A delicious Middle-Eastern inspired recipe for Zaatar Meatballs with Green Tahini Sauce that can be made with your choice of ground turkey, chicken, beef or lamb. A fast, easy, low-carb weeknight dinner!

Zaatar Meatballs with Green Tahini Sauce can be made with ground turkey, chicken, lamb or beef. A quick, low-carb meal that is full of flavor. #meatballs #zaatar

These Zaatar Meatballs are full of flavor and super easy to make. We’ve made them with ground turkey and ground lamb- but would work just as well with ground chicken or beef. Paired with the Green Tahini Sauce and Lebanese Slaw, they make for light, low-carb and incredibly satisfying meal.

How to make Zaatar Meatballs:

  • Mix ground meat with spices and herbs.
  • Form into balls the size of a golf ball.
  • Pan sear each side until golden.
  • Serve with Green Tahini Sauce!

So the recipe starts with mixing the meat with the herbs and spices. Like I mentioned above you choose what meat you prefer- chicken, turkey, lamb or beef.  Chicken and Turkey are obviously lighter and lower in fat and calories, but lamb offers up a really nice richness.  Fresh mint gives these Middle Eastern meatballs a lovely flavor- but feel free to sub other herbs like dill, or parsley.

mix the ground meat with the herbs and the spices.

Mix and knead the meat together well with damp hands.

Form into twelve golfball-sized balls.

roll the meat into 12 balls

Sprinkle with a  little Zaatar to coat if you like.

Pan-sear the Zaatar Meatballs in a skillet.

pan sear the Zaatar Meatballs in a skillet

Above are the lamb, and below are the turkey.

turkey meatballs in a skillet cooking

While the meatballs are cooking through, blend up the Green Tahini Sauce.

make the green tahini sauce in a blender

It is basically a Tahini sauce blended with fresh herbs and a few slices of jalapeno.

Blend until smooth. Trust me you’ll be happy you will have a little extra here.

green tahini sauce

To plate, place some Green Tahini Sauce on the bottom of your plate.

plating the meal with the sauce going on the plate first.

Top with the Zaatar meatballs and add a side salad.  Top with fresh herbs and Urfa Biber.

Place the meatballs over top os the sauce, with a salad next to it.

Here are the Zaatar Meatballs made with ground turkey and served up with simple tomato herb salad. So light and tasty!

Zaatar Meatballs with Green Tahini Sauce can be made with ground turkey, chicken, lamb or beef. A quick, low-carb meal that is full of flavor. #meatballs #zaatar

Here the Zaatar Meatballs made with ground lamb- richer and earthier, served up with a Middle Eastern Slaw with I’ll post later this week.

Zaatar Meatballs with Green Tahini Sauce can be made with ground turkey, chicken, lamb or beef. A quick, low-carb meal that is full of flavor. #meatballs #zaatar

Such a simple but satisfying meal! Give it a try and let us know how you like it in the comments below.



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Zaatar Meatballs with Green Tahini Sauce can be made with ground turkey, chicken, lamb or beef. A quick, low carb meal that is full of flavor. #meatballs #zaatar

Zaatar Meatballs with Green Tahini Sauce

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: main
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Zaatar Meatballs with Green Tahini Sauce can be made with ground turkey, chicken, lamb or beef. A quick, low-carb weeknight meal that is full of flavor. Serve with Israeli salad or Lebanese Slaw on the side.


Units Scale

Zaatar Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground turkey, beef, chicken or lamb
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon zaatar spice
  • 1 teaspoon sumac or sub 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/3 cup onion, very finely chopped (or 2-3 scallions)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/41/2 cup chopped herbs (mint, dill, Italian parsley or cilantro- a mix is nice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon aleppo or chili flakes (optional)
  • 12 tablespoons sesame seeds or zaatar to coat (optional)

Green Tahini Sauce

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 fat garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup fresh herbs (cilantro, Italian parsley, dill or basil or a combo!)
  • 23 slices jalapeno (optional)
  • 1/2- 1 teaspoon salt ( start with 1/2, add more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup tahini paste, stirred


  1. Make the meatballs: Place ground meat, salt and spices in a bowl and mix and toss with a fork to distribute evenly. Add onion, garlic, herbs and chili flakes, mixing again with a fork.
  2. With wet hands, knead the mixture a couple of times adding olive oil if need be (please see notes). Divide into 4 balls, then form into 12 meatballs with wet hands (3 meatballs per ball).
  3. Optional: Coat the meatballs in sesame seeds by rolling them or sprinkle lightly with zaatar  (if using zaatar, know it may contain more salt so go light or do a tester first)
  4. Heat a large skillet with 1-2 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat, add the meatballs turning as each side gets golden. Lower heat to low to continue cooking all the way through or cook through in a 350F oven.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking make the Green Tahini Sauce: Place all the ingredients (except the tahini paste) in a blender or food processer and blend until combined but not overly smooth. Add tahini paste. Blend until creamy. Taste, and adjust salt, acid and heat. If you want a “looser “sauce, add a little more water until the desired consistency.
  6. Serve the meatballs over the Green Tahini Sauce with a side salad.


If using very low-fat turkey or chicken, knead in 2 teaspoons olive oil- or meatballs will be rubbery. 😉


  • Serving Size: 3 Turkey Meatballs w/ 3 tablespoons Green Tahini Sauce
  • Calories: 387
  • Sugar: 2.7 g
  • Sodium: 796.1 mg
  • Fat: 28.5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 10 g
  • Fiber: 2.7 g
  • Protein: 26.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 78.2 mg

Keywords: Zaatar Meatballs, turkey meatballs, lamb meatballs, Lebanese meatballs, arabic meatballs, middle eastern meatballs

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  1. The tahini sauce is fresh and the meatballs full of flavor. This is the third time I’ve made this recipe and all the ingredients and ratios are on point.

  2. This is a weeknight go-to recipe, especially in the summer when the fresh herbs are available. Very flavorful and easy to put together. I tend to use one of my spicy tomato sauces so also versatile.

  3. This was delicious – I would highly recommend updating the recipe to note that some zaatar blends already have salt! I’ve never made something like this so I tested a few in a pan first that I’d coated in zaatar and they were SO salty and thankfully realized it before I made 2.5 lbs of meatballs. I also forgot fresh herbs so I used dried dill, oregano, and parsley, and I didn’t have sumac so I subbed a blend of cinnamon, allspice, and paprika. I also added some homemade breadcrumbs. The tahini sauce was fabulous too, I added a whole jalapeno and also some fresh lime (I can never make recipes as is). Thank you so much for providing the base recipe for me to learn from!

    1. Thanks for pointing that out Aiden! I will note the recipe and glad you enjoyed. 🙂

  4. So very delicious! I used ground lamb and made the Lebanese Slaw and the tahini sauce, all fantastic together. Used the sumac (a first for me) and love it! Our ground lamb is a bit fatty so I was thinking I may just try cooking these on a sheet pan next time without the olive oil?

    1. Yes, a sheet pan should work fine too. Glad you tried the sumac! Perfect with lamb, cutting that richness a bit. 🙂

  5. This is a staple recipe in my house now. We usually go with beef (looking forward to trying lamb!) served over greens with tomatoes, red onion, feta, zaatar-rubbed homemade french fries and that wonderful, WONDERFUL sauce. When we have time everything comes in a homemade sourdough pita. Thank you for posting this!

  6. SO GOOD! I made these with Impossible burger instead of real meat and they turned out awesome.

  7. This recipe is fantastic. I made with ground Bison and they were DELICIOUS!! I premade the balls and sauce and cooked them on a cast iron over a fire while camping. Everyone loved them!!! I will definitely be making these again. Thank you Sylvia!!!

    1. My guess is yes, but I haven’t tried freezing tahini- it usually disappears first!

  8. I made these using Impossible meat and rolled them in black sesame seeds. They were excellent. Inormally dislike tahini sauce so I made hummus sauce using cilantro & parsley. Ate it all with sauteed purple cabbage & carrots. So good!

  9. This was absolutely delicious. I used impossible meat to make it vegan and added 1/4 c. Breadcrumbs. The meatballs were moist and full of flavor , the sauce added another layer of delicious. I served it with couscous and your Lebanese slaw. An out standing meal. Thanks again.

  10. Hi! I love your site. All of the recipies have been terrific. I also enjoy being introduced to new spices such as Za’atar. I’m sharing your site with neighbors. Thanks!

  11. As always, a great recipe! The tahini sauce is excellent and the shrimp I cooked as a side was delicious with the sauce. The frustrating thing is sadly Zaatar, that much I have figured out after trying a few Zaatar recipes. Sumac is an ubiquitous shrub in North America that displays a brilliant autumn display. It is also a member of the poison ivy family. It unfortunately has such an acrid taste, I am confused by several recipes and blogs that sell it as a side operation. If I had not used it in the meatballs, they would have been great! Now I know after several tries, it is just not for me.

    1. Hi Lisa- just curious, did you purchase the sumac, or pick it off the shrub? There are different varieties of Sumac and the North American version is NOT the same and I’ve heard can be toxic. To me, Middle Eastern Sumac spice tastes sour, tangy and floral and gives a uniquely delicious flavor. But I see how it can be an acquired taste. It may not be for you!

      1. Sylvia,
        Thank you for your reply! I purchased it as a packaged spice from Kroger. It was not expensive and one man’s Sumac may definitely not be another’s. Very true. I do think it may be worth mentioning on your blog that the shrub in one’s yard vs culinary use are different things. As always, you have extraordinary recipes and you are clearly committed to helping people discern between garbage food and true food. As I have said many times, you are second to none. Cheers!

        1. Awww… thanks Lisa! We all have very different palates- I grew up eating it so it is familiar to me. But I can understand how unusual it might taste if unfamiliar! xo

  12. These meatballs were absolutely delicious! The green tahini sauce was great too. I might use less tahini to save calories next time. I paired it with the Lebanese slaw and some Lebanese rice. One of the best meals we’ve had recently! Will definitely make again. Thanks!

  13. This is such an incredible recipe! We’ve made twice using ground turkey with Israeli salad and couscous. Penzy’s Za’atar is great. We put a tablespoon of O Oil roasted garlic olive oil in the meatballs which makes them tender.

    Sylvia, Thank-you for your incredible recipes!!!!!!!!!

  14. Definitely not fast as far as my process (making zatar, including roasting the whole seeds), picking the herbs from the garden, washing and chopping, etc.,, but at least I didn’t have to grind the turkey meat myself 🙂 Delicious and I only realized this morning that I forgot to add the minced onions. Oh well, it was worth all the work, served with the coleslaw and green tahini sauce and some garden tomatoes. I think I would cut down on the salt a bit next time, but I may have goofed since I had to recalculate as I was working with a pound and a half of ground meat. Will definitely try this with lamb, too, as that will stand up well to all the herbs and spices. We have an Indian friend and he said his mother would spend most of her days roasting and grinding spices and preparing meals. It’s a labor of love, delicious freshness and healthy eating. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Janet! And I’m so glad you didn’t have to grind your own turkey too. 😉

  15. Great meatball. I skipped the Zaaratar spice but loved the green tahini sauce. I also cooked the meatballs in a air fryer at 380 degrees for 12 minutes…

  16. So delicious& Loved the flavors! My 2-year old even liked the tahini sauce! Will definitely be making again! Thanks Sylvia!

  17. Amazing! Would prefer a little less salt in the sauce but thats on me, will add a little at a time from now on.

    1. Nope it was on me- it should have said 1/2-1 teaspoon and so I updated. Sorry about that.

  18. Made this with ground turkey and it was so good. I added about a tablespoon of olive oil to meatballs and they turned out perfect Served with grape tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper and feta.

      1. These look so good! Baking in the oven now, it would be helpful to add baking time to recipe. Also, these meatballs are huge! Would make 4 meatballs out of each quarter next time for a total of 16.

        1. Hi Vivianne! Yes, feel free to make them smaller next time. It’s hard to gauge the baking time- as it varies based on the time in the pan. You can use a thermometer- 160-165F

  19. Delicious and so easy!! I made these with ground Turkey, doubled the batch and frozen half of them on a sheet pan raw. Plan to cook them up another evening and just made the green tahini to go with them. The tahini sauce….oh my goodness! I wanted to get a spatula and scrape my plate clean! Highly recommend!

  20. We made this feast, za’atar meatballs, green tahini dressing and Lebanese slaw last night. All I can say is, spectacular! The flavors were so incredible, and now that my daughter and I are paleo, we now have more to add to our roster! I have one question: the meatballs were a bit tough, and we were wondering if there is a way to get them to come out more tender? We know korean meatballs are sometimes mixed with water and whipped to get them lighter. Your thoughts? Thanks for another fantastic menu!

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