If you haven’t tried Greek baked meatballs in red sauce, you are in for a treat! These are known as Soutzoukakia or Izmir Kofte, and they are the BEST! Flavor-packed meatballs with loads of aromatics, fresh parsley, and a special blend of spices including ground cumin, baked in a special red sauce! Plus, one secret ingredient makes these Greek meatballs extra juicy!
These can be prepared in advance. Be sure to read through for tips and what else to serve along!
Soutzoukakia! Say it with me, sou-tzou-kakia! Or you can call these Izmir Kofte (meatballs). Izmir, Turkey is actually where these delicious meatballs originated, making their way to Greece sometime in the 20th century.
Soutzoukakia are delicious football-shaped meatballs made from a special meat mixture with onions, garlic, fresh herbs, and a unique spice combination, the star of which is cumin! There’s not a ton of cumin in the mixture, but its warm and distinctive flavor with bitter, lemony undertones provides a great earthy base here. Adding to the flavor is the epic red sauce the meatballs are baked in.
Oh man…so good!
These baked meatballs are extra tender and juicy thanks to a secret ingredient included in the meat mixture. READY FOR IT? Toasted whole wheat bread that’s been soaked in milk. This is a trick I learned from Yiayia Helen, and it’s one I always use when I make these keftedes or these Lebanese-style meatballs.
If you need to, use gluten free bread like this kind, but do NOT skip this part!
How to Make Soutzoukakia: Greek Baked Meatballs
1. We use lean ground beef in the meat mixture (a combination of beef and pork is fine as well). Add in the rest of the ingredients including toasted bread, onions, garlic, spices, eggs, and fresh parsley.
2. Knead knead knead until you have well-combined meat mixture. Cover and chill in fridge for now.
3- Make the EPIC red sauce for the Greek meat balls. Starting with a little extra virgin olive oil, onions and garlic. Then adding in a little red wine, tomato sauce and spices. Let this goodness simmer for a few minutes.
4. Form meat mixture into elongated meatballs (football-shaped) and place in a lightly oiled baking dish
5- Pour the epic sauce on top. And bake in 400 degrees F until meatballs are cooked through (about 40-45 minutes or so). Tip, check part-way through, if needed add a little water.
Turn this into a Greek feast!
More Tips for these Baked Meatballs
- What kind of meat to use? Here we use lean ground beef, but you can use equal portions of beef and pork. You can also try mixing in ground turkey, if you like.
- Prepare-Ahead: If you want to get a head start on this recipe, you can make the sauce one night in advance. You can also mix the meat mixture one night in advance of cooking; store in the fridge in a glass container with a tight lid. When ready to cook, warm up the sauce and follow recipe instructions from there.
- Leftovers: these Greek meatballs should keep well for 3 or so nights in the fridge. Store in tight-lid glass containers. You can also freeze leftovers; thaw out in the fridge overnight. Heat leftovers in a medium-heated oven, add more liquid to your pan and cover until warmed through.
More Recipes to Try:Print
Perfectly tender baked meatballs, prepared Greek-style with onions, garlic, spices and fresh herbs in a special red sauce. Be sure to check out the notes for tips and ideas.
- 2 slice whole wheat bread (toast-size), toasted to a medium-brown (or use Gluten Free bread if you need)
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup 60 ml milk or water
- 1.5 lb/680.389 g lean ground beef
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 medium eggs
- 1 tsp/2.36 g ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp/1.3 g ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp/0.6 g dried oregano
- 1/2 cup/17 g chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper
- Drizzle Early Harvest Greek extra virgin olive oil
For Red Sauce
- In a small bowl, place the toasted bread and cover with milk (or water) to soak. When bread is soft and well-soaked, squeeze the liquid out completely and discard remaining milk if any.
- Transfer the bread to a large mixing bowl. Add round beef and remaining meatball ingredients. Knead well until well-combined. Cover the meat mixture and rest in the fridge for now.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- While oven is heating, prepare the sauce. In a sauce pan or large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes or so. Add garlic and cook for another minute, stirring regularly. Now add red wine and cook to reduce by about 1/2, then add tomato sauce, bay leaf and remaining sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Prepare a large baking dish and lightly oil the bottom with extra virgin olive oil.
- Take the meat mixture out of the fridge. Wet your hands and scoop portions of about 2 1/2 tbsp of the meat mixture and form into large elongated meatballs (football-shaped.) You should have 15 to 16 meatballs or so. Arrange meatballs in the papered baking dish and top with the sauce (be sure to have removed the bay leaf from the sauce.)
- Place the baking dish on the middle rack of your heated oven. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the meatballs are well cooked through (check part-way through to make sure sauce is not dry, and if needed, add a little bit of water to the bottom of the baking dish.)
- Remove from oven and add another drizzle of EVOO. Garnish with parsley and serve over rice or orzo.
- Cook’s Tip: baking time will vary from oven to oven
- Cook’s Tip: The toasted soaked bread is what makes these meatballs extra juicy. Do not skip this part. If you need to, use gluten free bread.
- Cook’s Tip: here we use lean ground beef, but you can use equal portions of ground beef and ground pork. You can also mix in ground turkey.
- Prepare-Ahead Tips: If you want to get a head start on this recipe, you can make the sauce one night in advance. You can also mix the meat mixture one night in advance of cooking; store in the fridge in a glass container with a tight lid. When ready to cook, warm up the sauce and follow recipe instructions from step #6 on.
- Tips for Leftovers: these Greek meatballs should keep well for 3 or so nights in the fridge. Store in tight-lid glass containers. You can also freeze leftovers; thaw out in the fridge overnight. Heat leftovers in a medium-heated oven, add more liquid to your pan and cover until warmed through.
- What Else to Serve Along? These meatballs are great over Lebanese rice or plain orzo. Turn this dinner into a Greek feast by adding a side of Greek Salad along with Greek Green Bean Salad or Briam!
- Recommended for this Recipe: Early Harvest Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives) and from our organic spice collection, ground cumin.
- SAVE! Try our Greek Olive Oil Bundle and our Ultimate Mediterranean Spice Bundle!
- Category: Entree
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Greek
Keywords: Baked Meatballs, Meatballs in Red Sauce, Greek Meatballs