Spiced Meatballs

Spiced Meatballs

These are like the falafel of meatballs. And as much as I love falafel, legumes can be challenging for myself and many of my clients to digest. ***In steps the ever versatile and affordable, high quality, pastured, grass-fed or or organic ground meat of your choosing. I love the soft texture of dark meat turkey, but these are honestly a crowd favorite with lamb or beef, as well. for crispier meatballs, brown them on all sides in a non-stick skillet, and shorten the baking time to 6-8 minutes (but I honestly never have time to brown them, and love the all-bake method). Just giving the meatball purists out there the option!

This recipe was adapted to be gluten free and bake-able from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

Cook: 15

Prep: 15

Serves: 4


Spiced Meatball Process.jpg
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced OR 1 bunch scallions, very thinly sliced (just white and lighter green parts)
  • 1 medium carrot, finely grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2/3 cup almond meal or gluten free breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley (or a mix)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon aleppo or marash pepper, or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 1 lb ground dark meat turkey, lamb or beef


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl stir together minced onion, grated carrot, almond or GF breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs, spices and sesame seeds. Add lamb and whisked egg. With clean hands mix together just until combined.
  3. Form mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls (you should get 12-14). Place on lined sheet pan, making sure to leave a couple of inches between them.
  4. Bake for 11-13 minutes, until cooked through (at about 160 degrees internal temperature).


For those not eating nuts or seeds, you can substitute your favorite gluten free breadcrumbs for the almond meal, and just leave out the sesame seeds. The texture will be a little different, but still delicious!

You can also brown these off in a skillet before baking if you prefer a crispier exterior. Just brown in your fat of choice, then bake for about 5 minutes to cook through (instead of 10-13).

They make an AMAZING party appetizer— just make them about half the size and bake for 9-10 minutes.)

Make Ahead

These store well for up to 5 days in an airtight container. Meatball mix can be made up to 1 day in advance, and baked “to order”.

Tools & Tips

If you have one, use a sturdy box grater to finely grate the carrot, and a microplane to grate the garlic.

Get the onion as finely diced as possible so the pieces cook all the way through in the relatively short oven time.

Double Up

I always double, or even triple this recipe, so I recommend you do, too. Use clean hands to mix everything together—always the best way to fully incorporate meatballs without over mixing (which can lead to a tough final product).