Grilled Moroccan Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

Tested & Perfected Recipes

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

What you’ll need to make grilled moroccan meatballsingredients

How to make grilled moroccan meatballs

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

seasoning

Mix until well combined.

mixing-seasoning

Add the ground beef and panko bread crumbs.

ground-beef-and-breadcrumbs

Mix together with your hands until just combined.

mixing

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

ready-to-grill

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

greasing-grill

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.

grilling-meatballs

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

sauce-ready-to-mix

Mix to combine.

cucumber-yogurt-sauce

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

Grilled-Meatballs-with-Cucumber-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

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

  • 1 large egg
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/4 pounds 85% lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup panko
  • Vegetable oil, for grilling

For the Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 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
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

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 1/3 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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Reviews & Comments

  • Can I broil these meatballs if I don’t want to grill them?

    • — Veronica on May 31, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure, Veronica, but I’d use a combination of baking and broiling; I’d bake them at 350 for 15-20 minutes, then pop them under the broiler for a minute or so at the end. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 31, 2019
      • Reply
  • This is a family favorite! I now double this recipe because they love it so much! The yogurt sauce really makes it sing and any leftovers there may be are gone the very next day.

    • — Noelle Holmes on April 13, 2019
    • Reply
  • I love how easy this recipe is. I’m a fan of huge flavor so I like to add mint to the meatballs (about a half cup, chopped finely) If there’s too much snow to go outside and fire up the grill I simply broil these on a cast iron skillet. I prefer a lemony, spicy cayenne salad dressing over fresh greens to go with this meal. Follow the advice and use the beef with the 85/15 fat ratio. So tasty. Probably even better the next day.

    • — Teri on April 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • This was delicious!! The only thing I added was a 1/2 tsp of ground cumin and 1/8 tsp of cayenne to yogurt sauce. Also I made meatballs 1/2 the size called for in recipe, rolled into balls and stuck through skewers -grilled 3 min. med/high meat on each side. Served with her perfect couscous with yogurt sauce on side. Soooo good :):)

    • — Marissa Elias on March 21, 2019
    • Reply
  • This recipe was awesome. I used a cast iron grill pan on the stove top and they turned out perfect. Since my hubby is not a big fan of couscous, I served it with Parmesan rice. Love your blog and cookbook !

  • Yummy! Made these tonight for dinner – Awesome. Paired with your perfect cous cous & the yogurt dressing. They truly were flavour bombs! My hubby & two kids gobbled them up!!! I followed the recipe except I never have kosher salt on hand so I added 1 tsp of table salt & the recipe was perfect!!!

  • This tasted amazing! Made more meatballs and yogurt sauce than expected – didn’t end up using all the yogurt sauce but it was all delicious! Served with another one of Jennifer’s recipes – Cauliflower Fried Rice, it was a great pairing.

  • I doubled the recipe and used fresh bread crumbs because I had no Panko. I grilled them on a grill pan. Since there was no lid, I was concerned they won’t be cooked all they way inside, so I stood them up on the sides for the final minute or two. They came out great. I served with Jen’s zucchini and feta fritters and yogurt sauce. Wonderful!

  • Oh my!… made these for a Fathers Day feast and they were a huge hit!
    Added some fresh garlic to the yogurt sauce, yum! Served with Couscous, flat bread and roasted sheet pan summer veggies… Delish!
    Thanks for another family hit.. we’ll be making this again… 🙂

  • Sound delicious!! Will have to make really soon. BTW LOVE that you have the Flour cookbook. Flour is amazing and so is Joanne Chang! You must make her banana bread!!

  • I made the meatballs twice in a row! It was that good! And the second time, I doubled the recipe as I didn’t have enough to satisfy my craving the first go around – hungry children and all 🙂 The second time I made them, I ended up marinating overnight and wow, the flavors really popped out! I didn’t make the yogurt as we had other sides to pair with it. Thank you again for another winning recipe. Thanks to you, Jenn, my 5 1/2 and 4 year old children think I’m the best “cooker” in the world!! Thank you! I can’t wait to receive your cookbook next month!

    • I forgot to mention that I ended up pan searing them both times and finishing them in the oven. Perfect!

    • That warms my heart, Anita – 4 and 5 yr olds are tough customers!

  • Have you made this recipe with grass fed beef? Are there any adjustments I should make?

    • Hi Thessaly, I have not cooked with grass fed beef so I don’t have a lot of wisdom to share – I’m sorry! These tips may help, though. Hope you enjoy the meatballs if you make them!

  • I am on a lamb kick and the Moroccan meatballs with yoghurt sauce are flavorful in a very mild way, easy to assemble and now a perfect go to meal for company. I served these with a jeweled rice and stemmed broccoli. Colorful! I made a double batch and warmed slightly in the microwave, one or two provide a great mid-day snack along with a slice of cheese and pear wedge.

  • Hi,
    Can these be grilled the day the before they are being served?

    • I don’t recommend it, Rose. But you can make them up until the point of grilling to get a head start.

  • Just made these today for lunch. Yum!
    Absolutely delicious! Wondering if I could use ground lamb next time?

    • Glad you enjoyed, Deb! And yes lamb would work beautifully here.

  • So these do take a lot of effort to make (many steps) but the payoff is worth it. These are delicious and to make it worthwhile, I doubled the recipe and froze the meatballs. YUM!

  • I like the flavor of these meatballs but I dont like eating it with beef. It is very dense. The fresh parsley makes it taste very good but i don’t like to use a lot because it is overpowering. Could I substitute this with a mix of pork and beef or veal? Maybe turkey as I like a lighter meatball.

    I like to cook this with cous cous but add lemon, cucumber, feta, kalamata olives, olive oil, dill and salt and its amazing! (I dont like tomatoes 🙂 but you can add those too)

    • Yes, I think any combination of the meats you mentioned should work.

  • This was a tasty early fall company dinner that everyone enjoyed. Meatballs had great flavor; sauce was delicious; and the whole dish came together quickly early in the day. Just formed the meatballs right before guests arrived and then cooked on the grill.

  • We followed this recipe and were very impressed with the outcome. Grilling meatballs has become our new go to for all things meatball. We chose to serve our meatballs and sauce as an appetizer to friends and they loved them. This recipe is a win in our book. Thank you.

  • I love this recipe! It was easy to make and the yogurt sauce was so good.
    I doubled the yogurt recipe b/c there are 6 of us and we love to use it as a dipping sauce for fresh veggies while we are waiting on the food! 🙂
    I actually used the spice combination for the meatballs and used it on chicken the last time. We grilled it and the smell had our neighbors commenting how wonderful it smelled! We enjoyed it with grilled asparagus and twice baked potatoes! Can’t wait to make again!

  • This has become one of my go-to recipes. The allspice flavors the meat perfectly. Instead of a ball shape, I make mine oblong and flatten each side. After I grill them, I tell the eater to cut their “meatball” horizontally, so you end up with two pieces. We then put the sliced meatball in pita and top with the yogurt sauce. If I have hummus, we add that too along with veggies. Whenever I make this, I double the recipe and freeze half. I shape the meat first, freeze it on a pan, and after it’s thoroughly frozen, store in a ziplock. I thaw it before I grill it, but you might be able to grill them from frozen…haven’t tried that. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • — Sally von Buelow
    • Reply
  • Such an easy, tasty recipe! I especially liked the idea of using the measuring cup to shape the meatballs. They grilled well and did not stick. The yogurt sauce was a hit and the dill gave a special accent flavor. Keep the recipes coming Jenn! I always look forward to your recipes.

  • Excellent!!! Didn’t have quite enough ground beef so popped a couple of Italian sausages out of their casing and mixed with all the other ingredients. The all spice gives an added flavour that shouldn’t be missed. Served on a naan bread with chopped tomato, onions and the delicious sauce, ceasar salad on the side. A feast! Will be making again.

  • Our whole family has been enjoying your recipes. We all loved these meatballs. My 5 year old son inhaled them. I used the oven instead of a grill. Worked out great!

    • — Travellerwannabe
    • Reply
  • I made these as instructed, in the oven as suggested in the comments and they turned out great! Even the picky kiddo liked them!

  • Hi,

    These look amazing. We are have a large group for dinner and I was wondering if I could cook these on the griller an hour or so before required and then heat up in oven. Or will this dry them out too much?

    • Hi Miranda, You can but I’d undercook them on the grill — that way, they can finish cooking in the oven and won’t dry out. Hope everyone enjoys them!

  • This recipe received raving reviews at the table for our Resurrection Day meal, even from the kids! I used grass fed ground lamb instead of ground beef, omitted the cilantro, and served it alongside soft unleavened bread, vegetables, and rosemary garlic roasted potatoes. We found the dish to be a refreshing alternative to ham for the holiday.

  • A huge hit! I made this for a crowd of 10 of varying ages (18 months to 75 years including some middle schoolers) and everyone thought it was outstanding! I did half beef and half lamb and it worked out perfectly. I say the cilantro is a must, or at least some fresh herb like parsley. The yogurt sauce paired perfectly. I made a chopped salad (cukes, tomatoes, tri color peppers, lemon juice and feta) which went really well. The meatballs reheated really well the following day for lunch.

  • Hi Jenn ,

    Can I substitute half of the ground beef with lamb? I am planning on baking and the finishing with a quick broil. If use the lamb how should I alter the cooking time? Thanks!

    • Sure Elizabeth, you can use a combination of beef and lamb. The cooking time should be about the same. Enjoy!

  • Is it possible to make and freeze the meatballs before grilling them? Would freezing them affect the flavor or texture?

    • They should freeze nicely Hildy. Hope you enjoy!

  • Could I substitute a ground lamb or maybe a blend of meats?

    • Yup– hope you enjoy!

  • Hi!
    Can you bake these?

    Thanks!

    • Yes, Holly – you could bake or broil them.

  • Just returned from Israel and had this recipe as a reminder of my trip to the Middle East. Made as per recipe, divided into six “meat balls”and pan seared in olive oil in cast iron skillet to give a wonderful crust. Much like German Frikadellen. Fantastic. Made farro as a side dish instead of couscous. The cucumber tzatziki was simple and contrasted well with the dish.

  • This was delicious! I don’t like cilantro, so used fresh parsley in its place.

  • I just read where you already answered my question.
    Sorry!
    Will try this again in the oven!

  • I want to make this again because we enjoyed it-however…our grill is not the best and the meatballs ended up burnt. We used a thermometer but they went from pink inside to burnt very quickly.
    Question: Can I bake them in the oven? If so-time and temperature please.
    If not, should I shape them smaller or flatter?
    I made the roasted pepper salad as a side dish and it was delicious. A nice summery meal-if I could just perfect the meatballs.
    It isn’t fair for me to rate it until I cook it properly.

    • Hi Jana, Sorry to hear you struggled with these meatballs the first time around. 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.

  • WOW – how delicious and easy!
    Shared with co-workers and they agree!

  • Jen,
    We served 6 with this recipe last night, substituting rice for cous cous. I added 50% to the meatball recipe and made them the day before. It was amazing to see the meatballs turn round on the grill just like you said. They were a huge hit! Many thanks for another wonderful meal.

  • I had no idea what to make for dinner yesterday, until I got the newsletter that showed these meatballs. Yep, I made them last night for dinner. They turned out great. We had tzatziki sauce so didn’t make the sauce. Loved the meatballs. Will be making these again. thanks for the idea.

  • Hi Jen, love all your receipes!!! My daughter can’t have dairy. Can I use something else in place of the yogurt?

    • Hi Vicky, Thank you! I know there are dairy-free tzatziki recipes out there. Otherwise you could just omit the sauce and serve them with this Minted Cucumber Salad.

  • We loved these meatballs and the yogurt dill sauce is amazing.

  • We don’t grill much for many reasons, but I wonder if I could bake these in a fairly hot oven and achieve the same goal?

    • Hi Lois, I’d cook them at 350 in the oven for 15-20 minutes, then pop them under the broiler for a minute or so at the end. Enjoy!

  • Can you use ground turkey instead of ground beef in this recipe?

    • Sure Kaylee, that would work.

  • I was a little afraid of all the allspice but I trusted Jenn and as always it was delicious. I don’t have an outdoor grill so I baked at 350 for about 30min, I did find that the meatballs were a little hard. Is there anyway I can ensure they are softer without a grill? However the taste made up for it completely, I served the meatballs on little pita breads with the yogurt sauce and a side salad, it was perfect!

    • Sounds like a nice meal Christina! The texture may have been due to 2 different things: you may have rolled the meatballs a little too densely and/or you may have overcooked them a bit. Hope that helps!

  • Yum, reminds me of various ethnic cuisine

  • I made this tonight and it was fantastic. I subbed parsley for the cilantro, and added some cardamom as well. Took the dill out of the yogurt sauce since my husband hates dill. The great char on the meatballs combined with the creamy yogurt sauce was so great. My daughter gobbled hers up and wanted more. No leftovers whatsoever. I can see doubling this recipe and serving as a casual but tasty company meal. I had oven roasted asparagus on the side, and the composed plate with all the elements looked lovely.

  • W.O.W.!!!!

    I made this tonight and it was AMAZING. I live in Manhattan, so I do not have an outside BBQ grill. I cooked them in the oven (350 for about 17 mins), then finished off on my George Foreman grill. Also, I did not have all spice, so I added a little about a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, a dash of nutmag, and a dash of cayenne (someone mentioned on here they added cumin for a little kick– so I thought ‘why not?’). I cannot wait to make these again as soon as next week! Thank you for ANOTHER amazing recipe.

    I am making the greek style burgers on Thursday! I am so happy I found your site.

  • I love this recipe- it’s entered our regular rotation. I rarely use the grill, just brown in a skillet and finish in the oven (I’m lazy!). I usually up the spices a tad and throw in a little Garam masala. I also frequently add mint, both to the meatballs and the tzatziki. I serve this with griddled flatbreads and a chopped salad. Super yum!

  • Made a double batch–with and without cilantro–because the family is heavily divided. But we all agreed this was delish! One of my personal favorites. Using the 1/3 cup measuring spoon is genius.

  • I substituted ground lamb and these were a hit. I also grated the cucumber and drained it to remove most of the moisture. This is now my son-in-laws favorite dish.

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