Level up your holiday appetizer selection with these gorgeous, Christmas pudding inspired lamb meatballs. Loaded with Mediterranean flavours, they’re dolloped with lemony tahini sauce and topped with pomegranate seeds for an easy, speedy party snack everyone will love.
A juicy little meatball is always a fun one to serve up as part of an appetizer spread, and these lovely Mediterranean-style, spiced lamb ones are super moreish. They’re similar to my lamb koftas recipe, but this time we’re making mini versions. I usually serve these piled on top of the tahini sauce, with the decorations scattered all over, but this festive presentation twist is just so much fun.
They’re quick too – just mix, roll into balls then cook. Mix the quick tahini sauce while they’re cooking, then decorate and serve. You can even mix and roll the meatballs a couple of days before you want to cook them, or you could freeze them, to get ahead.
I’ve given you two options for the cooking method – pan-frying, or in the oven. Both have pros and cons. The stove-top is quicker, and you get lots of lovely charred edges, but you may find you need to cook them in batches if you don’t have a large pan, plus you need to look after them as they cook. The oven is easier – just pop them onto a lined tray and throw them in, but you won’t get them QUITE as charred and lovely all over. So it’s very much up to you, but either way, they’ll be fab.
Ground lamb. You could swap this for ground beef, chicken, pork or turkey if you prefer. Try not to go for anything TOO lean – a bit of fat keeps the meatballs juicy.
Onion. A small one is fine – we will grate it, rather than dice it, to help keep the meatballs juicy (more liquid is released this way).
Spices. You’ll need ground cumin, cinnamon, smoked paprika and chilli flakes. Skip the chilli if you’re worried about spice levels (though I promise they aren’t spicy).
Flat-leaf parsley. Swap this for cilantro (coriander), or use dried herbs.
You’ll also need tahini, lemonjuice, pomegranateseeds and more chilliflakes (or paprika if you don’t want to use chilli) to decorate the meatballs.
How to make them
Add all the ingredients for the meatballs to a bowl. You want to make sure everything is evenly distributed, so make sure to mix it really well.
Roll the mixture into small balls – I find it’s easiest to do this with wet hands, to keep it as mess-free as possible. You can either cook them on the stove-top, or in the oven. The oven is easier as you can just throw them in, but the stove-top is quicker and gives you lovely charred spots, so just decide what you prefer.
Arrange the cooked meatballs on a serving plate, then dollop a little tahini sauce on top. Finish with a few pomegranate seeds, then scatter over the parsley and chilli flakes. Serve with skewers and more tahini sauce for dipping on the side.
Got a question?
Can I make them in advance?
You can form the koftas and store them in the fridge, covered (or in sealed containers) 2 days before you’re ready to cook them. Once they’re cooked, they’ll last for 5 days in the fridge.
Level up your holiday appetizer spread with these gorgeous, Christmas pudding-inspired spiced lamb meatballs. Loaded with Mediterranean flavours, they’re dolloped with lemony tahini sauce and topped with pomegranate seeds for an easy, speedy party snack everyone will love.
1lb/500g ground lamb mince
1 small onion, grated (this helps the meatballs stay juicy)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chilli flakes (plus extra for decorating)
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (plus extra for decorating)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup tahini
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
Mix the meatballs. If you’re cooking the meatballs in the oven, heat it to 430F/220C fan and line an oven tray with baking paper. Add the ground lamb, 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, cinnamon, paprika, salt and chilli flakes to a mixing bowl, along with the grated (or finely diced) onion, 1/2 a cup of flat-leaf parsley leaves and 3 crushed garlic cloves. Use either your hands (wear gloves if you like) or a spatula to mix everything well – you want the spices and onion to be evenly distributed throughout the meat.
Form the meatballs. I find it’s easiest to do this with damp hands – this way the mixture won’t stick as much to your hands and make a mess. If you’re cooking the meatballs in the oven, you can place the formed balls straight on your lined oven tray – if you’re cooking them on the stove top, get a large plate out to put them on. Scoop up about a tablespoon of the mixture, then roll it into a ball in your hands. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. You should get around 30 small meatballs.
Cook the meatballs. If you’re using the oven: place your meatballs on the prepared tray in the oven for 15 minutes, until they’re lovely and brown – to get them really charred, pop them under the broiler (grill) for another 5 or so minutes. If you’re cooking them on the stovetop: heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, and set over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to high, then add the meatballs, and cook for 5 or so minutes, tossing them around so they cook evenly. You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan.
Make the tahini sauce. Use a fork to mix 1/2 cup tahini with the lemon juice and a pinch of salt, then drizzle in enough water, mixing as you go, until the sauce is the consistency of heavy (double) cream. It will look like the sauce has split and won’t come together but I promise it will! It will also thicken up as it sits, so don’t worry if you think it’s a bit runny. And if it IS too runny, just add a little more tahini to thicken it up.
Garnish and serve. Arrange the meatballs on a serving plate, then dollop a little tahini sauce on top of each. Add a couple of pomegranate seeds, then scatter the flat-leaf parsley and chilli flakes all over. Serve with more tahini sauce on the side, for dipping.
PREP AHEAD: Mix and roll the meatballs up to two days before you want to serve them, then just cook them when you’re ready. You could also freeze them – pop them into the freezer on a tray, then when they’re solid, store in ziplock bags. Cook them straight from frozen (pop them into the oven and add 10 or so minutes to the cooking time).
INGREDIENT NOTES: Go for lamb that isn’t too lean – you want some fat to help create a juicy meatball. We’re grating the onion here, rather than dicing it, because it releases more liquid this way which will also help keep them juicy and moist. You can skip the chilli flakes if you like.