Put them in a pita or on side of a salad, these Greek lamb meatballs are flavorful, moist (sorry I know we all hate that word) and dangerously delicious. If you landed here thinking these are Kofta, they are not, that is a separate recipe. It has taken me a few years of making meatballs to determine my meatball preferences. I like moist, not dry, spongy, not crumbly, oven baked, not pan fried. While below is my Greek lamb meatball recipe, the base and approach is the same regardless of what meatballs I am making. So, if you don’t like lamb and somehow ended on this page swap it out!
Toast the Pine Nuts – Toast your pine nuts in a clean dry pan on low heat, until lightly golden. Don’t walk away during this step. The pine nuts will go from not toasted at all to burnt very quickly. Once done, put aside and let them cool down.
Prep the Ingredients – A few things need to happen before you can get messy and mix. Start with rehydrating your breadcrumbs. In a pan, could be the same pan as the pine nuts after you remove them, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and on medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and and slowly cook down until translucent and soft (5-10 minutes). Let them cool.
Make the Meatballs – Now it is time to combine! Add lamb, turkey, rehydrated breadcrumbs, onions garlic mix, pine nuts, eggs, parsley, oregano, chili flakes, salt, and pepper to a large bowl. Mix with your hands, making sure that you thoroughly combine the lamb and turkey. The last thing you want is chunks of either or. Form into ping pong size balls (yielding 20-22 meatballs).
Cook the Meatballs – In a glass or ceramic baking pan add 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and put your meatballs in. They can touch but do not overcrowd the pan. Feel free to add small cloves of garlic and lemon wedges, not mandatory. Cook for 20-23 minutes or until cooked through.
Just a tip for assembly. These meatballs are on the wetter side during assembly, as stated above. They may stick to your hands when you are forming the balls. To prevent this, keep a bowl of water nearby and wet your hands before rolling.
I need to warn you in advance, these aren’t a dump and mix kind of meatball. In no way is this a long recipe but it’s not your 20 minutes and done. There are a few things that I make sure I do regardless of what kind of meatballs I am making. Below are some anticipated questions, and their reasonings.
Confession, I add ground turkey to all my meatballs, beef, lamb, whatever they may be. Why? Turkey makes them moist, it gives them a softer spongy texture. Don’t worry these meatballs still taste primarily of lamb. When mixing make sure you are combining the lamb and turkey, you don’t want pockets of just lamb or just turkey.
Have you ever had a dry meatball? I find that meatballs that are baked with no sauce tend to lean on the drier side. Adding some broth to the breadcrumbs before assembling gives the meatballs extra moisture. While the meatballs might feel on the wetter side when forming the balls, they will hold up in the oven.
These are fast meatballs, like 20-23 minutes fast. To ensure that there aren’t any crunchy onions still around, I cook the onions and garlic. This also allows the onions and garlic to establish their flavor, because 23 minutes in the oven won’t cut it.
These meatballs are a fantastic option to make ahead and meal plan the week with. In fact when I worked a corporate job I would bring these to work all the time. Store in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container. These are also great meatballs to freeze. Lay them out in a single layer on a sheet pan and place them in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Once the outside is firm pop them in a zip lock back and store for 2 months.
Wondering what you can serve with these meatballs? The below recipes are a perfect pair.