Harissa Meatballs (Whole 30)



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Harissa Meatballs

Harissa Meatballs (Whole 30) are so delicious and flavorful and 100% Whole 30 compliant. BIG BONUS!

Have you ever tried Whole 30? I’m not going to lie, it can be tough. While I was successful with going 30 whole days and staying within the guidelines, I felt like it was a bit too much meat for me. I don’t eat an enormous amount of meat and I found it challenging. Next time, if I ever did it again, I’d definitely be prepared with more vegetarian-driven meals in my back pocket.

Regardless of whether or not you’re doing Whole 30, the good news is that these meatballs are super delicious and can be made at any time. I make them at least a couple times a month and find them super tasty with ground chicken. They’re spicy and savory and utterly delicious.

What is Whole 30?

If you’re unfamiliar, it’s super similar to Paleo except that there is absolutely no cheating. There are no cheat days, no straying. While there are a lot of things you CAN’T eat, there is a very long list of foods you can eat and a lot of them are delicious.

What Can You Eat On Whole 30?

  • Vegetables (all kinds!)
  • Potatoes (white and sweet potatoes)
  • Grass-Fed Meat
  • Chicken
  • Pork (unprocessed so no cured meats)
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Oils (like avocado oil, olive oil) and ghee
  • Coffee (thank the heavens!)

Harissa Meatballs

Ground chicken or ground turkey for meatballs?

Let’s discuss ground chicken vs. ground turkey. I definitely prefer ground chicken to ground turkey; I find it at the butcher’s counter at my local grocery store. If I’m going to eat any ground poultry, I usually attempt to look for brown meat because it’s definitely more flavorful while still being relatively lean.

What is Harissa?

Harissa is a North African paste that is made up of chiles, spices and salt. You can buy it online on Amazon OR youcan make it yourself. I found it surprisingly easy to make myself.

You can eat it on eggs, vegetables, chicken or these meatballs—the options are endless.

Harissa Meatballs

How to Make Harissa Meatballs (Whole 30)?

These meatballs are insanely easy to throw together. Here’s how:

  • You start by making the sauce with onions, salt, garlic and olive oil.
  • After it’s all softened, you add the tomato paste, harissa paste, cumin, tomatoes and water.
  • Then it marries all together and is blended. It’s a delicious sauce that can be doubled and be frozen for later use.
  • Next, comes the meatballs! I love these meatballs because they require very little preparation. Just some mixing of ground poultry, harissa paste, parsley, egg yolk, salt and cumin.
  • Using a cookie scoop, I scoop out meatballs and drop them in warm oil. No forming of meatballs or rolling them out. Super simple this way!
  • Cook until browned on both sides and then I add them to the sauce to cook and simmer until completely cooked.

Could not be more simple. I love to eat them on a bed of spagehtti squash, quinoa or with a side of sautéed spinach. I even love to eat them with paste—delicious!

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Harissa Meatballs (Whole 30 Recipe)

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 20 Meatballs
These harissa meatballs are Whole 30 compliant. They have zero soy, gluten or dairy in them and yet are so flavorful and delicious.


  • 1 medium Dutch oven
  • 1 medium cookie scoop



  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons harissa paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 24 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water

Harissa Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • 2 teaspoons harissa paste
  • 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley + more as garnish
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoons oliveo oil
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, as garnish (optional)


To Make the Sauce:

  • In a medium pot, set over medium heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is warm, add the diced onion. Add a few pinches of salt and stir; cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in the minced garlic and stir. Add a few tablespoons of the onion/garlic mixture to a medium bowl (we’ll use this for the meatballs) and set aside.
  • To the remaining onions, add the tomato paste, harissa and cumin. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes and then transfer to a blender, along with the can of diced tomatoes and water. Pulse until smooth. Transfer back to the pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and allow to simmer, gently, while you make the meatballs.

To Make the Meatballs:

  • To the medium bowl with the onion/garlic mixture, add the ground chicken or turkey, harissa paste, Italian parsley, egg yolk, salt and ground cumin. Mix until thoroughly combined. Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop out balls and form meatballs. Repeat until you’ve worked your way through all of the ground mixture. (Ground chicken is way softer than ground turkey so if you’re using ground chicken, do your best! Don’t be bummed if they’re not perfectly shaped meatballs.)
  • In a medium pan, set over medium-high heat, add a few teaspoons of oil. Add the meatballs, being sure to not overcrowd the pan, and cook on each side for 1 to 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove and set aside and then repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding more oil as needed.
  • Add all of the meatballs to the tomato sauce, cover the pot and simmer until cooked all the way through. Give the sauce a taste and adjust the salt per your liking. Garnish with Italian parsley and pine nuts. Ladle over anything you like—it’s my favorite over spaghetti squash.
  • These meatballs stay good in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Freeze them in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 2 months.


To Make Ahead: 
These meatballs are great to keep in the fridge. They keep well in the sauce for up to 5 days. Freeze in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 2 months. 
Medium OXO Cookie Scoop | Medium Dutch Oven | Silicon Spatulas | Harissa Paste 
Other Tips:
Recipe for  Homemade Harissa


Serving: 4g | Calories: 5kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 130mg | Potassium: 22mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 24IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Healthy, Italian, Mediterranean, Whole 30
Like this Recipe? Please Rate & comment below!

If you make these Harissa Meatballs (Whole 30), let me know on Instagram! 

Cozy Latin-Inspired Comfort Food Recipes

Hi! I'm Adrianna and this is my cozy space on the internet that is super-charged by butter, flour and copious amounts of pasta. Stay awhile, will you!

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  1. This is amazing! We just finished the meal, and both the hubby and I love the flavors in the sauce! Super delicious recipe!

  2. I planned my entire wedding theme around one pair of shoes that I simply had to have but wouldn’t wear under normal circumstances. 😉 You can definitely pick the cake and go from there! Congratulations!

  3. I’ve never used harissa before, but these meatballs seem like the right choice for getting started. And, congratulations! Enjoy every second of your engagement. It will be so much fun!