Matzo meal is a breadcrumb-like ingredient that manufacturers make by grinding matzo crackers. Most people use matzo meal to replace breadcrumbs and flour during Passover. That's why it is important to have a suitable substitution for matzo meal for when you don't have it in your pantry.
Matzo meal is a common ingredient in Jewish recipes, including meatballs, potato pancakes, matzo ball soup, baked goods, and casseroles.
If you do not have matzo meal in stock and you’re using a recipe that calls for matzo meal, you will have to use a substitute in its place.
Luckily, there are several substitutes you can use in place of matzo meal. They include; bread crumbs, matzo cake meal, quinoa flour, coconut macaroons, almond meal, panko crumbs, saltine crackers, plain crushed biscuits, and semolina.
You can use quinoa flour, matzo cake meal, yeast-free bread crumbs, and almond meal as substitutes during Passover. You can use the rest outside Passover.
Note that these substitutes are only ideal in specific recipes. If you use them in recipes they are not ideal for, the results will be disappointing.
Bread crumbs are an ideal substitution for matzo meal in recipes where you use matzo meal as a binder, including meatloaf and matzo balls.
However, you should note that bread crumbs and matzo meal have some differences. For starters, most bread crumbs contain yeast. Therefore, you cannot use this substitute for Pesach.
Additionally, breadcrumbs have more moisture compared to matzo meal and will therefore not expand the same way.
If you want to use this substitute during Passover, you should buy yeast-free bread crumbs. Alternatively, you can buy yeast-free kosher bread, let it turn stale, then use a food processor to make bread crumbs out of it. You can also use pita bread and naan bread the same way.
You can use this substitute when making meatloaf, kneidlach, or Matzah Brei.
Matzo cake meal
Matzo cake meal is very similar to matzo meal. The only noticeable difference is that it has a finer consistency. Matzo cake meal’s consistency is similar to that of flour. Therefore, it is ideal for use in baked goods.
You should know that manufacturers make matzo cake meal from baked matzo. Consequently, it won’t give you the same cake structure that wheat flour does.
The only downside with this substitution for matzo meal is that it does not absorb liquids well. Therefore, you should use it in baked goods that have a delicate crumbs, e.g., cookies.
I particularly like using this substitute when making matzo balls (kneidlach).
The matzo balls will have a denser consistency compared to the traditional ones. If you don’t like them dense, add beaten egg whites to make them fluffier.
You can use matzo cake meal as a substitute in kneidlach, baked goods, Pesach rolls, soup, and kugel. If a recipe calls for one cup of matzo meal, use one cup of matzo cake meal but add two extra tablespoons.
Since the cake meal is finer, you will have to use more than the recipe requires.
Matzo cake meal is an ideal substitute for matzo meal the whole year, including during Passover.
Quinoa flour is another substitute you can use in recipes that call for matzo meal. Quinoa flour quickly gained popularity because it is gluten-free. Most people use it in baked goods.
In terms of flavor, quinoa flour has a somewhat bitter undertone. Therefore, it works better in savory baked goods as opposed to sweet baked goods.
However, if your sweet baked goods have a strong flavor that can overpower the slightly bitter quinoa flavor, you can use it as a substitute. For instance, you can use quinoa flour when making chocolate chip cookies or chocolate cake.
You can use this substitute in baked goods that require you to use matzo meal.
Almond meal is another good substitute for matzo meal. Most people use it in fancy French baking, but you can use it in recipes that require you to use matzo meal.
Almond meal is an ideal substitute for both sweet and savory dishes. I particularly love using this substitute when making fudgy brownies and chocolate pecan pies.
You can use this substitute for breading, thickeners, and baked goods. If you use it in baked goods, it would be best to let them cool completely before slicing. This way, the baked goods will not collapse.
You can use almond meal as a substitute at any time of the year, including during Passover.
Panko crumbs are Japanese crumbs. Compared to matzo meal, they are crispier and much lighter.
Panko crumbs are not ideal for baking. However, you can use them in recipes that require you to use matzo meal as a coating.
I particularly like coating my chicken with panko crumbs instead of matzo meal. The chicken always turns out tasty and crispy.
You can use panko crumbs as a matzo meal alternative in meat balls, meatloaf, kugel, kneidlach, and Pesach rolls.
Note that you cannot use this substitute during Passover.
You can use unsalted saltine crackers in some recipes that call for matzo meal. Unsalted crackers are an ideal substitute because they are readily available, and the chances are that you have some in your pantry.
You can use this substitute when meatloaf or matzo balls. It is ideal for binding, breading, and matzo balls soup.
To use the crackers, process them in a blender until they become fine with no lumps.
If you don’t have a blender, you can bag the crackers and then use a rolling pin to crush them.
Plain crushed biscuits
If you are making a sweet recipe, you can use plain crushed biscuits in place of matzo meal.
Use a blender to process the biscuits into powder before using. If you don’t have a blender, bag the biscuits and use a rolling pin to crush them.
I highly recommend using this substitute in sweet pie crusts. However, do not use crushed biscuits as a substitute during Passover.
Although most people do not use semolina as a matzo meal alternative, it makes for a decent substitute.
I recommend using semolina as an alternative when making matzo balls for the best results.
Note that you cannot use this substitute during Passover.
Coconut macaroons are also a possible alternative. You can crush them and use them as a base for cheesecakes, sweet pies, and tarts.
Note that you cannot use this substitute during Passover, but you can use it at any other time of the year.
How to make matzo meal at home
If the grocery store close to you does not stock matzo meal, you can make your own at by simply crushing matzo to your preferred consistency. Note that you will need a food processor for this.
The first thing you need to do is break the matzo sheets into two-inch pieces using your hands.
Once you do that, place the pieces in a food processor then process until it reaches the consistency you want.
It would be best if you ground matzo finely for use in baked goods. Larger crumbs are only ideal for use in gratin.
Is flour a suitable replacement for matzo meal?
In most recipes that call for matzo meal, flour would not be an ideal alternative for two main reasons.
First, flour is not baked the way matzo meal is, and secondly, flour has a finer consistency.
Despite this, you can use authorized flours like quinoa flour, almond flour, and teff flour to thicken sauces and in select baked goods during Passover.
Matzo meal is an ingredient that has been in existence for a very long time. Manufacturers make it from a bread that Jews used in religious rituals.
Matzo meal has a bland flavor. Therefore, you can easily substitute it with other ingredients.
The substitutes we have discussed above work well in recipes that call for matzo meal. The best part is that they will not interfere with the flavor of your dish.
You can also choose to skip the matzo meal entirely if you use a Jewish recipe that requires you to use a matzo meal. You can hardly tell that one ingredient is missing.
Try any of the substitutes we have discussed above, and let me know how your dishes turn out.