Why Alton Brown Cooks Meatballs in an Egg Carton

Alton Brown is among the most magnetic Food Network personalities. His strange food concoctions blur the line between the recipes you’d find on any show and experiments that you can eat. One food hack, in which he cooked meatballs in an egg carton, had fans wondering if he had crossed a line. However, it serves as a valuable insight into the improvisational mind of a culinary jazz musician. 

Alton Brown smiling
Alton Brown | Mark Von Holden/Getty Images

Alton Brown’s infamous meatball 

Brown made his brand a cross between a standard Food Network personality and a Bill Nye of the culinary world. From holiday turkey hacks to a slew of strange, helpful, amusing, and outlandish cooking hacks for everything from mixed drinks to your morning breakfast. However, his most infamous food hack shocked even his biggest fans. 

Brown took to Instagram to tell his followers about when he cooked meatballs in something other than a pot or pan. “Thinking about the time I roasted my meatballs in an egg carton to wick away the grease,” he wrote on Instagram

Fans couldn’t believe the move, but The Today Show had a food expert speak about Brown’s hack. While many feared the carton would catch flames or release harmful chemicals, American Culinary Federation director Jeremy Abbey doesn’t see a problem with it. 

“While I have not tested this concept, it seems to make sense,” said Abbey;

“There is an old method of cooking Thanksgiving turkeys in paper grocery bags rubbed with mayo that allows the moisture to be retained in the bird, and the paper bag doesn’t catch fire or burn due to the fat content in the mayo … I would imagine the same principles apply to cooking meatballs in a paper egg carton. The fat that is rendered from the meatballs would help protect the cardboard from burning while absorbing the fat.”

Alton Brown’s best meatball recipes

Brown’s tactics might not be for everyone, but they seldom see the light of day without any forethought. Perhaps, Brown’s greatest asset as a food personality is his commitment to food hacks you don’t need an expensive kitchen to accomplish. Whether or not the meatball hack is for you, Brown has plenty of other fun food hacks to fill your needs. 

Of course, Brown is more than a food hacker – he’s an accomplished television chef whose recipes serve as a great starting point for those looking to experiment. He’s got plenty of meatball recipes for people who want to try them out independently. His Swedish Meatballs recipe is available on his website. His baked Meatballs are a hit over at Food Network, too. 

While Bobby Flay has his peppers and Giada de Laurentiis is strictly Italian, Brown is less concerned with staying in one lane – instead opting to try new things, experiment, and make cooking accessible to a modern audience. 

More Alton Brown Food hacks

BuzzFeed ran down some of Brown’s most helpful food hacks in 2018. These showed the scope of his interests and operations. From cooking pasta in a small pot of cold water to adding mayonnaise to your morning eggs, Brown’s food hacks work because he gives you the science behind them during explanations. Some of these, like his hack urging you to add salt to your coffee – help break open our conception of saltiness and show how versatile it is. 

Soaking skewers, making a rubber band grip for your tongs, or popping your popcorn in a metal bowl to keep the popped kernels on top – Alton Brown has you covered. There’s a reason he’s been with Food Network for well over 20 years. After all, he knows how to make food science entertainment. While Brown’s hacks cover lots of ground, they all serve to make cooking easy for the masses and helping you think outside of the box.

RELATED: Trisha Yearwood Shares the Secret to Mom Gwen’s ‘Yummy’ Fried Chicken