Greek Meatballs (Keftedes)

These Greek Meatballs are Juicy, Flavorful, and Delicious!

For the perfect Greek appetizer, Greek meatballs – also known as keftedes – are an absolute classic!

Made from fresh ground meat, stale bread, and lots of fragrant spices and ingredients like mint and parsley, these meatballs are worth the effort!

greek meatball on fork with bite out of it above plate of greek food.
Couldn’t wait to take a bite!

This recipe for Greek meatballs is just one way to make them. There are so many regional variations that we could never cover them all or do them justice.

That said, it’s always interesting to see how recipes compare to those from other countries. These meatballs are similar to our favorite recipe for German meatballs (Frikadellen)!

Ingredients

ingredients for greek meatballs in glass dishes on countertop with labels.
The ingredients for these Greek meatballs.

To follow this Greek meatballs recipe, here are the ingredients you’ll require. It looks like a lot, but the recipe is quite easy!

  • Ground beef – Use good quality ground beef.
  • Ground pork – Alternatively you can also use ground lamb.
  • Stale bread – Soak the stale bread in water for a few minutes, then squeeze the water out. Alternatively use unseasoned breadcrumbs.
  • Large egg – So that the meatballs don’t fall apart.
  • Red onion – Grate the red onion or alternatively chop it very small.
  • Parsley – Use fresh parsley and finely chop it.
  • Mint leaves or spearmint – Traditionally made with spearmint, but it can be hard to find. Finely chop the leaves.
  • Garlic – One garlic clove, minced.
  • Dijon mustard – Ideally use regular dijon mustard, not honey dijon. If you don’t have any, you can use yellow mustard as an alternative.
  • Salt – Add more or less to taste.
  • Dried oregano – To add flavor.
  • Black pepper – To add flavor.
  • Flour – For dredging; lightly roll the meatballs into the flour before frying.
  • Olive oil – For frying; you need enough to cover the bottom of your skillet.

Recipe Tips

These meatballs aren’t too difficult to make, but here are a few tips for you:

  • When cutting up ingredients – especially the onion – be sure to chop, dice, or grate them to a small size as indicated. Anything left as a large chunk will make forming and cooking the meatballs more difficult.
  • Be sure to squeeze all the excess water from the bread. Otherwise, the mixture might be too wet and will make forming the meatballs more difficult.
  • Speaking of bread, while these meatballs are traditionally often made with stale bread, you can also use breadcrumbs if you don’t have any. You won’t have to soak the breadcrumbs in water.
  • When you form the meatballs, make sure that they are all roughly the same size (approximately one heaping tablespoon). This way they will be done cooking at the same time.

How to Make Greek Meatballs – Step by Step Instructions

Here are the full instructions for how to make Greek style meatballs including recipe process photos.

You can also find the printable recipe card without visuals at the bottom of this post.

ingredients for greek meatballs like meat and egg in clear glass bowl on counter.
Add the ingredients to a mixing bowl.

Start by adding the ground meat, slices of bread, egg, grated red onion, chopped parsley, chopped mint leaves, minced garlic, mustard, salt, oregano and black pepper into a large mixing bowl.

blended raw meatball mix in glass bowl on counter.
Mix everything together.

Using your hands, mix well for a few minutes to allow all the flavors to blend.

Now cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. This makes the meatballs easier to roll later and helps them retain their shape when cooking.

Once the hour is up, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Make sure to use enough oil to cover the surface of the skillet.

raw meatballs formed in rows on plastic cutting board sitting on counter.
Form the meatballs.

Next, form the meatballs. Each meatball should be the size of a heaping tablespoon.

raw meatball coated in flour in glass bowl on counter.
Lightly coat the meatballs in flour.

Lightly dredge the meatballs in flour. Then shake off the excess flour and place them in the skillet to cook.

greek meatballs frying in cast iron pan filled with oil sitting on counter top.
Cook the meatballs.

Cook them for 5 to 6 minutes or until fully cooked and nicely browned on all sides. Remember to move them around during cooking so that they can brown evenly.

Depending on the size of your skillet you might need to cook the meatballs in 2 to 3 batches.

Place the cooked meatballs onto a plate and repeat with the remaining meatballs.

Alternative: While traditional greek meatballs are fried, you can also bake them. If you decide to bake them, then don’t dredge them in flour. Place the meatballs on a greased baking sheet and bake them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes until fully cooked and browned.

plate sitting on counter top filled with greek meatballs and salad and pita with parsley around.
These meatballs are ready to be enjoyed!

Serve the meatballs as an appetizer (meze). They taste great with pita bread, tzatziki, and Greek Salad.

Storage Tips

If you have leftover Greek meatballs, they store quite well in a sealed container in the fridge for around 3 days.

You can reheat them either in the microwave, in the air fryer (our preferred method!), or in the oven until warm.

FAQ

Here are a few answers to frequent questions asked about these meatballs:

What are Greek meatballs called?

Greek meatballs also go by the Greek name Keftedes (written Keftédes or Κεφτέδες in Greek or keftedákia (κεφτεδάκια in the Greek Alphabet).

What to serve with Greek meatballs?

Greek Meatballs are often served as an appetizer (meze). You can serve them with pita bread, tzatziki, and Greek Salad

How to make Greek meatballs?

To make Greek meatballs, combine the minced meat with the spices, egg, bread, onion and other ingredients. Form the raw meatballs, coat them in flour, and then pan fry them for a few minutes. You might also choose to bake the meatballs in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Serve with tzatziki, pita, and salad!

Related Recipes

For more amazing Greek recipes, have a look at some of these classics:

greek meatballs on plate with tzatziki and salad.

Greek Meatballs (Keftedes)

These Greek Meatballs – called Keftedes – are deliciously juicy and full of flavor. Fried to perfection and packed with spices, these meatballs are a classic appetizer and served with tzatziki!
5 from 2 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 20 meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground beef , alternatively lamb
  • 2 slices stale bread , soaked in water then squeezed out
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 medium red onion, grated
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 5 mint leaves (or spearmint), finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour, for dredging
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, for frying (or enough to cover your skillet)

Instructions

  • Start by adding the ground meat, slices of bread, egg, grated red onion, chopped parsley, chopped mint leaves, minced garlic, mustard, salt, oregano and black pepper into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix well for a few minutes to allow all the flavors to blend.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. This makes the meatballs easier to roll later and helps them retain their shape when cooking.
  • Once the hour is up, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Make sure to use enough oil to cover the surface of the skillet.
  • Form the meatballs. Each meatball should be the size of a heaping tablespoon.
  • Lightly dredge the meatballs in flour. Then shake off the excess and place them in the skillet to cook. Cook them for 5 to 6 minutes or until fully cooked and nicely browned on all sides. Remember to move them around during cooking so that they can brown evenly. Depending on the size of your skillet you might need to cook the meatballs in 2 to 3 batches.
  • Place the cooked meatballs onto a plate and repeat with the remaining meatballs.
  • Alternative baking option: Traditional greek meatballs are fried, this process also makes them juicier. However, you can also bake them. If you decide to bake them then you can skip the part where you dredge them in flour. Place the meatballs on a greased baking sheet and bake them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes until fully cooked and browned.
  • Serve the meatballs as an appetizer (meze). They taste great with pita bread, tzatziki, and Greek Salad.

Notes

  • Instead of ground pork you can also use ground lamb if you can find it.
  • If you don’t have any stale bread, you can also use unseasoned bread crumbs. 
  • Depending on the size of your meatballs, you should get between 18 to 25 meatballs.

Nutrition

Calories: 133kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 156mg | Potassium: 91mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Greek
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