Around the Jewish holiday of Passover, supermarkets start to fill their shelves with matzo and matzo meal alongside piles of egg-shaped Easter chocolates. While all foods eaten during passover are supposed to be kosher-for-passover, the most famous passover food is matzo (or matzah). Matzo is an unleavened cracker-like bread that is traditionally eaten at Passover. It is made with flour and water, and it is the flour-containing product that is deemed to be Kosher for passover.
Matzo meal is made by finely grinding matzo crackers into a breadcrumb-like consistency. This meal is very commonly called for in recipes and for baking around passover. The most well known use for matzo meal is in matzo balls, but the versatile meal can also act as a binding agent in place of regular bread crumbs in foods such as meatballs and even as a thickener in some dishes. The crumbs also effectively take the place of flour in desserts like almost-flourless chocolate tortes, adding a little structure to a dessert while still making it acceptable for traditional Passover meals. Matzo meal is not wheat or gluten free, but since the crumbs are already cooked until very dry and crisp, they don’t add a lot of structure to a baked good like regular flour will. It should not be substituted directly for flour in most recipes, but there are some (usually recipes only contain a very small amount of flour to begin with) where you can substitute matzo meal and still get a good result.
To make your own matzo meal, you can whiz pieces of matzo in the food processor until very finely chopped. A coarser texture will be better for things like meatloaf, while a finer texture is a better choice if you’re going to tackle some matzo-based baking.