These mouthwatering Mediterranean Meatballs with tzatziki feature a savory blend of herbs, spices, and creamy yogurt sauce. Juicy, rich, and tender beef meatballs are perfectly complemented by refreshing homemade tzatziki. Serve this simple meal with a Greek salad, pita bread, olives, or your choice of grains.Jump to Recipe
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Bursting with flavor: These meatballs are seasoned with an irresistible mix of cumin, smoked paprika, lemon zest, and fresh herbs.
- Quick & easy: With just 15 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cook time, you’ll have a hearty and satisfying meal on the table in a flash.
- Make-ahead friendly: You can prepare the tzatziki sauce in advance and freeze the meatballs for a convenient meal at a later date.
- Crowd-pleaser: This dish is perfect for entertaining! It features bright, herbal, and savory flavors that speak to a wide variety of taste preferences.
Watch how to make Mediterranean Beef Meatballs with tzatziki
Easy Mediterranean meatballs with tzatziki
As a lover of Mediterranean cuisine, I am so excited to share these Mediterranean meatballs with you! They have roots in the vibrant and diverse cuisines of this region, which always goes over well in my household.
I’ve created a balanced blend of spices, herbs, and zesty lemon, which results in flavors that are both bold and fresh. The meatballs are juicy and tender with a slightly smoky taste from the paprika. Plus, the creamy tzatziki sauce adds a refreshing contrast, with its base of grated cucumber and tangy Greek yogurt.
I highly recommend serving this quick and easy dish alongside a Greek salad, crumbled feta, cheese stuffed olives, and pita bread for a mezze platter-style meal. You’ll be transported to the Mediterranean with every bite!
Ingredients & substitutions
- Onion: White or yellow onion adds a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor. You can substitute onion with shallots for a milder taste.
- Whole milk: Helps to bind the meatball mixture and keep it moist. Use 2% or dairy-free milk for a lighter option.
- White bread: Acts as a binder and helps maintain a tender texture. You can use gluten-free bread or panko as an alternative, but the meatballs won’t be as moist.
- Ground beef: Provides a rich, savory base for the meatballs. I prefer to use 80/20 ground beef for the perfect amount of moisture. You can also use ground pork or lamb.
- Seasonings: For a signature Mediterranean flavor profile, use a combination of salt, cumin, smoked paprika, lemon zest, garlic, oregano, parsley, and mint. Feel free to adjust the amounts of each ingredient to suit your taste preferences.
- Eggs: To bind the meatball mixture together and add a rich flavor. Don’t skip the eggs!
- Olive oil: Adds more moisture and more richness to the meatballs. For a less traditional taste, you can use an option like avocado oil.
- Greek yogurt: Provides a thick, creamy base for the tzatziki sauce. For a dairy-free option, try plain coconut yogurt instead.
- Persian cucumbers: Add a refreshing crunch and texture to the tzatziki. You can also use English cucumbers if Persian cucumbers are unavailable. Just try to stay away from field cucumbers.
- Dill: Imparts fresh, herbaceous, anise-like notes to the tzatziki sauce. If you don’t have dill on hand, substitute it with mint or parsley.
How to make Mediterranean meatballs with tzatziki
- Soak the bread: To prevent sticking, line some baking sheets with foil and brush them with olive oil. Soak the bread in milk until it has fully absorbed. This is a critical step in maintaining a moist texture in the meatballs.
- Combine the meatball mixture: Once the bread has soaked, mix it with the other meatball ingredients in a bowl until everything is well combined.
- Shape the meatballs: I find it helpful to use a 1-inch cookie scoop to make evenly-sized meatballs, but you can also eyeball them. For large meatballs, add 2 scoops per piece. I also recommend dipping your hands in water before rolling them to prevent sticking.
- Bake the meatballs: Once they are shaped, place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheets. Bake them until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165F.
- Mix the tzatziki sauce: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, grated cucumber, dill, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Cover and place the sauce in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
For the creamiest and most refreshing flavors, serve your Mediterranean meatballs with tzatziki underneath. Then, add a couple of these dishes on the side:
- Greek salad
- Crumbled feta cheese
- Mediterranean chopped salad
- Pita bread
- Couscous, orzo pasta, or quinoa
- Grilled vegetables
- Italian stuffed peppers
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can make this dish gluten-free with one simple swap. Just replace the white bread with gluten-free bread, breadcrumbs, or panko.
The meatballs are ready to eat when their internal temperature reaches 165F. I suggest investing in a meat thermometer for the most accurate and safe results.
Yes, you can pan-fry the meatballs in oil over medium heat, turning them occasionally to ensure they cook evenly.
Storage & reheating
If you have any leftover Mediterranean meatballs with tzatziki, follow these storage tips:
- Fridge: Store leftover meatballs and tzatziki sauce separately in airtight containers for up to 4 days.
- Freezer: Allow the meatballs to cool, then lay them in a single layer in a freezer bag and seal, removing as much air as possible. Freeze them for up to 3 months. If the meatballs are raw, add them to a baking sheet and let them freeze completely before transferring them to a bag. Thaw for a few hours in the fridge before baking.
- Reheating: You can reheat cooked meatballs in a preheated 400F oven for 15 minutes or until heated through. It’s best to add them to a lined baking sheet again to avoid sticking and ensure an easier cleanup.
- Spicy: Add crushed red pepper flakes or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper to the meatballs.
- Turkey or chicken: Substitute ground turkey or chicken for a leaner option.
- Meatball skewers: Thread the meatballs onto skewers and barbecue them.
- Vegan meatballs: Use a plant-based ground meat alternative and replace the eggs with flax eggs in the meatball mixture. Use a dairy-free yogurt for the tzatziki sauce.
- Buy a cookie scoop: Using a cookie scoop to measure the mixture helps create evenly-sized meatballs. This promotes consistent baking results.
- Wet your hands: To prevent the mixture from sticking and create a smooth surface, roll the meatballs with wet hands.
- Use fresh herbs: For the best flavor, ensure your herbs are fresh and aromatic.
- Don’t overmix: Overmixing can result in dense, tough meatballs. Stop when the ingredients are just combined.
Looking for more meatball recipes?
If you enjoyed this Mediterranean meatballs with tzatziki recipe, don’t forget to check out some more of my favorite meatball dishes like these:
- Creamy Tuscan Chicken Meatballs
- Chicken Piccata Meatballs
- Chicken Meatballs and Orzo
- French Onion Chicken Meatballs
If you try these Mediterranean Meatballs with Tzatziki, let me know what you think! Rate and review this recipe in the comments below. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag me on Instagram @lenaskitchenblog!
Easy Mediterranean Meatballs
- 1 medium onion grated
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- 1 slice white bread ripped
- 2 pounds ground beef or use ground lamb
- 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 large lemon zested
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup oregano finely chopped
- ¼ cup parsley finely chopped
- ¼ cup mint finely chopped
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for baking
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 smaller baking sheets (or 1 large one) with foil, add one tablespoon of olive oil in each, and using a baking brush, brush the oil all over. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, add milk and bread and let it soak up all the milk. Squish with your fingers. Let the bread absorb all the milk.
- Add the ground meat, soaked bread in milk, grated onion, seasonings, lemon zest, minced garlic, chopped herbs, and 2 eggs. Mix well to combine with your hands or spoon.
- Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop out the meatballs onto the baking sheet. Add two scoops per meatball to make them larger or one scoop for smaller-sized ones, or use a 2-inch cookie scoop to get one large meatball. (Dip your hands into a bowl of water before rolling the meatballs. This will make the meatball surface smooth and help prevent the meat from sticking to your hands.) Transfer the meatballs to the baking sheets.
- Bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees fahrenheit. While the meatballs cook, make the tzatziki sauce.
- In a small bowl, add yogurt, grated cucumber, chopped dill, grated garlic, lemon juice, and kosher salt. Mix well to combine. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Also great to make ahead.
- To serve
- Add tzatziki sauce to a bowl or plate, and top with cooked meatballs. Serve with a side of Greek salad, crumbled feta cheese, olives, and pita bread. Tu can also add a side of cooked couscous, orzo pasta or quinoa.