Lebanese Meatballs ~ you can’t help but fall in love with these tender beef and lamb meatballs made with tons of fresh herbs, spices, and tangy goat cheese! This is the perfect addition to your next Mediterranean dinner or mezze platter!
I know. These look really good, don’t they? Little spiced meatballs are one of the things I make over and over again. But I do try and experiment with something a little different each time. This time I made them a little spicier and a little greener. I don’t know why, but flavors tend to get sucked up by ground meat dishes like meatballs and meatloaves. It helps to have a pretty heavy hand with the seasonings if you want the flavors to come through in the end.
We had these meatballs with the Hummus and Laffa Bread the other night. I like meatballs because you can have just a little meat as part of a mostly vegetarian dinner.
And once you have the meatball ‘formula’ down, you can tweak it any way you like. My formula is an egg and half a cup of some kind of bread crumb for every pound of ground meat. The rest is up for grabs. I consider myself a meatball expert at this point, I make them all the time. If you love them too, check out some of the other meatball recipes on the blog, there are some amazing recipes here.
For these meatballs I added a little extra in the way of spices—cardamom, cumin, allspice and lots of salt and pepper. Cinnamon can be substituted for the cardamom if you don’t have any. I love the exotic combinations of spices in Middle Eastern meats. You can experiment with other spices, too, like paprika, coriander, turmeric, ginger, nutmeg and chilies.
I also used a heavy hand with the scallions and herbs. I used parsley and mint here, and I wouldn’t hesitate to add a lot since they really bring these meatballs to life!
Just for a little more flavor and texture I added some crumbled goat cheese. You could also use feta.
TIPS for amazing Lebanese meatballs ~
- Use fresh herbs only for this recipe, and don’t skimp, they add moisture and flavor to this recipe.
- Don’t be afraid of the spices, they may seem unusual for a meat dish, but trust me, they make these meatballs taste incredible.
- Just like with any ground meat, don’t overwork it by mixing too much. Just blend until all the ingredients are well combined and don’t compact it too much.
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1/2 lb ground lamb
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, grind some fresh in your mini processor if you have any bread lying around, or use prepared crumbs
- 1/2 cup finely crumbled goat cheese, you can use feta
- 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped mint
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cardamom, or cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil for browning
- pine nuts for garnish
- Set oven to 350F
- For the meatballs: Put everything except the olive oil into a large bowl. Make sure you egg is pre-beaten. With as little manipulation as possible, combine all the ingredients thoroughly together. The less you work the mixture the more tender your meatballs will be.
- Form into small balls and set on a plate. Using a scooper makes the process clean and easy. Mine was 1 3/4 inch.
- If you want to do this part ahead, you can, just cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate till you’re ready to cook.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and brown the meatballs, in batches, for several minutes, turning them once or twice in the pan.
- Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, until done. The time will depend on the size of your meatballs, I like to use my cooking thermometer to check one; it should read about 160 degrees. They will continue to cook a bit after they’re out.
- For the sauce mix up all the ingredients and thin with a little milk if it seems too thick. This can be made ahead.
- Serve the meatballs with the sauce and a few pine nuts for garnish.