Keftedes (Easy Greek Meatballs Recipe)

These tender juicy Greek meatballs/ Keftedes / Keftedakia are great for any occasion. A staple in Greek cuisine and a delicious meatball dish. They are easy to make and can either be cooked stove top or in a skillet. They are great for meal prep and freeze well too. A really great staple Greek recipe for meatballs that will forever be on your meatball recipe rotation. They can be served as a meal with rice and a Greek salad or with some tzatziki sauce, warm pita bread fresh sliced tomatoes and feta and perfect for meze platter. They are tender, with loads of flavor thanks to the onion, garlic and fresh herbs! Enjoy!

Greek Meatballs On a plate

Easy Keftedes/Greek Meatball Recipe Ingredients

  • GROUND BEEF: I recommend using a ground beef 80/20 ground meat for juicy meatballs but you can also use ground lamb or even ground turkey. The leaner the ground beef is the drier the meatballs will be. You can also use ground chicken or even ground pork or a mixture.
  • ONION & GARLIC: Many recipes call for sautéing these ingredients, but I personally find that so long as these aromatics are finely chopped or grated, they blend in just perfectly to the mixture.
  • MILK: I recommend using whole milk instead of water to soak the breadcrumbs, as whole milk adds more flavor and rich moisture than using plain water. But based on your dietary preference, you can also use almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or low-sodium beef broth or even water to soak the breadcrumbs instead. Some people even use wine or vinegar for this part too.
  • EGG: One egg helps to bind the meat mixture together.
  • FRESH HERBS: I like to use fresh parsley and fresh mint but if you prefer one over the other feel free to use it alone or a combination.
  • BREADCRUMBS: Breadcrumbs help to bind the meatballs together. Feel free to use regular breadcrumbs or Panko breadcrumbs. Feel free to use gluten-free breadcrumbs if needed.
  • SPICES & SEASONING: Salt, black pepper, chili flakes, and oregano give these Greek meatballs the best flavor. Feel free to season them with Italian seasoning if you prefer or any other herb blend you prefer.
  • OLIVE OIL: I prefer to use extra virgin olive oil but you technically can use any other neutral oil for pan frying / searing the meatballs
  • EXTRA ADD INS / VARIATIONS: Some people like to add a touch of red wine vinegar which apparently helps cut through the richness of the meatballs and provides balance to the flavors. Some like to season their Keftedes with cumin, cinnamon and coriander. Feel free to adjust seasoning to taste. I usually keep things simple with the ones I have included in the recipe and those spices are nice warming spices and usually go better in Greek meatballs in red sauce

Greek Meatballs Ingredients on a table

How to Make Keftedes (Greek Meatballs)

  1. Combine ingredients for the meatballs then roll into balls and dredge with a little flour
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to the skillet and wait a few seconds for it to heat up
  3. Carefully place the meatballs in the hot skillet and sear the bottom, about 2 minutes
  4. Flip and swear the meatballs on the other side for 2 minutes, or until browned
  5. Lower the heat to medium heat if needed and cook the meatballs, flipping occasionally, until they’re done (total cooking time will be between 10 minutes, depending on the size of your meatballs)
  6. Once cooked remove from pan, place on a paper towel lined plate to soak up any excess oil then transfer to platter and enjoy!

Greek Meatballs Step by Step Instructions

Keftedes/Greek Meatballs Make Ahead Storage & Freezing

  • Refrigerate RAW meatball mixture: You can refrigerate raw meatball mixture overnight in an airtight container and shape meatballs and cook the next day.
  • Freeze RAW meatball mixture: You can freeze the raw mixture for up to 3 months. To do this, form the meatballs and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Flash freeze the meatballs until they are firm. Then, transfer the frozen meatballs to an airtight, freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw slowly in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature then use in your favorite recipe.
  • COOKED meatballs will last up to 3-5 days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container or frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Reheat stove-top or in the microwave.

Greek Meatballs Close Up

Homemade Keftedes/ Greek Meatball Tips

  • To make moist and tender meatballs, use one egg for every one pound of ground meat. This ratio allows the meat to bind and retain moisture without drying out. Of course different ground beef brands contain more or less moisture so you may have to adjust amount of breadcrumbs if needed.
  • Don’t over-mix meatballs - Use your hands to mix the ground meat and form the meatballs. Over working the meat mixture can make it tough or rubbery and more compact. Only combine the meat and ingredients until just mixed.
  • You can make the meatballs larger or smaller than suggested; just be sure to adjust cooking time as needed.
  • If your meat mixture happens to be a little sticky, dip hands in water before rolling. If that still doesn’t do the trick, toss in 1-2 extra tablespoons of breadcrumbs into the mixture.
  • Try to maintain an even size of meatballs so they cook evenly and at the same time.
  • I strongly recommend an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness. Judging by color isn’t always accurate and they may end up over-cooked
  • Overcooking the meatballs can cause them to turn out dry.
  • 80/20 Is the Golden Ratio. We’re talking about the fat content of your meat. If you want to walk away 100% pleased, you should use ground meat that’s at least 20% fat. A higher fat content ensures that your meatballs stay juicy. If you’ve ever had a sad, dry meatball, a lean fat content is most likely one of the reasons why.

Greek Meatballs Ready to Serve

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Servings: 18-20 meatballs
Prep Time: 1O-15 mins
Cook Time: 20-25 mins
Total Time: 30-35 mins


  • 1 lb ground Beef or mixed Beef and Pork
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup milk or water
  • 1 small/med size Onion, grated or finely minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 large Egg, whisked
  • ¼ cup mixed fresh herbs (I always use parsley and mint)
  • ¾-1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ¼ cup All-purpose Flour for dredging (optional)
  • 1½ tablespoons Olive Oil for frying, plus more if needed


  1. In a large bowl, add bread crumbs and milk. Stir to combine well and set aside while preparing the other ingredients, for at least 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add ground beef, onion, garlic, egg, salt, black pepper, fresh herbs, oregano and chili flakes to the breadcrumb mixture, and mix with your hands until just combined. Do not overmix. (At this point you can cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 1 hour or even overnight if making ahead)
  3. Portion onto plate or foil lined baking sheet/baking tray (using a cookie or ice cream scoop will make it easier). Wet your hands with water if needed, and roll meatballs into 1½ - 2” diameter balls. (they should all be approx. same size). Dredge them lightly in flour making sure to shake off any excess.(optional)
  4. Heat olive oil in a large non stick fry pan over medium high heat adjusting heat or reducing as needed. Add the meatballs and cook until nice and brown all over - about 6-10 minutes or until cooked through and no longer pink inside. Internal temperature of 160°F is recommended. Cook time depends on heat of pan and size of meatballs. (Baking instructions in recipe notes below)
  5. Once cooked remove them from pan and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain off any excess fat if desired. Transfer to platter and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice over top, and extra lemon wedges on the side, and garnished with fresh chopped parsley if desired.
  6. Store any leftover Greek meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.

Recipe Notes

  • Baking option: Bake meatballs on a sheet pan that has been greased or lined with foil or parchment paper in the oven at 400F until cooked through, about 20-24 minutes.
  • Searing meatballs in a skillet or roasting them in the oven: Both methods will give you a brown, crispy exterior, and juicy interior (if you’re using that 80/20 ground meat). But the skillet is better for smaller batches of meatballs with a more aggressive browning, and the oven is great for cooking a large batch in a short time. It really comes down to how many meatballs you want to make.
  • Serve these simply with a squeeze of lemon juice and chopped parsley or serve with a Lemon parsley sauce (optional): ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped, 3 tablespoons olive oil, Juice of half lemon, Salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together and drizzle over the meatballs before serving. If you want it garlicky feel free to mince 1 or 2 garlic cloves.

Greek Meatballs in a bowl with rice and veggies