Alton Brown's Egg Carton Meatballs Might Be Genius

Meatballs are one of those foods you don't think about a lot of the time but that you're never unhappy to have placed in front of you, like reuben sandwiches or hummus. You can put them in pasta or on sub rolls, but they're also pretty great by themselves. There's a reason meatball recipes show up in a variety of cuisines from Italian to Mexican to Swedish. There's something about balled meat the human brain just seems to find innately compelling.

They're not necessarily the easiest things to cook, though. Meatballs can produce a lot of grease, which can lead to issues with them becoming soggy or cooked unevenly. Nobody wants a half-soggy meat sphere; you have to get that crisp for the full effect.

Happily — and perhaps unsurprisingly — there's a hack for that. And it comes from a familiar culinary mastermind you've probably seen solve problems like this before.

Use an egg carton to cook meatballs

Alton Brown made a name for himself on the Food Network as one of the most accessible (and least pretentious) celebrity chefs; he doesn't do anything viewers can't recreate at home. And his meatball trick fits right into that mold.

Brown's hack is simple: Cook your meatballs in an egg carton. The former "Iron Chef America" host first shared the tip in a since-deleted 2017 Instagram post (via BuzzFeed).

The key is to spray the carton with cooking spray first, then roast the meatballs right in there. The cardboard of the carton naturally wicks away the grease that could otherwise turn the meatballs soggy, and they wind up crispy all over. Just don't forget the cooking spray — otherwise, the meatballs will get stuck to the carton. Don't have an empty egg carton on hand? Brown has also advocated for baking meatballs in a mini muffin tin.

Alton Brown has long been a master of culinary wizardry

Alton Brown has a long history of fascinating cooking hacks. This is the man who figured out that cooking steaks with mayo works like a charm (and that's probably one of his less out-there ideas). Grilling an entire chicken in a panini press, adding salt to coffee grounds, starting pasta with cold water, making oatmeal in a coffee pot — the man is a seemingly never-ending font of strange but deeply cool culinary tricks.

In fact, Brown has had multiple shows based around this entire concept. On "Good Eats," he delved into the science of food to teach people things they might not have known about cooking, like a slightly irascible culinary Bill Nye. For a more deliberately evil spin on the concept, there was "Cutthroat Kitchen," where contestants threw truly bizarre sabotages at each other. Viewers got to see who was as creative as the man himself (the answer: not many people). 

It's hard to argue that anyone other than Brown is the king of the modern cooking hack, and his meatball method is just another hack in that long, proud history.