Spicy meatballs are boldly flavored with garlic, cumin, paprika, and cayenne. The sauce is awesome, so serve these meatballs over rice or cauliflower rice.
These delicious, middle-eastern-style meatballs are boldly flavored with garlic, cumin, paprika, and cayenne. The meatballs and the sauce are very flavorful!
They also keep well in the fridge for several days, and you can even freeze them. No wonder I make them so often!
Meatballs are awesome!
I make lots of meatballs. I find them delightful! Little morsels of meaty goodness that the kids love and the adults don’t object to. Plus, ground beef is very affordable. Even grass-fed ground beef.
As a result, I have lots of meatball recipes on this blog (these cheese-stuffed meatballs, for example, are awesome). But this recipe is definitely one of the best.
The ingredients you’ll need
The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need when making these spicy meatballs:
For the tomato sauce:
Olive oil: This is by far my favorite oil to cook with. And while its smoke point isn’t very high, it seems to be suitable for medium-heat cooking.
Minced garlic: Mince it yourself, or use the stuff that comes in a jar.
Kosher salt: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Spices: Paprika, cumin, and cayenne. Make sure they are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Pomi chopped tomatoes: This is my favorite brand. If you can’t find it, you can use petite-diced tomatoes.
For the spicy meatballs:
Lean ground beef: I use a mixture of 85% lean and 15% fat. Leaner than that is not very flavorful.
Kosher salt and spices: Onion powder, paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
What brand of tomatoes to use
Note that I recommend using Pomi Chopped Tomatoes in this recipe. This Italian brand is sweeter and tastier than local U.S. brands. You can find it on Amazon, at Whole Foods and in a growing number of supermarkets.
Another good brand that’s easier to find in supermarkets is Cento Chunky Crushed Tomatoes.
However, if you can’t get Pomi or Cento tomatoes, you can use diced tomatoes instead. Petite diced tomatoes are best, or use regular diced tomatoes and give them an extra chop.
How to make spicy meatballs
It’s so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Start by preparing the tomato sauce: Cook the garlic and spices in olive oil, add the tomatoes, and simmer for 10 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, mix the meat and spices, and form into 24 meatballs.
Add the meatballs to the sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Lean ground beef is best
In terms of the ground beef I use, I like to use lean ground beef (85/15) in this recipe. You could probably use extra lean, but I don’t think it will be as flavorful.
And although I haven’t tried it, I’m pretty sure that ground lamb would work with this recipe too.
No need for breadcrumbs!
I don’t add an egg or breadcrumbs to the meatballs. I find it’s unnecessary. The meatballs come out perfectly tasty and juicy with no egg and with no breadcrumbs.
How to serve these spicy meatballs?
The sauce is amazing. In days past I would have served this saucy dish over brown rice. These days I serve them over cauliflower rice, and it’s just as good! They are also excellent with mashed cauliflower.
What about leftovers?
If you have any leftovers, they keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for about 3 days. Reheat them gently, covered (to prevent splatters), in the microwave on 50% power. You can also freeze these meatballs for up to three months.
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- 1 lb. 85% lean ground beef
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- Prepare the tomato sauce: In a wide, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the spices and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, 10 minutes, while you’re preparing the meatballs.
- Prepare the meatballs: In a medium bowl, use your hands to mix the meat and the spices. Divide into 24 equal portions (each weighs about 20 grams) and shape into small, 1-inch meatballs.
- Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then lower heat back to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.