Greek Meatballs in Lemon Sauce

Greek Meatballs in a luxurious tangy lemon sauce

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.

Incredibly flavorful and light Greek Meatballs in Lemon Sauce

Greek meatballs in lemon sauce are melt-in-your-mouth tender!

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 secrets to these amazing lemony meatballs

Several things make these meatballs uniquely tender and delicious

  • 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 meatballs

Making Greek Meatballs in Lemon Sauce

My best tip for working with ground meats

Most recipes will tell you to mix ground meats for meatballs, burgers, and meatloaves by hand. And I did it that way for years. But I’ve found a better way!

I now use my Kitchenaid Mixer and it’s a game changer. 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.

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

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 a luxurious tangy lemon sauce


Reader Rave ~

I just made these today for a Greek party. There were a bunch of Greeks there and they loved it. It came out SO good. I was worried that there were too many herbs in it and that the mint would be too bitter but it was PERFECT. The only thing I changed was that I used chicken broth to boil the meatballs. This is definitely going to be a staple in my home! Thank you for the recipe. It is very simple to make.” ~Amy


More Greek inspired recipes

Greek Meatballs in a luxurious tangy lemon sauce
3.59 from 108 votes

Greek Meatballs in Lemon Sauce

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.
Course dinner
Cuisine Greek
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Calories 455kcal
Author Sue Moran



  • 1/2 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 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


  • 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.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  • Scoop the meat mixture out into 1 1/2 inch sized balls, and roll smooth with your hands. Set on a platter.
  • 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.
  • Remove the cooked meatballs to a fresh platter and keep warm.
  • While the meatballs are cooking whisk the eggs well in a medium sized bowl, whisk in the lemon juice and salt.
  • 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.
  • Serve the meatballs in shallow bowls on top of the sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Cook's notes

  • 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 small food processor.
  • If you by any chance get a few curdled eggs bits in your sauce, don't panic,  just strain it through a fine mesh strainer and you'll be good to go.
  • Leftovers can be reheated gently. The sauce should not come to a boil.


Calories: 455kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 246mg | Sodium: 724mg | Potassium: 547mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2200IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 4mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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    Leave a Reply

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  • Reply
    Terry Laframboise
    August 22, 2021 at 12:17 pm

    5 stars
    Love this. Am making it again tonight! I cook the meatballs in chicken stock and I add garlic to the meatballs. I like to double the sauce and serve it over orzo cooked in chicken stock,with the meatballs on top,with a green vegetable or a salad.Can’t go wrong with this dish ??

  • Reply
    June 8, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    You are so right about using the Kitchen aide paddle. Why did it take us so long to figure that out.

  • Reply
    May 20, 2021 at 7:51 am

    Shared this recipe with a friend – we’ve taken turns cooking lunch during covid and she LOVES lemon even more than I do. She doesn’t eat pork, beef, or lamb, however. I’m going to try it with ground chicken and turkey (make some mixed, some with just turkey and some with just chieken to do a taste-test). Any thoughts on how/whether to adjust the recipe to accommodate the protein change? I’m concerned they might be a bit dry (I bought the 7% fat ground chicken and turkey instead of the 1% fat). Thanks very much!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      May 20, 2021 at 8:12 am

      I think it should work just fine with the chicken and/or turkey ~ the eggs, rice, veggies and herbs do a good job of keeping them moist.

      • Reply
        May 20, 2021 at 8:27 am

        Thanks so much. Will report back. K

  • Reply
    May 19, 2021 at 12:17 am

    5 stars
    So nice of you to post it Sue!

  • Reply
    Dawn E
    May 16, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    Followed the recipe we found it to be very Bland. The meatballs as well as the sauce. The sauce just seemed be missing something that we couldn’t quite put our finger on. Next time I think I’m going to use chicken broth to boil the meatballs in. And I may double the herbs and add garlic. The meatballs were tender just lacking in flavor same with the sauce. But we did find as we let it sit got a little bit better. So it’s a good recipe we just got to tweak it a little bit.

  • Reply
    Jeff the Chef @ Make It Like a Man!
    May 16, 2021 at 10:42 am

    This sounds great! I recently made something with lamb mince, and it was so great, I wondered why I don’t buy lamb mince more often. And it goes so perfectly with rice. Thanks for this amazing-looking meatball recipe!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      May 16, 2021 at 2:31 pm

      You’re so welcome Jeff, and I think the reason we don’t think about buying ground lamb is that it’s not exactly front and center at the supermarket, I wish it was more readily available.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2021 at 8:36 am

    Sounds great! Would this recipe work with all pork instead of mixing with lamb?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      May 15, 2021 at 8:46 am

      I’m sure it would, it would just have a different flavor. You could mix pork and beef, too.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    What are your tips for making this ahead of time so I’m not cooking while company is there. How long do you think this dish will hold warmed…like in a crock pot? Or do,you,think I could make the meatballs a day ahead and then reheat slowly in the sauce? Or would the MB end up too lemony?

    • Reply
      November 5, 2019 at 7:38 pm

      I think it would be better to make the meatballs ahead, Renee, because the sauce is somewhat delicate.

    • Reply
      Ghyl Marie
      June 10, 2020 at 3:40 am

      Hi Sue, I was just wondering about the cooked rice as all other recipes use raw rice.. is there a difference when cooking the meatballs ?

  • Reply
    January 13, 2019 at 12:00 am

    5 stars
    I just made these today for a Greek party. There were a bunch of Greeks there and they loved it. It came out SO good. I was worried that there were too many herbs in it and that the mint would be too bitter but it was PERFECT. The only thing I changed was that I used chicken broth to boil the meatballs. This is definitely going to be a staple in my home! Thank you for the recipe. It is very simple to make.

    • Reply
      January 13, 2019 at 6:41 am

      I excited that this was approved by ‘experts’!

  • Reply
    January 10, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    Good. I will do it again, but ease off the lemon, too tart for me. I will work on something more like a yogurt sauce.

    • Reply
      January 10, 2019 at 7:44 pm

      It’s always good to taste and adjust for your particular needs, I love lemon so I might go overboard 🙂

  • Reply
    Mrs D
    November 1, 2018 at 4:27 am

    5 stars
    Made a double batch of these and they were a huge hit with my Greek husband and 6 year old son. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe! I will be adding this into my regular meal plan repertoir. I made a few changes: I used a pork/veal mince blend, subbed dried mint for fresh and pan fried the meatballs. I also tweaked the sauce – this reminded me of Greek avgolemono soup, so I used chicken stock and a ton of good sea salt and pepper and served with rice. Amazing! I’ve bookmarked your swedish meatball recipe to double batch for dinner this Saturday – we all can’t wait, plus many others that I’m going to work my way through. Keep up the wonderful work Sue, and thanks again from sunny Australia…

  • Reply
    December 22, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    This sounds wonderful! I really want to serve this at a gathering away from home at a place without kitchen facilities. How would it be to have it all made and kept warm in a crockpot?

    • Reply
      December 23, 2017 at 7:27 am

      This recipe isn’t formulated for a crock pot, I’m so sorry Anna, I think it would not work out too well. You might make them in a kitchen and then transfer to a crock pot to bring along?

  • Reply
    May 4, 2017 at 8:35 am

    I would like to make this as an entree for Dinner Club. What would be suitable side dishes?

    • Reply
      May 4, 2017 at 9:14 am

      I’d say any type of rice or couscous, and a green veggie like asparagus or broccoli. A salad would also work for a bit of green.

  • Reply
    August 8, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    5 stars
    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.

    • Reply
      August 8, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      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 😉

  • Reply
    April 3, 2016 at 6:49 am

    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!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2016 at 8:59 am

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

  • Reply
    John/Kitchen Riffs
    March 30, 2016 at 9:53 am

    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!

  • Reply
    March 29, 2016 at 9:00 pm

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

  • Reply
    Rosemary Wolbert | Sprigs of Rosemary
    March 29, 2016 at 5:42 am

    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!

  • Reply
    March 29, 2016 at 2:30 am

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

  • Reply
    March 28, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      March 28, 2016 at 9:29 pm

      Send that recipe along, Sue — it does sound good! As for this one, I think something green, like a salad.

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    March 28, 2016 at 4:26 pm

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

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    March 28, 2016 at 2:50 pm

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

  • Reply
    March 28, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    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…

    • Reply
      March 28, 2016 at 2:54 pm

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

  • Reply
    Robyn @ Simply Fresh Dinners
    March 28, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    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. 🙂

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    March 28, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Heather - This Little Bowl
    March 28, 2016 at 1:16 pm

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

  • Reply
    Sam | Ahead of Thyme
    March 28, 2016 at 12:54 pm

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

  • Reply
    March 28, 2016 at 11:29 am

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

    • Reply
      March 28, 2016 at 12:01 pm

      Thanks Liz — i actually made a double recipe, and the machine did a great job.

  • Reply
    Mica @ Let's Taco Bout It Blog
    March 28, 2016 at 10:44 am

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

    • Reply
      March 28, 2016 at 10:48 am

      Thanks Mica — the sauce is awesome, I love the translucent yellow color, too.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2016 at 10:41 am

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

    • Reply
      March 28, 2016 at 12:02 pm

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

  • Reply
    March 28, 2016 at 10:33 am

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

    • Reply
      March 28, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      I meant to link to my avgolemono soup! i think this can be made as a soup, too.

  • Reply
    Emma @ Supper in the Suburbs
    March 28, 2016 at 10:20 am

    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 :’)

    • Reply
      March 28, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Let me know what you think Emma.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2016 at 10:11 am

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

    • Reply
      March 28, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Hmmm, I think chicken or turkey would work well here…I might suggest using the ground dark meat.

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    March 28, 2016 at 10:00 am

    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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