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 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.
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.
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.
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.
More Greek inspired recipes
- Grilled Chicken Greek Salad
- How to Make Tzatziki Dip
- Shrimp in Lemon Sauce with Olives
- Chicken in Lemon Sauce with Olives
- Greek Lemon Potato Salad
- Chopped Greek Salad
- Baked Feta Cheese
Greek Meatballs in Lemon Sauce
- 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
- 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 in stages if your 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.
- 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.
Questions and Reviews
These greek meatballs were delicious, thanks for the recipe, they weren’t at all complicated to make.
This looks great! What would be traditional side dishes with it? I’d rate it but I haven’t tried it..
I think couscous or rice, a Greek salad or bean salad, and some sort of bread like pita would work well.
The K/A paddle trick worked really well,we liked this but didn’t love it.Used all fresh herbs as written including parsley from the garden,the lemon sauce was good but makes A LOT. We had these as a main but think it would be better suited as an appetizer.
Loved the recipe. Made double the eclipse and froze some of them . The taste is amazingly delicious.
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 ??
Thanks Terry 🙂
You are so right about using the Kitchen aide paddle. Why did it take us so long to figure that out.
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!
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.
Thanks so much. Will report back. K
So nice of you to post it Sue!
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.
Don`t be afraid of using salt,so if you were to double the herbs that would total 3 CUPS! WOW! BTW there is no Garlic in the ingredient list and fresh herbs are a must.