Lamb Meatballs Glazed with Toota’s Pepper Jelly

This is a super fun and tasty appetizer, but you could also serve it with mashed potatoes and make a meal out of it. I do it more frequently as the former because I can prep everything ahead and cook the meatballs just before guests arrive so they are warm and sticky as they come out of the oven. Toota was my dad’s great aunt, and her pepper jelly is famous in the extended Beall family, getting passed down through the generations. I’m sure she wouldn’t have imagined this application, but it is a delicious compliment to the lamb, providing a subtle heat and sweetness. Many grocery stores now carry good quality pepper jelly, so if you’re not inclined to make your own, this will save some time. If you do, the jelly recipe makes much more than you need for the meatballs. I like to give jars to friends as hostess gifts,and the jelly is wonderful when served alongside a creamy cheese, such as goat cheese or cream cheese with crackers.


Pepper jelly

Formed meatballs

The meatballs can be prepped ahead and refrigerated until ready to cook.

Cooked meatballs

Par cook the meatballs before adding the jelly.

Topped meatballs

Spoon the jelly on top of the meatballs and return to the oven to finish cooking and create the glaze.


Make Ahead Dinner Party

Lamb Meatballs Glazed with Toota’s Pepper Jelly

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Servings: 20 small meatballs


For the Jelly:

  • 3 large jalapeno pepper seeded
  • 3 red bell peppers seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 ½ cups cider vinegar
  • 3 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 ounce pectin about ¼ cup

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 10 fresh mint leaves finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup grated onion
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 small garlic clove grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika


For the Jelly:

  • Use a food processor to finely chop the peppers. Put in a large saucepan with the vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Boil 90 seconds.
  • Remove from the heat and whisk in the pectin. Boil again for another 90 seconds. Remove from the heat.
  • Let cool slightly, then spoon into jars and cool completely. Jelly will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

For the Meatballs:

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Combine all ingredients for the lamb meatballs, except the lamb, in a bowl and mix until completely combined. You could also do this in a food processor and grind everything together instead of grating the onions and garlic. Add the lamb to the mixture and combine very thoroughly with your hands.
  • Shape into small, bite-sized balls for appetizers, or larger balls for a main course. Place them on a sheet pan or large baking dish. Cook 12 minutes for the smaller balls, 16 for larger.
  • Remove from the oven and drain the fat. Scoop a teaspoon of the pepper jelly over each meatball (slightly more for the larger ones) and return to the oven. Bake 10 minutes more. The jelly should slightly caramelize and the meat should just be cooked through. Serve warm.


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