Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

Perfect for Passover, this vegan matzo ball soup is sure to be a hit year after year. Egg-free vegan matzo balls in a savory chicken-style soup will bring back the holiday memories from when you were a kid!

As far as I’m concerned, matzo ball soup is a staple for any Jewish family. It’s primarily eaten on the major Jewish holiday of Passover, but is also sometimes enjoyed during Hanukkah, other holidays, or any other normal day of the year (because it’s delicious). It’s a fairly simple soup: a classic chick’n soup base with carrots, onion, and celery with some matzo balls plopped in there.

I was craving a vegan matzo ball soup so I asked Sarah if she could make it. She tried making the matzo balls with a few different egg substitutes to no avail. Luckily, a follower was kind enough to share their family’s go-to recipe with us, so Sarah adapted it into this recipe!

overhead photo of a bowl of vegan matzo ball soup

What Are Matzo Balls?

Matzo balls are a variety of soup dumpling traditionally made of matzo meal (crushed matzo), egg, and chicken fat (schmaltz). For our vegan matzo balls, we obviously need to make a few changes.

The fun part about matzo balls is that everyone makes them differently! Some families like light, fluffy matzo balls that float to the top of the bowl and others enjoy heavy, dense ones that sink to the bottom. Some people like a few medium sized matzo balls in their bowl and others prefer one gigantic matzo ball in there.

For this recipe, we’re aiming for medium sized matzah balls that are on the fluffier side.

overhead shot of the cross-section of a vegan matzo ball, with a bowl of soup in the background

Why Do Jews Eat Matzo Ball Soup on Passover?

Passover is a holiday that celebrates the Biblical story of the Israelites fleeing and escaping slavery in Egypt. When Jews gather on Passover, we have a meal called a seder in which we eat foods that are emblematic of different parts of the story.

For example, we eat matzo because it is said that while the Jews were fleeing Egypt, they didn’t have time to let their bread leaven, resulting in flat, unleavened bread (matzo).

Nobody knows for sure how matzo ball soup became such a staple of Passover meals, but there has been much speculation! People believe that around the time Eastern European cuisine started incorporating dumplings in their foods, Jews tried their hand at it by using crushed up matzo to make their own variety of soup dumpling.

Ingredients for Vegan Matzo Balls

  • Matzo meal. Make sure it’s just the matzo meal — not matzo ball mix, which comes pre-seasoned.
  • Cornstarch. To help bind the ingredients.
  • Baking powder. To add a little lightness to the egg-free matzo balls.
  • Garlic powder. Optional, but adds a little extra flavor to the matzo balls.
  • Salt & black pepper.
  • Water (or chick’n style broth). To hydrate the mixture. Traditional matzo balls are often made with schmaltz, or chicken fat, which contributes a lot of flavor. You can use chick’n style broth in your matzo balls to add some of those extra savory notes, if you like. Just make sure to reduce the salt accordingly.
  • Vegetable oil. Again, traditionally the fat in matzo balls comes from schmaltz and egg yolks. Use a good neutral vegetable oil (I like light olive oil personally), or melted vegan butter if you prefer.
  • Unsweetened applesauce. An unconventional ingredient, but it works! Applesauce is commonly used in vegan baking as a binder in place of eggs, and it serves the same purpose in this vegan matzo ball recipe. (Don’t worry; you won’t taste it.) I tested the recipe with other egg substitutes like ground flaxseed and applesauce is ideal because it helps to bind without lending a rubbery or gummy texture.
overhead shot of ingredients for vegan matzo balls

How to Make Vegan Matzo Balls

  1. Mix the matzah ball ingredients. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine.
  2. Chill the mixture. Cover and place the matzo ball mixture in the fridge for at least an hour. The matzo meal needs time to absorb all the liquids, and the mixture will thicken considerably during this time! Please don’t skip this step, or the texture of the matzo balls won’t be correct.
four-panel photo of the procedure for making the matzo balls
  1. Make the soup. While the matzo ball mix chills, you can start the chick’n soup. (Or you can start it earlier in the day and allow it to simmer, covered, for a few hours until you are ready to serve.)
  2. Form the matzo balls. Since there is no egg binding these matzo balls, I find it works better if you keep them on the smaller side (about the size of a ping pong ball). I like to use a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop to get nice consistent sizing. Keep in mind that the matzo balls do expand to almost 2x their original size when cooked.
  3. Cook the matzo balls. Simmer the matzo balls in generously salted water or broth. Again, because these do not contain egg as a binder, they are more fragile than traditional matzo balls. It’s important to keep them at a very gentle simmer (almost poaching them), because a full rolling boil will agitate them too much and cause them to disintegrate in the broth. After the matzo balls are done simmering, scoop them out and place them on a tray or plate. Let them rest for 5-10 minutes to firm up a bit more.
  4. Serve the vegan matzo ball soup. Add the matzo balls to the soup to simmer and heat through for about 5 minutes. Add fresh parsley and lemon juice to the soup as a finishing touch, then assemble your bowls. Garnish with fresh dill or chives, or extra parsley, and enjoy.
four-panel photo of how to cook the vegan matzo balls

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup Ingredients

  • Veggies. Onion, celery, and carrots are used to make this traditionally flavored chicken-style soup.
  • Chick’n style bouillon or broth. This ingredient is key! Make sure to choose a broth with a lot of flavor. Our favorite varieties are listed in the next section.
  • Herbs. Bay leaves and fresh parsley and dill add a bit of freshness and nuance to the flavor of our soup.
  • Lemon. A touch of lemon at the end of the cooking process gives the soup a little pizzazz. Just trust us.
  • Oil or vegan butter. For sautéing the veggies.
overhead shot of ingredients for vegan matzo ball soup

The Best Bouillon for Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

There are a few options when it comes to vegan chicken-style bouillon or broth. Our favorite are the Edward & Sons Not-Chick’n Bouillon Cubes. They’re extremely easy to use and packed with that classic chicken broth flavor.

We also like the Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base, which is a paste that comes in a jar.

You can also use a carton of standard vegetable broth, but just be aware that these don’t pack as much flavor as the vegan chick’n broths. If this is your only option, you may need to add a touch extra of salt to your soup to balance it out (especially if you use a low-sodium variety…but that’s not recommended).

Recipe FAQ

Can I cook the matzo balls directly in the soup?

Yes, you can technically simmer the matzah balls directly in the soup, but it will make the soup cloudy and starchy, so I personally don’t recommend it. I prefer to cook the matzo balls separately in their own pot of generously salted water or broth to maintain the clarity of your vegan matzo ball soup.

Can I use an egg replacer like Just Egg?

I actually tested this last year. I followed a traditional matzah ball recipe and simply substituted in Just Egg for the real eggs. It was a disaster for me; the matzo balls completely disintegrated when I simmered them. Just Egg doesn’t provide the same level of binding as real eggs.

Can these vegan matzo balls be made gluten-free?

Unfortunately, it seems that all of the gluten-free matzo meal options have egg in them (to act as a binder). I’m very curious how this recipe would work with gluten-free matzo meal, but I guess we’ll just have to wait to test that out until they stop putting egg in all of them!

More Vegan Soup Recipes

overhead photo of a bowl of vegan matzo ball soup

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

Perfect for Passover, this vegan matzo ball soup is sure to be a hit year after year. Egg-free vegan matzo balls in a savory chicken-style soup will bring back the holiday memories from when you were a kid!
4.7 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Sarah Sullivan

Ingredients

Matzo Balls

  • 2 cups matzo meal (not matzo ball mix)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups water (or chick'n style broth. if using broth, reduce salt.)
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil or melted vegan butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

Matzo Ball Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegan butter
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion diced
  • 2-3 stalks celery sliced
  • 2-3 medium carrots peeled and sliced
  • 8 cups chick'n style vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice from about half a small lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill

Instructions

Mix and Shape the Matzo Balls

  • In a bowl, whisk together matzo meal, cornstarch, baking powder, (optional) garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour in water, oil (or melted butter), and applesauce. Mix everything together until evenly combined.
  • Cover this mixture and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to a few hours. This step is important as it allows the mixture to firm up and the matzo meal to become evenly hydrated. If you skip this step, the matzo balls may not hold together as well when they are cooked.

Cook the Soup

  • While the matzo ball mixture chills, you can get the soup started.
  • Heat oil in a pot over medium or medium-high heat until it glistens.
  • Add diced onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until translucent.
  • Add celery and carrot and sauté for another 3-5 minutes.
  • Pour in chick'n style vegetable broth, add in bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for at least 20 minutes — but you can keep it at a low simmer for as long as you like until ready to serve.

Cook the Matzo Balls

  • Note: I prefer to cook the matzo balls in a separate pot of water and add them to the soup when ready to serve. This allows the soup broth to stay nice and clear. If you choose to cook the matzo balls directly in the soup, the broth will become cloudy from the starches in the matzo balls.
  • When you are ready to cook the matzo balls, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then reduce to the heat to LOW or MEDIUM-LOW to establish a *very* gentle simmer. It should be on the verge of not simmering at all. Important: Egg-free matzo balls are more delicate than traditional ones, and they may start to fall apart if cooked at a full rolling boil. Keep an eye on the pot and adjust the heat as needed so it is just *barely* simmering.
  • Portion the mixture out and roll into balls. You can lightly grease your hands to keep the mixture from sticking. Aim for roughly the size of ping pong balls. (I like to use a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop for ease.) The matzo balls will expand as they cook, so resist the urge to make them too big at this stage.
  • Gently lower the matzo balls into the simmering water. Let them simmer for 10 minutes. Again, adjust the heat as needed to keep the water just barely simmering. The matzo balls will begin to float as they cook, indicating they are almost done.
  • Use a slotted spoon to lift the matzo balls out of the water and onto a plate or tray. Let them cool for at least 5-10 minutes — this will allow them to firm up a bit more on the surface. From there you can add them to your soup. They can also be made ahead of time and reheated in the soup later.

Serve the Matzo Ball Soup

  • Give the soup broth a taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Just prior to serving, stir in the fresh chopped parsley and dill. Squeeze in fresh lemon juice to brighten everything up.
  • Place matzo balls in the simmering soup to gently reheat for about 5 minutes before serving.
  • To serve, garnish each individual bowl with fresh chopped dill and/or chives. Enjoy!

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3 Comments

  1. We miss you on youtube!!!

  2. Unfortunately it’s not kosher for Passover due to the cornstarch and baking powder. Has this recipe been tried with psyllium husk as the binder? Or tapioca starch? Maybe lightened up with seltzer?

    • 4 stars
      I made them with gluten free matzoh meal for someone who can’t eat either gluten or eggs. They worked! You can taste the apple, but once they go into the soup they are fine. This recipe isn’t kosher for Passover, but I used potato starch instead of cornstarch and mixed 2 parts baking soda with 1 part cream of tartar and one part potato starch in place of the baking powder. Thanks so much for this!

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