1. Home
  2. /
  3. Soup
  4. /
  5. What is Matzo Ball...

What is Matzo Ball Soup, and Who Makes the Best?


Junior’s Matzo Ball Soup
Junior’s Restaurant | Matzoh Ball Soup

If you’ve ever been to a Jewish deli, you’ve most likely seen matzo ball soup on the menu. It’s a classic Eastern European Jewish soup and is seriously comforting, but even if you’ve eaten a matzo ball you might not know exactly what that big dumpling floating in your bowl is. So what is a matzo ball, exactly, and who makes the best around?

What is Matzo Ball Soup?

The “soup” element of matzo ball soup is easy: it’s usually just chicken soup. 

As for the matzo ball itself (called knaidel in Yiddish), the name should give you a good hint that the main ingredient is matzo, or more specifically, matzo meal, which is made by grinding matzo into flour. The recipe is quite simple: It’s made by combining matzo meal with beaten eggs, water, and fat – chicken fat (called schmaltz) is usually used, but oil or margarine is also common (butter is usually avoided as it results in un-kosher matzo balls due to the mixing of dairy and animal products). 

This mixture is then formed into balls and dropped into simmering water or chicken soup, in which they poach until increased in size and cooked through. Some matzo balls are larger in size than others, some are dense “sinkers” while others are lighter “floaters” – the addition of baking soda helps to lighten them up. 

Some matzo ball soups are just a matzo ball in chicken broth, while some also include noodles, veggies like carrots and celery, and/or pieces of chicken. 

Even though matzo ball soup is a traditional Passover food – and a common addition to the Passover seder – it’s enjoyed year-round, and not just during the holiday.

Who Makes the Best Matzo Ball Soup?

Nearly every Jewish deli serves matzo ball soup, and not only do some of the top delis in America make exemplary versions of the dish, they also ship it nationwide!

Russ & Daughters Matzo Ball Soup

Russ & Daughters

New York City’s Russ & Daughters is quite possibly America’s most famous appetizing shop, specializing in lox, smoked fish, and other foods that traditionally go with bagels. But their matzo ball soup – made with homemade chicken stock and matzo balls along with plenty of veggies and fresh chicken – is not to be missed.

Kenny & Ziggy’s Matzo Ball Soup

Kenny & Ziggy’s Delicatessen

Ziggy Gruber’s father and grandfather both ran Jewish delis, and Ziggy himself ran delis in New York and Los Angeles before bringing a taste of NYC to Houston with Kenny & Ziggy’s. His signature matzo ball soup is loaded with veggies and oversized matzo balls based on an old family recipe.

Sarge’s Deli Matzo Ball Soup

Sarge’s Deli

Founded by Abe “Sarge” Katz, a retired NYPD cop, in 1964, New York’s Sarge’s Deli is famous for its smoky house-cured pastrami, but its matzo ball soup – based on a recipe that’s been passed from one generation to another – is a must-try.

Factor’s Famous Deli Matzo Ball Soup

Factor’s Famous Deli

Opened in Los Angeles in 1948, the deli is best known for its authentic, juicy, slow-cooked, hand-cut pastrami stacked on double-baked rye. But no meal there is complete without a bowl of its matzo ball soup. Made fresh daily, this chicken soup is simmered for hours and the matzo balls and kreplach (meat-filled dumplings) are handmade.

Junior’s Matzo Ball Soup

Junior’s Deli

Junior’s is a classic Jewish deli founded in Downtown Brooklyn in 1950. Today, it’s best known as the home of some of New York’s most iconic cheesecake, but its light, delicate, and flavorful matzo ball soup should be just as famous as the cheesecake.

Goldbelly E Gift
Goldbelly SMS Sign Up

Read More: America’s Best Matzo Ball Soup