Soutzoukakia Smyrneika

Soutzoukakia (pl.) are a dish that came to Greek via the Greek refugees from Asia Minor in 1922. These delectable ground meat little cylinders are always flavored with cumin and cooked din a rich, thick tomato sauce. Rice and bulgur make great side dishes with soutzoukakia. In northern Greece, soutzoukakia sometimes refer to a cylindrical ground meat recipe that’s grilled, not cooked in sauce.




  • 1 1/2 pounds/675 g ground beef
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped white onion
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small egg
  • 2 tablespoon white wine
  • ¼ to 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil


  1. Flour for dredging
  2. Olive or other oil for browning
  3. 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 wine. Squeeze the tomatoes by hand into the pot and pour in their juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper, add sugar, reduce heat to low, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 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.
  4. Make the soutzoukakia: In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, spices, salt, and pepper. Mix. 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 but not too thick so as to be stodgy. Mix in the olive oil. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for 30 to 60 minutes to firm up.
  5. Take a golf ball size of dough 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/3 cm thick.
  6. Flour the soutzoukakia and heat about 1/2 inch/1 cm of olive oil in a heavy skillet. Brown the soutzoukakia: 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.
  7. Place side by side in one layer in a wide pot and pour in the sauce. Cover and simmer until the soutzoukakia are soft and moist, about 30 minutes.


Variation: Alternatively, place the soutzoukakia in a lightly oiled baking pan in one layer and pour in the sauce. Bake at 350˚F/180˚C, covered, for about 40 minutes. Serve hot. Soutzoukakia go perfectly with mashed potatoes.

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