Kefthedes – Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce


Kefthedes is a popular dish served during a meze dinner. They are lamb meatballs, which are lightly spiced with cumin. Here they are served with a thick tomato sauce, and although they don’t look like much, they are bursting with flavor and have an exceptionally tender texture. This dish is wonderful with tabbouleh or a simple cous cous side dish. 

Although traditionally made with lamb, you can use minced (ground) beef instead. The kefthedes are good without the tomato sauce, so feel free to try them on their own if you wish.



Makes 20 meatballs

Adapted from “Mediterranean – Food of the Sun”, by Joanna Farrow 



For the kefthedes

  • 1 ½ T breadcrumbs*
  • 1 ½ T milk/milk alternative
  • 1 T grated onion
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ¾ t ground cumin
  • ½ T chopped fresh parsley
  • 225 g (½ lb) minced (ground) lamb or beef
  • Flour for dusting
  •  ½ t oil

For the tomato sauce

  • 180 ml (¾ c) crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ t sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Flat leaf parsley to garnish

* TIP: When you have unused old bread in the house, simply place into a food processor and blitz until you get fine breadcrumbs. Put these breadcrumbs into a container and store in the freezer until needed.



1. In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and milk. Add the onion, garlic, cumin and parsley. Season and stir well.

2. Add the lamb and stir in one direction until everything is evenly incorporated. Form the meatballs using a 1 T measuring spoon, dusting your hands with flour, as necessary.

3. In a large frying pan (skillet), heat the oil and fry the meatballs until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes, remove from the heat and set aside.

4. To make the sauce, place the tomatoes into the same frying pan (skillet), together with the sugar, bay leaf, onion and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer for an additional 2 minutes, or until heated through. Garnish with parsley before serving. Enjoy!


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