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After seeing this question I started to think more about my meatballs and wonder how can I keep them round?

I have always been under the impression that you should first brown the outside and then cook them through. Problem is during the browning in the frying pan I end up with flat sides.

What can I do? Help my meatballs!

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I saw a recommendation on 30 Minute Meals to place each one in a muffin tin (they were sized so they stuck out the top), and then bake them. You'd have to find the right sized tray for your size of meatballs, though.

I'm guessing you'd also want a large tray underneath, though, or you risk dripping grease inside the oven.

... you could probably also just put 'em on a sheet tray and bake 'em, and you'd only get one flat side, rather than from each time you turned them in the pan.

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    Very interesting, I will have to try this. Two thanksgivings ago, my father started making "stuffing cakes" if you will, stuffing in a muffin tin and they are quite delicious. Crispy sides all around and who does not like stuffing? I will have to try the muffin tin for meatballs and report back! – Chris Oct 9 '10 at 21:32
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    Easiest and roundest . After reading the muffin pan idea I had to try it. I wanted smaller meatballs so I used a 24 cup small muffin pan with a quick puff of Pam in each. Meatballs did not touch the sides of the cups. Baked them in 350 oven about 15 minutes, used a spoon to lift them out onto a cooling ravk. My meatballs were almost perfect, slightly flattened on bottom, prettiest I have ever made and by far the easiest! I will never go back to turning meatballs individually while I try to cook them round. – Carolyn G Mar 19 '18 at 12:04
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    And a clarification for those who do this -- the meatballs are above the muffin tin for the most part. If you put them in the muffin tins, they come out like cupcake sized meatloafs. (and not the good ones, the ones that are baked in a loaf pan so it never develops a good crust as it was cooking in a pool of fat). ... from experience a few months back, when tried working from memory without looking things up to verify, and did it wrong. – Joe Mar 20 '18 at 2:33
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Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about how they look, but rather how they taste! In some sense there is a trade off between the two. You can initially mold them into a pretty round shape and then cook them them immediately in the sauce; this way will retain their round shape.

However, the more effective way (and the authentic Italian method) is to bake them in an oven first with a bit of olive oil. This cooks the meatballs nicely and gives their surface a lovely texture and brown colour. It is however inevitable that they will lose some of their roundness and flatten at the bottom (depending on their firmness), as you state. A small price to pay for the taste however, I think!

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Make them smaller, for one. For another, does your recipe contain much added liquid? That makes the raw product softer and more likely to squish.

Third, do you press them while they're in the pan? Don't do that ;)

Echoing advice above, too; baking will maintain roundness better, as will deep-frying.

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I'd imagine frequently rolling them around in the pan as you sear them would help.

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You can bake them in the oven on racks (think cookie cooling racks).

This way they brown evenly all around and they don't change shape.

The downside is more dishes...

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I nuke them in a microwave until the proteins bond, then fry in pan. This is probably heresy, but I get round, tasty meatballs every time.

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