Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

published Sep 25, 2021
Lamb Meatballs Recipe

Any dinner recipe that is quick, healthful, and flavor-packed is a winner in our book — and these lamb meatballs check all the boxes.

Serves4

Prep20 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Lamb meatballs on a black plate with white sauce and greens, and a lemon wedge.
Credit: Perry Santanachote

Any dinner recipe that is quick, healthful, and flavor-packed is a winner in our book, and these lamb meatballs check all the boxes. A swipe of tahini-yogurt sauce cools off the meatballs’ strong spices, while a generous sprinkle of mint brightens it up a notch and sumac cuts through the gaminess. While there’s no shame in eating meatballs straight-up, we love these little guys stuffed into warm pitas or nuzzled within the leaves of a simple, lemony salad.

What Is the Secret to Tender Meatballs?

  • A paste-like mixture of liquid and starch (usually breadcrumbs), called panade, can help keep meatballs tender and juicy.
  • Don’t overwork the mixture. Work lightly with your hands, not a spoon, to mix all the ingredients for an airy result. 
  • Keep the meat cold; firm ground meat is easier to work with, thus preventing you from over-handling it.
  • Don’t overcook them, which will dry them out.

What Sauce Should I Pair with Lamb Meatballs?

These Mediterranean sauces complement lamb meatballs nicely.

Credit: Laura Manzano

Is It Better to Bake or Fry Meatballs?

Deep-frying and pan-frying meatballs gets the meatballs nicely browned and caramelized, but require oil and more cleanup. Baking them in the oven is more healthful and maintains the meatballs’ shape best. 

Lamb Meatballs Recipe

Any dinner recipe that is quick, healthful, and flavor-packed is a winner in our book — and these lamb meatballs check all the boxes.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 3 cloves

    garlic

  • 1/4 bunch

    fresh parsley

  • 2/3 cup

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 1 tablespoon

    ground sumac

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup

    water

  • 2

    large egg yolks

  • 1 pound

    ground lamb

For the sauce:

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1/2 cup

    plain Greek yogurt

  • 1/4 cup

    tahini

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

Serving options:

  • Chopped fresh mint leaves

  • Lemon wedges

  • Crumbled feta cheese

  • Salad greens

  • Pita bread

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

  2. Grate 3 cloves garlic or crush with a garlic press. Finely chop the leaves from 1/4 bunch fresh parsley until you have 2 tablespoons. Place both in a large bowl.

  3. Add 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs,1 tablespoon ground sumac, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Mix with a fork to combine. Add 1/4 cup water and 2 large egg yolks, then mash the mixture until evenly moistened.

  4. Add 1 pound ground lamb and mix with your hands until combined. Gently roll the mixture into 20 golf ball-sized balls and place on the baking sheet.

  5. Bake until browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, squeeze the juice from 1 medium lemon into in a small bowl until you have 3 tablespoons. Add 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup tahini, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and stir to combine.

  6. Spread the tahini-yogurt on plates and place the meatballs on top. Sprinkle with with chopped fresh mint and serve with lemon wedges, feta cheese, salad greens, and pita bread if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead. The meatballs can be formed and frozen on a parchment-lined baking sheet until firm, then transferred to a large zip-top bag or airtight container and frozen for up to 2 months. Cook from frozen and increase the roasting time to 20 to 25 minutes.

Storage: Leftover meatballs can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.