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Moroccan Lamb Meatballs

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These juicy Moroccan Lamb Meatballs are mixed with a medley of sweet and savory flavors. They are hearty enough for a main course, but they also make great appetizers for a dinner party.

Serve them over a bed of creamy polenta or wrap them in tender naan bread. You can also skewer them and serve them with our spicy tomato sauce.

Moroccan lamb meatballs in a bowl with orzo.
Moroccan lamb meatballs in spicy tomato sauce. 

Moroccan food is a diverse and flavorful cuisine that draws from a variety of cultural influences. Lamb is very popular in Moroccan cuisine and this meatball recipe is a great way to try it out. If you like this recipe, you will love our Persian lamb, Moroccan carrot salad, Moroccan lamb shanks, or our Moroccan chicken.

These meatballs are incredibly juicy and full of flavor. The zesty flavors are perfect with lamb, and the result is a truly delicious dish. Serve these meatballs with a Greek salad and a rice pilaf for a delicious weeknight meal.

Here is Why This Recipe Works

  • Cooking the meatballs in the oven frees you up to make the spicy tomato sauce (or another dish). 
  • Ras el Hanout seasoning mix gives the meatballs a lovely Moroccan flavor. 
  • Raisins add a subtle sweetness to the meatballs (similar to how we used dates in our chicken tagine and pork and beef meatloaf).
  • Fresh mint adds a bright flavor that compliments the lamb. 
  • Eggs and breadcrumbs act as binders and keep the meatballs tender and juicy. 
  • The spicy tomato sauce compliments the sweet and savory lamb meatballs

Tomatoes, garlic, bell pepper, onions, ginger, harissa, spices, preserved lemon, egg, ground lamb, mint, raisins, bread crumbs, carrot juice.

The Ingredients for Lamb Meatballs

Here is a list of the ingredients you will need for this recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details. 

  • Egg
  • Garlic, minced
  • Preserved lemons
  • Ras El Hanout, Moroccan Spice Mix
  • Raisins
  • Fresh mint
  • Ground lamb. You can substitute lamb for ground beef.
  • Bread crumbs

We added a Moroccan tomato sauce to the meatballs. The sauce is mildly spicy from harissa paste and has a slight sweetness from carrot juice.

About Ras El Hanout:

The spice mix, Ras El Hanout, is a North African spice blend used in Moroccan cooking.  It is a complex blend and has many variations. It can include as many as 30 ingredients of spices, roots, and leaves.  

We like the Ras el Hanout from Spiceology, but you can find great blends in your local grocery store or on Amazon.

A meatball on a fork.
Moroccan lamb meatballs in spicy tomato sauce. Serve with naan bread and a cold beer.

How to Make It

Here is a brief overview to get an idea of what to expect with these Moroccan lamb meatballs. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details.

  1. Mix the ingredients for the meatballs and form it into small, bite-sized balls. 
  2. Place the meatballs on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Brush them with a bit of oil and stick them in a preheated oven. 
  3. While the meatballs are in the oven, make the spicy tomato sauce in a large skillet. 
  4. Add the meatballs to a serving bowl and spoon the tomato sauce on top or serve it on the side. 

Adding spices to the sauteed onion and bell pepper.

Saute the onion and bell pepper until soft, then add the spices.

Adding the canned tomatoes and crushing them with a potato masher.

Add the tomatoes and crush them. Pour in the carrot juice and simmer the sauce for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Combining the ingredients for binding the meatballs.

Use a large bowl to combine all the ingredients for the meatballs except for the ground meat. Let the breadcrumbs absorb the moisture for a few minutes.

Combining ground lamb with spices, mint, preserved lemon, and raisins.

Add the ground lamb and mix until well combined.

Raw lamb meatballs on a baking sheet.

Form the meatball mixture into small balls and place them on a baking sheet.

Baked meatballs on a sheet pan.

Bake the meatballs until they get a golden brown crust.

Stirring lamb meatballs into a skillet with tomato sauce.

Add the lamb meatballs to the tomato sauce and simmer for a few minutes.

If you like this recipe, check out our lamb Osso Bucco casserole.

More Appetizer Recipes

Tips for Success

  • Keep the ingredients cold. Cold ingredients will keep the fat in the lamb from melting or getting soft while you form the meatballs.

    There are times you want room-temperature ingredients (like our Greek bread), but when you make meatballs and meatloaf, it is best to have cold ingredients.  
  • Don’t overmix the lamb mixture, or the meatballs will get dense and tough. You want to make sure everything is thoroughly combined but be careful not to overdo it. 
  • Use your hands to mix the lamb meatball mixture. If you stir the mixture with a spoon, you may crush or overwork the meat. If you don’t like the idea of touching the raw lamb mixture, wear some gloves. 
  • Add a light coat of oil to your hands when you roll the meatballs. The oil will prevent the lamb mixture from sticking to your hands. 

Lamb meatballs in a bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to bake or fry meatballs?

You can bake or fry meatballs. Either technique will deliver great results. In this recipe, we bake the lamb meatballs on a rack so they get a nice crust on them. Baking the meatballs is easier and less time-consuming.

Should meatballs have breadcrumbs?

Traditional meatball recipes call for breadcrumbs because it acts as a binder and helps the meatballs stay tender and juicy. If you don’t have breadcrumbs, you can use crushed crackers.

These Moroccan Lamb Meatballs are tender and juicy, with a crusty exterior. The flavors are unique and full of flavor, making them a real crowd-pleaser.

You can serve them as a main entree with wild rice, couscous, or quinoa pilaf.  I will be serving them as an appetizer with some garlicky einkorn naan bread to sop up that sauce.

Try These Appetizer Recipes:

These tiny Stuffed Mini Peppers are simple to make and a wonderful addition to any appetizer spread. Add them to a tapas spread along with stuffed grape leaves and cheese stuffed phyllo pies.

The beef and pork in these Asian teriyaki meatballs give them a unique, extra-tender texture and savory flavor.

Our Lemongrass Chicken Satay gets grilled over hot coals for a delicious fire-roasted flavor. We served them with a spicy peanut sauce for a delicious meal.

More Meatball Recipes

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Moroccan lamb meatballs in a bowl with orzo and tomato sauce.

Moroccan Lamb Meatballs

These delectable Moroccan Lamb Meatballs are combined with a mix of sweet and savory flavors. Baking the meatballs makes this recipe easy and it frees you up to make the spicy tomato sauce on the stove.
4.90 from 19 votes
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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 289kcal
Author: Pat Nyswonger

Ingredients

Moroccan Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 green pepper seeds removed and chopped
  • 5 to 6 garlic cloves mince
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Harissa paste
  • 1 tablespoon Ras El Hanout or see notes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumim
  • 1 can 28 ounces plum tomatoes
  • ½ cup carrot juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

For the Meatballs

  • 1 onion grated or finely chopped
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • rind of a preserved lemon chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Ras El Hanout Moroccan Spice Mix
  • cup raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1-½ pounds ground lean lamb
  • ½ cup fresh bread crumbs

Instructions

Spicy Tomato Sauce

  • Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and green pepper and sauté until they get soft. Stir in the garlic, ginger, Harissa paste, Ras El Hanout, cinnamon, and cumin. Cook for 30 seconds to release the aromas of the spices. 
  • Add the tomatoes along with the juices to the skillet and crush them with the back of a fork or a potato masher. Add the carrot juice, salt, and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. 
  • Let the sauce simmer for 45 to 60 minutes while you make the meatballs. 

Lamb Meatballs

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on it. Spray the rack with non-stick spray to prevent meatballs from sticking.
  • In a large bowl, combine the onion, egg, garlic, preserved lemon, Ras el Hanout, raisins, and mint. Stir well and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes so the bread crumbs have time to absorb the moisture.
  • Add the ground lamb to the mixture. Using your hands, mix in the lamb until well combined.
  • Form the mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place the meatballs on the foil-lined baking sheet and brush the top of the meatballs with oil.
  • Transfer the lamb meatballs to the middle of the oven. Bake for 12-18 minutes or until no longer pink inside when you cut them open.
  • Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce and let the mixture simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with orzo or rice.

Notes

Sometimes I add a splash of lemon juice or some lemon zest to brighten the flavors in the tomato sauce.
If you can’t find Ras el Hanout you can make your own blend with the following spices. 
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon 
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon cloves 

Nutrition

Serving: 1(2 meatballs) | Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 207mg | Sugar: 5g

This recipe was originally published on January 27, 2014.

Pat Nyswonger

Pat is a wife, mom of four adult children, and grandmother to seventeen beautiful children. She is a self-taught home cook and loves creating delicious meals for her family and friends. Her kitchen is the hub of activity in her home, and she loves to entertain.

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4.90 from 19 votes (18 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating




Lola

Monday 6th of November 2023

I used this recipe to stuff some mushrooms. It's not nearly seasoned enough for that application so I added chopped parsley and cilantro; an additional preserved lemon (pulp included, seeds removed), 1 tsp salt, 2tsp aleppo pepper flakes, and some black pepper. It was perfect like that!! Oh and I increased the ras al hanout by a tsp. Next time I'll make it with the tomato sauce.

Dahn Boquist

Monday 6th of November 2023

Thanks for the comment Lola.

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