Greek Meatballs recipe (Keftedes/ Keftethes)

Greek Meatballs recipe (Keftedes/ Keftethes)

Crispy, juicy and absolutely delicious! Give this traditional Keftedes / Keftethes (Greek Meatballs) recipe a try and add a Mediterranean twist to your plate! 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.

Greek Meatballs (Keftedes) – Delicious Variations

One of my personal favourite variation is the traditional fragrant soutzoukakia recipe! An amazing Greek recipe introduced to the Greek cuisine in the beginning of the 20th century and has its origin from 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.

The perfect match for the cold winter’s day is nothing else than the traditional Greek meatballs soup recipe! A classic delicacy made basically with boiled juicy Greek meatballs (youvarlakia) and rice and finished off with delicious egg-lemon sauce.

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.

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Greek Meatballs recipe (Keftedes/ Keftethes)

Greek Meatballs recipe (Keftedes/ Keftethes)

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (643 votes, average: 4.81 out of 5)
  • Author: Eli K. Giannopoulos
  • Prep Time: 60 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 40 pieces 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Fried
  • Cuisine: Greek


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
  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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

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  1. I hate when people leave comments like Nina did! If you have a remark to make please give an explanation otherwise it sounds like an old person’s grump:-)). Huge thank you to you, guys, making such a wonderful web-site with amazing pictures and detailed instructions!!! And a history behind every dish. I want to try every single recipe and once i will i let you know the results.

  2. You forgot grated raw potato

  3. Recipes are different throughout Greece and depending on how they were passed from mother to daughter. I make the keftedes similar to your way. But my koukourakia are different and taramosalata are different. The same as any recipe from my father’s side of the family or my mother-in-law’s. Just as one person’s potato salad, corn bread or chocolate cake is not the same as someone else’s. I would never criticize your recipes. Ignore the people who do. Your website is fantastic and I use it for learning new methods of Greek cooking…or to combine your methods with mine.

  4. Eli, your recipe is great, a variation is a couple of slices of bread, crust removed, moisten with milk instead of breadcrumbs, and a squirt of ouzo instead of the spearmint. Thank you for your recipes.

  5. Omg people!!if we are talking keftethes or soutzoukakia first of all who do you think lived in smyrni before the beginning of 20tj century?that’s right Greeks!!!all these recipes that came from smyrni are Greek!now keftedes do not have parsley or oregano they have fresh mint that’s the only herb and that’s everywhere in every taverna in Greece!
    Bifteki has oregano and soutzoukakia has cumin yes that’s authentic however some families add their own thing maybe not authentic but delicious as well.
    One thing is for sure Greek food rocks!!!
    I don’t care about the bad times Hellas and its people are the best
    Elladara!!!!!pame pame!!!

  6. If I wanted to make these in advance, can I freeze them cooked and then reheat them? Then what’s the best way to reheat them?

  7. Great website and I’ll definitely using lots of your recipes in the near future…………..For goodness sakes everyone stop adding your alternatives on these recipes! Take some time and create your own websites if your recipes are better!

  8. Recipe is correct but when my Mum (English born) followed (who i called Auntie) Helen (Greek origin) recipe exactly, it never ever tasted the same. So maybe each person is the secret ingredient? Thank you & don’t forget ” eat , eat “

  9. Zina, excellent idea with the Ouzo! I added a shot and it was superb. So many variations, so many meatballs! Eli, thank you for recipes!!

  10. i am from Izmir (Smyrna) and my family has lived there for centuries. I am of Turkish decent.To make a correction, Koftedes is not Greek, it is Turkish. Yuvarlakia means round in Turkish. Koftedes, yuvarlakia, borekia, dolmates, patates, tomates,baklava, guvetsi, all these are all Turkish words. There is nothing wrong with the dish being Greek origin, but it is not. Symirna around and before the beginning of 20th century was full of Turks, as well as Greeks. It is a city right smack in the middle of Turkey, former Ottaman Empire. there are still lots of Greeks living in Izmir, and either one of them wil tell you that they learned Koftedes from the Turks over a century ago. Just like Baklava, is Turkish. Baklava is an Ottoman word. Greeks and other nations learned it while they were living under the Ottoman Empire.I learned that on The Food Network, on Good Eats, Alton Brown had a show on Baklava and said Baklava is Turkish, just like many other foods that are taught
    (in the Us only) to be Greek is actually Turkish. If you go to Europe, you will see the same foods called Turkish, not Greek. Cause Europe knows European history.

    • Your post gave me a massive headache. Kleftes sounds Turkish too, so maybe you’ll know what it means.

    • Dan Chakires

      I suppose you forgot the fact that the entire region was Greek LONG before there was even a Turkey. But feel free to cling to your illusion. SMDH

      • Absolutely Dan Chakires! The Armenians and the Greeks, were in Greece and Armenia, prior to the Ottoman Turks conquering Western Anatolia in 1555. Molly is a typical Turkish citizen today, who has been misinformed by her government lying about their stealing the cultures and ancient homelands of the Armenians and Greeks, that the Turks committed genocide against, and still deny their crimes.

      • I would be willing to agree with you, she needs to refer to her Greek History.
        There is a heavy influence of Greeks in Turkey, concentrated in the city of Constantinople, now called Instanbul, way before the Ottoman Empire & before the 20th century…

  11. Molly, get over yourself. Greeks have a deep history that the Turks wanted abolished. Climb out from under your rock and face it. Greeks have it all, keftedes, baklava and 3,000 years of philosophers, great food, olive oil and wine. Read history books, not Food Network!

  12. Angela Maxwell

    I love this receipe, I use it all the time, it similar to my mothers, she used more mint.
    I thought this was a receipe page, not POLITICAL .
    What do they say Politics & Cooking do not mix.
    I made that up , but sounds good.

  13. Foti Giannopoulos

    Hi Eli, Great Recipe, In our place we add Potato instead of bread, i make them myself as i am a little fussy with my food, but great job,

  14. Katina Tzanavaras

    Is this an election or a recipe blog? The recipe is outstanding!

  15. Sue Stovall

    We made your meat balls for a school project, and everyone loved them. They are amazing, now are going to be my go to meat balls. Thank you.
    By the way she got an”A” giving you credit for the recipe.

  16. I can’t wait to try this recipe. I’ve tried several before but can’t get the texture right. The authentic Greek ones I’ve eaten have a tender/ spongy feel. What am I doing wrong, please?

  17. make hambugers

  18. Made these tonight. Used perhaps double the mint as the ones from my girlfriend’s region in the Peloponnese are quite minty. They tasted just like the ones from there, absolutely spot on! Thanks

  19. Alana Markus

    Can you tell me if dredging in flour is still required if baking?

  20. This maybe a dumb question but am wondering how these would taste served cold?

    • Eli K. Giannopoulos

      They still taste amazing! I’ve had them myself plenty of times cold as a snack and they are great. Also you can reheat the Greek Meatballs in the microwave.

  21. Marie Drakos

    very good just like home.

  22. Amazing recipe. I followed your recipe exactly, and these turned out so delicious. I adore all your recipes. Is never change anything, and it always is great. So far we have tried 27 of your recipes. Not even one complaint. For a family of seven, that says a lot.

  23. Nancy Meier

    I have a question. I love this recipe but I really struggle with the moistened bread. Mine seems to goop together and no matter how much I try with my hands to mix – I still end up with chunks of wet bread. How do you get it to mix with the rest of the ingredients?

    • Eli K. Giannopoulos

      You can blitz it in a food processor and then wet the bread – this will make it finer and more akin to breadcrumbs. To be honest though, I much prefer the bread having a few chunks as I find it gives it some more texture when fried!

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