New dinner motto: if it’s good, ball it. Moroccan Meatballs are the edible evidence that these are words upon which great meals are made.
Spicy ginger and warm cinnamon are two of my favorite spices, and while they appear most commonly in baked goods here in the United States, they are more frequently used in savory dishes in Moroccan cooking.
When combined with other traditional Moroccan ingredients, such as cumin, parsley, and lemon, these warm spices make for recipes bursting with flavor—and today’s turkey Moroccan meatballs are no exception.
Sorry Italy—you might be the first country named in a meatball word association game (thanks to classics like Meatball Casserole), but meatballs are a dish loved around the world, and today Moroccan flavors are taking center stage.
5 Star Review
“This recipe was easy to make and was full of flavor.”— Breanna —
How to Make Moroccan Meatballs
Moroccan meatballs are 1,000% comforting, a requirement for any self-respecting meatball recipe (ahem, Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs). Whether served alone with a warm Moroccan-spiced tomato sauce as an appetizer or served over a bed of fluffy couscous, these easy turkey meatballs will become a fast family favorite.
- Ground Turkey. This lean meat may be healthy, but ground turkey often needs help in the flavor department. Not so with Moroccan turkey meatballs (or my Baked Turkey Meatballs)—these little hunks of love are vibrant, richly aromatic, and super juicy too.
- Moroccan Spices. While ginger, cinnamon, and cumin might not be the first spices out of the cabinet in most meatball recipes, their oomph is absolutely perfect with ground turkey (and this Crock Pot Moroccan Chicken).
- Egg. Acts as edible glue to bind the meatballs together (like these Cranberry Turkey Meatballs) so they don’t fall apart while baking.
- Breadcrumbs. Absorb the turkey juices as the meatballs bake to lock in moisture and prevent the meatballs from becoming dry.
- Garlic. For a little zip and bite.
- Parsley. For color and freshness.
- Couscous. Traditional Italian meatballs may call for pasta, but these Moroccan meatballs were calling for fluffy whole wheat couscous (or Moroccan Couscous) to sop up the precious meatball juices and flavorful tomato sauce.
Moroccan Meatball Sauce
Let’s talk about the sauce, boss. For the BEST spicy-sweet Moroccan meatball sauce you’ll just need a few ingredients:
- Canned Tomatoes. Make whipping up this sauce quick and easy.
- Lemon. Another key ingredient in Moroccan cooking that adds brightness and zing to the sauce.
- Red Pepper. Lend these meatballs just the right about of heat.
- Cinnamon. For additional warmth and spice.
- Raisins. Plump golden raisins bring the sweetness.
- Prepare the sauce and let it simmer.
- Combine the meatball ingredients together in a bowl and gently mix.
- Roll the meatballs into 1-inch balls.
- Arrange on a baking sheet, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and bake until cooked through.
- Transfer to the sauce and serve warm with prepared couscous. ENJOY!
- To Store. Leftover Moroccan meatballs may be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in a covered container.
- To Freeze. Meatballs may be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before warming.
- To Reheat. Meatballs may be warmed in the microwave or on your stovetop until heated through.
In the meantime, I’ll take a bite of North Africa right in my kitchen, courtesy of Moroccan turkey meatballs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Eggs and breadcrumbs are essential for meatballs since they help bind the mixture together and add moisture. Therefore, I can’t recommend omitting them completely, however you may experiment with substitutions like ground oats for a gluten free meatball option.
Excellent Idea! These Moroccan meatballs would be phenomenal with lamb rather than ground turkey. I have not done this swap personally, however, so if you experiment with it, I’d love to hear about your results.
Yes. I like to bake meatballs on a baking rack because it helps the meatballs hold their shape and drain excess fat away from the meatballs as they cook. However, you can also bake these healthy turkey meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet instead. Note that one side of the meatballs may flatten, however.
For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 lemon zested
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 2 cans crushed tomatoes (14-ounce cans)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
For the meatballs:
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves finely chopped
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil plus additional for drizzling
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- Prepared whole wheat couscous for serving
- Cooking spray
- Begin by preparing the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion and cook until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chicken stock, canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, red pepper, and cinnamon. Let simmer for 8 minutes. Stir in the golden raisins.
- Next, place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil, then set a baking rack on top. Lightly coat with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, lightly combine the turkey, parsley, breadcrumbs, ginger, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
- Add the olive oil and eggs, mixing lightly with a fork and being careful not to compact the meat.
- Roll the meatballs into 1-inch balls (about 28 balls total), then arrange on the prepared baking sheet.
- Drizzle lightly with olive oil (or coat with additional cooking spray), and bake until cooked through; about 15 to 18 minutes.
- Transfer to the skillet with the sauce, then use a spoon to coat the meatballs. Serve warm with prepared couscous.
- TO STORE. Leftover Moroccan meatballs may be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in a covered container.
- TO FREEZE. Meatballs may be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before warming.
- TO REHEAT. Meatballs may be warmed in the microwave or on your stovetop until heated through.
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