North African Chermoula Meatballs

It’s no secret, I love bold flavourful food. These North African Chermoula meatballs are redolent of this type of cooking – exotically spiced and gutsy in character. The flavourings typify the earthy spices of North Africa with a playful pairing of savoury and sweet. Think apricots, peaches, even currants.

Chermoula is a North African spice combination of cumin, coriander, paprika, saffron and cayenne pepper. It’s warm rather than fiery hot and can be used liberally on meats, chicken and fish. Locally, you can find Chermoula at Food markets or Woolworths in the spice section.

Adding breadcrumbs to the meatballs helps to keep them tender and light. You can however, replace the breadcrumbs with almond flour for a gluten-free option. A great tasting sauce is a key to the success of any meatball recipe. Here, the tomato sauce is deeply spiced without being overly hot. The recipe is adaptable too. If you prefer, swap the meat for fish fillets or chicken pieces, in which case, you’ll need to add the Chermoula spice to the sauce. I like to serve the meatballs with bulgur wheat. Fluffy mashed potatoes are also good.

North African Chermoula Meatballs


North African Chermoula meatballs

For the meatballs

  • 500g free-range lean beef mince
  • 2 slices white bread, crusts removed and crumbed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons Chermoula spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • a heaped teaspoon brown sugar
  • 400g tinned tomatoes, mulched
  • 2 tablespoons currants
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Place all the meatball ingredients into a large bowl and mix together by hand. Roll into evenly sized balls.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Brown the meatballs until they have formed a dark crust on the bottom. Turn and continue to brown on all sides. Shift the meatballs to the side of the pan and add the onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the ginger, cumin, paprika, lemon zest, cinnamon and brown sugar. Turn the meatballs over to coat in the spices. Add the tomatoes, currants and chicken stock. Season with salt and black pepper. Simmer for bout 20 minutes until the sauce is reduced and the meat is cooked through.
  3. Serve with bulgar wheat or couscous and roast butternut, if you like.


More meatballs to love:

Prosciuotto meatballs and spaghetti 

Ottolenghi’s Ricotta and oregano meatballs

Barbecue meatballs with bacon gravy

Pork meatball pitas with miso and tahini yoghurt

Stuffed cabbage with freekeh meatballs





12 Comments. Leave new

  • I don’t know what I love more…your recipe or the photography that goes along with it. Let’s call it a tie! This is a wonderful dish, Di. I’m a meatball girl, so this completely resonates with me! Thank you for sharing!

  • Dianne Bibby
    14 May 2015 7:34 am

    Thank you Annie. I agree. There are just endless combinations for meatballs and it’s one dish that always ends in a scramble for seconds!

  • We loved it Di, good comfort food for these cooler days. Good flavours, and meat balls are a favourite in our house. Who can resist pinching another meat ball while washing the dishes…..a scrumptious Sunday lunch.

  • Dianne Bibby
    18 May 2015 6:18 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it Natelle. The dishwasher absolutely deserves special priviledges!

  • These meatballs were divine! Can see them becoming a family favourite!

  • All my family just loved this recipes. Fantastically light meatballs and the sauce was delicious. Thank you

  • Hi Lorna. So pleased you all enjoyed it. I must say, this is one of my favourite ways with meatballs. A great sauce is as important as the meatball itself. Lovely to hear from you!

  • I love this recipe. I’ve made it several times already and once again tonight. Loved by the whole family, even our 4 year old. Made it with a slight twist to be gluten free (substituted bread crumbs for almond meal) and works perfectly. Delicious!

  • Dianne Bibby
    7 August 2017 7:03 am

    Me too Sonja. Meatballs are always a crowd-pleaser! The smoky North African spices in this recipe add so much flavour.

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