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A sticky-sweet pomegranate molasses glaze makes these meatballs ready to party

(Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
Pomegranate-Glazed Meatballs
Total time:40 mins
Servings:10 to 15 (makes 30 meatballs)
Total time:40 mins
Servings:10 to 15 (makes 30 meatballs)

This recipe takes inspiration from a common dish across the Levant — fried chicken livers coated in pomegranate molasses. The sticky-sweet concoction can convert even the most skeptical of diners. The glaze also provides additional flavor to complement the robust spicing of the meatballs.

This works with store-bought pomegranate molasses or our recipe for homemade, which is easy to make at home now that the fruit’s juice is so easily accessible.

How to make your own pomegranate molasses

If you have extra meatballs, toss them with tomato sauce for a flavorful accompaniment to pasta.

Total time: 40 mins

Storage Notes: Leftover meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Gently reheat in a preheated 350-degree oven.

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For the meatballs

  • One (6-inch) pita or 1 1/2 ounces white bread with crust removed, torn
  • 1/2 medium tomato (about 4 ounces), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 medium red or yellow onion (about 4 ounces), roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 small handful fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for optional garnish
  • 1/2 small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems, plus more for optional garnish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for greasing hands
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
  • Generous 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 fresh green chile, such as serrano (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
  • 1 pound ground beef (can substitute lamb, veal or a combination)

For the glaze

  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses (see related recipe) or store-bought (see NOTE)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar (see NOTE)
  • 2 tablespoons water, plus more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced or finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for serving

Step 1

Make the meatballs: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a mini food processor, combine the pita, tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, olive oil, salt, allspice, cinnamon, black pepper and cumin and the optional chile and coriander and pulse until the mixture forms a paste.

Step 2

In a large bowl, mix together the meat with the bread mixture until well combined.

Step 3

Grease your hands and, using a 1-tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop out 1 heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture, roll into a ball between your palms and place on the prepared baking sheet. Continue with the remaining meat mixture, greasing your hands with olive oil as you go to avoid the meat sticking, until you run out of the mixture.

Step 4

Roast the meatballs for 12 to 15 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

Step 5

Make the glaze: While the meatballs are roasting, in a medium skillet over medium heat, combine the molasses, brown sugar, water, orange and lemon juices, tomato paste, garlic, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Decrease the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, stirring frequently to avoid scorching and sticking on the bottom, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. (If using store-bought molasses, which is thick, you may need to add a couple more tablespoons of water.) Remove from the heat.

Step 6

Working in batches, transfer the cooked meatballs to the pan with the glaze and gently swirl to evenly coat. Transfer to a serving platter and repeat with the remaining meatballs. If you have any remaining glaze, you can drizzle it over the plated meatballs.

Step 7

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and parsley and/or cilantro, if using, and serve.

VARIATION: Stuff each meatball with a small cube of halloumi cheese before shaping and baking. An 8-ounce block of halloumi will be sufficient for about 40 meatballs.

NOTE: If using store-bought pomegranate molasses, which varies in sweetness levels, reduce the sugar to 1 tablespoon.

Nutrition Information

Per serving (3 meatballs), based on 10

Calories: 182; Total Fat: 12 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 34 mg; Sodium: 480 mg; Carbohydrates: 9 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugar: 5 g; Protein: 8 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

From cookbook author Reem Kassis.

Tested by Alexis Sargent and Olga Massov; email questions to

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