4.91 from 11 reviews

Harissa Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

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meatballs in a lodge cast iron skillet

First off, Harissa. What is it?


Flavor: It is a blend of hot chile peppers, garlic, olive oil and spices such as cumin, coriander, caraway and mint.

It is a staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking.

Harissa can be found in the grocery store in ready-made jars or cans, and it is even available in a spice powder version which can be found in the spice aisle at the store. (That’s the type I used for these harissa meatballs)

harissa meatballs with veggies and couscous in a white bowl

What else, besides these delicious meatballs, can I use harissa for?

Both the powder and harissa paste can be used to enhance the flavor of a variety of foods.

It can be used in burgers, roasting vegetables, to enhance soups, stews, appetizers and main dishes. You can use it as a marinade for meat and fish or even blend it into hummus or any of your other favorite dips.

You can use it in salads dressings, on a rub for meat, in your yogurt, pasta and even chicken wings. Told ya, possibilities are endless!

harissa meatballs in a cast iron skilelt

Can I make my own harissa paste?

Yes! You can make your own harissa paste. This recipe can use the powder or the paste, so whatever you have on hand will work well for these harissa lamb meatballs.

Making your own harissa paste in incredibly easy. First you will toast 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon fennel seed, 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, 2 teaspoons dried chili flakes over medium heat in a pan until fragrant. Grind in a pestle and mortar until fine and set aside.

Then using a food processor or powerful blender, combine 2 red bell peppers that have been charred with skins removed, 6 garlic cloves, 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (juice drained), 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika, 2 jalapeños, 6 Tbsp. olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add in the spices and then voila! Harissa Paste!

You can serve these meatballs as is for an appetizer or you can make it into a meal and serve with roasted veggies and a grain (like couscous or rice).

harissa meatballs with veggies and couscous in a white bowl

Why lamb? Can I use ground turkey?

Lamb is incredibly tasty and easy to work with in the kitchen. NOT intimidating like everyone makes it out to seem.

A single 3 ounce portion of lamb provides over half of your daily protein needs which is ideal fuel for active bodies. With all of the Pilates and yoga I am involved in, it’s nice knowing I can get a great source of protein from lamb.

Nearly 40% of the fat in lean lamb is heart healthy monounsaturated fat! On average, a 3-ounce serving of lamb is lean and has only 150 calories (lean cuts include the leg and loin)

You can sub ground turkey for this recipe, yes. But I recommend the lamb! 🙂

If you’re looking for more yummy lamb recipes one of my favorite chili recipes is made with lamb!

I love how the possibilities are endless when it comes to meatballs and I hope you enjoy this new way to enjoy the flavor of lamb and meatballs!

These Harissa Lamb Meatballs are:

  • Easy to make
  • High in protein
  • Herby and not gamey!
  • Cooked in tomato sauce
  • Appetizers or can be a full meal!

Other pasta and meatball recipes you will love:

Ground Turkey Sriracha Meatballs

Ground Turkey Swedish Meatballs

Cranberry Crockpot Meatballs

Classic Spaghetti & Meatballs

Easy Shell Pasta with Ground Turkey

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Before You Begin! If you make this, please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.

meatballs in a lodge cast iron skillet
4.91 from 11 reviews

Harissa Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

Servings: 16 meatballs
These meatballs are easy to make, cooked in a delicious sauce and are filled with fresh herbs! 


For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. Harissa, powder or paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil

For the tomato sauce:

  • 1 28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. Harissa powder or paste
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Last step! If you make this, please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.


  • Preheat the oven to 375° F. First make the sauce. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Saute onion until translucent and soft, around 4-6 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and remaining seasoning. Simmer for 15 minutes. (You may need to add 1/2 cup water to make the sauce a consistency you prefer).
  • In a large bowl, make the meat balls. Use your hands to combine all ingredients together. Being careful not to overwork the meat.
  • In another pan on the stove heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil and sear the meatballs for 2-3 minutes on each side. Then place the meatballs in the sauce in an oven safe dish (like a cast iron) and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the meat is cooked all the way though. (160 degree F to be safe). Serve with couscous/orzo/rice and fresh veggies!

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is automatically calculated. It should only be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Kroll’s Korner can’t make any guarantees to the accuracy of this information.


harissa meatballs with veggies and couscous in a white bowl


Krolls Korner

Krolls Korner

Welcome to my tiny “korner” on the Internet! I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who loves cookies as much as kale. (OK, maybe I like cookies a little bit more but shh, don’t tell anyone). I am so glad you’re here! Follow along for hassle free, realistic and approachable recipes.

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4.91 from 11 votes (9 ratings without comment)
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These are to-die-for good! If you are looking for something savory, comforting, spicy, and flavorful, you’ve found it. I imagine you could play around and use ground beef, chicken, or turkey, etc. as well as different herbs. I substituted Trader Joe’s gluten-free rice crumbs for the breadcrumbs and it worked perfectly. Making tonight with chicken and cilantro! Last thing I’ll say: even the sauce by itself is a win!

Andrea B

It is a very delicious meal. I paired it with raw spinach and greek plain yogurt and roast garlic couscous. I used Trader joe’s Harrisa paste and it work well.