I’ve just got back from one of my all-time favourite destinations, the beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus where I used to live. Cypriot cuisine is an incredibly tasty blend of Greek and Turkish cuisine, taking all the best bits from each culture.
The recipes may have different names depending on where you are on the island, but they have loads of similarities… mostly that they are all delicious!
About this recipe
My recipe for Mediterranean Beef Meatball Skewers is inspired by both Turkish kofte and Greek keftedes – flavoursome meatballs with a hint of spice and plenty of herbs. Served with homemade tzatziki, these kabobs are perfect for summer eating.
These meatballs are great for cooking on the BBQ if you have the grill fired up, however, I find them easiest to bake in the oven instead.
These meatballs are packed with Eastern Mediterranean flavours with a hint of spice. To make them you’ll need the following main ingredients:
- Ground Beef: On Cyprus, you might find these sorts of meatballs made with ground or minced lamb (so good!), but beef is tasty and easier to come by. Don’t use super lean ground beef, it will make the meatballs dry.
- Fresh bread crumbs: To hold the meatballs together, and to soak up some of the lovely, flavoursome juices.
- Red onion, parsley and garlic: These three combine to make the flavour base of the meatballs.
- Oregano, cumin, cinnamon and chilli: This combination of spices is what gives these meatballs their Mediterranean flavour. The cinnamon may seem unusual, but it is very common in the Greek kitchen and adds just a touch of warmth.
- Zucchini, peppers and red onions: These brightly coloured vegetables combine perfectly with the meatballs (and they are super healthy too!)
- Homemade Tzatziki sauce: This tangy yoghurt sauce or dip is ALWAYS on a Cypriot table and tastes fantastic with these skewers.
This meatball recipe is super simple!
- First, heat the oven and prepare your skewers. If you are using wooden skewers or kabob sticks you’ll need to soak them in cold water so they don’t burn.
- Next, combine all the meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Roll the mixture into meatballs and chill while you deal with the vegetables.
- Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces, then thread them onto the skewers along with the meatballs. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes until golden and cooked through.
- While the skewers are in the oven, stir together my easy tzatziki and make a salad (you couldn’t go wrong with a traditional Greek Salad). You can cook some rice or warm through so pita bread too.
Then all you need to do is serve and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can these skewers be made with other ground meat?
Yes! They are terrific with chicken, turkey or pork. If you like you can swap the meat out altogether for slices of salty Cypriot Halloumi cheese instead.
Can I make these skewers in advance?
The beef meatball skewers can be prepared several hours in advance. You’ll need to add a few minutes to the cooking time to ensure they are cooked through.
Cooked meatballs can be reheated in a low oven (in fact, I think they are even more delicious the next day!)
Can I make these skewers with other vegetables?
Of course, mix and match depending on what you have. I am not a massive fan of tomatoes on kebabs, I find they look pretty but can get very hot and burn your mouth.
Otherwise, load them up with whatever fresh vegetables you have to hand.
Meatball Skewers Recipe
for the meatballs:
- 500g (1 lb.) ground / minced beef
- 50g (2 oz.) fresh bread crumbs
- 1 large red onion, finely diced
- small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 level tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp mild chilli flakes
- pinch of cinnamon
- freshly ground black pepper
for the skewers:
- 3 small zucchini
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 red onions
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Homemade Tzatziki
- PREPARE: Heat oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas 6. If using wooden skewers, soak them in cold water for 10 minutes (this will stop them from burning). Place a metal rack on an oven tray and brush with oil.
- MAKE THE MEATBALLS: Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands to knead the mixture until smooth, then shape the mixture into 20-24 meatballs. Place the meatballs on a plate and transfer them to the fridge to firm up while you slice the vegetables.
- SLICE THE VEGETABLES: Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces, then set them aside.
- THREAD SKEWERS: Thread meatballs and vegetables onto skewers, alternating between the meatballs, zucchini, peppers and onions. I like to make a first skewer as an example and repeat the pattern each time. If you have leftover vegetables, thread them onto an extra skewer.
- BAKE: Place kabobs onto the prepared rack, brush with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes, until deep brown and cooked through. If you are unsure whether the meatballs are cooked, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer (should read 70°C / 160°F), or simply cut into one (of yours!) to see that there are no traces of pink.
- SERVE: Serve with Homemade Tzatziki, rice, pita bread and fresh Greek salad.
- If the meatball mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon at a time until excess moisture has been absorbed. If the mixture is too dry, add water (or yoghurt) 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture loosens.
- By preference, I use metal skewers when grilling. Not only do they conduct heat better, cooking the inside and outside evenly, but the meat also won’t cling to the skewers, so it is easy to eat. Unlike bamboo skewers, they can also be reused forever.
- To cook these skewers on a barbecue or gas grill, you'll need to cook them fairly gently over medium heat, turning occasionally until cooked through.
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