A skillet with meatballs and sauce on a red surface
Photography, Lauren Vandenbrook

Mary Berg’s Creamy Harissa Lamb Meatballs

With these meatballs, a delicious lamb dinner is in reach any day of the week.

In her latest cookbook, Mary Berg tackles everything from the perfect Baked Fish Butty to a no-fail Spiced Apple Cheesecake to these homey, satisfying meatballs. If lamb isn’t your thing, substitute it with ground turkey, chicken or pork. This one-pot(ish) meal is a bit more involved because you’ll have to roll each meatball – but, trust us, it’s worth it.

A skillet with meatballs and sauce on a red surface

Mary Berg's Creamy Harissa-Spiced Lamb Meatballs

Mary Berg's accessible one-pot(ish) recipe for creamy harissa-spiced lamb meatballs.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Canadian, Middle Eastern
Servings 4


  • 2 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 2 shallots finely diced, divided
  • 1 tsp kosher salt divided
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper divided
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • fine bread crumbs
  • ½ cup dry white wine divided
  • 1 lb ground lamb 454 g
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts or toasted finely
  • chopped walnuts
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley divided
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped mint divided
  • 4 tsp finely chopped oregano divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can tomato paste 156 mL/5.5 fl oz
  • 2-3 tbsp harissa paste
  • ½ cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt see note
  • ½ lemon zested and juiced
  • ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 cups cooked long-grain rice for serving


  • Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in large cast-iron skillet or deep skillet over medium heat. Add half of the shallots and a pinch each of salt and pepper and cook until tender and light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander and cinnamon; cook for 30 seconds. Scrape into large bowl, and set aside to cool completely.
  • In small bowl, combine bread crumbs with 1⁄4 cup of the white wine and set aside to hydrate, about 10 minutes.
  • Add lamb, bread-crumb mixture, pine nuts, 2 tbsp of the parsley, 1 tbsp of the mint, 2 tsp of the oregano and egg to large bowl. Sprinkle with 3⁄4 tsp of the salt and 1⁄4 tsp of the pepper.
  • Using two forks or your fingers like rakes, gently and thoroughly mix together without squeezing to avoid forming tough meatballs. Divide mixture into about 20 walnut-sized portions and roll into balls.
  • Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in clean skillet over medium-high heat. Brown meatballs in batches until golden brown without fully cooking, turning once, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove to plate.
  • Add remaining shallots to pan, sprinkle with remaining pinch each salt and pepper and cook until lightly caramelized, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in remaining 1⁄4 cup wine, scraping the pan to deglaze; stir in harissa, then 1 cup water.
  • Nestle meatballs in harissa sauce, cover with tight-fitting lid and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until meatballs are cooked through to 160°F, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • In small bowl, stir 2 to 3 tbsp of the harissa mixture with yogurt until combined. Stir in lemon zest and juice, the remaining 1 tbsp of parsley, the remaining 1 tbsp of mint and the remaining 2 tsp of oregano. Swirl into the meatball pan.
  • Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve over rice.


Choose full-fat yogurt for hot sauces to prevent temperature shock and curdling.

A cookbook cover in a light frame

Excerpted from In Mary’s Kitchen by Mary Berg. Copyright © 2023 Mary Berg. Photographs by Lauren Vandenbrook. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
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