Greek Meatballs

I found this recipe in the weekend edition of the Wall St. Journal as good “noshing” food for New Year’s and had to give it a try, with a few minor changes. It comes from chef Michael Symon of the Parea Greek restaurant in New York and Lola & Lolita Bistro in Cleveland. The meatballs are quite tasty and work well dipped in a little yogurt.

Greek Meatballs Recipe



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 4 ounces salt pork, ground or finely minced
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Greek yogurt for dipping


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1 Heat a small pan over medium heat and add oil, garlic, jalapeño and shallot, and cook for 1 minute, then let cool.

2 Meanwhile, crumble lamb into a large bowl. Evenly scatter salt pork, orange zest and mint over lamb, and season with pepper. Sprinkle the cooled garlic mixture over lamb. Gently mix until just combined, then form into 1¼-inch balls and transfer to a plate or sheet pan.

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3 Heat a large cast iron pan over medium to medium high heat. Working in batches if necessary to prevent crowding, brown meatballs on all sides until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm with toothpicks or skewers with plain yogurt.

Note: Meatballs can also be cooked ahead, refrigerated and reheated in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Makes about 20 meatballs.

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Showing 4 of 14 Comments

  • Chris Dattilo

    I made this for New Years, it was very good. One problem though – finely mincing salt pork is really hard and really time consuming. The thick fat just slides around and was chunky in the meatballs. Next time I may try grinding with my Kitchen Aid mixer – grinder attachment.

    Any tips on finely grinding salt pork?

  • Kalyn

    This sounds like a total keeper. I buy the Tzatziki sauce from Costco which would be fantastic on these meatballs.

  • jonathan

    Love them little meatballs. Great party food.

    Hey Jeni, I think fresh oregano might be a very good – and very Greek – substitute for the mint. Thanks for the heads up on the salt pork, Chris. I sometimes grind my own chuck for burgers using my Kitchen Aid grinder attachment. Nothing like fresh ground meat to make a burger. That said, I partially freeze the cubes of meat prior to grinding to make it easier. I’m sure you could do the same with the salt pork. If you can’t find Greek yogurt, try this: Take the same amount of plain whole milk or low-fat yougurt, set a wire strainer lined with lightly moistened cheesecloth over a bowl, put the yogurt in the strainer, shove in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight – cover all with plastic wrap), and…voila! You’ll be amazed at the amount of water in the bowl, which leaves you with a dense, very thick Greek-style yogurt.

  • vanessa

    Chris, I would totally freeze the salt pork and then either grate it by hand (watch those knuckles) or use the grating blade on the food processor and run it through there.

    Jeni, If you’re allergic to mint are you also allergic to Oregano? I ask only because I think they are from the same family and, at least in my garden, the oregano is a prolific and domineering as the mint.

    Elise, this is a great recipe, thanks for passing it on.

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