Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

holiday lamb meatballs love food meat meatballs recipe
food stylist
Helena Picone
Hallie Burton
prop stylist
Brooke Deonarine
recipe developer
Diana Andrews

Makes about 20 meatballs 


For the dipping sauce 
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, preferably full fat 
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
  • ½ tsp ground cumin 
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses 
  • 2 Tbsp coarsely chopped roasted, salted pistachios 
For the meatballs 
  • ½ cup plain panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley, more for garnish 
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped roasted, salted pistachios 
  • 4 large garlic cloves, grated 
  • 2 tsp lemon zest 
  • 1 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder 
  • Kosher salt 
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, more to taste 
  • ½ tsp ground cumin 
  • ½ tsp dried oregano 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1 lb ground lamb 


  • For moist tender meatballs: 1) Use a light touch when preparing the meatball mixture and shaping the meatballs. Don’t overmix. Don’t tightly pack the meatballs. 2) Roast quickly at high heat so the meatballs can get some browning on the outside while the insides stay juicy.  
  • Make-ahead Tip: Prepare the lamb mixture up to a day in advance and store it covered in the refrigerator. The meatballs can be rolled, covered, and refrigerated up to an hour in advance; let them come to room temperature before roasting.  
These juicy lamb meatballs with spiced yogurt dipping sauce are full of flavor and make a wonderful main dish or appetizer. The meatballs’ secret ingredient is Chinese five-spice powder. It offers a complimentary blend of spices in one jar that perfectly flavors the lamb. The sauce gets its special something from pomegranate molasses. This classic Middle Eastern ingredient is pomegranate juice that’s been cooked down to a syrupy consistency. It lends just the right intensity of tart, sweet flavor to the dipping sauce. Although nothing quite replicates the taste of this unique syrup, if you can’t get it, it’s okay to use honey mixed with a squeeze of lemon in a pinch.


Step 1
Make the yogurt sauce. Whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, oil, cumin, coriander, ½ tsp salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Refrigerate, covered, to allow the flavors to blend while you make the meatballs. Just before serving, adjust the sauce’s seasoning with salt, if necessary. Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl, drizzle with the pomegranate molasses, top with the pistachios, and serve with the meatballs. 

Step 2
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat to 425°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside. 

Step 3
In a large bowl, stir together the panko, parsley, pistachios, garlic, lemon zest, Chinese five-spice powder, 1 1/2 tsp salt, pepper flakes, cumin, oregano, and egg. Add the lamb and gently mix with your hands until just combined. Don’t overmix! 

Step 4
With damp hands, gently form golfball-size meatballs (about 1 oz each). Arrange the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them out evenly. Roast the meatballs until the outsides are lightly browned and the internal temperature is 155°F, 8 to 9 minutes.

Step 5
Transfer the meatballs to a serving dish, garnish with parsley, and serve with the spiced yogurt dipping sauce.

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