Spanish Style Lamb Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce


Ingredients for Spanish-Style Lamb Meatballs

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound ground Cedar Springs or Shepherd’s Pride lamb
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (loosely-packed) fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 cup Manchego cheese*, finely grated (a microplaner works well if you have one), plus more for serving
1/4 cup cream

Ingredients for Spicy Tomato Sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
2 tsp fresh garlic, crushed
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes*, juice included
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp pimentón (Spanish hot paprika)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
2/3 cup good dry red wine
2 tsp granulated sugar


Quick caramelize the onions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or sauce pot over medium-heat until shimmering. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the onions are quite soft and translucent, and beginning to release some moisture.
  2. Uncover, turn the heat back up to medium, and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the onions are golden brown and most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir regularly, and turn the heat down if the onions start to burn. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and let cool to room-temperature.


Make the Tomato Sauce:

  1. Add the olive oil to the dutch oven you used for the caramelized the onions. Heat over medium heat until shimmering, then add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the fresh garlic, stir to combine, and cook another 2-3 minutes, until golden.
  2. Add the tomatoes (with juice) and spices, and stir to combine. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until bubbling, then stir in the red wine and sugar. Turn the heat down to low, partially cover (leaving about a half-inch gap) and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime…


Form the Lamb Meatballs:

  1. Add the ground lamb to the cooled caramelized onions, and stir to combine. Stir in the egg yolks.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together the herbs, spices, breadcrumbs and cheese until well-mixed. Add to the lamb mixture, followed by the cream, and use your fingers to gently mix until evenly combined. Wash your hands, coat with a bit of olive or grape seed oil, then roll the lamb into 1-inch balls, or slightly smaller than golf balls. Place them in rows on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper-lined sheet pan, about an inch and a half apart. You should end up with 28-30 meatballs.


Cook the meatballs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until nicely browned. Transfer to the Dutch oven, nestling the meatballs into the tomato sauce, and simmer until completely cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Divide the meatballs and sauce among bowls, top with grated Manchego cheese, and serve warm!

Chef’s Note:
If you can’t find Manchego cheese, choose another hard, salty cheese such as Parmesan or Pecorino Romano.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Laura Bolton of

Print Friendly, PDF & Email