Soutzoukakia: Greek Baked Meatballs In Tomato Sauce

Perfectly tender baked meatballs, prepared Greek-style with onions, garlic, spices like cumin and cinnamon, and fresh herbs in a special red sauce. Soutzoukakia taste delicious with sides like Greek salad, or over a bed of rice. Check out all my tips and tricks for the best Greek baked meatballs! This recipe makes 16 meatballs, which serves up to 8 people.


For Meatballs
▢2 slices whole wheat bread, toast-size, toasted to a medium-brown (or use gluten free bread if you need)
▢⅓ cup whole milk
▢1.5 pounds lean ground beef
▢1 small yellow onion, chopped
▢3 garlic cloves, minced
▢2 medium eggs
▢1 teaspoon ground cumin
▢½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
▢½ teaspoon dried oregano
▢½ cup chopped fresh parsley
▢Kosher salt and black pepper
▢Extra virgin olive oil, to grease the baking dish
For Red Sauce
▢2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
▢1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
▢2 garlic cloves, minced
▢½ cup dry red wine
▢30 ounces canned tomato sauce, that’s 2 15-ounce cans of sauce
▢1 bay leaf
▢¾ teaspoon ground cumin
▢½ teaspoon cinnamon
▢½ teaspoon sugar
▢Kosher salt and black pepper

In a small bowl, place the toasted bread and cover with milk (or water) to soak. When bread is soft and well-soaked, squeeze the liquid out completely and discard remaining milk if any.
Transfer the bread to a large mixing bowl. Add round beef and remaining meatball ingredients. Knead well until well-combined. Cover the meat mixture and rest in the fridge for now.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
While oven is heating, prepare the sauce. In a sauce pan or large skillet, heat 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes or so. Add garlic and cook for another minute, stirring regularly. Now add red wine and cook to reduce by about ½, then add tomato sauce, bay leaf and remaining sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Prepare a large baking dish and lightly oil the bottom with extra virgin olive oil.
Take the meat mixture out of the fridge. Wet your hands and scoop portions of about 2 ½ tablespoon of the meat mixture and form into large elongated meatballs (football-shaped.) You should have 15 to 16 meatballs or so. Arrange meatballs in the papered baking dish and top with the sauce (be sure to have removed the bay leaf from the sauce.)
Place the baking dish on the middle rack of your heated oven. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the meatballs are well cooked through (check part-way through to make sure sauce is not dry, and if needed, add a little bit of water to the bottom of the baking dish.)
Remove from oven and add another drizzle of EVOO. Garnish with parsley and serve over rice or orzo.

Toast and soak bread: Do not skip this step; it gives you the juiciest meatballs!
What meat to use: You can use lean ground beef, or a mixture of lean ground beef and ground pork.
Prepare-ahead tips: If you want to get a head start on this recipe, you can make the sauce one night in advance. You can also mix the meat mixture one night in advance of cooking; store in the fridge in a glass container with a tight lid.
Tips for leftovers: These Greek meatballs will keep for 4 days in the fridge. Store in tight-lid glass containers.
What to serve along? These meatballs are great over Lebanese rice or plain orzo. Turn this dinner into a Greek feast by adding a side of Greek Salad along with Greek Green Bean Salad or Briam!

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