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plate with cumin meatballs in red sauce-greek soutzoukakia and another plate in the background.

Cumin Meatballs In Red Sauce-Greek Soutzoukakia

Course Main
Cuisine Greek
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 521kcal
Author by Jenny Skrapaliori Graves


  • A large wide pot
  • A medium frying pan


For the meatballs

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion finelly diced
  • 2 cloves garlic finelly minced
  • 0.5 lb ground beef
  • 0.5 lb ground pork
  • 1 cup white bread torn into very small pieces
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch chili flakes
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • chopped mint about one handful
  • 1 shot ouzo or white wine
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

For frying

  • cup olive oil I like light olive oil for frying
  • ½ cup flour

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 -2 pinch red chili flakes
  • ½ cup water
  • 28.5 oz plum tomatoes I use 1 large can of Gustarosso San Marzanno tomatoes. I press with my spoon to squash them.
  • 1 shot ouzo or white wine (optional)


Make the meatballs

  • In a bowl soak the bread in the milk. Using a colander discard all the milk and press the bread down to remove as much moisture as possible.
  • Add the onion and garlic in a food processor and process until onion is finelly diced.
  • In a large bowl mix the ground meat, bread, olive oil, onion and garlic, egg, cumin, chili flakes, and ouzo. Add the finely chopped mint. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix really well.
  • Take a tablespoon of the mixture and shape in to long oval shapes, like the shape of a football. This is the traditional shape of these meatballs. 
  • Roll each meatball in the flour, shake off excess and set them aside on a plate. 
  • Add the light olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and let it heat for 1 minute. Add meatballs to the pan a few at a time. Brown on both sides for about 1 minutes each side. When they reach a light brown color, remove meatball with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Set aside until needed. 

Make the sauce

  • In a large wide pot heat the extra virgin olive oil in medium heat. Add the diced onion. Sauté onion for 1 minute. Add the cinnamon stick, 2 tsp ground cumin and a pinch or more of chili flakes. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper, stir everything together. Sauté for 1-2 min.
  • Add the tomatoes, add the ½ cup of water, stir well. Simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  • Increase heat and add the shot of ouzo. Let the alchol evaporate, about 2 min and reduce heat to medium-low. Season with salt and pepper. Mix tomato sauce really well.
  • Add the meatballs one by one in the sauce. Be gentle so they keep their shape. Cover the pot and simmer in low heat for 10 minutes or until he meatballs are cooked through.

Serving suggestion

  • Serve 3-4 meatballs with sauce over mashed potatoes or rice with a sprinkle of finely chopped fresh mint.


  • I use 1 large can of Gustarosso San Marzanno tomatoes, they are sweet and really tender. I just press down with my spoon to soften them and they become sauce. Of course you can use any diced tomatoes you like. In case you are not using San Marzanno I suggest to add 1 tsp of sugar in the tomato sauce to take some of the tomato acidity.


Serving: 4meatballs | Calories: 521kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 229mg | Potassium: 431mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 208IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 3mg