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Grilled Moroccan Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

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These charred meatballs are laced with warm spices and served with a cooling yogurt sauce.

Grilled Moroccan Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

I have a quirky habit of perusing the Internet late at night in search of gently used cookbooks to add to my collection. I always find great buys—beautifully photographed books that have barely been opened—and it’s such a treat when they arrive on my doorstep, full of inspiration. One of my recent finds is Curtis Stone’s What’s for Dinner? I’m slowly cooking my way through the book and this recipe is one of my favorites. Ground beef is laced with warm spices, fresh herbs, and garlic, and then grilled in meatball form until smoky and charred. Served over couscous with a cooling yogurt-cucumber sauce, it’s a quick and easy meal that’s big on flavor.

How to Make Grilled Moroccan Meatballs

Combine the egg, garlic, cilantro, cumin, allspice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.


Mix until well combined.


Add the ground beef and panko bread crumbs.


Mix together with your hands until just combined.


Use a 1/3 cup measure to portion out the meat and shape into discs.


Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and grease well.


Place the meatballs on the grill and cook for about four minutes per side, until charred and no longer pink in the center. As they cook, the centers will dome slightly, creating nicely shaped meatballs.


Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce by combining the yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, fresh dill, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.


Mix to combine.


Serve the meatballs over couscous, topped with the yogurt sauce.


Note: In the original recipe, Stone forms the meat into kebabs onto long-stemmed rosemary, which is beautiful but hard to find. I’ve simplified the recipe by shaping the meat into meatballs. However, you can easily form the meat mixture into kebabs around wooden or metal skewers. I’ve also reduced the salt, adjusted the spices, and swapped regular yogurt for Greek yogurt in the sauce, but, in essence, the recipe is the same.

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Grilled Moroccan Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

These charred meatballs are laced with warm spices and served with a cooling yogurt sauce.

Servings: 8 meatballs, 4 servings
Cook Time: 8 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes


For the Meatballs

  • 1 large egg
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1¼ pounds 85% lean ground beef
  • ⅓ cup panko
  • Vegetable oil, for grilling

For the Yogurt Sauce

  • ½ English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 cup plain low-fat or whole milk Greek yogurt (do not use non-fat)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


For the Meatballs

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (about 500 degrees).
  2. Mix together the egg, garlic, cumin, allspice, cilantro, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the ground beef and panko and mix with your hands until well combined.
  3. Using a ⅓ cup measure, form 8 disc-shaped meatballs. (They will dome slightly on the grill, forming nicely rounded meatballs.)
  4. Lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and, using tongs, carefully rub over the grates several times until glossy and coated. Grill the meatballs, covered, for about 4 minutes per side, or until they are nicely browned on the exterior and no longer pink in the center. Transfer the meatballs to a serving plate and let rest for 3 minutes. Serve with the yogurt sauce and couscous, if desired.

For the Yogurt Sauce

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The meatballs can be frozen for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to serve them, reheat them tightly covered in a 300°F oven, until hot in the center.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 418
  • Fat: 27g
  • Saturated fat: 9g
  • Carbohydrates: 9g
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 34g
  • Sodium: 1028mg
  • Cholesterol: 152mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • Unfortunately these were very dry. Maybe I used too lean of a meat, but I feel like it needs some breadcrumbs or something so they are not so dense. I did bake them, so maybe that was the issue. The flavor was good and the tzatziki is a nice accompaniment, especially when you put over couscous.

    • — Debbie on January 12, 2024
    • Reply
  • I loved this, it was so different from what I normally prepare and my husband was so unsure of the yogurt but he said he will definitely have this again. Thank you for making it so easy to follow.

    • — Robin on December 30, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    We are having a Mediterranean Christmas party and i wanted to bring these but do not have a grill, what is an alternative way of cooking them and still turn out good?
    Thank you so much

    • — Melissa on December 4, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Melissa, You can prepare them in the oven. I’d bake them at 350 for 15-20 minutes, then pop them under the broiler for a minute or so at the end. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on December 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Is it ok to substitute the beef with lamb? thanks!

    • — Patrick on October 20, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure – enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 20, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen! Would dried dill be appropriate to substitute for fresh dill, and if so, what is the substation ratio? Thanks 🙂

    • — Emily on October 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Emily, you can get away with using dried dill here. I’d use 1 teaspoon. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • I made this recipe with ground turkey and served it with the “Basmati Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruit and Almonds” – and it was FABULOUS. Both recipes were superb with an interesting and delicious flavor profile. Also pretty easy!

    • — Elaine on October 7, 2023
    • Reply
  • This recipe is fantastic! I wanted to make something with this flavor profile for dinner but didn’t have time to marinate anything. This recipe was quick to put together and VERY tasty! The meatballs were tender and moist. This one is another winner!

    • — Marsha on September 3, 2023
    • Reply
  • do you know what could be substituted for the panko to make the recipe gluten free?

    • — Gayle on August 27, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Gayle, You can use gluten-free panic or gluten-free bread crumbs. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 28, 2023
      • Reply
  • It feels like it was missing something. Maybe a dash of cinnamon or some sweetness, or maybe it just needed another meat mixed in like others have done. Outside of the allspice flavoring, it tasted too much like a hamburger. I think I will try again with a dash of cinnamon and a little bit of brown sugar.

    • — DK on May 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • I really enjoyed the meatballs! I bought Boar’s head tzatziki instead of making the yogurt sauce. I made a rice/quinoa base, quick pickled some red onions in the microwave, and made a cucumber & tomato relish with lemon juice and olive oil to put on top. The flavor of the meatballs really went well with everything! Thanks for sharing. I have been trying to find a decent greek(ish) meatball recipe and this was definitely good for what I was needing.

      • — Jennifer on May 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • OH MY GOODNESS!…. Jenn, yet another absolutely amazing recipe!!! I prepared the meatballs exactly as you directed – except I did them on a grill pan because I didn’t want to go out in the rain! I served them with the yogurt sauce on a small bed of mixed grains and couscous. The perfect side, however, was your Moroccan carrot salad!! The flavors were incredible and because I didn’t have currants, I substituted golden raisins which I think will become my future go to whether or not I have currants! My husband actually said this meal was in his “Top 10” – which is saying a lot because he’s loved my cooking for almost 45 years! You are incredibly gifted Jenn and I am so grateful for you.

    • — BobetteMG on April 3, 2023
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on April 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • So excellent. And I even made it w 1/2 Ground turkey, 1/2 Ground beef, and 1/3 Almond flour for panko for low carb and still excellent! As is, is probably even better!!!!

    • — Betsy on March 21, 2023
    • Reply
  • Jenn, we have a serious problem. Your recipes have spoiled my family so much, we no longer want to go to restaurants! The recipes I cook from your website are better (and cheaper and healthier) than what we get when we go out.. This was an over the Green Monster, out of Fenway Park grand slam meal. I wish I could give is 6 stars. It was super easy and incredibly delicious. My supermarket only sells in one pound increments, so I used 2lbs of beef and did 1.5x the recipe. Other than that, I made exactly as directed. I didn’t feel like being outside in the cold, so I made smaller meatballs and baked at 425 for about 10 min. I served with brown rice and your simple roasted asparagus recipe. I think these would also be delicious wrapped in Naan with thick slices of tomato and the sauce drizzled over.

    One question, I froze half the meatballs uncooked with a plan to make in the future. Should I defrost fully before I cook them or can I bake from frozen?

    • — Elizabeth on December 8, 2022
    • Reply
    • Wow, what a wonderful review of the meatballs and nice words about the blog — so glad you’re enjoying everything!!

      I would defrost the meatballs before you bake them. Enjoy them (again)!

      • — Jenn on December 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • Would you need to modify to use bison instead of beef?

    • — Sharon on September 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Sharon, I’ve never cooked with bison so I honestly don’t know if any modifications would be needed — I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful!

      • — Jenn on September 2, 2022
      • Reply
  • I’m keen to know how you’d adjust the spices if used ground lamb instead of ground beef.

    • — NaturalHorseman on August 8, 2022
    • Reply
    • I’d keep the spices the same — hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 9, 2022
      • Reply
    • Hey Jenn,
      Can you recommend a substitute to the panko breadcrumbs? I’m allergic.


      • — Rebekah Hartkopf on August 28, 2023
      • Reply
      • Hi Rebekah, do you have a gluten intolerance? If so, any gluten free panic or bread crumbs will work. Please LMK if I can help in any other way. 🙂

        • — Jenn on August 28, 2023
        • Reply
        • Thank you!

          • — Rebekah Hartkopf on August 28, 2023
          • Reply
  • Delicious recipe once again! The flavor in the meatballs really stand out and goes so well with the yogurt sauce. I made the sauteed zucchini and cherry tomatoes (suggested side), and also served it with Jenn’s amazing hummus recipe. My husband and I really enjoyed it and look forward to having the leftovers tomorrow. 😊

    • — Lynne on July 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • Wow. Such complexity of flavor. We’ll be saving this recipe. My husband asked if he could take the rest of the meatballs to work to share with his coworkers. That’s a sign of a good recipe!

    • — Sharon on July 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • Another hit with everyone. This was a super simple weeknight dinner that tasted much more fancy. I did mix up the recipes on my counter and accidentally added garlic to the yogurt sauce which essentially made it tzatziki but it still went great with the meatballs.

    • — Kelley on June 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • Really nice change of flavors and the whole family enjoyed. I just got comments that they thought the meatballs were too salty. Next time I will cut the salt 1/2 for sure! Otherwise so yummy!

    • — Tara on May 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • I want to cook the meatballs in the oven. I’d form them into smaller balls. How long and what temperature do you recommend?

    • — Stephanie H on April 27, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Stephanie, I’d use the guidance from this recipe. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 28, 2022
      • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious, entire family loved. Served with grilled asparagus salad, farro and pita. Will be making again many times!

    • — Brenda on April 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • Wonderful recipe! Definitely a redo in my house. Everything I have made from this site and your cookbooks has been successful and so delicious. Thank you, Jen!

    • — Jill Rokosz on April 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • I love these meatballs and have been making them to take to work for my lunches (I put them in a bowl w/ greens, right rice, and a couple of different sauces). I was wondering if there are any substitutes for the eggs or panko. Trying to give my body a little bit of a reset – eggs seem to bug me and just looking for an option a little less processed than panko. I would appreciate any guidance! Thank you!

    • Glad you like these, Morgan! Two of the best substitutes I’ve heard about (I haven’t personally tried either of them) are a combination of water, oil, and baking powder, and carbonated water. Scroll down to the bottom of this article for more information about both. I would assume many recipes would also work with some kind of store-bought egg substitute. Regarding the panko, you could make your own healthier bread crumbs by processing whole wheat bread in a food processor until it resembles the texture of panko. Hope that helps!

      • Thank you so much!

      • I plan on making these this week. Thank you so much for the suggested sides with your main dish recipes. That’s a nice touch to an already excellent blog.

        • — Rachel on February 28, 2023
        • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Would ground turkey work as well in this recipe?

    • — Mona. Koenig-Kroner
    • Reply
    • Sure – enjoy!

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