Moroccan Meat Loaf

The good folks at Niman Ranch recently sent me a few lamb recipes to try from their new cookbook, the Niman Ranch Cookbook. Being huge meat loaf fans, we were immediately drawn to the Moroccan Meat Loaf recipe from Chef Monica Pope, of T’Afia in Houston, Texas. If you like lamb, you will love this Moroccan meat loaf. If you don’t like lamb, I’m willing to bet this meat loaf will convert you. It is superb – spicy, with hints of cilantro and mint. The recipe calls for a pomegranate barbecue sauce to accompany the meat loaf. We made the sauce, which is excellent, but honestly, the next time we make this we’ll skip the sauce. It’s just unnecessary. Its own spiciness almost competes with the flavors of the meatloaf. I’ve included the recipe below, but you really don’t need it. Plain ketchup will do, if you have to have ketchup with your meatloaf, but just the drippings themselves are sufficient and delicious.

The original recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon of saffron threads to go along with the other spices. I don’t like saffron (everyone has their preferences when it comes to food, and I have mine), so we kept it out. It is not in the following recipe listed, but feel free to put it back in there if you want to follow the recipe as its author intended.

Moroccan Meat Loaf Recipe



  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger (3-inch piece)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups dried bread crumbs
  • 2 small eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint


1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the lamb and beef in a large bowl. Set aside.

2 Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and ginger and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the salt, paprika, cumin, curry powder, cayenne, cinnamon, and pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes to release the flavors. Remove from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

3 Stir the vegetables into the ground meat. Mix in the bread crumbs, eggs, cilantro, and mint. Transfer to a 1 1/2 quart loaf pan and set in a baking pan. Pour water into the baking pan to reach halfway up the sides of the loaf pan.

4 Bake the meat loaf for 1 1/2 hours, or until firm and cooked through. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Unmold onto a plate and slice. Serve with optional Pomegranate BBQ sauce, ketchup, or just the drippings from the meatloaf itself. Very good served with rice pilaf.

Serves 6-8.

pomegranate-bbq-sauce.jpgPomegranate BBQ Sauce

1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 yellow onion, minced
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
1/2 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons of adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Combine ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring to simmer on low heat and cook for 5 minutes just to let the flavors blend. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp before serving. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

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Many thanks to Niman Ranch who not only supplied the recipe, but also the ground lamb for this dish.

Mike Dunne Interviews Bill Niman of Niman Ranch

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Showing 4 of 21 Comments

  • Caroline

    I’m not a fan of meatloaf, but I love lamb and Mooccan-inspired dishes, so I may have to try this!

  • Charles W. Stanton

    I have long made my meatloaf with lamb for the great taste! The other change I’ve made is to use ground bison (buffalo) rather than beef to reduce the saturated fat. I’ll have to try this variation of spices in my next batch!

  • Abby

    My husband loves meatloaf. I mean LOVES it. I can’t convey his love here for it. This recipe, however, puts mine to shame!

    I’ll have to try it and see what he thinks about a beyond-basic loaf. Thanks! And great site … found you while voting at bloggies.

  • Beth D.

    I made this and it is delicious! It didn’t fit into a 1.5 quart loaf pan, however. I had to put about 1/3 of it into another pan.

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