Keftedes (Greek Meatballs) with Herb Butter (2024)

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5 from 26 votes

Greek Meatballs, orkeftedes, are usually fried, but these are baked, drizzled with herb butter! Your whole family will gobble these up and they’re SO EASY to make.

Keftedes (Greek Meatballs) with Herb Butter (1)

If there’s one thing I LOVE to have on hand, it’s meatballs. They’re cheap to make, hearty and filling, and versatile. And these are extra easy because you bake them instead of fry them.

You can keep them in your freezer to throw in meatballs subs. You can make a whole batch and use them in meal prep for the week. And your kids? They’re going to LOVE them.

TheseGreek Meatballs are basically just normal meatballs, but with a Greek twist. And if you’re looking for an Italian-style version, try these Easy Baked all-beef Meatballs.

In this post, I’ll explain what keftedes are, how to make these Greek meatballs, and what to serve with them.

What are Keftedes?

Keftedesare Greek meatballs, usually served as part of a platter or as an appetizer, but also served as a meal with rice, salad, and/or drizzled with sauce. They’re basically a normal meatball, often seasoned with garlic and oregano.

Sometimes, Keftedes are served with a tomato sauce, and sometimes with a lemon-egg sauce calledAvgolemono(read more about that here).This version is drizzled with herb butter before baking, and served with the juices that collect at the bottom of the pan while baking. Some more traditional versions are fried instead of baked.

Keftedes are also sometimes referred to askofta, an umbrella term for meatballs in the Middle East, Central Asia, and India.

Keftedes (Greek Meatballs) with Herb Butter (2)

How to Make Baked Keftedes (Greek Meatballs)

In a nutshell, you just mix the meatball ingredients in a bowl, scoop them onto a baking dish, drizzle with herb butter, and bake! But there are a few more details to help you make the best, most flavorful meatballs.

First, grate some onions. Why not dice them? Because if you grate them, two things happen. You get super SMALL pieces of onion that won’t mess with the structural integrity of the meatballs. You also get a bunch of juices, and those juices will help impart onion flavor into every morsel of every meatballs. I use this trick for Salisbury Steak, too.

Next, mix some breadcrumbs with the grated onions(and their juices!) and some milk in a large bowl.

Keftedes (Greek Meatballs) with Herb Butter (3)

Let those breadcrumbs soak up all the liquid. The texture and flavor of your meatballs will be better because of this. You won’t need long- just a minute or so.

Add an egg and your seasonings: minced garlic (I use a microplane zester to mince it super finely), dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix together well.

Then, add the ground beef. I recommend using your hands to mix the beef with the remaining ingredients, because the texture will be better/fluffier. If touching raw meat makes you want to scream, fear not: just use a spoon!

Now, it’s time to make the meatballs! This is SO EASY if you have a disher scoop. You won’t have to get your hands dirty, and because you won’t need to handle the mixture too much, the meatballs will be fluffy and perfect.

Keftedes (Greek Meatballs) with Herb Butter (4)

I used a large one, to make 16 total meatballs. You can use any size you want (and adjust your cooking time accordingly). A super small scoop would make great appetizer-sized meatballs. You can also use your hands to form balls if you don’t have a scoop. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet.

Then, melt some butter(I microwaved mine in a pyrex measuring cup), add some fresh herbs(I used oregano, parsley, and mint), and spoon the herb butter over the top of the meatballs.

Bake and enjoy!

Keftedes (Greek Meatballs) with Herb Butter (5)

What to serve with Keftedes:

These Greek Meatballs are great with rice. Here are some other ideas for what to serve them with:

  • Tzatziki Sauce(use as a dipping sauce or in a pita pocket)
  • Cucumber Tomato Salad with Feta
  • Greek Green Beans(Fasolakia)
  • Mediterranean Chickpea and Orzo Salad
  • Spanakorizo(Greek Spinach and Rice)
  • Greek Lemon Potatoes(from Recipe Tin Eats)

Other Easy Greek Recipes:

  • Greek Lentil Soup(Fakes Soupa)
  • Greek Spaghetti
  • Manestra(Greek Orzo and Ground Beef)

Be sure to check out all my Greek Recipes.

And for a paleo version of keftedes, check out these Paleo Greek Meatballs with Romesco Sauce!

Did you make these Greek Meatballs with Herb Butter? Please comment below and Rate this Recipe!

Keftedes (Greek Meatballs) with Herb Butter (6)

Greek Meatballs (Keftedes) with Herb Butter

These super flavorful Greek Meatballs (keftedes) are baked instead of fried and drizzled with herbs and melted butter before going in the oven!

5 from 26 votes

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Course: Appetizer, Beef, Dinner

Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean

Prep Time: 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes minutes

Servings: 4 servings

Calories: 465kcal

Author: Elizabeth Lindemann


  • 3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk or water
  • 1 yellow onion grated
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or 2 tablespoons fresh
  • 2 teaspoons dried mint or 2 tablespoons fresh
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1.5 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs such as oregano, mint, dill, chives, and/or parsley
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted


  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

  • Mix together the breadcrumbs (3/4 cup), milk (1/2 cup), and grated onion (along with its juices) in a large bowl.

  • Add the egg, minced garlic, dried oregano (2 teaspoons), dried mint (2 teaspoons), kosher salt (1 1/2 teaspoons), and black pepper (1/4 teaspoon) to the bowl and stir together.

  • Add the ground beef to the bowl and mix everything together, preferably using your hands (but if you're squeamish about touching raw meat, a spoon will work too).

  • Use a large disher scoop to scoop meatballs onto a rimmed baking sheet. Alternatively, you can use your hands to form the balls.

  • Mix the 4 tablespoons melted butter with the 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs in a small bowl.

  • Spoon the butter mixture evenly over the meatballs.

  • Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.

  • Serve, drizzled with butter and juices from the bottom of the pan.


  • This recipe made about 16 large meatballs. You can make them smaller and serve as an appetizer, if you prefer.
  • Make Ahead: Assemble these ahead of time on the baking sheet and keep them in the fridge for up to 2 days until you're ready to bake them.
  • Money Saving Tip: It's easy to make your own breadcrumbs from any leftover bread(I used hot dog rolls!) in your food processor! It's also cheaper to buy ground beef in bulk- just save what you don't use in the freezer for another recipe. You can also use 2 teaspoons dried herbs instead of fresh in the butter mixture.
  • Freeze 'em: Place the cooked meatballs on a baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes. Then, move them to a plastic bag or airtight container to store for up to 3 months in the freezer. To defrost, microwave for a minute or two on 50% power.
  • The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using thiscalculatoror by adding the recipe toYummly.


Calories: 465kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 180mg | Sodium: 1264mg | Potassium: 747mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 645IU | Vitamin C: 5.2mg | Calcium: 124mg | Iron: 5.8mg

Nutrition Information Disclaimer

The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools:

Very Well Fit Nutrition Information Calculator
Keftedes (Greek Meatballs) with Herb Butter (2024)


What is keftedes made of? ›

Keftedes or Keftethes are meatballs from Greece. Depending upon the region and the person making them they can vary in spices, sauces, and the type of meat used to make them. For the most part they are a mixture of ground beef or pork infused with herbs and spices then lightly fried in olive oil.

What is the secret of a tender meatball? ›

Egg and breadcrumbs are common mix-ins to add moisture and tenderness. Another binder option that people swear by is a panade, which is fresh or dry breadcrumbs that have been soaked in milk. “The soaked breadcrumbs help keep the proteins in the meat from shrinking,” as food writer Tara Holland explained in the Kitchn.

Why do you soak breadcrumbs in milk for meatballs? ›

Here, we're soaking fresh or dried breadcrumbs in a little milk until the bread becomes soggy, then mixing that right into the meat. This binder (aka panade) helps add moisture to the meatballs and also prevents the meat proteins from shrinking and becoming tough.

What does adding milk to meatballs do? ›

When it comes to adding liquid to meatball mixtures, milk is often used for its versatility, depth of flavor, and richness. Without the use of milk, you may be faced with a plate of dry meatballs. Milk adds a certain level of moisture that helps produce perfectly tender meatballs.

What is the difference between Keftedes and bifteki? ›

Greek bifteki are a variation on keftedes or meatballs, which are imbued with typical Greek flavours through ingredients such as onion, cumin, oregano and mint. Bifteki are filled with a layer of crumbled feta and folded. They are then shaped into a burger and grilled.

What is the difference between Keftedes and Sheftalia? ›

Sheftalia (Σιεφταλιά) is a small sausage (cutlet) made from pork, lamb or chicken with the addition of greens, wrapped in a thin lamb film or pork gland. Keftedes (Κεφτέδες) are meat balls with the addition of dried mint. Quite unusual juicy mini cutlets are obtained.

What is the best binder for meatballs? ›

An egg is usually a good start, as that can help with the tenderness and texture, but the king of meatball binders is breadcrumbs soaked in milk (also known as a panade). Soaking the breadcrumbs first makes them pliable and soggy, which allows them to easily and evenly mix into the ground meat.

Is it better to fry or bake meatballs? ›

Overcrowding can prevent the meat from browning properly, so it's best to work in smaller batches rather than trying to squeeze them all into the pan at one time. Baking will result in meatballs with a crunchy exterior, though the caramelisation achieved from frying will be superior.

Do meatballs get more tender the longer they cook in sauce? ›

As the collagen in the meat dissolves over time, it transforms into gelatin, which not only adds a silky texture to the sauce but also contributes to the overall richness and depth of flavor. The longer the simmer, the more tender and succulent the meatballs become.

What not to do when making meatballs? ›

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Meatballs
  1. Not seasoning the meat.
  2. Not adding any moisture to the meat.
  3. Over-mixing the meat.
  4. Not shaping the meatballs correctly.
  5. Not forming evenly-sized meatballs.
May 1, 2019

What does Bobby Flay put in his meatballs? ›

3-Meat Combo

Bobby Flay's meatball recipe calls for an even combination of ground beef, pork, and veal which makes for the best flavor and texture.

What happens if you put too much breadcrumbs in meatballs? ›

Too many breadcrumbs can ruin the texture of your meatball though, turning it into something more like stuffing rather than a mini-meatloaf. It can also make the finished mixture loose, and it'll fall apart when cooking. Too few breadcrumbs, on the other hand, won't give you the desired filler effect.

Is it better to use milk or water in meatballs? ›

Milk: We will mix a bit of milk with the breadcrumbs to form a panade, which will help to keep our meatballs nice and moist.

Can I substitute sour cream for milk in meatballs? ›

If you only have high-fat options, such as sour cream, heavy cream, and buttermilk, you can use one of these ingredients as an effective milk alternative.

What happens if I add extra egg to meatballs? ›

You won't need more than an egg or two per every one to two pounds of meat. If you use too many eggs, you'll wind up with soggy, heavy meatballs. Yet with too little egg, the meatball won't hold its shape and will be on the dry side.

What are real Swedish meatballs made of? ›

Mix ground beef, ground pork, egg, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger with onion in the mixing bowl. Lightly mix in bread crumbs and cream. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Pinch off about 1 1/2 tablespoon meat mixture per meatball; form into balls.

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