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Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

4 Servings

40 minutes

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These Greek cigar-shaped meatballs are known as soutzoukakia smyrneika. The spicing reflects the dish’s origins in Smyrna, a former Greek settlement and now the Turkish city of Izmir. Soutzoukakia often are made with beef or a combination of beef and pork, but we preferred the subtle sweetness and tender texture of all-pork meatballs. An instant thermometer is the best way to check for doneness; alternatively, cut open a meatball—if done, the center should no longer be pink. Soutzoukakia often is served with tiganites patates (potatoes fried in olive oil), but roasted potatoes, crusty bread or a rice or orzo pilaf also are delicious accompaniments.




Don’t skip the step of allowing the breadcrumbs to hydrate for 5 minutes. The softened crumbs, called panade, help create a soft, tender texture in the meatballs.

40 minutes


  • ½

    cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 1

    large egg


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Diana H.
February 6, 2023
I air fryed the meatballs it’s at 400 deg for 5 min, 350 deg for 15 min turned over then 4 min @400 deg. This cut down on fat and they were absolutely delicious and tender. The rest of the recipe I followed but added 1 teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon beef and used my La Cocotte Staub with lid. I would serve this to company any day.
Josh T.
October 24, 2022
So good
My kids loved it. It was great. Highly suggested.
Paul G.
October 12, 2022
Better than Italian meatballs
I love Greek and Mediterranean flavors, and this dish delivered. I served it with skillet potatoes (par boil cubed Yukon golds in salted water with a teaspoon of baking soda, then sauté in olive oil and butter. Add herbs and garlic at the end.) and roasted eggplant. It even reheats really well. Heat some olive oil over medium or medium low in a nonstick skillet, add the meatballs and some sauce (and your sides), cover and cook until warmed. I got distracted after the step where the bread crumbs were soaking, and they were in there for a good 10 minutes before I added the rest of the ingredients. I don’t know if that made a difference, but these meatballs held their structure perfectly all the way through.
Estelle B.
June 28, 2022
We made the recipe exactly as directed, except for using ground wild boar instead of pork. It was delicious--exceeding expectation--and we've bookmarked this recipe to make again.
Melissa D.

Rave reviews from my husband for this dish-I served it with herb rice pilaf. The flavors were great and I was able to make it a little ahead and then warm it back up.

Fred A.

Really easy and was a bit more heat than I expected. The fresh oregano really dominated the flavor but the cinnamon and honey come thru. I might 1/2 the oregano next time.

A J M.

Are there handy tips for making the cigar shaped meatballs?

April D.

Here's how to get that distinctive cigar shape: Just start by dividing the meat mixture into 12 portions and rolling each into a ball. Then, roll the ball between the palms of your hands, pressing slightly, until the ball elongates and takes on a cylindrical shape, slightly tapered at each end. That's it!
- The Milk Street Team

Kathy B.

Delicious! After reading comments, I used only a teaspoon of (dried) oregano and lowered the pepper flakes to 1/2 teaspoon as we like less spicy food. Served over brown rice, pasta would also work well too. It’s a keeper! Love the unique recipes on Milk Street.

Jennifer B.

I found the meatballs a bit fragile, so was careful. The sauce was good, I wouldn't change a thing. I served it with spaghetti and will serve leftovers with rice.


Love this recipe! Any suggestions for a gluten free substitute for the bread crumbs?

Lynn C.

Hi Courtney -

There are several brands of gluten-free panko breadcrumbs on the market - Kikkomen, 4C and Ians are all widely available brands.

The Milk Street Team