Moroccan Meatballs

Morrocan Meatballs Recipe

To my mind there are two characteristics most dishes of Moroccan descent ought to possess; vibrancy and a slight sweetness. You will, of course, be glad to hear that these Moroccan meatballs enjoy both qualities and are exceedingly frugal. Then again, as this blog should have taught you, rustic, hearty food often holds the latter trait. Remember, even good quality, well-sourced minced beef can be had at a reasonable price.

Over the past couple of years I’ve had a number of people offer me instruction in how best to make meatballs. Some are quite sure that an egg is necessary, though a visible proportion say otherwise, and similar pointers have been received concerning the inclusion of bread – a few have even had the audacity to claim that neither benefit the process. However, in my experience, both have proved themselves indispensable and without their mutual presence all one is likely to create is a somewhat stiff and unpleasant ball of meat. Follow this recipe if you wish to avoid such a thing.

Moroccan Beef Meatballs Recipe

Whether you use lamb or beef in this recipe is purely at your own discretion. Good quality beef mince is less fatty and cheaper than lamb mince and a little easier to come by. However, if you have the means and the inclination, lamb is probably the more authentic and distinctive choice. Personally, I prefer lamb that isn’t minced – if you’re of a similar persuasion, can I suggested that you use lamb neck. If you need advice on quite how to prepare such a cut please see my recipe for Welsh cawl. The advantage of using a cut like lamb neck is that bone and cartilage do a great job of thickening and enriching a casserole giving it that extra edge. by the way, don’t forget to use Welsh lamb, it’s tops!

Moroccan Meatballs {recipe}

Serves 4


• 300g beef mince

• 3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs

• 1 egg

• 40g breadcrumbs

• Salt, a pinch of

• Pepper, a pinch of

• 2 tsp cumin seed

• ½ tsp ground cinnamon

• 3-4 tbsp olive oil

• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed

• 1-2 chillies, finely chopped

• 1 onion, finely chopped

• 1 stick of celery, finely chopped

• 3 bay leaves

• 1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped

• 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

• 2x400g tins of peeled plum tomatoes

• 1 tbsp tomato purée

• A large handful of raisins

• 200g chickpeas

• 1 tbsp honey


1. To make the meatballs pop the meat, herbs of your choosing, egg, breadcrumbs and seasoning in a large bowl and work thoroughly with both hands. Roll the mixture into 12-14 evenly sized meatballs and place on a floured plate in the fridge. They can be made a few hours in advance or even the night before.

2. Toast the cumin seeds gently in a pan until they release their aroma. Transfer them to a pestle and mortar and grind them roughly. Put 3 tbsp of olive oil in a pan and begin to fry the cumin together with the cinnamon. Immediately add the celery and onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and chilli, before tipping in the bay leaves and peppers. Add the tomatoes and purée and cook for an hour over a gentle heat.

3. Turn the oven to 160C. Add the raisins, chickpeas and honey to the sauce and set aside. Fry the meatballs in a drizzle of olive oil until browned. Transfer the sauce to a large earthen casserole and place the meatballs evenly into the mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve with rice or cous cous.

Cost: There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but with a little care they can be sourced without too much expense. All in all, this delicious and thoroughly filling meal should set one back around £4.80. Whilst this is a little more expensive than my usual offerings, it remains exceedingly reasonable for what it is.

129 comments on “Moroccan Meatballs

  1. cookinginsens
    January 14, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Those look delicious! Too bad about the raisins 🙂

    • lizintheshed
      January 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      Substitute apricots? Or put in dates, though they will mash into the sauce – but still add that sweetness, Or just leave them out and don’t tell anyone!

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      They are not obligatory, Rosemary 😀

      • cookinginsens
        January 14, 2013 at 7:48 pm

        I’ll just leave them out and tell everybody 😀

  2. Villy
    January 14, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    This could not look any better..

  3. Patch
    January 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Sounds delish. Meatballs are a favourite here with the boys but I am attracted by the morrocan-ness of the recipe. Might give it a go next time we have meatballs 😉

  4. lizintheshed
    January 14, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Looks very tasty – would be nice with dried apricots (or dates left over from Christmas??) and served with cous cous.

  5. jgann22
    January 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I have got to try these! I love meatballs !

  6. FarAwayPeachGarden
    January 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Wow! Looks great!!

  7. scarletrosita
    January 14, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    My Mamma makes great meatballs, she is Southern Italian and I think there is a strong north african influence in many of the foods she cooks. Great meatballs are manna from heaven, but boy there are some terrible one around (I live in England and sometimes we are cursed with appalling food) These look magic, have a look at my Imam Biyaldi recipe, I’d love to know what you think 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      I shall! Thanks ever so much. Meatballs can be bad. I live in England and I disagree – rather a lot of the food is exceptional!

  8. baconbiscuit212
    January 14, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Looks fantastic, Nick! I think that the most interesting suggestion that I have ever heard for meatballs was to have a child help you make them in the kitchen. The reasoning was that children’s hands are just meatball-sized, and they don’t pack the meat as tightly as adults.

    As I don’t have a child tucked away for meatball-making, I’ll be using eggs and bread crumbs 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks, Daisy! Unfortunately, I haven’t a child… or perhaps that’s fortunate at my tender age!

  9. savorysouthern
    January 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Beautiful and yummy!

  10. patsy
    January 14, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Wow, this is beautiful and looks so delicious! I absolutely love the adding a few pinches of cinnamon to my beef stews!

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      Adds a certain interest, don’t you agree?

  11. nikisims62
    January 14, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I ALWAYS get excited when you post a new recipe… love your sight and your site!

  12. Karista
    January 14, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Frugal another winning recipe! Yes, I completely agree, a meatball is not a meatball without the egg and bread crumbs. Well done!! 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      Thanks, Karista. It’s as delicious as I am – haha :D. I’m so glad you agree!

      • Karista
        January 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm

        Hahaha!! 🙂 Absolutely!

  13. countrywoodsmoke
    January 14, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    A wonderful warming recipe, reminds me of lovely tajines in the warmth in morocco.
    Might work with prunes instead of the raisins too?

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      Me too, Marcus. Prunes would work wonders surely… I just like raisins 😀

  14. Chica Andaluza
    January 14, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Absolutely beautiful. I made some very simialr ones last weekend from Ottolenghi´s Jerusalem cookbook. I think bread and eggs make them lighter and really work well in meatballs 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      January 14, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      Oh yum – that sounds good! They do indeed. They were light as air!

  15. Ang
    January 14, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    A plate of these would go down a treat in this cold weather. Looks fantastic.

  16. Mary K. Doyle
    January 14, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    These meatballs look delicious and a different twist than the usual Italian style I make. Thank you.

  17. Marianne
    January 14, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Mmmm looking good 🙂

  18. Gaby Godoy de Porras
    January 14, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    OMG, this looks absolutely delicious, I can’t wait to make them soon!!! Thanks for sharing =D

  19. judibrereton
    January 14, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Reblogged this on Hi" I'm Judi.

  20. Lesley
    January 14, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    These look and sound delicious!

  21. A Dog With Fleas
    January 14, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    These look amazing. And the good thing is, I already have most of the ingredients on hand. I see these in my future!

  22. daisy
    January 14, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Wow! These meatballs are almost leaping off my computer screen. Absolutely great photos and the recipe sounds divine. Well done, as always!


  23. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial
    January 14, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Oooh, this is a nice recipe, Nick. I’d leave out the raisins though – the boys don’t like meat and fruit! It would make a very nice tapas dish, I think…

    • frugalfeeding
      January 16, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      I quite agree, Celia! Feel free to leave them out 😀

  24. saucygander
    January 14, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Yum, meatballs! Meatballs often taste better the next day, and so are suited to batch cooking – frugal on time spent in the kitchen too, bonus!

  25. cathyn61
    January 14, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    May I also just add that Australian lamb is also tops and would be great in this recipe 😉

  26. egg me on
    January 14, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Yes, there are many, many ways to make meatballs. I’m very glad yours include egg and breadcrumbs, two essential ingredients for a moist balls. These look exciting and exotic.

  27. NickkiT
    January 14, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    They look absolutely delicious. Your pictures are stunning.

  28. mawarre
    January 14, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    That just looks absolutely delicious. We will be eating that tonight with some cous cous and greek yoghurt. I thnk I might need to make a double recipe for my hungry horde of teenaged boys, but still very very economical. Love it

  29. Aarthi (Stovetops & Stilettos)
    January 14, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    They look just gorgeous! I was browsing though a Moroccan cookbook the other day at B&N and was toying with the idea of buying it…your post has almost convinced me to drive down to the bookstore this evening!

  30. Mama's Gotta Bake
    January 15, 2013 at 1:25 am

    These meatballs look so good, and I love the photo too! Great job!

  31. homecreationseveryday
    January 15, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Oh these meatballs look good! I’m going to have to try this recipe out!

  32. caseylee18
    January 15, 2013 at 3:51 am

    Having a hard time trying not to drown in my own drool. These meatballs look amazing. Going to try them in the future for sure

  33. whisksandchopsticks
    January 15, 2013 at 4:00 am

    Morroccan meatballs. That is something to try. I like cumin in meat. Looks delicious. 🙂

  34. narf77
    January 15, 2013 at 4:06 am

    Whether you decide to eat the meatballs or not this sauce is amazing! At only 300g of mince it is an incredibly frugal meal and will soon be a go-to recipe for lots of harried people out there when the kids have had enough of regular plain old meatballs. That sauce elevates “meatballs” from the norm to something special…frugal AND a special event dish… NOW you are talking! Cheers for another dressed up frugal feast in the making 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      January 16, 2013 at 10:08 pm

      Oh it was, it was. Extra chickpeas would work nicely. Thanks for another spectacular comment! 😀

      • narf77
        January 17, 2013 at 4:35 am

        I think that you could make falafels or some other sort of split pea rissoley thing to put into this sauce for a spectacular vegan version and you could thicken the sauce a little with some tahini. Might have to try that now! 🙂

        • frugalfeeding
          January 19, 2013 at 4:41 pm

          Give it a go – though, falafel is best really crispy.

          • narf77
            January 19, 2013 at 11:26 pm

            Serve them up with the sauce and eat instantly! Always a way around these things 🙂

  35. tarynnicole
    January 15, 2013 at 6:50 am

    These look awesome! Can’t wait to try them for myself! 🙂

  36. pixi
    January 15, 2013 at 7:17 am

    I have my own version of this. Inspired by a kofte tagine I had in Chefchaouen that had a handful of fresh herbs strewn across the top and an egg poached in the middle. That was a very frugal 45 dirhams (or 3.35 of your english pounds) including a basket of bread. Your pricing works out pretty similar 🙂 I shall have to post about that soon I think.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 16, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      That sounds amazing! I’d love to read about it.

      • pixi
        February 13, 2013 at 11:22 am

        I shall get there eventually, I have been absent from the blog for a bit but I have been cooking 🙂

  37. PolaM
    January 15, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Love Moroccan meatballs!

  38. Skuggs
    January 15, 2013 at 11:59 am

    That’s my dinner sorted. Thank you!

  39. sarahpantcheff
    January 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    This looks delicious – I have to confess to a horror of raisins in savoury food, but I like the idea of substituting dates. I can’t tell you why dates are acceptable to me and raisins are not…!

    • frugalfeeding
      January 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      Everyone seems to have a different opinion. Personally, I adore them all but I happened to have raisins in stock!

  40. whilehewasout
    January 15, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Oh my mum would (also) love these! She was complaining the other day that there are no Moroccan restaurants around here… maybe I should makes these for her?! Thanks for the recipe, truly great pictures!!

  41. iceace
    January 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    This looks utterly delicious! It’s an absolute must to try as soon as possible. Thank you! 🙂

  42. Sasha
    January 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    The addition of cinnamon is interesting.
    My mom uses day old bread soaked in water for meatballs.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 16, 2013 at 10:06 pm

      It’s only a little and complements the sweetness rather well.

  43. Jodye @ Chocolate and Chou Fleur
    January 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Do you mind if I use chickpeas instead of the lamb or beef? I bet chickpeas stewed in this sauce would be so wonderful, and great served over the abundance of quinoa that I can’t seem to stop eating lately. This is such a beautiful and colorful dish. Hard to resist!

  44. bitsandbreadcrumbs
    January 15, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    These look delicious and reminds me a little bit of Sicilian meatballs without the pine nuts, though I imagine they’d be good in this, too, but perhaps not frugal. 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      January 16, 2013 at 10:06 pm

      Ooooh those sound nice. Yes, I have a slight aversion to pine nuts because they cost so damn much.

  45. fortyjarsfull
    January 15, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Oh Yum will be making these , my angles will love them 🙂

  46. Pheebz
    January 15, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Oooh these sound delicious. And since I don’t have an oven, I have to convince my friend to let me cook in her kitchen and therefore we’ll split the price of the ingredients. The plan is on!

  47. librerrywumman
    January 15, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    They go really well with the pitta breads you posted here a little while back – I used apricots, by the way, and they work beautifully.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      Nice idea :D. Anything like that will work.

  48. Conor Bofin
    January 15, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Fantastic looking dish. I am with you on the bread and egg. I have to allow some local pride sway me away from Welsh lamb (good and all as it is). For me, it has to be Wicklow, preferably “trespass lamb” from my Wicklow Hunter friend.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 16, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      Thanks, conor – I’m glad we agree! Of course that’s fine – the more local the better!

  49. poppyleigh-designs
    January 16, 2013 at 12:34 am

    I am going to try this in my tagine! It looks wonderful!

  50. lkshaw1
    January 16, 2013 at 1:02 am

    I am drooling.

  51. Angie@Angie's Recipes
    January 16, 2013 at 7:46 am

    This looks seriously delicious and flavourful!

  52. Turnip Times
    January 16, 2013 at 7:55 am

    I am BIG fan of Moroccan cuisine and can’t wait to try these.

  53. A House and A Garden
    January 16, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Ah, yes. Wonderful idea. Meatballs are a universal favourite, and I’ve been craving something hot and sweet and spicy lately… Must be the January weather here in Wales. This could be something for an upcoming housewarming party. Oh, you got me thinking now.. Thank you again!

    • frugalfeeding
      January 16, 2013 at 10:04 pm

      Indeed! I’m usually in Wales at this time of the year (being Welsh), but have recently moved to Bristol – close though!

  54. Unwind Cooking
    January 16, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    bookmarked … I will try this one!

  55. ohlidia
    January 16, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    I tried this yummy dish last night. It was delicious!! I happened to be doing homework with my youngest daughter. So as I`m reading out her spelling words, reading your recipe and answering my older daughter`s homework questions, I inadvertently mucked up the recipe just a tad. I added the cumin and cinnamon to the meat mixture and then moved on to the part where it says to add these spices to the hot oil! Which I did…anyway, all this to say it really was delicious and I will be posting your recipe on my blog.

    • frugalfeeding
      January 16, 2013 at 10:03 pm

      Great – so glad you liked it! I look forward to reading it!

  56. liadh1
    January 16, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    YUM! My husband loves meatballs. He will be so pleased when I make these. Thanks for another fantastic recipe!

  57. Tairina (@tairinaskitchen)
    January 17, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    this looks delicious, I must try it!!

  58. petit4chocolatier
    January 19, 2013 at 1:35 am

    I wish there was a super like button! This looks amazing 🙂

  59. Dani's Delicious Dish
    January 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    This looks delicious! I can’t wait to try it! Thank you!

  60. nghirlando
    January 22, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    They look toothsome. I love the contrast between sweet and meaty in Moroccan food. Making my mouth water just thinking about meatballs…

  61. Deborah
    January 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    I made these for my family Sunday night. They were amazing! The leftovers were even better (I may make them a day ahead next time – somehow the extra 24 hours allowed everything to meld even more). I added minced fresh mint and parsley to the meat and also served crumbled feta on the side for a topping.

  62. JezVonSavage
    January 31, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    This could definitely become a Slimming World meal! Can’t wait to give it a try 🙂

  63. mgallagher
    February 3, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    This looks too amazing. I just have to try it!

  64. Georgina
    June 7, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    This is gorgeous! I wasn’t sure what herbs to add to the meatballs so I added a tsp of Baharat instead which was lovely but could have done with a bit more in it. I also used ground coriander instead of the seeds. Next time I’ll add some more chili as well, as I only added 1 green chili.

  65. Fifty Something Traveller
    October 2, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Just made this for my wife and me and it was delicious! I’m very keen on Moroccan flavours at the moment. Thanks for the recipe and keep up the good work!

  66. Renee guerin
    February 6, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    Dry chickpeas or in tin?
    Thanks, it looks great.

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