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Lemon Cardamom Meatballs with Garlic Tahini Sauce

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The following recipe and photography was provided by recipe developer and food photographer, Ashley Durand of Plate & Pen.

Made as an appetizer or a main dish, you must try these meatballs during citrus season!

Meatballs are wonderful for many reasons, but one quality that truly makes them shine is that they’re a great vessel for flavor! From sweet and tangy BBQ sauce to Asian-style glazes to citrus and tahini, they are able to absorb and adapt to almost any flavor profile and always seem to taste delicious in the end!

Lemon Cardamom Meatballs

With the winter months being citrus season, this recipe calls for rolling Heinen’s CARE Certified ground beef with fresh lemon zest and seasonal spices to create a combination of flavors that will warm your belly and awaken your taste buds.

Quickly browned and baked in a cast iron pan and served in a lemony garlic tahini sauce, this recipe makes the everyday meatball much more exciting!

Lemon Cardamom Meatballs with Garlic Tahini Sauce

Lemon Cardamom Meatballs with Garlic Tahini Sauce


For the Meatballs

  • 1 lb. Heinen’s CARE Certified ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp. red onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ tsp. Heinen’s ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. Heinen’s ground cardamom
  • 2 Tbsp. Heinen’s olive oil

For the Garlic Tahini Sauce

  • ½ cup Heinen’s tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • ¼- ½ cup warm water


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Add the ground beef, onion, garlic, egg, fresh herbs, lemon zest, pine nuts, cinnamon, cardamom and salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Combine the mixture with your hands. Be careful to not overmix.
  3. Roll the mixture into 9-10 meatballs. This step can be done up to 24 hours in advance. If making these ahead, simply store the meatballs in the fridge in an airtight container or on a baking sheet wrapped tightly with plastic wrap.
  4. Cover the bottom of an oven-proof skillet or cast iron pan with olive oil and heat over medium heat until hot.
  5. Brown the meatballs on all sides for roughly 4-5 minutes.
  6. Transfer the skillet to the oven and continue cooking for 7-8 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
  7. While the meatballs are baking, combine the tahini, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Slowly add half of the water to thin out the sauce. If needed, use the other half of the warm water to achieve the right consistency. Taste for flavor and add additional salt, if needed.
  8. Serve the meatballs nestled on top of the sauce. Garnish with pine nuts and fresh herbs.


  • Great to serve alongside a simple green salad or orzo pasta.
  • If you prefer to bake these meatballs from start-to-finish, increase the oven temperature to 400°F and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes.
  • At first the tahini sauce can seem thick and chunky. Be patient and keep adding small amounts of water until fully incorporated. Eventually, the sauce will achieve a very velvety, creamy consistency. Make sure to taste for seasoning.

Lemon Cardamom Meatballs

Alissa DiSanto

By Alissa DiSanto

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