Anyone who has eaten at the Applestone’s home regularly has had Jessica Applestone’s quick and easy lamb meatballs at least once. And with good reason. They’re quick, not to mention inexpensive, and full of flavor. Lamb meatballs can be served with just about anything, but Jess likes them with pita, Israeli couscous, and a yogurt sauce. Try them once and they’ll soon be in similar rotation at your house.

Here’s how Jessica Applestone makes quick and easy lamb meatballs:

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 pound ground lamb (if you want to be fancy, you can grind your own, using a not-too-lean cut like shoulder and maybe even a small onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 2 tsp. harissa (this North African spice paste varies from region to region so there’s no definitive recipe, but a mixture of 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. ground chile, and 1 tsp. smoked paprika is a good substitute)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • yogurt sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the lamb, garlic, cilantro if using, harissa, salt, and pepper. Roll 1-tbsp. balls between your palms and place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Set a large ovenproof pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the meatballs and sear on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to the oven and cook the meatballs for 4 to 6 minutes, until the insides are pink and the outsides are golden brown. Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle yogurt sauce over the top, and serve.

Yogurt Sauce

Makes about 1 cup.


  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or mint (optional)
  • 1 tsp. harissa
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, cilantro if using, harissa, and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Whisk until the yogurt is thin and creamy. Keeps in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Savory Griller Meatballs