Homemade Haitian Meatballs are traditional, simple, and delicious. The meatballs are made with ground beef and spices.
No other ground meat is part of the recipe. The meatballs are usually made with a light tomato and onion sauce, almost like a Sauce ti-Malice. This dish is sometimes paired with Rice with Red Beans or White Rice and a Bean Gravy/Sauce.
When making Haitian Meatballs, buying a very lean ground beef is not suggested as with any other meatballs recipe. When meatballs are made with very lean ground beef, the meat is dry and crumbly. The higher the percentage of lean meat to fat, the leaner the meat is. Ground beef is made from ground chuck or ground round. The packaging should be tightly sealed when buying ground beef, and the meat should be bright red.
How to make the Meatballs
The meatballs are made with onions, garlic, green pepper, egg, vinegar, bread, thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper. Because the bread is soaked in milk, it contains more moisture. The egg is added so all the ingredients can bind together and not fall apart. The ground beef is then shaped into round balls and fried to make meatballs.
I prefer making the meatballs not too big and small because I always worry about the center not cooking thoroughly. When that happens, the best thing to do is place the meatballs in an oven heated at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 – 15 minutes. Let’s not forget that a good skillet is needed. You may want to use a nonstick skillet to make it easier to fry the meatballs.
If you are looking for a meatball recipe without the heavy tomato sauce or gravy, make the Haitian Meatballs for your next meal.
Tips and Notes for the meatballs
- Mix the ground with the spices thoroughly.
- Use a cookie scoop or regular spoon to ensure all meatballs are the same size
- Use your hands to combine the ground beef mixture if you don’t mind touching the meat with your hands.
- Ensure any add ins (like onions, scallions or shallots) are chopped small
- Make sure you soak the bread in milk. You can also add a little bit of milk to help keep the meatballs small and tender.
- Carefully brown meatballs and do not crowd the pan. This will help them hold their shape.
- You can skip marinating the meat for 4 hours if you are pressed for time. But at least give it 30 minutes.
- Season the ground meat very well.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup white onion finely chopped
- 2 tsp garlic minced
- 4 slices white bread
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup green pepper diced very small
- 1 tbsp parsley chopped finely
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves only and crushed
- 1 tsp vinegar white vinegar or prefereably rice vinegar
- 2 tsp salt kosher or sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/2 cup flour
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1/4 tsp hot pepper optional
For the Sauce
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup onion sliced
- 1/2 tsp garlic minced
- 1 cup water
- 1 bouquet garni parsley, thyme and bay leaf
- Noubess Hot and Spicy Sauce optional
- In a bowl, soak shredded bread in milk. In a large bowl add all ingredients with the exception of the egg and the oil. Mix ground beef with spices and bread to fully combine. Store in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Add beaten egg to meat mixture and mix well. Form meatballs (the size of golf balls) about 24. Roll each meatball into flour. Shake off any excess flour. Heat a skillet or frying pan and add oil. Fry meatballs on all sides until golden brown. Do not overcrowd pan while frying.
- To make the sauce for the meatballs, in a separate skillet, add olive oil and 1 tbsp of tomato paste. Stir until oil and tomato paste are blended. Add onion and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water, salt and pepper to taste and bouquet garni. Let boil for 5 minutes then add meatballs and let simmer for 7 to 10 minutes. Additional salt and pepper to taste. If using hot sauce or hot pepper add last or mix with meatballs mixture prior to frying. When the sauce has been incorporated with the meatballs remove from heat and serve hot.
Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.
Nutrition info is automatically generated and provided as a courtesy and as an estimate only.
Originally published, April 24, 2014. Updated and republished.