These seasoned lamb meatballs are so juicy and flavorful, I have them in regular rotation on our monthly dinner menu. Made with ground lamb, fresh breadcrumbs, a handful of spices and aromatics, this simple lamb meatball recipe is Mediterranean inspired and great for gyros or on their own with a little tzatziki dip.
We love lamb on the grill, skewered for kebabs, oven roasted, rolled and stuffed and even on the rotisserie. These lamb meatballs are another extension of our devotion to this “other red meat” and I think you’ll love them too.
Some people describe the flavor of lamb as being gamey, but I think it’s got a richness that takes it a level above beef. It has a distinct flavor and aroma that’s more pronounced than beef, but softer and less intense than mutton and the meat itself is much more tender.
For a healthier option, look for grass fed lamb, which has less fat and more protein than grain fed varieties.
Why you’ll love lamb meatballs:
- The meatballs are really juicy and flavorful.
- It’s a quick and easy recipe.
- Kids love them.
- They’re great on their own or can be paired with lots of side dishes.
- Make the recipe ahead of time for busy weeknight dinners.
These lamb meatballs are seasoned with Mediterranean flavors like cumin, oregano, dill and garlic, as well as a heady dose of lemon zest.
Ingredients for lamb meatball recipe:
- Ground Lamb
- Olive Oil
- Ground Cumin
- Dried Oregano
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Lemon Zest
- Fresh Dill
- Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
How to make lamb meatballs
- Mix breadcrumbs and milk together and let sit to make the panade (this is what gives meatballs a tender bite).
- Sweat the garlic and onions until softened and let cool.
- Combine the breadcrumb mixture with the egg, cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, dill, kosher salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Stir in the cooled onion mixture.
- Add the ground lamb and use clean hands to mix thoroughly.
- Form into meatballs and bake for 18-20 minutes at 350°F.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet and pan fry until golden brown 3-4 minutes.
I recommend tasting the meatball mixture for seasoning before you make the meatballs. Wait. WHAT?
Yes. Before you form the meatballs, scoop out about 1 tablespoon of the lamb mixture and fry it in a small skillet. Taste the cooked meat for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
This way, you can customize the lamb meatballs to your tastes, if you want more cumin for smokiness or crushed red pepper for heat, go ahead and add it. This is your chance!
You really can’t go wrong with meatballs as they can be adapted with any number of add ins or swaps. Here are a few of our favorites.
Variations and swaps
- Add crumbled feta cheese to the meatball mixture for creamy saltiness in every bite.
- Add sun dried tomatoes to the lamb meatballs for sweet pops throughout.
- For a garlicky bite, mince 2-3 large cloves of raw garlic and include it in the meatball mixture.
- If you don’t have ground lamb, you can also use ground beef, chicken, pork or turkey for the meatballs. If using chicken or turkey, look for ground dark meat.
Yes. You can bake the lamb meatball recipe ahead of time and refrigerate them or even freeze them. Pan fry them in a skillet before serving.
Absolutely. Lamb gyros don’t have to be made with sliced lamb and these meatballs are a great substitute. Wrap the lamb meatballs in a warm pita flatbread with tzatziki, crunchy iceberg lettuce, diced red onion and fresh chopped tomatoes.
Yes! Smaller meatballs will take less time to bake. I recommend using a tablespoon to portion them out before rolling the lamb into balls. Bake for 10-12 minutes. You can serve the mini meatballs on a platter with tzatziki for dipping.
Not necessarily. They will be cooked completely in the oven, but they do leak some of their proteins, which looks like an unsightly scum. It’s not harmful, but to give the meatballs a golden exterior, I opt for a quick fry.
Yes. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and arrange meatballs on the tray about 2 inches apart. Freeze until solid, then transfer to a zip top freezer bag and return to the freezer. This allows you to grab however many meatballs you want without them freezing into one giant lump.
What to serve with lamb meatballs:
- Definitely serve with a simple, fresh tzatziki sauce for dipping.
- Hummus is another creamy topping that goes great with lamb.
- Since these meatballs lean Greek, make this simple Grilled Greek Orzo Salad as a side dish.
- A bowl of cooked lentils goes well with the richness of the lamb.
- Also try these braised white beans with kale and tomato, they’re creamy, lush and go great the seasoned meatballs.
Juicy Lamb Meatballs
- mini food processor
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 slice bread (can use white, wheat or sourdough) crusts removed, torn into small pieces
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 3 teaspoons olive oil divided
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 large clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- zest of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill (or 1 teaspoon dried dill)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Pita Bread
- Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables
- Baba Ganoush
PREHEAT THE OVEN:
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable spray and set aside.
- Transfer the bread to a food processor and pulse several times until you have breadcrumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl and add the milk. Lightly press on the crumbs so they are soaked with the milk. Set aside.
- Heat a small skillet over medium heat, then add 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Sweat the vegetables for 3-4 minutes until tender and slightly translucent, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat to cool. Do not brown.
- In a large bowl, add the bread and milk mixture, egg, cumin, oregano, crushed red pepper, lemon zest and dill. Mix well. Stir in the cooled onion mixture.
- Add the ground lamb and use your hands to combine the meat with the bread mixture.
- Use a large cookie scoop to portion out the lamb mixture and roll into balls. Transfer the lamb meatballs to the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake the meatballs for 18-20 minutes or until set.
- Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the remainder of the olive oil. Transfer the meatballs to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until they're browned, about 3-4 minutes.
- Arrange the meatballs on a platter and serve with your choice of tzatziki, hummus, pita bread or grilled or roasted vegetables.