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Meatball Shakshuka

December 13, 2023

Ground beef is mixed with the same herbs and spices used in the classic North African shakshuka and then simmered in a smoky, tomato-y shakshuka sauce for a one-pan dinner that everyone will love.

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spiced meatballs simmered in a shakshuka sauce in a skillet served with feta, parsley and pita bread

More tasty recipes from The Modern Proper

Shakshuka! As Fun to Say as It Is to Eat.

Whether you’re already in love with shakshuka or still part of the uninitiated, we promise you’re going to love these meatballs in shakshuka sauce just as much or even more than the egg-y original. Shakshuka is kind of the OG one-pan meal. Shakshuka is a dish of eggs simmered in tomato sauce—albeit one flavored with Middle Eastern spices—and traditional Italian meatballs are simmered in a simple tomato sauce. All we did was put two and two together! Boom—smoky, spicy, shakshuka meatballs! Be sure to also check out our Grilled Shakshuka Pizza and the rest of our favorite Meatball recipes!

ground beef, eggs, bell peppers, olive oil, Onion, Cumin, Smoked paprika, Canned whole tomatoes, Garlic, Breadcrumbs

Meatball Shakshuka: Simple Ingredients = Extreme Deliciousness

This easy meatball recipe is all about taking familiar techniques and basic ingredients and creating a wildly delicious, one-pan, weeknight dinner that’s so good it’ll make you re-think your whole entire life. We bet you’ve got most of these spices and veggies on-hand already. AND, because the flavors used in the meatball sauce (the shakshuka sauce) are the same as the ones in the meatballs, there’s a lot of overlap between the meatball ingredients and the simmer sauce ingredients. In addition to the basics (olive oil, salt) here’s what you’ll need to make this easy meatball recipe:

  • Red bell peppers

  • Onion

  • Cumin

  • Smoked paprika

  • Canned whole tomatoes

  • Ground beef

  • Garlic

  • Eggs

  • Breadcrumbs

bell peppers and onions sliced thin cooking in a large black skillet
thinly sliced onions, green and red bell peppers cooked in a skillet with spices
eggs, breadcrumbs, ground beef, cumin, chili powder garlic and smoked paprika in a glass bowl
ground beef mixed with spices for shakshuka style meatballs

How to Make Shakshuka Meatballs

Are we the most meatball-obsessed people on the internet? It’s hard to say. Possibly. But, lucky for you because we’ve got this meatball-making stuff down to a science. Here are our very best tips for making the best meatballs EVER:

  1. Start with high-quality ground beef. This might seem like an obvious one, but it really does matter. We like to use a classic “80/20” ground beef, which means 80 percent lean beef to 20 percent beef fat. Having some fat in the mix ensures that your meatballs stay nice and moist.

  2. When it’s time to mix seasonings into your meatballs—in this case, smoked paprika, cumin, and lots of garlic—mix the ground beef with a light hand. Gently fold in the beaten eggs and breadcrumbs with your hands until the mixture is just combined. This helps the meatballs stay fluffy and moist instead of dense or rubbery.

  3. Keep a small bowl of water nearby when it’s time to roll the meatballs, and lightly wet your hands as you roll. This will keep the meatball mixture from sticking to your hands and make the whole process faster and tidier.

  4. Roll them evenly to ensure even cooking. This is related to our last tip, which is....

  5. Don’t overcook the meatballs! One of the wonderful things about cooking the meatballs in liquid—in this case, simmering them in a smoky shakshuka sauce—is that it’s harder to overcook them. But still, keep an eye out for doneness. After 20 minutes of simmering, pull out a meatball and check for doneness by simply cutting it in half.

Hand crushing canned tomatoes into a skillet with onions, bell peppers and spices for meatball shakshuka
tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes with bell peppers and onions in a large skillet
20 raw meatballs on a sheet pan
baked meatballs in a shakshuka tomato sauce in a skillet

How to Store Leftovers + Tips

meatball shakshuka in a large skillet topped with fresh parsley and crumbled feta
spiced meatballs simmered in a shakshuka sauce in a skillet served with feta, parsley and pita bread

Flavorful Recipes the Whole Family Will Love

Shakshuka for Dinner!

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Meatball Shakshuka

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  50 min
  • Calories: 315

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ⅓ cup minced cilantro, plus more for serving
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

Shakshuka sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole stewed tomatoes
  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled
  • Warmed pita bread, for serving

Method

  1. Make the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine the beef, paprika, cumin, cayenne, if using, salt, pepper garlic, cilantro, eggs and bread crumbs. Mix well, then with wet hands, form meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each) and place them on a sheet pan.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet, with a tight fitting lid or large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil is glistening, working in batches, add the meatballs in a single layer. Cook, until the meatballs are browned on all sides, about 10-12 minutes total. Transfer the meatballs back to the sheet pan.

  3. Make the sauce. Using the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil until glistening. Add the peppers and onion, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cumin, smoked paprika, salt, cayenne, pepper, and sugar until combined, about 1 minute.

  4. Add the tomatoes and their juices, crushing the tomatoes with your hands as you add them. Stir occasionally until beginning to simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low, cook, stirring often, until beginning to thicken, about 15 minutes.

  5. Nestle the meatballs into the sauce and bring back to a simmer. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and continue cooking until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 more minutes.

  6. Sprinkle the meatballs with crumbled feta and cilantro. Serve with pita bread alongside.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories315
  • Protein22 g
  • Carbohydrates24 g
  • Total Fat16 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol109 mg
  • sodium768 mg
  • Total Sugars7 g

Meatball Shakshuka

Questions & Reviews

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  • Jennifer

    The directions/photos of the prep don't show the addition of minced cilantro. Should that be added to the meatball mixture? Or just as a garnish?

    Chopped cilantro goes into the meatball mixture and then we use a little to garnish when complete as well. Hope you enjoy Jennifer!

  • Carma

    I have two Smoked Paprika. One is hot and the other is not. Which one do I use?

    We would use the not hot one. Hope you enjoy!

  • Michael

    Why does this recipe have such a different meat/egg/breadcrumb ratio than some others?

    Other recipes of yours are 1 pound beef:1 egg: 1/4 c breadcrumbs

    This one is 1 pound beef:2 eggs:1 cup breadcrumbs

    Is there a difference in texture you’re going for? Or is the difference in that these are simmered and those are baked?

    We can't speak to those other recipes, it could be the different cooking technique, bake vs simmer.

  • Matt

    Does the type of bread crumbs matter?

    Just plain breadcrumbs Matt. Hope you enjoy!

  • Robynne

    What is a good side dish for this dinner?

    We recommend serving it with toasted bread or pita!

  • Jane

    Very tasty and easy! I topped with toasted pine nuts and we had with a salad and focaccia. Would make again

    Thanks Jane, we are so glad you loved it!

  • Robert

    Made multiple times. A favorite

    Thanks Robert, we are so happy you love it!

  • Boncy

    This recipe was delicious ! Going to make it again today!

    Thanks Boncy! We are so happy you enjoyed it! Love to hear you are making it back to back!

  • Kaye

    Just happened across this looking for ground beef recipe. Had all ingredients. I had never heard of this…but it was so so good! My husband doesn’t like cilantro, but I used it just like recipe called for in the meatballs. He never even noticed! The meatballs were tender and full of yum. The sauce was excellent as well. We lived this and will make again for sure. Made a side of air fryer cauliflower steaks seasoned with cajun seasoning and it was an absolute winner of a dinner!

    Thank you Kaye, we are so glad you loved it!

  • Bridget

    Made this tonight for the family and it was a big hit. Next time I have to remember the bread as that would have been perfect. I loved the feta cheese with it. Will definitely make again.

    Thanks Bridget! So happy the whole family loved it!