Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Cumin (Soutzoukakia)

Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Cumin (Soutzoukakia)

These Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Cumin are called soutzoukakia, or little sausages, in Greece, after their oblong shape. This Greek recipe is one of the most traditional and delicious in all of Greek cooking and a great Greek comfort food!
30 min
60 min


For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 1/2 cups canned chopped plum tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes optional
  • 1 teaspoon butter

For the Meatballs (Soutzoukakia)

  • 1 1/2 pounds/675 g ground beef
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small egg
  • 2 tablespoon white wine
  • 1/2 to ¾ cup finely ground plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil
  • Flour for dredging
  • Olive or other oil for browning


  1. Prepare the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the onion over medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and stir.. Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and add the wine. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper, add a pinch of sugar, reduce heat to low, and simmer until it starts to get thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in the pepper flakes and butter. Set the sauce aside until ready to use. It may be prepared a day ahead of time.
  2. Make the soutzoukakia: In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Knead gently to combine. Add the egg and wine and knead well to combine. Add breadcrumbs judiciously, just enough to give body to the mixture so that the soutzoukakia hold their shape when formed. Add the olive oil. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for 30 to 60 minutes to firm up.
  3. When ready to assemble, take a golfball-size bit of the meat mixture and shape in the palms of your hand into an elongated sausage about 2 1/2 inches (6-cm long) and 1 inch or so (2 ½- cm thick).
  4. Spread the flour onto a large plate and season it with a touch of salt and pepper. Dredge the soutzoukakia a few at a time. Heat about 1/2 inch/1 cm of olive oil in a heavy skillet. Brown the soutzoukakia in batches. As soon as they are browned on one side, shake the pan back and forth over the heat so that the soutzoukakia roll back and forth a little to brown on all sides. Remove from heat.
  5. Pull the pan off the heat and place all the meatballs back in, in one layer if possible. Ladle the sauce into the pan with the meatballs, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 35 to 40 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce thick. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and cumin,if desired.

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