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Baked Turkish mini meatballs, koftes in pepper and tomato sauce

We Turks love our koftes, Turkish homemade meatballs. A childhood favorite, they get ready in almost no time and the delicious aroma greets you as soon as you are in the kitchen.

Mini Turkish meatballs, koftes; a delicious appetizer or a main course with rice aside.

Mini Turkish meatballs, koftes; a delicious appetizer or a main course with rice aside.

I recently made these baked mini koftes, meatballs for a friend, who follows a gluten free diet. They were delicious and moist in pepper and tomato sauce, also healthy, as being baked. You can serve them as a mezze, starter or bigger portions can make a lovely main course over some rice, pasta and steamed vegetables aside. Cacik dip of cucumber and yoghurt would complement these mini koftes very well too.

This lovely meatballs in peppery sauce recipe and many others are included at my  debut Turkish cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland.

Why don’t you serve these delicious Mini  peppery meatballs with Chickpea piyaz salad with sumac onions and / or with Chickpea pilaf, Nohutlu Pilav, from my new book SEBZE, Vegetarian recipes from my Turkish kitchen? These and 85 delicious, practical vegetarian Turkish recipes are included in SEBZE, you can get a copy here worldwide.


5.0 from 3 reviews
Baked Turkish mini meatballs, koftes in pepper and tomato sauce
These delicious Turkish mini meatballs, koftes are a real crowd pleaser. The pepper and tomato sauce make them moister; they are also gluten-free and healthy, as they are baked.
Recipe type: Appetizers, Mezzes
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 6
  • 225gr/ 8oz ground beef
  • 225gr/8oz ground lamb
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 400 gr/14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 fl oz./1 cup water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Small bowl of water with a drizzle of olive oil aside to shape the koftes
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C/ 350 F
  2. In a large bowl, combine the grated onions, eggs and parsley and knead well. That will help soften the onions and blend the ingredients homogeneously.
  3. Stir in the ground meat, season with salt (about 1 – 2 tsp.) and ground black pepper to your taste. Knead for a good 3-5 minutes with your hands, until the mixture becomes elastic and mixed well.
  4. Cover this ground meat mixture with a cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the garlic and bell peppers. Sauté for 5 minutes, while stirring often.
  6. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and 8 fl oz./ 1 cup of water. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir, cover and simmer on medium to low heat for 10 minutes. Then turn the heat off.
  7. Take out the ground meat mixture from the fridge to shape meatballs. Have a small bowl of water with a drizzle of olive oil near you.
  8. Wet your hands and take a small walnut size of the meat mixture and roll into a ball. Place the meatballs in a baking tray ready cook side by side and continue until all the meat mixture is shaped into mini koftes, meatballs.
  9. Bake the mini koftes in the pre heated oven (180 C / 350 F) for 25 minutes, they will start to get a nice golden brown coating.
  10. Transfer the baked mini koftes in a large baking dish and pour in the pepper and tomato sauce around them, giving a gentle mix.
  11. Bake the mini koftes in tomato and pepper sauce for a further 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken, the flavors blend in and meatballs will have a wonderful coating.
  12. Serve hot with plain rice and Cacik dip of cucumber, yoghurt and mint if you like.


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27 Responses to Baked Turkish mini meatballs, koftes in pepper and tomato sauce

  1. jaz August 7, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    ha! i just made koftas for lunch yesterday. my family loves them.

    • Ozlem Warren August 7, 2014 at 11:47 am #

      Merhaba, our family loves them too! This one is a popular one as a few good vegetables make it to children’s tummy too!

  2. Cuisinedeprovence August 7, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    I am getting hungry just looking at the pictures – we all love meatballs and your lokks scrumptious!

    • Ozlem Warren August 7, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

      Many thanks Barbara, we enjoyed this version too; moist and delicious – and I love the small size; it can be a wonderful appetizer or as a main course with rice or vegetables aside. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Peri's Spice Ladle August 8, 2014 at 6:06 am #

    Absolutely delightful, Ozlem, love the simplicity of these meatballs. Back in India, koftas are made with a mix of vegetables or sometimes meat, and served similarly in an Indian spiced curry:) love finding common threads in our cuisines:) xxPeri.

    • Ozlem Warren August 8, 2014 at 11:37 am #

      Many thanks for your note Peri, I do enjoy seeing similarities and variations in our cuisines – and do love spiced Indian curries 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the mini koftes, the simple sauce was a big hit with us too. Ozlem xx

  4. Tracy Lee Karner August 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    I love koftas, and the simplicity of this recipe is wonderful.

    (P.S. — your recipes, stories and pictures have been inspiring me for nearly a year now! I’m so glad you take the time to publish them!)

    • Ozlem Warren August 8, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

      Merhaba Tracy, many thanks for your note and very kind words, you made my day! Turkish cuisine, culture and my homeland is my passion and it is a pleasure to share, glad you’re enjoying it and I am over the moon that it inspires, thank you!

  5. Phil in the Kitchen August 8, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

    Meatballs are always comforting and cheerful. Offhand I can’t think of any country that doesn’t have at least a few traditional recipes for meatballs. I really like this method of cooking them and I certainly must try the idea of serving them with the dip.

    • Ozlem Warren August 9, 2014 at 9:58 am #

      Thank you Phil, you’re right, meatballs are a favorite all round the world and I lvoe seeing all the variations. Do try them with the Cacik dip of cucumbers and yoghurt aside, refreshing and flavors complement so well.

  6. MyKabulKitchen August 8, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

    We also call Kofte…Kofte 🙂 But yes we have kofte cooked in a dried plum sauce however it is always done on the stovetop not in the oven…This looks much easier and just as delicious. I can never resist meatballs 🙂

    • Ozlem Warren August 9, 2014 at 9:56 am #

      Your kofte cooked in dried plum sauce sounds delicious My Kabul Kitchen, I would love to try that. Kofte is really a universal food and lovely to see variations, thank you for stopping by 🙂

  7. senior dogs abroad August 11, 2014 at 1:47 am #

    Özlem’ciğim, Thanks for posting this new köfte recipe. Your recipes are always simple but so delicious – ıt looks great, too. Herkese selam söyle bizden, öptük. J

    • Ozlem Warren August 11, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

      Merhaba Jolee, many thanks, glad you enjoy the recipe. We met up with Alan and J today, you both sure have been in our thoughts – they’re a delightful company like you both!:) Cok sevgiler, Ozlem

  8. tahar September 21, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    My heritage is Romanian and I have been cooking Maroccan food for nearly 20 years. I bake my kofte/kofta and add them to my sauce in the tagine. My question related to spices, particularly Turkish. Moroccan food has complex spices. But Turkish recipes seems to rely more on the flavor of onions, peppers etc. Would like to know about Turkish spice “blends.”

    • Ozlem Warren September 22, 2014 at 8:58 am #

      Merhaba Tahar, thanks for stopping by. You are right, there is an abundance use of onions and garlic in Turkish cuisine, which I love. But we also use spices, especially at the Southern Turkish cuisine, to flavor our dishes. Most common spices we use are the pungent cumin, the tangy sumac, smoky, spicy red pepper flakes, refreshing dried mint and more. There is also spice blends like zahtar, again, especially enjoyed in southern Turkish cuisine. Here is the link for more info on spices in Turkish cuisine, hope this helps

  9. Carol October 18, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Hi Ozlem,
    I want to make of this recipe over the weekend. I try to cook most of my meals for the week in one go as I work all week. Is this kofte dish OK to freeze?
    I’ve tried making several of your recipes, all with great success.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to post these recipes for us!

    • Ozlem Warren October 19, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      Hi Carol, many thanks for your note. Yes, these mini meatballs freeze beautifully. I usually I make a big batch and freeze in portions. You can reheat in the oven at 180 C/350 F for about 20-25 mins, depending on the size of the pot.Hope you enjoy it, Ozlem

  10. Turkey's For Life August 29, 2015 at 8:17 am #

    Mmmm, love dishes like this. Barry makes a similar one but he makes the köfte slightly bigger – we always make it in winter and it somehow feels more wintery if we have to cut into the köfte. 🙂 Might have to make a big tray full like you’ve done, here. 🙂

    • Ozlem Warren August 31, 2015 at 11:37 am #

      Thank you for your note Julia, we love this mini meatballs ans they are so versatile – great as an appetizer or a main course 🙂 Ozlem x

  11. Dan Goldes March 5, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    Just made these for lunch. Delicious!

    • Ozlem Warren March 6, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

      Delighted to hear it Dan, Afiyet Olsun!

  12. Ardan July 8, 2016 at 4:04 am #

    Hello my koftes melted like ice cream in the oven. Any tips on how to avoid that?

    • Ozlem Warren July 8, 2016 at 8:23 am #

      Merhaba Ardan, that’s unusual, sorry to hear it. A few tips I thought that may help; a) definitely keep the ground meat mixture covered in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, that will help the mixture to bind together. b) have a bowl of water with a little olive oil near you and wet your hands before shaping the meatballs and be firm when shaping and bind the meatball well. Your oiled wet hands should help with that. Do hope these helps, afiyet olsun and many thanks for giving it a go, Ozlem

  13. Karsten Hatch November 21, 2016 at 11:17 pm #

    How many balls is this supposed to make because I made 70 and I’d like to know how long to cook that many.

    • Ozlem Warren November 22, 2016 at 11:36 am #

      Merhaba Karsten, I would bake the meatballs first for 30 minutes and then further 15 -20 minutes baking with the sauce, as the recipe suggests, hope you enjoy it.


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