Easy Greek meatballs recipe, also known as Keftedes! Flavor-packed tender meatballs with a crispy crust and a lemony sauce. This recipe can serve a crowd as an appetizer, but see our serving suggestions for a Greek-style dinner bowl!
Keftedes, Kofte, or Kofta. Whatever the name, they all represent exquisite Eastern Mediterranean variations on meatballs. A mixture of ground meat infused with spices and flavors of whatever region they come from.
This recipe is a very lose interpretation of Yiayia Helen’s Greek meatballs.
Helen and I met at a local Greek festival last year. A feisty grandma with a binder full of Greek recipes. Pages worn out and stained with olive oil. She had no problem sharing about her famous Greek meatballs. “I make for a minimum of 50 people at a time,” she announced as she pointed to the recipe.
Tips for the best Greek meatballs
Every cook seems to have their own technique for creating the juiciest meatballs.
Helen’s trick? Add a bread-based paste (or mush) made by soaking day-old bread or pita into milk. You wring out the excess milk, then add the resulting piece of mushy bread into the keftedes mixture. This prevents bits of meat from binding to each other, keeping the patties tender.
And to achieve a crispy crust, it’s best to pan-fry the Greek meatballs in olive oil before adding the sauce.
Some versions of Greek keftedes call for red sauce, but I prefer this version with a lemony broth that’s been thickened with egg yolk.
What to Serve with Greek Meatballs
This keftedes recipe makes about 32 meatballs. If you have a large crowd, you can simply serve load them up on a platter as an appetizer. But for dinner, I like to serve a few Greek meatballs in a bowl with pita bread, Greek salad, and Tzatziki sauce for dipping. Of course, you can simply make pita pocket sandwiches too.Print
Koftedes Greek Meatballs
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 32 meatballs
- 1 medium yellow onion, grated
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Private Reserve Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil (click here to purchase)
- 1 slice, day old bread, cubed and soaked in milk (you can use pita bread, if you like)
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1/2 lb ground lamb or pork
- 1 large egg PLUS 1 egg yolk, divided
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1 tbsp organic ground coriander
- 1 tsp dried oregano, preferably Greek oregano
- 1 tsp organic ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
- 3 lemons, zested and juiced
- Flour for dredging
- 1 1/4 cup chicken broth
- If serving in bowls as suggested in this post, first prepare the Greek salad according to this recipe (dress salad later, if you prefer) and Tzatziki sauce according to this recipe. Set aside or refrigerate for now.
- In a large skillet like this one, heat 2 tbsp Private Reserve olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until golden and translucent, stirring regularly. Transfer the onions and garlic mixture to a large mixing bowl to cool. Set skillet aside for later.
- Wring the excess milk out of the soaked bread. Add the bread to the mixing bowl.
- To the mixing bowl add the ground beef and lamb (or pork), 1 egg, fresh mint, spices, salt and pepper, and 1 tbsp lemon zest. Mix by hand until until mixture is fully incorporated.
- Form the meat mixture into balls (each the size of a heaping tablespoon.) Roll meatballs into the flour to lightly coat and place them on a large tray for now.
- In the large skillet you used earlier, add 1/4 cup Private Reserve olive oil. Heat over medium-high. Turn heat to medium and add the meatballs to cook (do this in batches if you need to.) Cook meatballs for 10 minutes or so, turning occasionally, until fully cooked and well-crusted on all sides.
- With a slotted spoon, remove meatballs from skillet onto paper towels to drain any excess fat. Meanwhile, carefully discard most of the cooking fat from skillet (best to dump into a tin can until cooled). Return skillet to stove-top over medium heat.
- Whisk the 1 egg yolk with the chicken broth and lemon juice. Add to cooking skillet with the remaining lemon zest, then add the meatballs back in. Cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes until the lemon sauce thickens.
- Serve hot in bowls with pita bread, Greek salad and Tzatziki sauce. Or serve in pita pockets as sandwiches, if you prefer.
- Recommended for This Recipe Our Private Reserve Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives!) And all-natural and organic ground coriander, ground cumin, and ground nutmeg.
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