Sesame-spice Turkey Meatballs (with cucumber yogurt sauce)

Today was a momentous day in the kitchen. Ok, well, not that momentous. I made my first full recipe from my Smitten Kitchen cookbook — a Christmas gift from my darling brother and co-blogger, Edward (I also made challah French Toast– to be posted at a later date). I’ve adapted recipes from it a couple times before and of course, I’ve made things from the recipes on the Smitten Kitchen blog. But today was the first time that I said, gosh darn it, who cares if sesame seeds cost a fortune — I’m making this recipe! And I am very grateful that I did because these meatballs are AMAZING. Like mouth-watering good.

I did deviate some from Deb’s original recipe– the recipe called for serving the meatballs over a smashed chickpea salad. And I’m hella lazy. So instead, I bought hummus. I took inspiration from the fact that she describes the recipe as inspired by “a falafel stand. I turned one of the most beloved vegetarian meals on the planet into meatballs.” — I ate my meatballs in pitas with spinach, hummus, and a homemade cucumber yogurt sauce (recipe below)

Sesame-spice Turkey Meatballs

Serving size: About 16 meatballs


  • Large pan
  • Baking Sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Large bowl


  • One-pound ground turkey
  • 2/3 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (Or one tsp jarred minced garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • a few liberal shakes of black pepper
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Vegetable oil (enough to coat pan)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and cover your baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all the meatball ingredients (everything except the oil for the pan) in a large bowl. I used my hands because squishing things is fun. But you can use a fork too.
  3. Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat.
  4. Start making balls out of the meat mixture as the oil heats. They should be about 1 inch in diameter.
  5. Brown the meatballs in oil. This will require moving them around a bunch to get all the sides browned. Don’t worry too much about how golden delicious they get though — they’ll brown more in the oven.
  6. Once the meatballs are browned, move them onto the parchment covered baking pan. Put them in the oven for 10 minutes. When they come out, they should be golden brown all over and cooked through (the original recipe say they should get to 165 degrees in the middle, but how the heck should I know if they’re that temperature in the middle? I don’t have a schmancy meat thermometers.)
    Don't they look delicious?

    Don’t they look delicious?

During the ten minutes where your meatballs are baking, you can make a delicious yogurt sauce for them. This also could be made ahead of time.

Lemon Cucumber Yogurt Sauce


  • One single-serving plain greek yogurt
  • One quarter of a medium cucumber, diced
  • One-eighth of an onion, diced
  • Two Tbsp lemon juice
  • A dash of garlic powder
  • A dash of black pepper


  1. Mix it all together.
  2. No, that’s it. I just felt like I couldn’t have only one thing under instructions.

Now eat it! I recommend putting the sauce and hummus in the pita first and then adding the meatballs and spinach. I usually fit 2 and a half meatballs per pita half and I was using Arnold’s brand whole wheat pitas. Also, once the meatballs are in the pita, squish the pita so that the meatballs break up and the sauce gets in all the nooks and crannies.


  1. I made these! They were good, but I think I would cut the lemon juice in the yogurt sauce in half.

    I used naan, because I can’t seem to find good pita around here. I also made my own hummus.

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