Moroccan Meatballs Recipe

Of all the ways that you can cook or prepare meat, meatballs are often overlooked. Sure, spaghetti and meatballs is a popular dish, but other than that, it's easy to forget just how versatile and delicious meatballs can be. Luckily, recipe developer Catherine Brookes is here to remind us just how tasty meatballs are, thanks to her Moroccan meatballs recipe. "I love how unique and flavorful these meatballs are," Brookes says. "They're packed with delicious spices and simmering them in [a] tomato sauce makes them super tender."

Indeed, it's not just the meatballs themselves that make this such an amazing dish, but the sauce takes things to a whole new level. Loaded with spices like cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, and turmeric, the tomato sauce complements the meatballs perfectly, offering warmth with every bite. Brookes herself describes the flavor of this dish as "a tasty combination of the savory beef flavor with warmth from the spices, and sweetness from the onion and tomato," and honestly, does it get much better than that? If you love warm, hearty dishes, you'll definitely want to give this Moroccan recipe a try.

Gather the ingredients to make Moroccan meatballs

To accomplish such a delicious flavor profile, you'll want to make sure you have the right ingredients. For this recipe, you'll need olive oil, 2 diced white onions, minced garlic, 2 cans diced tomatoes, ground beef, an egg, and breadcrumbs. To add some warmth, spice, and flavor to the meatballs, you'll need brown sugar, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, turmeric, fresh chopped cilantro, and a little bit of salt and pepper. "You could certainly swap [in] parsley if you're not a fan of cilantro," Brookes notes, "though cilantro will give more of an authentic Moroccan flavor." Also, if you aren't a fan of spice, Brookes says you can completely nix the red pepper flakes.

Cook the onion and garlic in spices

Grab a large and deep frying pan and place it on the stove top over medium heat. Add in 1 tablespoon olive oil and, once that has had a chance to heat up, add all the diced onion. Allow the onion to cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. At that point, remove half the onion from the pan and set it aside. Keep the other half in the pan. Add in 2 minced garlic cloves along with 1 ½ teaspoons cumin, 1 ½ teaspoons paprika, all of the red pepper flakes, and all of the turmeric. Allow the onion and garlic to cook in the spices — absorbing all the wonderful flavors — for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Prepare the meatballs

To finish off the sauce, add the brown sugar and canned tomatoes to the pan. Also, add salt and pepper to taste. Allow the sauce to come to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. Cover the pan, and let it simmer for 20 minutes as you focus on the meatballs.

Luckily, the meatballs come together in a breeze. Add the beef, breadcrumbs, the other half of the sautéed onion, an egg, the cilantro, the remaining minced garlic clove, 2 teaspoons paprika, and 1 teaspoon cumin into a bowl. You can also add a little bit of salt and pepper, to taste. Mix everything together, and form ball shapes using your hands. Brookes used a heaping tablespoon of meat to form each meatball.

Fry the meatballs and add them to the sauce

In a separate frying pan over medium-high heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Place the meatballs in the pan, allowing them to cook for 4 minutes on each side. Then, add them to the pan with the tomato sauce. Stir everything together, cover the pan, and let the entire dish cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Once that time is up, you're ready to serve and enjoy.

Brookes suggests topping these meatballs with extra cilantro, though she also notes that quinoa, rice, spaghetti, or a fresh salad are all great pairing options. She also has one final tip, in case you want to prep part of this dish ahead of time: "You [can] freeze the meatballs (uncooked) before they've been put in the sauce if you wanted to make them in advance," she explains. "Just defrost in the fridge overnight before using." With a dish this versatile and tasty, we think these Moroccan meatballs will become a regular recipe in your dinner rotation.

Moroccan Meatballs Recipe
5 from 57 ratings
Skip the boring meatballs and opt for a spice-filled Moroccan meatballs recipe. You can whip it up in under and hour and serve it alongside your favorite grain.
Prep Time
Cook Time
meatballs topped with cilantro
Total time: 1 hour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 white onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 2 14.1-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons cumin, divided
  • 3 ½ teaspoons paprika, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes/red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs (or gluten free breadcrumbs)
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅓ cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional Ingredients
  • Extra chopped cilantro to garnish
  1. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large, high-sided frying pan and fry the onion over a medium heat until softened — about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove half the onion from the pan and set aside. You'll use this for the meatballs later.
  3. Add 2 cloves minced garlic to the pan, along with 1 ½ teaspoons cumin, 1 ½ teaspoons paprika, the chili flakes, and the turmeric. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the brown sugar, canned tomatoes, and some salt and pepper, to taste. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover the pan, and let it cook for 20 minutes while you prepare the meatballs.
  5. Grab a large mixing bowl and add the ground beef, breadcrumbs, reserved fried onion, egg, cilantro, remaining 1 clove minced garlic, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin, and salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Mix well with your hands to combine the meatball ingredients. Take handfuls of the mixture and roll it into balls between your palms. Aim to use roughly 1 heaped tablespoon of the mixture per meatball.
  7. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in another frying pan. Fry the meatballs for about 4 minutes on each side on a medium-high heat, then add them to the pan with the tomato sauce.
  8. Stir everything well, then cover the pan and cook on a low temperature for 15 minutes.
  9. Serve the meatballs with extra fresh chopped cilantro, if desired.
Calories per Serving 494
Total Fat 35.5 g
Saturated Fat 10.6 g
Trans Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 127.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 20.7 g
Dietary Fiber 6.5 g
Total Sugars 8.8 g
Sodium 959.9 mg
Protein 24.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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