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Lemony Chicken Meatballs with Cumin & Parsley

Amy Albert

Servings: four.

These slightly spicy meatballs, paired with a tangy olive sauce, are great served on couscous.


For the meatballs:

  • 1/3 cup soft, coarse fresh breadcrumbs (don’t use crusts)
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lb. freshly ground lean chicken (light and dark meat) or ground turkey breast
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2/3 cup minced onion, sautéed in 2 Tbs. olive oil until translucent; half reserved for the topping
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. butter

For the topping:

  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup minced, well-drained pitted green olives
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 450
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 330
  • Fat (g): 37
  • Saturated Fat (g): 12
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 18
  • Cholesterol (mg): 120
  • Sodium (mg): 850
  • Carbohydrates (g): 10
  • Fiber (g): 2
  • Protein (g): 21


Make the meatballs:

  • In a large bowl, soak the breadcrumbs in the lemon juice until plumped and the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add the ground chicken or turkey, salt, paprika, cumin, pepper flakes, parsley, and half of the sautéed onions, along with the oil in the pan. Mix gently but thoroughly. Shape into 1-1/2-inch meatballs; you should end up with 20. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the meatballs (take care not to crowd the pan) and cook, turning gently, until browned on 2 or 3 sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to warm serving plates.

Make the topping:

  • In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the remaining sautéed onions, the paprika, and the cumin; cook over medium heat until warmed through. Stir in the olives and lemon juice; cook, stirring, until just heated through. Spoon the topping over the meatballs.


Rate or Review

Reviews (7 reviews)

  • laurelordork | 05/19/2018

    While I loved the flavor of these meatballs, they did not hold together well and were a bit dry. I wanted the option of making a bigger batch, and throwing them in a crock pot for a party. To improve the consistency and sturdiness, I made a couple of simple tweaks. I added one large egg per pound of ground poultry. I also added a 1/4 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin per pound. And finally, I let the meat chill a bit before forming into balls. They were great. There was a smoother texture and a little more spring (but not too much). I used seven pounds of ground turkey (thanks costco), and froze the meatballs after they were shaped but before they were cooked. Worked like a charm!

  • son_of_brooklyn | 10/11/2016

    terrific. a great meatball that isn't the usual. We love the accompanying sauce.

  • Kohola | 02/02/2015


  • rachelvng | 10/06/2013

    I found the meatballs to be a bit heavy on the paprika side but this may be because I was using Vera paprika from Spain (where I live), and it is quite strong. However, I took them to a potluck and they were a great hit. The sauce was a nice touch.

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