Soutzoukakia (σουτζουκάκια) is a well-known recipe in Greece and Turkey. It will make your entire kitchen smell like tomato and cinnamon. It is a very traditional Greek dish consisting of tasty meatballs in a rich and intense spicy tomato sauce.
We have been eating this dinner for countless occasions – both at Greek tavernas as well as at Georges family’s home. His mother makes the best soutzoukakia!
If you need to feel warm on the inside, then this dish is for you. It feels like getting a warm and cozy hug from within (it may sound a little strange).
Looking for a vegan version? You can easily substitute the meat with a plant based version, use plant based milk, use chia seeds and water instead of egg and leave out the parmesan cheese to make the dish vegan. We do it all the time, and the soutzoukakia taste just as delicious! We have listed the alternatives in the recipe.
Bon appétit – or as they say in Greek: καλή όρεξη!
- 350 grams of lean minced beef (vegan: use a package of plant-based meat)
- 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- A good handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- Just under 1 dL (0,4 cup) grated parmesan cheese (vegan: leave out for vegan version)
- 1 dL (0,4 cup) breadcrumbs
- 0,5 dL (0,2 cup) olive oil
- 1 egg (vegan: use 1 tbsp. chia seeds + 3 tbsp. water, let it rest for 10-15 minutes)
- 0,5 dL (0,2 cup) milk (vegan: use plant-based milk such as oat drink)
- (Greek) oregano to taste
- 0,5-1 tsp. salt
- 0,5 tsp. pepper
- 1 dL (0,4 cup) olive oil
- A can of chopped tomatoes (400 grams)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon powder
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1,5 tsp. salt
- 0,5 tsp. pepper
- (Greek) oregano
- 70 grams of tomato paste
- 5 dL (2 cups) water
- 1 dL (0,4 cup) Red wine
- 4 bay leaves
First, start with the meatballs
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C on convection/fan oven or 190 °C regular (356/374 °F)
- Start by putting the minced meat in a bowl.
- Mince the two garlic cloves with a press and put them in the bowl.
- Add a finely chopped red onion and chopped fresh parsley.
- Add a bit less than 1 dL (0,4 cups) parmesan cheese (leave out if vegan) and a whole dL (0,4 cups) of bread crumbs.
- Pour the olive oil over the mixture and then add all the spices.
- Put the egg into the bowl, and finally add the milk.
- Grease a small oven-proof dish (pyrex works great) with olive oil before you start kneading the mixture.
- Mix all of the ingredients together with your hands. Use gloves if you do not like touching raw meat.
- When the meat mixture is well combined, form approx. 15 meatballs with your hands. Make them round or egg-shaped, and then put them side by side in the dish.
- Place the dish with the meatballs in the oven for 10 minutes. After that, turn them around and give them another 8-10 minutes (or until they are brown).
While the meatballs are in the oven, you start making the tomato sauce.
Remember to check the meatballs in the meantime, and turn them around after about 10 minutes in the oven.
- Pour olive oil into a large pot.
- Add the chopped tomatoes from the package/can.
- Add 5 dL (2 cups) water.
- Put a cinnamon stick into the pot and add cinnamon powder, salt, pepper, and (Greek) oregano.
- Add the tomato paste and then the bay leaves.
- Stir it all well so the ingredients mix well and bring the saucepan to a boil.
- When the sauce starts to boil, add the red wine.
- Lower the temperature slightly (7 out of 9) and allow the alcohol to evaporate.
- After 5 minutes at a high heat, lower the temperature to below medium (3 out of 9). Stir a few times, and put the lid on.
- Let the sauce simmer for another 5 minutes.
Meatballs and tomato sauce unite
- When the meatballs have been in the oven for about 18-20 minutes in total, take them out.
- Use a large spoon to carefully place the meatballs into the tomato sauce one at a time.
- Put the pot in your hands and remove it from the heat. Using circular movements, roll the meatballs carefully in to the sauce. Be careful while doing so.
- Put the pot back on the stove and simmer for another 15-20 minutes on low heat. This will allow the meatballs to absorb all of the flavor from the tomato sauce.
- While the meatballs simmer in the sauce, cook rice after your choice in the meantime. We always do basmati rice.
Serve the meal with rice on the bottom and meatballs in the red sauce over top. Make it even tastier by adding parmesan cheese (or just sprinkle some fresh parsley over top).
The dish is served with rice (and even better, with a Greek salad on the side).