Crispy, juicy and absolutely delicious! Give this traditional Keftedes / Keftethes (Greek Meatballs) recipe a try and add a Mediterranean twist to your plate! Just like normal meatballs but with a deliciously fresh Greek twist, this dish can be anything from a light meal to the main course but also a star of the mezze platter.
So read along to discover my traditional recipe, variations, side dish suggestions and my tips and tricks to make them to perfection!
What is Keftedes (Greek Meatballs)?
Keftedes (Greek meatballs) is a famous Greek appetizer, commonly served as part of a meze platter, with some creamy tzatziki sauce and pita breads, and as a side to a slice of delicious traditional Greek Moussaka. Keftedes can also be served as a filling meal with some basmati rice and a nice Greek feta salad.
Leftovers (which is a good thing in this case!) make a delicious brand new dish, added in a tomato-based sauce with some mashed potatoes, or pasta.
- Mezze platter: This dish often features in mezze platters but can also be a meal in its own right
- Loads of leftover uses: You can also make bigger batches and create other recipes with the leftovers like spaghetti with meatballs!
What you’ll need to make Greek meatballs the traditional way
- Ground Meat: You’ll want some good quality ground beef and ground pork for your meatballs. I personally use beef mince with 15% fat content and a 12% fat pork mince as I find it gives the most flavor to my meatballs! However if you want to go healthier, use a lean beef and pork mince (5% fat) together with baking them instead of pan-frying them.
- Herbs & spices: You’ll need some garlic, red onion and red wine vinegar, together with some fresh parsley, spearmint and oregano. If you can’t find spearmint, substitute with about half the quantity of regular mint as spearmint is sweeter and less intense.
- Egg and some stale bread: is used to bind the mixture. You can substitute the stale bread with some panko or plain breadcrumbs. However, the panko ones make your meatballs more fluffy!
- Olive oil is best for frying the meatballs and you’ll want a little flour as well for dredging them just before cooking.
Key Preparation Steps
There’s only really two steps involved with making meatballs:
- Make the meatballs by adding the ingredients together
- Cook the meatballs either by frying or oven cooking
Make the meatballs
To make Greek pork meatballs (keftedes), combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly for 5-10 minutes, squeezing with your hands to blend the flavors. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Turn the keftedes out of the fridge and roll them into meatballs about the size of a walnut (or bigger if you prefer). If you’re frying them, lightly flour them before frying to ensure even browning.
Cook the meatballs
Greek meatballs (keftedes) are traditionally cooked in a frying pan. Fry the keftedes in batches of 10-15 at a time, until golden brown on all sides.
Instead of frying, you may bake / grill the keftedes in the oven. Preheat the oven to 200°C/390F and line a baking sheet with un-floured keftedes about an inch apart.
Bake for 20 minutes, turning the meatballs upside down halfway through cooking time. Because this is grilled rather than fried, it is perfect if you want a healthier option!
What’s the difference between Greek meatballs and normal meatballs?
Greek meatballs are typically made with ground pork and beef and seasoned with a variety of Greek herbs and spices. This mixture is then formed into small balls and fried until golden brown. Their unique flavour comes from their Mediterranean herbs – with parsley, spearmint and oregano giving them that deliciously fresh flavour!
Your regular meatballs, on the other hand, can be made with any type of ground meat, including pork, chicken, or turkey. The seasonings used in regular meatballs are also different, ranging from Italian-style herbs to Asian-inspired flavors.
Feeling cold? Then the traditional Greek meatballs soup in egg and lemon sauce (avgolemono) is the perfect heartwarming dish! It is a classic delicacy made basically with boiled juicy Greek meatballs (youvarlakia) and rice and finished off with delicious egg-lemon sauce.
If you love your meatballs with a tangy tomato sauce, then the traditional, fragrant soutzoukakia recipe is made for you!
Soutzoukakia is an amazing Greek recipe that was introduced to Greek cuisine at the beginning of the 20th century and has its origin in the city of Smyrni or modern day Izmir. The secret ingredient that makes these oblong-shaped Greek meatballs really unique is nothing else than cumin!
Last but not least, a very unique variation of the traditional fried Greek meatballs (keftedes), served as a main dish, is keftedes giouvetsi (Greek meatballs in tomato sauce).
The traditional diced beef of the giouvetsi is substituted with crispy fried meatballs (keftedes) and then baked in a rich tomato based sauce and orzo pasta or chilopites. Just too good to miss out on! Oh and you can always read this delicious recipe in Greek here Κεφτεδάκια τηγανητά συνταγή.
Making ahead of time and storing
These Greek meatballs can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days. To serve, just reheat in the microwave, stove, oven or in your crock pot.
- To reheat in the microwave, place desired number of meatballs on a microwave-safe plate and cook for 30 seconds. Then, just until heated through, repeat at 15-second intervals
- To reheat on the stove, melt some butter in a large nonstick skillet or add a few drops of olive oil (I use both). Add the meatballs and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until heated through.
- To reheat in the oven, put them in a baking dish and cover them with foil. Bake for 10 minutes at 325 degrees to warm through.
- To reheat in the crockpot, transfer keftedes to a lightly greased crockpot. Reheat over low for 1-2 hours, or until completely heated through, stirring 1-2 times. For extra juicy meatballs, drizzle with olive oil or melted butter while reheating.
You can also make the mixture ahead of time, cover with plastic wrap, chill, then cook when ready. Allow the meatballs to sit on the counter for 30 minutes before cooking to bring them to room temperature.
If you love my traditional meatballs recipe, these recipes below are made for you!
- Crispy Greek Lamb Meatballs recipe (Keftedes Arni)
- Traditional Soutzoukakia recipe (Greek baked Meatballs in tomato sauce)
- Traditional Greek Meatball Soup (Giouvarlakia/ Youvarlakia) in egg and lemon sauce
- Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Keftedes Giouvetsi)
- Juicy Stuffed Burgers with Feta Cheese
A crispy, juicy and absolutely delicious Greek meatballs (keftedes) recipe! Keftedes is a famous Greek appetizer, commonly served as part of a meze platter, with some creamy tzatziki sauce and pita breads. Find out how to make it to perfection with this traditional Greek recipe.
- 500g ground beef (18 ounces)
- 200g ground pork (7 ounces)
- 1 medium red onion, grated
- 1 medium clove of garlic, minced
- 150g stale bread (5 oz.), soaked in water and squeezed to remove the excess water
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh spearmint (chopped) and a pinch dried. Or 3/4 tbsp fresh regular mint
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsps red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- oil for frying
- flour for dredging
- To prepare this traditional Greek meatballs recipe (keftedes), add all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix well (for about 5-10 minutes), squeezing with your hands, to allow the flavours to blend. Cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Turn the mixture for the keftedes out of the fridge and roll into meatballs the size of a walnut (or bigger if you prefer). If you’re frying them, dredge the rolled meatballs lightly in flour making sure to shake off any excess. Fry until nicely browned on all sides.
- The traditional way of cooking Greek meatballs (keftedes) is frying them. Fry the keftedes in batches of 10-15 at a time, until nicely browned on all sides.
- Instead of frying you can bake / grill the keftedes in the oven. Preheat the oven at 200C, place the un-floured keftedes on greased baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake for about 20 minutes, turning the meatballs upside down midway through cooking time. The grilled version is much lighter than the fried so theres not excuse to not trying it now!
- Keftedes (Greek meatballs) are ideally served as an appetizer (meze) with some creamy tzatziki sauce and pita breads or as a main course with some basmati rice and a Greek salad. Enjoy!
- Serving Size: 1 piece
- Calories: 63kcal
- Sugar: 0.3g
- Sodium: 91.2mg
- Fat: 2.8g
- Saturated Fat: 0.8g
- Unsaturated Fat: 1.7g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 4.7g
- Fiber: 0.3g
- Protein: 4.5g
- Cholesterol: 15.8mg
Keywords: Greek Meatballs, Keftedes recipe, How to make Keftethes