An easy everyday recipe for lamb meatballs. Seasoned with garlic and cumin and cooked in olive oil, they are wonderfully flavorful! They're ready in just 30 minutes, and they keep well in the fridge or in the freezer.
I really like lamb and find it a refreshing change from the ubiquitous beef. Although I usually opt for using ground beef, sometimes I crave the bold flavor of lamb.
This easy recipe relies on that bold flavor. Simply mix in a few spices, form into meatballs, and saute in olive oil. Dipped in yogurt sauce, these meatballs are absolutely delicious! Except for our youngest daughter, the Picky Eater, everyone in my family loves them. I often double the recipe to ensure I have leftovers for the next day or two.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make lamb meatballs. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Ground lamb: I use a lean mixture of 85% lean and 15% fat.
Greek yogurt: Adds moisture to the meatballs and prevents them from drying out. Sour cream works too.
Minced garlic: You can mince it yourself or use the stuff that comes in a jar.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you might want to use less of it, or the meatballs could end up too salty.
Spices: I use onion powder and ground cumin. Please make sure the spices you use are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Cilantro: I love cilantro and find that it perfectly complements the flavor of lamb. You can use parsley instead, but it won't be the same.
Olive oil: Used for frying the meatballs. You can opt for a higher-smoke-point oil such as avocado oil, but it won't be as flavorful.
How to make lamb meatballs? It's so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
You simply mix together all the ingredients except for the olive oil, then scoop 1.5-tablespoon portions of the mixture and shape them into round meatballs. It's helpful to moisten your hands, as the mixture is a bit sticky.
Brown the meatballs in olive oil, then add a bit of water, cover the skillet, and cook them until cooked through. That's it!
Expert tip: handle them lightly
To ensure light and fluffy meatballs rather than dense and heavy ones, try to handle them lightly and minimally, both when working the spices into the meat and when shaping them.
Frequently asked questions
I do like baking - it's a hands-off cooking method. And yes, you can bake the meatballs for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees F. However, in this case, I prefer to sautee them. Cooking them in oil browns them nicely and the olive oil also adds flavor.
Yes. I do like to use something that would add moisture to the mixture and would prevent the meatballs from drying out, so I add some Greek yogurt. But there's no need for eggs.
Yes. Just like ground beef, the USDA recommends cooking ground lamb to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. This recipe does produce meatballs that are fully cooked.
Variations and substitutions
The easiest way to vary this recipe is to use different spices. In addition to onion powder and cumin, other spices and herbs that go well with lamb are smoked paprika, dried rosemary, and dried thyme.
You can also cook the meatballs in ghee instead of olive oil if you wish.
Recommended side dishes
Leftovers keep well in the fridge in a sealed container for 3-4 days. Gently reheat them in the microwave on 50% power prior to serving. I'll go ahead and admit that I sometimes eat them cold! They're surprisingly good as cold leftovers.
You can also freeze these meatballs in freezer bags for up to three months.
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Lamb Meatballs with Garlic and Cumin
- 1 lb. ground lamb (85/15)
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients except for the oil.
- Using a 1.5-tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop out even portions of the mixture into a plate. I usually end up with 16 meatballs.
- With wet hands for easier handling, shape each portion into a round meatball.
- Heat the olive oil in a very large (14-inch) lidded skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers and becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook, turning frequently, until golden brown, 5 minutes. If oil becomes too hot, lower the heat to medium.
- Add ¼ cup of water to the bottom of the skillet. Cover with the lid and cook the meatballs until cooked through (internal temperature should be 160° F), 2-3 more minutes.
- Remove the meatballs from the skillet to a serving plate using a slotted spoon. Serve immediately.