Moroccan Beef Meatball Tagine

Why is it that I can get my kids to eat meatballs, but when I make meatloaf they cringe?  It is something about the shape of the meat that gets them every time.  If I cut up the meatloaf into small bite sized pieces, I can usually trick them into eating it – until they see the loaf pan on the counter.  Personally, I love meatloaf – I love the simplicity, and the flavor of the beef cooking in it’s own juices.  On the other hand, I love meatballs too.  Especially when they are served with pasta and sauce.

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, and I thought it looked very interesting.  Meatballs made with cinnamon – I had to try this one.  Also – the meatballs cook in the sauce – with no pre-baking – how simple!  These were a huge success – I just kept taking another bite, looking forward to that next burst of flavor.  I served it over israeli couscous – and it was an incredible meal in a bowl.  I can’t wait to make it again.



  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (20% fat)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely grated onion
  • 1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch-thick carrot slices (cut on diagonal)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for garnish
  • 1 5-ounce package baby spinach leaves
  • Couscous with Fresh Cilantro and Lemon Juice
  • Lemon wedges (for garnish)


For meatballs:
Line large rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Gently mix all ingredients in large bowl. Using moistened hands and scant 2 tablespoonfuls for each, roll meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Arrange meatballs on sheet.

For stew:
Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté about 15 minutes. Add garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, and saffron; stir 2 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes with juice, and raisins.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring stew to simmer. Stir in carrots. Carefully add meatballs to stew; gently press into liquid to submerge. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cilantro over. Cover pot; place in oven. Bake until meatballs are cooked through and carrots are tender, about 35 minutes. Sprinkle spinach over stew. Cover and bake until spinach wilts, about 5 minutes longer. Gently stir to mix in spinach, being careful not to break meatballs. Remove cinnamon sticks. Season tagine with salt and pepper. Spoon couscous into bowls; top with tagine. Garnish with cilantro and lemons.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Moroccan Beef Meatball Tagine

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7 thoughts on “Moroccan Beef Meatball Tagine

  1. yeah looks great…I had never seen meatballs with cinnamon before and just made some in a very different dish recently…

    this looks better.

    i love meatloaf too…

  2. I make my meatloaf in a muffin tin, so the kids get a ‘cupcake’ of meatloaf. It reduces the cooking time by almost half- and the kids will actually eat it. I think you are right, it’s the shape of the meatloaf that turns them off! Good luck, and keep up the great recipes! I love this site!

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