Greek Meatballs in Lemon Sauce is the ideal spring supper — the herbed meatballs are satisfying but light in texture, and the pale yellow sauce is tangy, silky, and utterly luxurious without any cream or butter whatsoever.

Greek Meatballs in a luxurious tangy lemon sauce

I didn’t intend to post this dish today, it jumped the queue and muscled in front of several other very nice recipes, but some of the best have a tendency to do that.  I just couldn’t hold it back, even for a few days.  Greek meatballs in lemon sauce has been on my list of things to make for a while, and when a reader, Alexandra, emailed me her favorite recipe yesterday I leapt into action.  Alexandra was born in Athens, and now lives outside the city of Veria, in northern Greece.  She follows TVFGI and thought I would like these…she was right!  These meatballs have so much flavor, and a divine tender bite, they almost melt in your mouth.

Greek meatballs in a light lemon egg sauce

The amazing texture of these meatballs is due to several factors.  For one thing, they’re made with a mix of ground pork and lamb, and ground pork cooks up especially tender, so any time you add it to beef or lamb you will get a lighter texture.  This recipe also calls for cooked rice, and it does a wonderful job of lightening the meat mixture.  I think it works much better than the classic breadcrumbs we tend to use.  The mixture gets a huge amount of flavor from the herbs, especially the fresh mint, and so even before you dip these in the sauce, they’re fabulous.

Mixing Greek meatballsMaking Greek Meatballs in Lemon Sauce

TIP: I usually mix meatballs and meatloaf with my hands, but this time I used my KitchenAid mixer and now it’s my preferred way to do it.  The paddle attachment is just perfect for getting everything incorporated without over-mixing, and it saves so much hand washing!  I think it did a better job than I do, because I usually can’t wait to get my hands OUT of the bowl and I don’t always get everything thoroughly mixed.

This recipe is slightly adapted from Herbs in Cooking by Maria and Nikos Psilakis.  It’s a gem that I never would have found if Alexandra, hadn’t sent it along, thanks a million Alexandra!  She says “It’s so-very-Greek and so-very-traditional!  I have done it for many occasions and it works just fine as is.  I’ve served it as a starter at a formal dinner at home; also as an appetizer with just one ball swimming in the sauce, and of course as the main meal of the day as comfort food…”  I agree.

Greek Meatballs in Lemon Sauce

Yield: makes about 2 dozen meatballs, to serve 4 as a main course


  • 1/2 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • heaped 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves ( 1 small 2/3 ounce plastic package)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion salt
    lemon sauce
  • 3 eggs
  • juice of 2 1/2 - 3 lemons
  • pinch of salt


  1. Put all the meatball ingredients into a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix everything thoroughly, but gently. Don't over mix or compact the meat.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  3. Scoop the meat mixture out into 1 1/2 inch sized balls, and roll smooth with your hands. Set on a platter.
  4. Put about 4 1/2 cups of water in a stock pot with a wide bottom. Bring the water to a boil, then set the meatballs in the water, one by one. Do this carefully, they can be fragile. The water should almost cover the meatballs, but not quite. Turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Don't let the water boil furiously. Do this is stages if you pot is not large enough.
  5. Remove the cooked meatballs to a fresh platter and keep warm.
  6. While the meatballs are cooking whisk the eggs well in a medium sized bowl, Whisk in the lemon juice and salt.
  7. Remove 2 cups of the meatball cooking liquid and strain. While whisking the egg and lemon mixture, ladle about 1/2 cup of the hot liquid into the eggs to temper them. Then slowly add the rest of the liquid, stirring as you add. Pour the sauce into a clean saucepan and gently cook for a few more minutes, but don't let the sauce come to a boil, or even a simmer.
  8. Serve the meatballs in shallow bowls on top of the sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley.
  9. .


  • My store was inexplicably out of fresh dill so I used (gasp) dried, and it was fine.  I used a heaping tablespoon, maybe a little more.
  • Make sure your onions and herbs are nice and finely chopped, I used a processor.
  • If you by any chance get a few curdled eggs bits in your sauce, don’t panic,  just strain it.
  • Leftovers can be reheated gently.  The sauce should not come to a boil.

Greek meatballs with lemon sauce is a fresh light spring dinner that's naturally gluten free and full of flavor



Incredibly flavorful and light Greek Meatballs in Lemon Sauce

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31 Responses to Greek Meatballs in Lemon Sauce

  1. Courtney says:

    Made these tonight while watching the Olympics and they are divine! Gold Medal!! I could only find the meats in 1 lb packages so I doubled the recipe. I served this with some cauliflower that I steamed, then sautéed with garlic, olive oil, a little butter and a shake of red pepper flakes. Looking forward to leftovers! The lemon sauce would be great over other meats as well.

    • Sue says:

      These are family favorites here, so I’m super pumped to get your report on them Courtney — take it form us, the leftovers are even better, because there’s no work involved ;)

  2. Susan says:

    I can see how you’d want to make these right away! Love the rice in the mixture and would love to try these myself. How sweet of your follower to send you this recipe!

  3. Adina says:

    It looks really great, I am keeping this in mind, it is the kind of food we looooove!

  4. I love all things lemon. And Greeks really have a way with lemon, don’t they? Much of the world highlights its flavor in sweets, but they do a wonderful job of exploring its savory side. Anyway, these meatballs look awesome Definitely need to jump the queue with this recipe!

  5. Sara says:

    Meatballs are a favorite in my house, this looks like a delightfully unique way to do them!

  6. Although I love lamb, Sue, it’s just not real popular with a lot of mine — except my one sister who made a gorgeous mustard and parmesan crusted leg of lamb for Easter. It was just excellent. (And I have the leftovers for a great salad today.) And I don’t often find ground lamb in my local markets. I have successfully made meatballs that are kinda Greek, just by virtue of seasoning and the lemon. But I’m gonna find me some ground lamb!

  7. Medeja says:

    Sounds interesting! I don’t think I have tried meatballs in lemon sauce!

  8. Sue says:

    I had to laugh when I saw your recipe, always something with lemon! This sounds delightful! Will make for company sometime soon. What would you recommend as a side to go with this? I thought of you today while reading Southern Living Magazine, they had a Zesty Lemon Glazed Chicken recipe that sounded right in your wheelhouse!

  9. So lovely and the flavours sound just perfect. Can’t wait to try! Pinned :)

  10. This looks like such a keeper recipe Sue, I love all the herbs and that beautiful sauce!

  11. Alexandra says:

    Sue, you did such a great job! You made them look cheerful and inviting; exactly what they are suppose to be. Sometimes I enjoy them with some good feta and toasted bread. It can only make you fell better…

    • Sue says:

      Thanks Alexandra — I’m glad I did you proud! The feta and bread sounds wonderful, will try that next time :)

  12. Divine! I can see why this jumped the queue. This recipe is going to be so popular! I love lemon especially in the Spring and Summer and nothing beats meatballs! The flavors sound mouthwatering, Sue. Thank you to you and your reader, Alexandra for a fabulous dish. :)

  13. The creativity is off the charts! This sounds fantastic and the meatballs look so tender, I just need a spoon! What a wonderful recipe – thanks for sharing!

  14. I’m glad this recipe muscled its way in! :D Looks great! Will be trying it for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  15. This looks amazing!! We love meatballs in our home so this is the perfect recipe. Thank you!

  16. Liz says:

    Great tip on mixing with the paddle attachment! The meatball and lemon sauce combo looks spectacular!!!

  17. We love all things Greek in our house. My OH is addicted to meatballs. The cream sauce looks delicious. Love it!

  18. Kristen says:

    I love everything Greek. I am totally going to make these!

    • Sue says:

      Thanks Kristen, I had forgotten how much I love Greek food, what a wonderful light touch they have with everything.

  19. Lucy says:

    I adore avgolemono soup, so these meatballs sound absolutely delicious, and easy enough for a weeknight, too!

  20. Meatballs in lemon sauce?! That’s a new one for me. I’ve always had a tomato based sauce before. I love Greek food though so this looks right up my street :’)

  21. BFLNYC says:

    Need suggestions if you don’t eat pork & need suggestions if you don’t eat beef at all but do eat poultry.

  22. My mouth is watering (and it’s not yet 10 AM!). Love all the herbs and your lemon sauce… my Greek neighbors would approve :).

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