Youvarlakia Avgolemono (Lemony Greek Meatball Soup)

This Lemony Greek Meatball soup called Youvarlakia Avgolemono or Giouvarlakia/ Egg-Lemon Meatball Soup is a traditional Greek soup that is as warming as it is comforting. A simple lemony broth with tender herby flavourful meatballs studded with rice adding heartiness to the whole soup. The avgolemono sauce takes this simple brothy meatball soup to the next level adding its distinct rich creamy lemony flavor without actually adding any cream to the soup. You do not taste the eggs at all - they simply add the richness to this delicious soup. Simple, Classic, Greek home cooking at its best!

A bowl Youvarlakia Avgolemono with a spoon and a meatball cut into

What is Avgolemono (av-gho-lé-mo-no)

Avgolemono is a Greek sauce made from eggs, lemon, and warm broth. It’s a staple in Greek cooking. It’s added to everything from soups to meat dishes, dolmathes, roasted veggies, and over fish. It’s a really nice base for any dish that will blend well with lemon. The eggs are whipped/whisked with the lemon juice (and sometimes cornstarch) then broth is slowly whisked in to temper eggs then whole mixture is added back to soup. This sauce adds a new dimension to just about anything. It does not add any eggy flavor to the soup at all.

Youvarlakia Avgolemono Ingredients layed out

Youvarlakia Recipe Ingredients

  • GROUND BEEF: I typically use regular ground beef not lean or extra lean to ensure there is enough fat in them so they are extra tender and flavorful. Feel free to use a blend of ground beef and ground pork for even more flavor - because pork has more fat, if you do decide to do a blend then stick to lean ground beef. You can also make these using ground turkey or ground chicken as well.
  • BREAD CRUMBS & MILK: The two combined help not only to bind the meatballs but really help keep them tender. If you prefer to use water instead of milk that is fine.
  • ARBORIO RICE: Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain rice. I always use arborio rice but you can use pretty much any white rice like long-grain rice. I grew up with my mom always making them with arborio so that’s what I like to use.
  • ONION & GARLIC: Grated or finely minced to flavor the meatballs plus they add moisture.
  • CARROT: This adds moisture to the meatballs and adds a little color to them too
  • HERBS: I like to do a blend of fresh parsley, dill, and mint. If you prefer drive herbs feel free to use dried herbs - use 1/3 of the amount of dried herbs when replacing fresh ones.
  • BROTH/STOCK: This is to simmer the meatballs in. I usually start with about 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth and top it up with water or more broth once the meatballs are in the pot if needed. The meatballs should be covered with the broth so if not you can add 1-2 extra cups. (I wouldn’t go more than 6 cups unless you really want a broth soup.
  • FOR THE AVGOLEMONO: 2 eggs room temperature, cornstarch (optional for thickening) & Lemon juice

Step by step process to make meatballs for Youvarlakia Avgolemono

How To Make Youvarlaki (lemony Greek meatball soup)

  1. Make Meatball mixture - mix together all the meatball ingredients and allow to rest a few minutes in the fridge
  2. Form Meatballs - into uniform balls
  3. Simmer Meatballs until cooked through
  4. Make avgolemono
  5. Drizzle avgolemono into soup off the heat
  6. Reheat soup over low-med heat until broth is silky and thickened slightly
  7. Serve with lemon wedges, garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh chopped herbs

Step by step process to make the broth for Youvarlakia Avgolemono

Youvarlakia Recipe Variations

  • Some recipes call for sautéing some onions, carrots and celery in the pot before adding the broth and meatballs to add more flavor to the broth. Feel free to do that if you wish.
  • If you prefer to add a little rice to the actual broth for a little extra heartiness to the broth feel free to add up to ⅛ extra arborio rice to the broth once it stats to simmer with the meatballs. This of course will naturally thicken the broth
  • Separating the eggs and whipping them is optional for the avgolemono - for a simple version simply whisk the eggs whole then whisk in the cornstarch and lemon juice and continuer tiwh the avgolemono recipe as stated in recipe
  • Add more lemony flavor to to the meatballs by adding 1 teaspoon of lemon zest to the mixture or add it to the broth when making the avgolemono
  • Add extra veggies to your soup - saute them before adding broth and meatballs or add in some green peas or stir through some baby spinach at the end.

A bowl of Youvarlakia Avgolemono soup with meatballs

Youvarlakia Storage, Make Ahead & Freezing:


  • Soup should be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator. When properly stored, it is good for 3-5 days.

Make ahead

  • Assemble meatballs: You can completely assemble the meatballs according to directions. To store, line uncooked meatballs on parchment paper and tightly wrap with foil or plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours until ready to use then simply drop uncooked meatballs directly into the soup. Or you can store the meat mixture in the bowl covered for the same amount of time.
  • Freeze meatballs: You can also flash freeze the raw meatballs on the parchment lined baking sheet for 1-2 hours, then transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze for 3-4 months. Thaw them overnight in the fridge and use as directed in the recipe below.


  • If you are making this Soup ahead of time strictly to freeze then I would omit the avgolemono as it will split and change the texture of soup. ( I don’t really recommend freezing leftovers cause of the avgolemono - although technically you can). Allow soup to cool completely before freezing. Transfer soup to a freezer safe container or smaller containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the fridge then reheat on the stove or microwave per instructions. Then make the avgolemono and add it to the soup as directed in the recipe.


  • Reheat large batches of this Greek Lemony Meatball Soup on the stove over medium low heat, stirring gently until warmed through. Add additional water or broth as needed to reach desired consistency.

Youvarlakia Avgolemono in a pot

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Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 30-35 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins


For the Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground Beef or mixed Beef and Pork
  • ⅛ cup plain bread crumbs
  • ⅛ cup whole milk or water
  • 1 small onion, finely grated (approx ½ cup)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely grated (approx ⅛ cup)
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated or minced
  • ⅛ cup Arborio rice, uncooked
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, dill, mint chopped (plus extra to serve)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup flour for dredging/ dusting meatballs (does not go into the meatball mixture)

For the soup

  • 4-6 cups chicken broth (I usually start with 4 cups)
  • 2 eggs room temperature, separated
  • Juice of 1 large lemon or 2 small ones
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (optional for thickening)


For the Meatballs

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add bread crumbs and milk. Combine well and set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients, for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground beef, onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, rice, olive oil and herbs, to the breadcrumb mixture, and mix with your hands until just combined. Do not over-mix. (Cover mixture and let it rest in the fridge for 15 minutes or up to 24 hours if making ahead or let the meatballs chill after you have formed them. This will help prevent the youvarlakia from falling apart when boiled.)
  3. Scoop out heaping tablespoon (I use a cookie scoop) of the mixture and roll to form the meatballs (youvarlakia) each about 1¼ inches in diameter. Roll/dredge balls in flour or dust them with flour then place them on a plate or baking pan.
  4. Heat broth in large pot and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and gently add the meatballs (youvarlakia) into the broth, put the lid back on and cook over a low, simmer for 20-25 minutes over medium heat . (The liquids should cover the meatballs, so top up with more broth or water if needed)
  5. Remove pot from heat once done.

For the Avgolemono Sauce (Egg Lemon Sauce)

  1. Remove/ladle approx 2 cups of the hot broth into measuring cup or bowl and set aside
  2. Separate the egg whites from each egg yolk (reserve the yolks). Using a hand mixer and a medium bowl, whisk the whites on medium speed until frothy and thick, about 2-3 minutes. Add in yolks and cornstarch and whisk until fully incorporated. While mixing, slowly pour in fresh lemon juice. (feel free to use a bowl and whisk if doing this by hand)
  3. Slowly drizzle hot liquid/stock into the egg mixture while whisking. This will prevent the egg from scrambling and will create a creamy sauce for the soup.
  4. Gently add egg-lemon mixture back to the soup stirring or shaking/swirling pot gently so you don’t break apart the meatballs. (the mixture will be quite frothy but it will all settles as soup reheats)
  5. Return the pot to a medium low heat and let it cook for about 5 minutes until it’s getting very warm but not boiling and until broth is silky and thickened slightly (soup will thicken more as it sits)
  6. Remove from heat and ladle into bowl and serve with a drizzle of olive oil, some lemon wedges and garnished with more chopped fresh herbs.

Recipe Notes

  • Add all meatballs to the broth in an even layer very gently - I use a skimmer to ensure they don’t break while putting them in the pot - it helps slide them in the pot easily.
  • Don’t stir meatballs. The raw meatballs can easily break apart if stirred after they are first added so wait until they have simmered for at least five minutes before gently stirring or simple shake or gently swirl them in pot. If they break apart though it’s not the end of the world – they still taste delicious -just are no longer meatballs
  • The consistency of this Youvarlakia is up to you! For a less thick soup, simply add additional stock or water at the end of cooking. Keep in mind that the rice in the meatballs will continue to absorb the broth as it sits, so you may need to add additional liquid if not serving right away and when reheating.

A close up Youvarlakia Avgolemono with meatballs and one cut open