One-Pan Lamb Meatballs and Saffron Rice with Herby-Yogurt Sauce

This One-Pan Lamb Meatballs and Saffron Rice with Herby-Yogurt Sauce is a definite show stopper when it comes to spring entertaining. 

One-Pan Lamb Meatballs and Saffron Rice with Herby-Yogurt Sauce

Super flavorful meatballs are browned in a skillet and set aside. Next, you’ll start to make a bright saffron-infused rice, nestle the meatballs back into the skillet (with the rice) and let it all finish cooking in the same pan. While that’s cooking away, you can quickly whip up a delightful herby-yogurt sauce to serve with the meatballs. Layer it all up on a big family-style platter and topped with a pop of pomegranate seeds, all of your guests will devour!!

One-Pan Lamb Meatballs and Saffron Rice with Herby-Yogurt Sauce

One-Pan Lamb Meatballs and Saffron Rice with Herby-Yogurt Sauce

Whether you are celebrating Easter or just hosting a dinner party, this One-Pan Lamb Meatballs and Saffron Rice with Herby-Yogurt Sauce has that WOW factor with every bite. Try serving this up with a big side salad or roasted veggies for a complete meal! 

Looking for more Lamb Recipes, here are some other great ones to try:

Easy Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb

Pan-Seared Lamb Chops with Mint Chimichurri 

Lamb Ragu with Rigatoni

One-Pan Lamb Meatballs and Saffron Rice with Herby-Yogurt Sauce

One-Pan Lamb Meatballs and Saffron Rice with Herby-Yogurt Sauce
Serves: 6 people
5 from 9 votes
Total Time45 mins


For the Lamb Meatballs:

  • 1.5 pounds ground lamb
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the Rice:

  • ½ cup diced white onion
  • 1 cup white basmati rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • Pinch of saffron threads crumbled
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

For the Herby-Yogurt:

  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice or ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro leaves

To serve:

  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
  • Fresh dill fronds for garnish


Make the Meatballs:

  • In a large bowl, combine the lamb, garlic, salt, pepper, allspice, turmeric, paprika, cumin, and egg. Using your hands, mix until the meat becomes almost a paste-like consistency. Add the tapioca and again, using your hands, continue to mix until well combined. The meat should still have a bit of a paste-like consistency, but should also hold it’s shape when forming into meatballs.
  • Using damp hands, roll the into 1-inch meatballs (the damp hands help since the meat mixture is a little sticky).
  • Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the meatballs to the skillet and brown on both sides, 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and set aside. When all of the meatballs are browned and set aside, discard the excess fat from the skillet but reserving at least 2 tablespoons to cook the rice.

Make the Rice:

  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the skillet and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and the salt and cook, stirring, toasting the rice in the skillet until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the turmeric, Saffron threads, and lemon zest and continue to cook, toasting the spices, about 2 more minutes.
  • Pour in the broth and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, nestle the meatballs into the skillet and reduce heat to a light simmer (medium-low heat). Cover and cook until the rice is tender and the meatballs are cooked through, 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, dill, mint and cilantro and stir until well combined. Set aside.
  • When the meatballs and rice are ready to serve, Plate the rice and meatballs on a large platter. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and garnish with the dill fronds and mint leaves. Serve with the herby-yogurt sauce and enjoy!!


  • Reply
    November 6, 2022 at 11:31 pm

    5 stars
    simply incredible

    • Reply
      November 7, 2022 at 9:56 pm

      Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    October 13, 2022 at 1:39 am

    Okay so I passed over this recipe multiple times and wasn’t super jazzed about making it. But today it sounded good so I did and I have to say, it might actually be my very favorite Defined Dish recipe I have made (and I have made ALOT). This was so so good! I did use half ground beef since my husband isn’t as into lamb as I am, and it turned out great. I read the reviews and was careful not to make the meatballs too big so they would cook evenly, and not to have my skillet too hot for the rice. Since we are empty nested, I was going to freeze half the meatballs, but I got halfway through and decided to make copycat Central Market kofta kebabs that they sell at their butcher, and threaded them on wood skewers, which I did some amputation surgery to to make them fit into a gallon ziploc, for the freezer. Figured it would be a nice change up to grill them next time and change up the sides. Although honestly that rice is so bomb I don’t know how I’m going to top that! Thanks for another great recipe!

  • Reply
    October 5, 2022 at 4:07 pm

    5 stars
    One of the best!! I’m absolutely in awe of all the great flavors!!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2022 at 12:21 am

    Alex! I think this was the FIRST time I completely failed at one of your recipes (and I’ve made a lot!) The onions burnt and then the rice completely stuck to the bottom of the pan and didn’t cook through at all. The meatballs turned out good, though! But what did I do wrong?! Was I supposed to use a non-stick pan?

    • Reply
      September 25, 2022 at 1:31 pm

      oh no!! I am not sure how that happened– but yes- it seems to be a skillet or skillet being too hot issue. I didn’t use a nonstick here; however, you can never go wrong using a non-stick when in doubt! And maybe just lower the heat a tad when you cover and cook to ensure it doesn’t burn.

  • Reply
    September 8, 2022 at 1:01 am

    This one has been labeled a “keeper” in our family. My husband isn’t a big lamb fan, so we compromise with 50/50 lamb/beef – but the flavors were still so amazing. I shouldn’t be surprised as we have yet to find a DD recipe we didn’t love!

  • Reply
    August 30, 2022 at 12:35 am

    So. Good. Adding to the rotation!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2022 at 2:04 am

    5 stars
    simply Amazing!!!!!!

  • Reply
    June 7, 2022 at 6:33 pm

    This was so so GOOD!! I loved the flavors so much and it was pretty easy to throw together! I made a couple of subs just based on what I had, I used ground turkey instead of lamb and breadcrumbs in place of the tapioca flour. This is a very forgiving recipe! You never disappoint and this was no exception!!

  • Reply
    June 5, 2022 at 12:05 am

    5 stars
    This dish had great flavor!! I had to do 50/50 beef and lamb, and the lamb flavor still came through nicely. I found the rice was perfect at 20 minutes, but next time I would double the amount to balance the amount of meatballs.

  • Reply
    May 10, 2022 at 10:21 pm

    Loved this so much but found rice didn’t cook all the way in :20. Wondering if I could make the meatballs (perhaps broil them in oven) for 30m and cook rice separately? Will that diminish flavor of rice?

    • Reply
      May 12, 2022 at 2:17 pm

      It’ll still be good that way! The meatballs definitely infuse some flavor into the rice, but it’s good on it’s own, also.

  • Reply
    May 4, 2022 at 1:40 am

    5 stars
    This was one of the best lamb recipes I’ve ever made. It was so simple but so delicious! Alex does it again!!

    • Reply
      May 4, 2022 at 11:53 pm


  • Reply
    Courtney Schubert
    April 26, 2022 at 12:24 am

    How do you make sure the meatballs cook all the way through before the rice starts sticking to the bottom of the pan/burning?

    • Reply
      May 2, 2022 at 5:15 pm

      The meatballs should have plenty of time to cook during the process! when the rice is done, just cut into one meatball to double check!

      • Reply
        Ashley Ruggeri
        June 16, 2022 at 5:14 pm

        5 stars
        A family favorite. We love this. It’s become a weekly staple in our house.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2022 at 3:57 am

    Hi Alex! Excited to make this recipe 🙂 could I sub quinoa instead of rice? Would the cooking time be impacted?

    • Reply
      April 25, 2022 at 9:36 pm

      Hi! I haven’t yet tried it with Quinoa. Im sure it will be great, but know the cook time with be much less and the liquid may need to be adjusted.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2022 at 4:52 pm

    Hi Alex! Can one prep the meatballs the day before? I have some family coming over Friday but Friday is jam packed so hoping I could prep (but not cook) the meatballs the day before. Super excited to try this dish – looks amazing!

    • Reply
      April 19, 2022 at 4:57 pm

      yes!!! you can definitely do that!!

  • Reply
    April 17, 2022 at 11:16 pm

    5 stars
    This recipe is simply amazing! I made it as a casual Easter dinner for 2. I cut the recipe in half and it came together beautifully. So flavorful and so easy! Paired it with the Little Gem Salad from The Comfortable Kitchen. Two thumbs up!!!

    • Reply
      April 18, 2022 at 3:44 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    April 14, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    5 stars
    This was amazing!! I made the recipe as suggested, which says it feeds 8, but our dinner party of 4 adults blew right through it! I doubled the sauce recipe and next time I’ll double the rice recipe as well. It’s just too good not to have leftovers!

  • Reply
    Stephanie Jones
    April 13, 2022 at 8:56 pm

    I also want to know if you can use an alternative meat, like ground turkey msybe?

    • Reply
      April 18, 2022 at 3:59 pm

      Yes, that should work!

  • Reply
    April 13, 2022 at 8:33 pm

    What can you use instead of tapioca flour?

    • Reply
      April 25, 2022 at 9:37 pm

      breadcrumbs work here… or anything to bind the meatballs!

  • Reply
    April 13, 2022 at 2:27 pm

    What can you sub for egg bc I’m allergic?

    • Reply
      April 18, 2022 at 3:59 pm

      The egg helps to bind the meatballs, but 2 tbsp of mayo or tahini may work. I have not tried that in this recipe, but that is what I use for another meatball recipe.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2022 at 1:26 am

    5 stars
    A++ automatically in the rotation. Made pita and tossed arugula with lemon juice and olive oil to go along with it. Everyone loved it

    • Reply
      April 13, 2022 at 11:39 am

      woohoo!! So glad!

  • Reply
    April 11, 2022 at 8:30 pm

    Could you sub a different ground meat for lamb?

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