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Crisp Lamb Meatballs (Keftedakia Arni)

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields 30 to 35 meatballs.

Servings: eight to ten.



  • 1-1/2 oz. (about 1-1/2 slices) good artisan-style bread or dense white sandwich bread (like Pepperidge Farm’s Hearty White)
  • 1/2 lb. ground lamb
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint; more for garnish
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated Greek kefalotyri cheese or good-quality pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 cups olive oil for frying

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 120
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 70
  • Fat (g): 8
  • Saturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 4
  • Cholesterol (mg): 45
  • Sodium (mg): 170
  • Carbohydrates (g): 5
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 7


  • Remove the bread crusts and save for testing the frying oil temperature. Put the bread slices in a small bowl and add enough water to soak the bread through (about 1/4 cup). With your hands, squeeze the water out of the bread and tear it into small pieces into a medium bowl. Add the lamb, onion, egg, mint, cheese, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper to the bread and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

    With the palms of your hands, roll the meat mixture into 1-inch balls (about 1-1/2 tsp. per ball). Spread the flour on a baking sheet and gently roll the balls in the flour until well covered. Transfer to a plate, shaking off excess flour.

    Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it begins to ripple and bubbles immediately when a piece of bread crust is dipped into it. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook, turning occasionally, until crisp and brown on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes total. Transfer the meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels and let cool slightly.

    Arrange the meatballs on a platter, sprinkle with the remaining mint, and serve warm.

Make Ahead Tips

You can make the meatball mixture up to a day ahead. You can shape the meatballs up to an hour ahead; fry them close to serving. Keep warm in a 200°F oven until ready to serve.


Rate or Review

Reviews (6 reviews)

  • Mall0mar | 09/18/2020

    Great meatballs, and with pita bread, pickled onions, lettuce & tomato, and tzatziki sauce (1/2cup pl.yogurt, 2 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp dried dill), this was dinner for 2. I baked them, 350 for 12 min, used small Oxo cookie scoop.

  • stellarbabe7 | 01/22/2011

    I'm not the hugest fan of lamb, but made these for a Mediterranean dinner party. They were delicious! Probably one of the best ways I've eaten lamb. I followed the recipe closely and it made about 20 meatballs. Yum! Will definitely save this one.

  • Cooking_Fiend | 01/19/2010

    I did it w 2 lbs of lamb, quadrupled everything, and made about 50 meatballs that were larger than 1", but were the size you really wanna eat! :-)In the interest of saving time (as I was serving 20 people the next day and had chicken and salad and other stuff to set up w only 3 hours to do it), I decided to roll out the meatballs the night before, and it was fine. I put them in a container w wax paper between each layer, and then gave them a final rounding as I put them in the pan.In the interest of saving calories (I don't like fried food) I baked the meatballs in an oven at 350 till the temp was appropriate for lamb. Since I was baking them, I skipped the flour.I had 8 people out of 20 at a party ask me for the recipe and tell me that it was the best thing there!Nice!!As a P.S., I had one pan of meatballs in a glass pan, and one in a metal pan. They stuck BADLY to the metal pan, and came out easily from the glass pan. Next time I will do them in glass pans lined with parchment. Little grease in the pan, I had a nice and lean cut of lamb. Pretty healthy.

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