This 30 minute recipe for lamb meatballs with pine nuts and raisins is certain to go on repeat in our household over other lamb mince recipes I’ve made in the past. It was quick to assemble for a weeknight dinner. And the sweetness from the raisins and cinnamon in the meatballs appealed so strongly to my kiddo that she had thirds. A winner for sure.
The inspiration for this lamb meatball recipe was a combination of several Mediterranean references. The spiced beef with raisins from Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food was a recipe my mother made, and I now make for my family. That recipe has echoes of a Spanish-Cuban dish called picadillo. I was also chatting recently with a friend about moussaka, which is made, of course, with minced lamb. Adding pine nuts to these lamb meatballs was a given.
Tips and tricks for making any meatballs
Meatballs and meatloaves are great dishes to make if you’re a beginner or it’s a weeknight. There’s a bit of chopping, but most of the effort involves forming the balls or loaves and letting the oven do the work. This is a 30 minute recipe where a beginner cook can shine.
- The starting ratio for meatballs and meatloaves is one pound of ground meat, one egg, and one half cup of breadcrumbs or equivalent.
- You should finely chop any add-ins, or your meatballs may have a hard time staying together.
- If you’re using onion or some other crunchy vegetable like fennel or celery, you’ll want to cook it beforehand. But that just adds time and another pan to clean. If a recipe calls for onions, you can substitute finely chopped green onions and garlic, which don’t have to be pre-cooked.
- The mixture should be combined gently with your hands and rolled to form balls. Use a #40 cookie scoop to get meatballs of generally the same size for cooking consistency.
What to serve with meatballs
I drained a can of chickpeas and lightly fried the chickpeas with a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper. You could also serve these meatballs over rice or Israeli couscous, or even stuff them in a pita.
For wine, I would always pick a syrah or a red blend from the Rhone Valley. You want a medium to fuller bodied red with a lot of fruit flavors to complement the lamb and the spices in these meatballs.
FAQs about lamb mince recipes
Technically they are two different ways of processing meat (i.e. grinding versus fine cutting). But effectively they are the same thing, with “ground lamb” being the more common terminology in the U.S. and “lamb mince” being used elsewhere.
Yes. Frying will get you a crispier crust to the meatball, but it will require more oil.
Yes, meatballs freeze well. First blot off any oil with a paper towel and then freeze the lot in a freezer bag with all the air removed. Reheat in the oven or in a steamer.
Yes, there are a lot of things to use that could substitute for the panko. We have used Ian’s Gluten Free Original Panko and can’t tell the difference.
Egg serves to bind the meatball mixture together, and many of the recommended substitutes call for dairy. I personally would always use egg, but I’d be interested in hearing what others have used successfully.
You’re not alone in having the gene that makes cilantro taste like soap. You can always use parsley. But I’m guessing you know that by now!
Yes, of course, although I think this recipe works best with lamb. Make sure you cook the meatballs to the appropriate temperature.
Check out other uglyducklingbakery meatballs, meatloaves, and burgers like this minced pork recipe for shrimp and pork meatballs, these braised BBQ chicken meatballs, or these chicken parmigiana-inspired chicken muffins.
Lamb Meatballs with Pine Nuts and Raisins
- 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
- 1 pound (16 ounces or 454 grams) ground lamb or lamb mince
- ¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
- ⅓ cup panko
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste, double concentrated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat the oven to 450°F/232°C. Pour the oil into a large baking dish.1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
- In a large bowl, use your hands to gently mix all of the ingredients except for the oil. There is no need to knead the mixture heavily – just mix until everything is relatively evenly distributed throughout.1 pound (16 ounces or 454 grams) ground lamb or lamb mince, ¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted, ⅓ cup panko, ¼ cup raisins, ¼ cup cilantro, chopped, 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, double concentrated, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon cloves, 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Use a medium size cookie scoop or a spoon to portion out a golf ball sized amount of meatball mixture and roll it gently in your hands until it is rounded. Place it in the baking dish and repeat with the entire mixture.
- Bake the meatballs for about 15 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice to turn the meatballs, until the internal temperature is 145°F/63°C. Serve hot or warm.
Stay tuned for other lamb mince recipes! If you make these lamb meatballs with pine nuts and raisins, please comment here or share a pic with me on Instagram!
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