup is more based on volume since different types of bread can be more or less dense. Add the cubes of bread until it reaches 1 cup (240ml). Fill in the spaces but you don’t have to make it compact.

    • Billy says

      Mike, primarily a panada (It,Sp) or panade (Fr) is used as a binding agent for force meats. You should have to pour off excess liquid as one should measure properly to begin with. And yes, weight is more accurate as there was no size identification assigned with the “cubes”. Small dice, large dice, there is a difference in how many cubes would fit in a cup.

      A Panade also helps with to emulsify the ingredients when preparing forcemeats.

  2. Brenda says

    Always do this now with my burgers, in addition to meatloaf/meatballs. I also have started adding the 1/4 t unflavored gelatin per pound of beef to my burgers as noted in The Science of Cooking meat loaf recipe. (one of my all time favorites). Adds to the silky texture for burgers as well.

  3. Valerie says

    Any suggestions for a reluctant, but necessarily gluten free household? So far, using GF breads for cubing ie. poultry stuffing produces very unsatisfactory, bitter taste.

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