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Lamb Meatballs with Spiced Tomato Sauce

January 17, 2018

I love that this recipe uses lamb instead of beef for meatballs and uses a mix of spices to enhance that flavor.  Smells great too.

I tweaked a little bit on the recipe but not much: I used crushed tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes.  They get crushed anyway in the recipe, so why add another step?  I omitted Rosemary and Red Pepper Flakes because I’m not a fan but please feel free to add them if you like.  The quantities are in the original recipe that has been linked.  And don’t omit the Feta Cheese OR the Mint.  I  think it finishes off this dish perfectly.

I served this over rice and my son used the meatballs as a filling for a sandwich served on crusty bread.  There is not a great deal of sauce so I think rice is the way to go rather than pasta.  Mashed potatoes sounds good to me too as well as polenta.

Lamb meatballs with Spiced Tomato Sauce (from New York Times Cooking)


1 medium onion, finely diced

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cumin

pinch cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

2 pounds ground lamb


1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely diced

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon cumin

pinch cinnamon

pinch cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1-3 inch strip of orange peel

1/4 cup orange juice, from small orange that you got the peel from

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoon finely diced mint leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a very large bowl, put the ingredients for the meatballs:  onion through parsley.  Mix thoroughly.  Add ground lamb and with a large fork stir to combine. Mix until you see the other ingredients evenly dispersed in the lamb.   Try not to mix too heavily or the meatballs will be dense and hard.

Place parchment paper onto a cookie baking sheet with sides.  Form lamb mixture into 1-1/2 to 2 inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet.  Cook in oven for 20 minutes.

While lamb is cooking, prep for the sauce.  In a large saucepan heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onion, thyme, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne and bay leaf and saute for 5 to 7 minutes until onions are translucent.  Add tomatoes, sugar, orange peel, orange juice, salt and pepper.   Reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes.  Set aside.

When lamb is done, using a slotted spoon, place meatballs into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Remove bay leaf and orange strip and pour tomato sauce over top and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with feta cheese and mint leaves.

onion through parsley in large bowl:

mix thoroughly:

add lamb:

mix lightly but completely:

form into balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet:

sauce ingredients:


cook onions, thyme, cumin, cayenne, bay leaf for sauce:

add tomatoes, sugar, orange peel, juice, salt and pepper and simmer:

sauce complete:

lamb cooked and put into 9 x 13 baking dish:

cover with the sauce and bake in the oven:

lamb meatballs done, then top with the feta and mint and serve:


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