Kefta-Style Meatballs with Grilled Grapes and Yogurt Sauce

August  9, 2010
2 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

This recipe is a combination of a few different restaurant dishes that I have enjoyed over the years. I've gone through a handful of versions, but this one has stuck around. I usually make them with ground beef, but lamb is great too. Also instead of serving as an appetizer, skip the toothpicks and pile it all into a warm pita. I know the grilled grapes sound a little odd, but they really me. - roseinparis —roseinparis

Test Kitchen Notes

You will fall in love with this recipe as you're mixing the meatball mixture, which sends up wafts of cinnamon, mint and garlic. After browning the meatballs, you sandwich them between a grilled (seared, really) grape -- we used red, and loved how their skins blistered and charred -- and a garlicky, lemon yogurt sauce. For parties, you can make everything ahead of time, and assemble the skewers and sauce just before guests arrive. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Meatballs
  • 1.5 pounds ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small red onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch small seedless grapes, red or green
  • Yogurt Sauce
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. For the yogurt sauce: Mix all ingredients. It's best when made at least 30 minutes ahead of time, to allow flavors to meld.
  2. In a large bowl combine the first 9 ingredients in the meatball list. Don’t over-mix.
  3. Heat a frying pan with some vegetable oil and toss the grapes, lightly browning on all sides, remove and set aside.
  4. Shape meat mixture into small meatballs, fry in the pan, adding more oil if needed to make sure they don’t stick. The heat should be fairly high to ensure a good sear. Toss or turn to make sure all sides brown. Drain on some paper towel, allowing to rest for a few minutes.
  5. Assemble on large cocktail toothpicks: grape first, then meatball on the bottom. Serve with yogurt sauce for dipping.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sabine Gagnon
    Sabine Gagnon
  • robin
  • Greenbeetlegirl
  • Sam1148
  • tota

44 Reviews

arun October 14, 2021
Sabine G. January 28, 2014
These were awesome!! I made them for a baby shower appetizer and everybody ate them up. I did bake them instead and then quickly rolled them around a hot pan on the stove top to remove the excess meat fats that weren't too appealing to the eye. I found they cooked a lot more evenly and conveniently than they did when I cooked them stove top (I test ran these the week prior). I also roasted the grapes all at once for convenience and I think they brought out their sweetness! I made these bites sized and they produced about 30. They were a crowd pleaser and so pretty! Loved the combo of the grape. I live in sunny spain and can't wait until the Moscatel grape is in season. I think that would be a killer combo!
Deb G. January 6, 2019
Hi. Problem with this site: no indication of how long to do these meatballs on the top of the stove. Any suggestions? My friends ignored the recipe because of this factor. THANKS!
Deb G. January 6, 2019
OK: You transferred them to an oven. Sorry.
robin December 5, 2013
Hey looking for a hearty appetizer, and found this one, but do you think you could bake the meatballs? Not so into frying.
Greenbeetlegirl January 1, 2014
I have made these & just baked them with great success. I formed them all & baked them in a baking dish at 375 til cooked through. But, you will need to fry the grapes to get the blistered skins which also Caramelizes them and makes them fantastic!
kath1 June 30, 2013
Fried grapes! Our new best food. The meatballs were lovely too, I used lamb and it was amazing.
Deb G. January 6, 2019
Hi. A problem with this recipe: no clear indication of how long to do meatballs on the top of the stove. Any suggestions? Unfortunately, this omission turned off certain friends. Thank you.
Greenbeetlegirl March 7, 2013
Loved these! Just made them for dinner-I doubled the recipe & browned the meatballs in batches & finished them in the oven as I cooked off the rest & worked on the sides... I must admit: I wasn't sure about the grapes- but, my whole family loved them with the meatballs- nice sweet contrast!
My side dish suggestions: serve the meatball/ grape skewers on a bed of couscous with a side of sautéed kale! truly was wonderful together...dinner party worthy meal. Thanks for the recipe.
Sam1148 July 23, 2012
I want to say to you these are fantastic...I've made them several time over the past year.
And one of the BEST things from this website ever. Thank you, Thank you, Thank You.

tota December 5, 2011
Did you answer about doing these ahead and re-heating? would love to serve for a drinks party we are hosting, but need to be made beforehand if possible. Also, I am thinking turkey instead of beef, would that work?
roseinparis December 6, 2011
Yes, they can definitely be made ahead and re-heated. Regarding, turkey...I have never made this recipe with ground turkey, but as long as it's not too lean, it should work well.
Melody February 5, 2011
Any ideas on what other dishes would complement this?
cheese1227 February 5, 2011
Grilled or sauteed eggplant with Middle Eastern spices would be great. Maybe getting those small pita's and stuffing them with eggplant and serving them warm with the meatball skewars?
Ruth October 10, 2010
I have made these twice so far, once as an appetizer and the second time as a pita filling with shredded lettuce. Both times they were a hit. We moved into the pita arena because everyone wanted to eat them for dinner again! I used lamb as that is what we have in the freezer having recently purchased a locally grown lamb. Delicious.
ehuschke September 5, 2010
Excellent recipe! I doubled the recipe and made half of the batch with ground turkey and the other half with ground pork. Both turned out really well, but my guests preferred the pork because they were obviously more "meaty". I was initially hesitant about the mint/cinnamon/grape combination but they really compliment eachother. The lemon zest was also a nice addition to the yogurt sauce.

Lots of compliments. I will make this one again :)

Thanks for a great recipe!
Sagegreen August 25, 2010
Congrats on coming in second, which is not a bad place to be!
vharmer August 23, 2010
Any suggestions on how to cook this ahead of time and re-heat the meatballs and grapes? Thanks!
Robert M. August 23, 2010
both me and my hubby were hesitant about "fried grapes" - but it is amazing yummy! :) My recipe for this challenge was also a kefta style meatball - but yours is so easy and delicious. CONGRATS!
EmilyC August 22, 2010
These sound so good -- thanks for sharing!
Rhonda35 August 21, 2010
I made these tonight - so, so good! Thanks for sharing this great recipe.
freshparsley August 20, 2010
This looked so good that I tried it instead of our usual Swedish meatballs recipe. Perfect for summer and such a refreshing change with the lovely yogurt sauce. You have my vote!
monkeymom August 19, 2010
I just had kefta lamb meatballs with grapes at Aziza in SF. They were delicious. Look forward to trying these!
TheWimpyVegetarian August 19, 2010
Yum! I LOVE Aziza! I thought of trying this great recipe with lamb too.
DigNDine August 19, 2010
I was really bummed I didn't make the meatballs finals but now I know why. These look great and I am going to try them tonight! Congratulations.
Sagegreen August 20, 2010
I am in such awe of these recipes! Don't feel badly, but I have the same kind of feeling about my recipes after seeing these!
lapadia August 19, 2010
Lovely flavors and the grape to top it off - YUM. Congratulations on the Editors' Pick and good luck in the finals...voted!
lacerise August 19, 2010
this recipe looks scrummy (combo of, well, you know). i'm not a big fan of grapes, but i can tell they'll be perfect in this dish. and i've got them growing like crazy over the arbor on my deck right this very minute! look forward to trying this, stuffed in a pita, this weekend.