These Greek meatballs are full of flavor, easy to make, and make for an excellent meal to stick in the freezer for those busy week nights where you don't want to cook. These meatballs are packed full of flavor with parsley, dill, and mint, and served with zesty lemon rice that is a flavorful twist on plain rice. Serve this with some tzatziki sauce and sliced veggies and you have perfectly balanced and healthy meal read in about 30 minutes.
Sometimes (a lot of the time) plain chicken breast just gets boring. I love making meatballs because it's a nice way to change things up, they are easy to make, and there are several different flavor variations you can do. I also love that they are great to throw in the freezer for an even quick & easier weeknight meal. Click here to read more about freezing leftovers and surprising things you may not know you can freeze!
For this Greek variation of meatballs, I love the flavor that all of the herbs provide as well as the little kick of spice you get from the red pepper flakes. If you are not a fan of spicy, feel free to cut back on the red pepper flakes or completely omit.
- Ground chicken: I use ground chicken instead of beef in this recipe but either one would work just fine. I chose ground chicken because it is lower in saturated fats.
- Almond flour: almond flour is used in this recipe instead of traditional breadcrumbs to provide some healthy fats. Since ground chicken is low in fat, the almond flour adds healthy fats while still acting as a binder in this recipe.
Meatballs: If you prefer, you can bake these meatballs in the oven. However, cooking these in the pan allows for the meatballs to nicely brown and provide a little more flavor.
Rice: For making rice I love to use my Instant Pot. You have rice that is ready in about 20 minutes and you can just "set it and forget it" while the meatballs are cooking. I have found my Instant Pot was well worth the investment.
Yes! Meatballs an excellent food to freeze. Pop in the freezer for a quick weeknight meal. You can make some fresh rice in the Instant Pot wile the meatballs defrost or also freeze the rice.
Yes, you can freeze the rice. However, you will be able to tell a slight difference in the texture. I prefer to freeze the meatballs and make fresh rice but if you do freeze the rice (which I have done plenty of times in the past), I recommend drizzling with a little water prior to microwaving.
Greek Meatballs with Zesty Lemon Rice
For the meatballs
- 1 lb ground chicken or turkey
- 1 egg
- 1 lemon, zest only
- 2 garlic cloves, grated* or finely chopped *Note: I grated the garlic into the meat mixture here. This is quicker than chopping garlic and helps to more evenly distribute the garlic throughout the meat and avoid larger chunks of garlic. However, finely chopping the garlic is just fine.
- ¼ cup almond flour
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil for cooking
- 1 teaspoon mint
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (use ½ teaspoon if you would like the meatballs to be less spicy)
For the rice
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1-2 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- Zest of 2 lemons
- Cherry tomatoes & cucumbers
- Tzatziki sauce*
For the meatballs
- Add all ingredients except for the avocado oil to a bowl
- Using your hand, mix together until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Be sure not to over mix.
- Heat the avocado oil in a large pan over medium high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add the meatballs to the pan in one even layer. Allow meatballs to brown and continue turning until they have browned on all sides and cooked through. Cook time will depend on the size of your meatballs but will be around 15 minutes. To know if your meatballs are cooked, take one out of the pan and cut in half. Or, you can use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperate. For ground chicken/turkey, the temperature should be 165° F.
For the rice
- Cook the rice according to the box or bag
- If using an instant pot (my preferred method), use a 1:1 ratio of rice to water. Example: if using 1 cup of rice, use 1 cup of water. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes and allow to naturally release for 10 minutes.
- Once your rice is cooked, add the butter/olive oil and lemon zest and mix together.
- Serve meatballs with rice, tzatziki sauce, and sliced cherry tomatoes and cucumber.