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Spicy lamb meatballs with herbed yogurt dipping sauce

YIELD: 12 servings

For meatballs:
2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
1 ½ cups sweet onion, finely minced
2 Tbsps. minced garlic
4 Tbsps. Moroccan spice blend (recipe follows)
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tsps. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. orange zest
1 ¾ lb. ground lamb
½ cup soy sauce
3 Tbsps. honey
2 to 3 Tbsps. chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp. Sriracha
shredded lettuce or scallion greens, for plating
2 cups spicy yogurt dipping sauce (recipe follows)

For Moroccan spice blend (yield ¼ cup):
2 Tbsps. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1 ½ tsps. cinnamon
1 ½ tsps. black pepper
¼ tsp. ground red pepper

For spicy yogurt dipping sauce (yield 2 cups):
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup chopped chives
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. mashed roasted garlic
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbsps. white wine vinegar
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

1. For spice blend: In dry skillet, add cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, black pepper and red pepper. Cook over low heat for several minutes until mixture begins to lightly smoke. Remove from heat; cool. Place in covered container and hold until ready to use.
2. For yogurt sauce: In food processor, pulse together mayonnaise, chives, parsley, garlic and mustard until smooth. Place in bowl; whisk in yogurt, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.
3. For meatballs: In skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onions and saute 3 to 4 minutes until onions are golden brown. Stir in garlic, continue to cook for 1 minute. Mix in 3 Tbsps. of spice blend; continue to cook for another minute. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.
4. In bowl, mix cooled onion mixture with breadcrumbs, eggs, salt and orange zest. Mix in lamb; gently toss to incorporate well. Form into 36 (1-ounce) meatballs (heaping 1 Tbsp.). Place evenly onto a parchment-covered baking sheet.
5. Bake at 325°F for 30 minutes, turning at least once, or until meatballs are cooked through. Remove from heat.
6. To serve: In saucepan, heat soy sauce, honey, cilantro, Sriracha and 1 Tbsp. Moroccan spice blend; bring to a simmer. Add cooked meatballs; simmer, stirring gently until coated. Keep warm. Serve hot accompanied by herbed yogurt dipping sauce, if desired.

Photo and recipe: American Lamb Board

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