Beef and Rice Meatballs

This was another fun item to make… okay, I know say that in every post. I can’t help it, I just love to cook!

I made this for our November Saturday Open House dinner as part of our Mediterranean theme (in this case Greece), so I doubled this recipe.

I made up the meatballs on Friday and then cooked them on Saturday – easy and delicious. The only thing you need to keep in mind for this one is the additional time required for thickening the yogurt – you’ll need to add in at least 1 hour for this.

The following recipe is not the doubled version; it should make about 40 meatballs. It’s adapted from The Olive and The Caper, by Suzanne Hoffman.

Belle’s note: This was the first dish to disappear during our November open house; everyone loved it. It smells delicious while it’s cooking, too. The sauce is a tangy tomato-y sauce that has a beautiful red colour.

Beef and Rice Meatballs in Yogurt-Tomato Sauce (Youvarelakia Yogurt Sauce)

For the Meatballs
1 lb ground beef (don’t use lean or extra lean, you need the fat for good tasting meatballs)
1 cup cooked rice, at room temperature
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, pressed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large free-range egg
2 + tbsp olive oil for browning the meatballs

For the Youvarelakia Yogurt Sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
796 ml (28 fl oz) can of San Marzano type tomatoes, chopped
3 large cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 tsp fresh rosemary needles, finely chopped
1/3 cup capers, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp organic lemon zest, chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup thickened yogurt*

Youvarelakia Yogurt Sauce

  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add tomatoes and garlic and stir for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the rosemary, capers, lemon, wine and salt.
  4. Cook until the tomatoes are soft, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the thickened yogurt*.
  6. Place in small serving bowls or ramekins, or in one larger bowl with a ladle for everyone to spoon sauce over their meatballs.

* Directions for thickened yogurt: Use 3 cups full fat yogurt

  1. Place a double layer of cheesecloth over a fine mesh sieve.
  2. Pour yogurt into sieve and let drain at least 1 hour.
  3. Squeeze out any extra moisture form yogurt and retain the yogurt.


  1. Mix all the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl. (Use your hands, it’s the only way to really mix and get involved in the food).
  2. Roll together tablespoon-sized balls and place on a baking sheet or large platter.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the meatballs, but don’t overcrowd or the oil temperature will drop.
  5. Cook in batches for 8-10 minutes each.
  6. Serve the meatballs with the Youvarelakia Yogurt sauce on the side.

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe