Lamb Mince Recipes: Lamb Meatballs with Pine Nuts and Raisins

Lamb Mince Recipes: Lamb Meatballs with Pine Nuts and Raisins

This 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 appealed so strongly to my kiddo that she had thirds. A winner for sure.

The flavor profile of this dish definitely hails from the Mediterranean, and the inspiration was probably drawn from a combination of several 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. I was also chatting recently with a social media friend about moussaka. But it all started with the lamb mince.

I’ve filed this recipe in the learning to cook archives because meatballs and meat loaves are so easy to make. 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 recipe where a beginner cook can shine.

ingredients for lamb meatballs with pine nuts and raisins plus chopped cilantro, tomato paste, spices, chopped garlic, an egg in a small glass bowl, and a measuring cup with panko

Frequently asked questions about lamb mince recipes

What is the difference between ground lamb and lamb mince?

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.

How should I serve these 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.

Can I fry these meatballs instead of baking them?

Yes. Frying will get you a crispier crust to the meatball, but it will require more oil.

What wine would go well with these meatballs?

When given the choice, I would always pick a syrah or a red blend from the Rhone Valley.

Can I freeze these meatballs?

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.

Can I make this recipe gluten-free?

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.

Can I omit the egg in these meatballs?

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.

I hate cilantro. Can I leave it out?

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!

Can I substitute ground beef or another meat for the lamb mince?

Yes, of course, although I think this recipe works best with lamb. Make sure you cook the meatballs to the appropriate temperature.

a metal roasting pan with three rows of six meatballs in a line, ready to be cooked
a plate of lamb meatballs with pine nuts and raisins atop fried chickpeas and sliced purple cabbage with a chopped parsley garnish

Lamb meatballs with pine nuts and raisins
Servings 4


  • 1 lb (16 oz, 454g) ground lamb/lamb mince
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/3 cup panko
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste, double concentrated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp neutral vegetable oil


  • Preheat the oven to 450°F/232°C.
  • 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.
  • Pour the olive oil into a large baking dish.
  • 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. You should have about 18 meatballs.
  • 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.

What’s next?

Stay tuned for other lamb mince recipes! If you make these lamb meatballs with pine nuts and raisins, please comment and/or share a pic!

Check out other uglyducklingbakery meatballs, meatloaves, and burgers. Or turn these lamb meatballs into a Mediterranean lamb bowl dinner.

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lamb meatballs in a metal pan

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