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Greek Meatballs

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This Greek meatballs recipe is easy to make, perfectly moist and tender, and bursting with fresh and zesty flavors. Serve these meatballs on their own or in a green salad, pita, rice bowl…you name it.

One of my favorite versatile meal prep recipes — Greek meatballs! ♡

Inspired by Greek keftedes, these simple meatball recipe can be made with your choice of beef or lamb or plant-based “meat.” It’s loaded up with lots of fresh herbs (mint, cilantro and/or parsley), seasonings (cumin and oregano), garlic, scallions, a touch of heat, and fresh lemon zest. Then a simple panade ensures that these meatballs don’t dry out and bake up to be perfectly juicy and tender. You’re going to love them!

I’ve especially come to love this Greek meatball recipe because of its versatility, since they can be served in so many fun ways. These meatballs are, of course, delicious just served on their own as an appetizer or part of a mezze platter. Or you can add them to a fresh green salad (or Greek salad), pita, wrap, grain bowl, casserole, lemony orzo, hummus, or even a simple soup. Lately, I’ve loved serving these Greek meatballs served over rice with a few chopped veggies and a simple 4-ingredient lemony tahini yogurt sauce, which always tastes so incredibly fresh and flavorful. This meatball recipe also freezes beautifully, so it’s awesome if you’re looking to do some meal prep for the months ahead too.

Let’s make some Greek meatballs!

Greek Meatball Ingredients

Here are a few notes about the Greek meatball ingredients that you will need for this recipe:

  • Ground beef or lamb: Choose whichever you prefer, or use a 50/50 mixture of both. I recommend good-quality organic lean meat with at least 15-20% fat content in order to create the juiciest meatballs. If you prefer to make these meatballs vegetarian, you can also swap in your favorite plant-based ground “meat.” (We made a batch with Beyond ground beef and they turned out great.)
  • Panko breadcrumbs: We’ll soak Panko in plain milk (dairy or plant-based) to create a panade, which will help to keep these meatballs moist and help to bind all of the ingredients together.
  • Garlic: I recommend using a generous amount of minced garlic in these meatballs.
  • Eggs: Eggs will serve as our primary binding agent to help all of the ingredients hold together.
  • Scallions: We’ll finely mince both the white and green parts of the scallions to add to the meatballs.
  • Fresh herbs: Chop up lots of cilantro, mint, parsley…or use a mix! Fresh herbs add so much flavor to these meatballs.
  • Dried seasonings: We’ll also add in a mix of dried oregano, ground cumin, sea salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes for seasoning.
  • Lemon: We will use the zest of one lemon in the meatball mix, and then I recommend using the remaining lemon juice to make the the tahini yogurt sauce (see below).
  • Tahini yogurt sauce: This simple sauce can be made by whisking together plain Greek yogurt (I recommend full-fat), tahini, lemon juice, and sea salt.

Tips For Making These Meatballs

Here are a few tips for how to make the most juicy and flavorful meatballs:

  • Make a panade: Don’t skip this step! Soaking the breadcrumbs in milk for 5-10 minutes to create a panade works wonders in helping your meatballs stay moist and not dry out while baking.
  • Don’t over-mix: Mix all of your meatball ingredients together until they are just combined and avoid over mixing, which can lead to overly tough and dried-out meatballs. Always be gentle while forming the meatballs too and avoid packing them forcefully into balls.
  • Taste test if you’d like: If you’d like to taste test the meatball mix and adjust the seasonings before baking the full batch, simply scoop out a small patty and sauté it in a bit of oil until cooked through. Then give it a taste and make adjustments as needed.
  • Use a cookie scoop or scale: To ensure that your meatballs are roughly the same size, which will help them to evenly bake, use either a cookie scoop (I scooped out rounded tablespoons using a 1-tablespoon scoop) or a kitchen scale to measure the meatballs.
  • Don’t overbake: Keep an eye on the meatballs and remove them from the oven once the internal temperature measures 160°F and the meatballs and are no longer pink inside.

How To Store & Reheat Greek Meatballs

Cooked meatballs can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

To freeze meatballs, let them cool to room temperature once they have been cooked. Place them an inch apart on a parchment-covered baking sheet and freeze until frozen. Then transfer the frozen meatballs to a sealed container or freezer bag.

To reheat meatballs, let them thaw in the refrigerator ideally for at least 24 hours. Then reheat either in the microwave (in 30-second intervals), on the stovetop (sauté in a bit of oil over medium heat until warmed through), or in the oven (bake at 350°F until warmed through).

Recipe Variations

Here are a few variations on this Greek meatball recipe that you are welcome to try:

  • Add feta: Hide a pinch of feta in the middle of each meatball, which will bake up into a deliciously cheesy center, or serve the meatballs with whipped feta.
  • Pan-fry instead of bake: Pan-fry the meatballs in oil over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through instead of baking.
  • Make it vegetarian: Use your favorite plant-based ground “meat” to make vegetarian meatballs.
  • Make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free Panko breadcrumbs to make gluten-free meatballs.

Ways To Serve Greek Meatballs

Here are a few of my favorite ways to serve these Greek meatballs:

  • appetizer (with tahini yogurt, hummus, tzaztiki, or another sauce for dipping)
  • green salad (or Greek salad)
  • pita or wrap
  • grain or rice bowl
  • orzo (or other pasta)
  • soup

Print
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Greek Meatballs

  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: About 30 meatballs 1x

Ingredients

Scale

Greek Meatballs:

  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 pounds ground beef or lamb (or a 50/50 mix of both)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 scallions (both white and green parts), minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint or cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • zest of 1 lemon

Tahini Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Make the panade. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the Panko and milk until combined. Set the mixture aside to soak for 5 to 10 minutes while you prep the other ingredients.
  2. Mix the meatballs. Once the Panko mixture has finished soaking, add the ground beef (or lamb), garlic, eggs, scallions and mint to the bowl. Sprinkle the oregano, cumin, sea salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and lemon zest evenly on top. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until evenly combined, being careful not to overwork the mixture.
  3. Prep the oven and baking sheet. Heat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Form the meatballs. Form the mixture into 1.5-tablespoon balls and place them onto the prepared baking sheet. (I recommend greasing your hands with a bit of olive oil to prevent the meatballs from sticking.)
  5. Bake. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the meatballs are golden brown and cooked through. Remove pan from the oven.
  6. Make the yogurt sauce. While the meatballs are baking, whisk together the yogurt sauce ingredients until combined. If you prefer a thinner sauce, whisk in a few tablespoons of water until it reaches your desired consistency.
  7. Serve. Serve the meatballs warm with the yogurt sauce however you please and enjoy!

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15 comments on “Greek Meatballs”

  1. Oh yum! I have some ground chicken breast to use – I know that is probably too lean for your recipe – can I somehow to “add” fat to make these with ground chicken?

  2. Can you please provide the nutritional info

  3. Where’s the nutritional info, looking for sodium content.

  4. Loved the recipe. I made them for just my husband and I so, I cut the recipe in half. I used ground beef with fresh cilantro as my herb and added some feta into the mix. If I had fresh mint, I would have added it as well. I served them on top of a salad with tzatziki because I realized (too late) that I didn’t have any tahini. We really enjoyed them; ease to prep in the morning and cook up later. Thank you.

  5. Ali, thank you for this recipe! I made them today, I put a dozen in pasta sauce and froze the rest. What a wonderful tasting meatball! I forgot scallions, so I chopped up a half an onion to compensate. Perfect!

  6. Made this today and the meatballs came out great. Used parsley as I didn’t have mint or cilantro. I also skipped the Panko breadcrumbs because of the dietary restrictions of my guests. Everyone really liked the meatballs! Thank you Ali.

  7. Can you sub almond milk for milk?

  8. These were really really good! I made them with lamb, but next time id do half lamb half beef.
    Served with rice and the tahini sauce, it was delicious! Will be making again for sure.

  9. You might want to rename this recipe to Greek-inspired or something else since, as a Greek, I can tell you that we do not make meatballs this way. I’m sure they’re incredibly tasty but still…We do not use cilantro (only parsley), we do not have panko in Greece so we use stale bread that has been re-hydrated with water or milk, there is no lemon zest, no scallions (just onion) and no cumin. We also don’t use lamb (and this is a general misconception about Greek food as we only eat lamb during Easter). If you’d like the original Greek meatball recipe, I’m more than happy to share, just let me know. Kalimera from Greece and thanks!

    • I don’t mean to quibble, but I’m also Greek, and I urge you to come to Kefalonia to try our amazing food! We use zest and scallions and cilantro and cumin and eat lamb chops, lamp in pies, roasted, stewed, and every other way possible all year around. We can even find panko crumbs in Athens.

    • A lady whose family was from greece game me a recipe for meatballs, and you have given true facts. I love the recipe i have and make them for groups and they always disappear fast! Would love to see how close my recipe is to the “true” meatballs.

  10. I’m VERY impressed with your excellent recipes!! Thank you!!

  11. Love, Love, Love this recipe! I have some picky eaters in my family, but everyone loves these. I especially love all the different ways they can be served. So versatile! Thank you!

  12. Wondering if you have recommendations on how to make these in advance, freeze and then reheat to serve for a party?