Savour the flavours of the Middle East with these succulent Moroccan lamb meatballs, which are served with a tangy homemade tomato sauce. The meatballs are baked in the oven without any extra oil, making them a healthier option than frying.
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Lamb meatballs packed with the flavours of Morocco
How can I describe the taste of these meatballs? They are slightly spicy, thanks to the addition of chilli, but they also have a warming flavour from the combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. I’ve used the same spices for these meatballs as I used in my popular lamb pide recipe, and I have to say it works really well.
The meatballs are baked in the oven, which not only makes them a healthier alternative to frying, but it also means you don’t have to stand over the stove turning the meatballs over and over to brown them on all sides. It leaves you free to get on with making the sauce, and by the time the sauce has cooked, the meatballs are ready so it’s a great time-saver too.
I’ve carried the Moroccan spice flavours through into the tomato sauce and also added a small amount of harissa for a touch of heat.
I like to serve these meatballs with Moroccan potato cakes (recipe coming soon – I’ll add the link here), which make a nice alternative to the ubiquitous rice or pasta that normally gets served with meatballs. A fresh tomato and lettuce salad garnished with sweet pomegranate seeds also makes a tasty accompaniment.
This is a meal the entire family will love because let’s face it, who doesn’t love a meatball?
What you will need
As far as equipment goes, you will need a mixing bowl and a baking sheet for the meatballs. I also like to line my baking sheet with baking parchment to make cleaning up easier.
For the tomato sauce you will need a saucepan.
You will also need a cheese grater for grating the onion, and a sharp knife and chopping board for cutting up the tomatoes and onions.
This recipe will feed 4 people.
**You can get the complete list of ingredients and full instructions for making both the meatballs and the tomato sauce on the printable recipe card at the end of this post**
Lamb mince – lamb is inclined to be quite fatty, so try to buy lamb mince with a low (ie 5%) fat content if you can get it. If you can’t, it doesn’t matter too much as the meatballs are baked in the oven so most of the fat will leak out during cooking. If you are worried about the meatballs sitting in a pool of fat in the oven, you can place them on a rack set above the pan.
Onion – grated or very finely chopped. The onion is not cooked before being mixed with the meatballs, so try to chop the onion as finely as possible.
Egg – this is used to help the meatballs hold together.
Panko – this is a special type of Japanese breadcrumb that is ultra-crispy and perfect for binding meatballs, as well as coating meat before frying it. I can’t tell you the amount I get through! The link I’ve provided is for Panko on Amazon – you get 4 huge packets and it’s much cheaper than buying individual packs in the supermarket.
Spices – this may look like a lot of spices, but they are all pretty standard. I use this spice mix for most of my Moroccan-inspired recipes so I mix up a large batch according to the ratios in the recipe and store it in a screw-jar in the pantry so that it’s always to hand. For this recipe, I would use 4 teaspoons of the mixture.
Coriander – this is finely chopped fresh coriander. Most of it goes into the meatball mixture, but you should keep a small amount aside for garnish.
Salt and pepper – to your own taste.
Tomato and Onion – finely chopped (about 1 cm or just under half an inch pieces).
Tomato puree – you may know this as tomato paste. You can leave this out if you don’t have any, but it does intensify the taste of the sauce.
Harissa – this is a spicy red sauce from North Africa. It comes in various strengths. I wanted the flavour rather than the heat so I used a mild version. It’s readily available in the spice section of supermarkets, and you can use a strength to suit your own taste. Substitute with sriracha or other hot sauce if you can’t get harissa.
Coriander – fresh and finely chopped. You can substitute this with freshly chopped parsley or leave it out altogether.
Spices – not quite as many as in the meatballs! I like to add a small amount of sugar when I’m cooking with tomatoes. Some people think it makes the sauce too sweet – omit the sugar if you prefer.
You will also need salt and pepper to your own taste, sunflower oil for frying the onions, and half a cup of water.
What to do
Start off with the meatballs because you can make the sauce while the meatballs are in the oven.
Place all the ingredients for the meatballs into a large mixing bowl and mix well to combine the spices evenly throughout the mixture.
Take gold-ball-sized pieces of mince and roll them into balls. This recipe should make 18 (1 got 17 🙂 )
Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. You could put the meatballs onto a rack if your baking tin has one.
Bake at 200C/400F for 20 to 25 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.
Spicy tomato sauce
While the meatballs are baking you can make the tomato sauce.
Heat the sunflower oil in a pan and fry the chopped onions and garlic gently, stirring continuously, until the onions start to soften and become translucent. Stir in the spices and cook for one minute longer.
Add the chopped tomatoes, stir and cook gently until they start to break down, then add half a cup of water, the spices and the harissa paste and tomato puree. Stir well and bring to the boil.
Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to a simmer and leave for 20 to 25 minutes until all the vegetables are softened.
Stir in the chopped coriander. Serve hot with the meatballs and your choice of starch.
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Moroccan lamb meatballs FAQ
Yes, you can freeze the meatballs either before or after cooking.
To freeze the raw meatballs, place them in a single layer (make sure they don’t touch one another) on a baking tray lined with baking parchment (to prevent them from sticking) and place them in the freezer until solid. Once frozen, transfer the meatballs to a plastic bag. You can freeze them for up to 3 months.
To use, take out as many meatballs as you need and cook them from frozen according to the recipe, but add an extra 5 to 7 minutes to the baking time.
Of course. Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan then add the meatballs and fry them over a medium heat, turning occasionally, until they are browned on all sides and cooked through.
Yes, you can freeze the tomato sauce in a plastic bag or other suitable container for up to 4 months.
Save for later
If you would like to make these Moroccan meatballs with homemade tomato sauce, why not save the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards so you can find it easily? Just click on the image below.
Alternatively, you can save the recipe by clicking on the floating heart icon on the right-hand side of the screen.
If you enjoyed these Moroccan meatballs you may enjoy these other meatball recipes too:
- Swedish meatballs with creamy mustard sauce – copycat recipe of the famous IKEA meatballs with a delicious sauce – served with pasta.
- Thai meatballs with satay sauce – minced pork and chicken meatballs served with a satay (or peanut) dipping sauce.
- Barbeque sauce meatballs – a tasty barbeque sauce to pour over a dish of spaghetti and beef meatballs.
- Meatball stuffed pasta with a spicy tomato sauce – beef meatballs stuffed into jumbo pasta shells and smothered in homemade tomato sauce and grated cheese.
Moroccan lamb meatballs with homemade tomato sauce
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 1 pount / 450 grams lamb mince low fat if possible
- 1 medium onion grated
- ½ cup / 30 grams Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 medium egg
- 1 small bunch fresh coriander finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 medium tomatoes diced
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree / tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 to 2 teaspoons harissa paste or to taste
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic finely minced. Use from a jar if preferred.
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
- ½ cup / 120 ml water
- Salt to tase
- Place all the ingredients for the meatballs into a large mixing bowl and mix well to combine the spices evenly throughout the mixture. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the chopped coriander for garnish.1 pount / 450 grams lamb mince, 1 medium onion, ½ cup / 30 grams Panko breadcrumbs, 1 medium egg, 1 small bunch fresh coriander, 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon ground coriander, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom, ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Roll the meatball mixture into 18 golf-ball-sized balls.
- Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. You could put the meatballs onto a rack if your baking tin has one.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 200C/400F for 20 to 25 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a pan and fry the chopped onions and garlic gently, stirring continuously, until the onions start to soften and become translucent.1 medium onion, 2 tablespoons sunflower oil, 1 – 2 cloves garlic
- Stir in the spices and cook for one minute longer.½ teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook gently until they start to break down, then add half a cup of water, the spices and the harissa paste and tomato puree. Stir well and bring to the boil.3 medium tomatoes, 1 tablespoon tomato puree / tomato paste, 1 to 2 teaspoons harissa paste, ½ cup / 120 ml water
- Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to a simmer and leave for 20 to 25 minutes until all the vegetables are softened.
- Stir in the chopped coriander. Serve hot with the meatballs and your choice of starch.2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
- Taste and season with salt if necessary.Salt
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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