This easy meatball skillet with lemon orzo is a great family friendly weeknight meal. Greek beef meatballs are cooked with orzo, diced zucchini and tomatoes and sprinkled with fresh dill and fresh lemon juice. This 30 minute meal is flavorful and easy!
Thank you to Iowa Beef Industry Council on behalf of the Iowa State Beef Checkoff Program for sponsoring this post. And Thank You for supporting the brands that support me and allow me to continue to grow my blog. All opinions, recipe and photographs are my own.
Each time my kids graduate from baby food purees to table food, I have a momentary freak out of “what the heck do I feed this baby?!” before I remember that they can eat just about everything that we do – as long as we are mindful to cook healthy, nutritious meals.
Its actually not that hard to cook meals that are perfect for the whole family, as long as you pay attention to what ingredients you are using.
- Always use the best quality you can
- Keep the salt to a minimum (baby kidneys can’t metabolism it as well as ours)
- Remember to keep it nutritious as you can.
Our weeknights have been super crazy lately – between after school activities for the girls and after work meetings for my husband, dinner has to be planned out extremely well or its the drive through for us.
Other healthy beef recipes for families with babies:
- Herbed Steak Sheet Pan is an excellent meal for the whole family – including two purees.
- Chimichurri Ground Beef and Rice Bowl is perfect for those first finger-food stages.
- Shredded Cuban Beef Bowl is packed with great finger food options!
- Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef is an easy meal perfect for finger foods!
- Grilled Za’atar Beef Kabobs with Veggies, Couscous and Mint-Yogurt Sauce – this easy grilling recipe is packed with fun flavor and beautiful colors!
How to make homemade meatballs
Meatballs are one of our favorite meals to make. Not only can you do sooo much more with them than spaghetti, but they have to be one of the most kid friendly foods out there. These greek meatballs are definitely easy, kid friendly meatballs!
When it comes to making meatballs, using ground beef is one of my favorites – its flavorful, its versatile, its cheap, and it’s packed with nutrients like protein, iron, and zinc. Its a perfect nutritious food to use for recipes to feed babies and toddlers (and adults, too!).
Tips to make the best homemade meatballs:
- You want to use ground beef with some fat in there – the fat adds flavor! I usually go for 15% fat content, or 85/15. As long as you stay within 10-20% fat content, you will be good to go. If you have too much fat, the meatballs will be too greasy, and if you do not have enough fat, the meatballs will be dry.
- Don’t overmix your meatball mixture or they will be tough.
- Use a skillet that is large enough so your meatballs aren’t crowded. They need plenty or room to properly brown and get nice crispy edges!
How to serve Greek meatballs with lemon orzo to your family
For Babies – These Greek meatballs are an awesome ground beef recipe for baby! To serve the meatballs to babies, make the recipe as directed, and when it is time to eat, dice the meatball into very small pieces. The zucchini and tomato can also be diced into small pieces depending on the needs of your baby, and the lemon orzo can be served as is.
For Toddlers – Try “deconstructing” the greek into different piles – meatballs, lemon orzo, and veggies all in their own separate pile. Sometimes food touching other food can be overwhelming for kids, so to minimize this, just separate it all out.
For Older children and Adults – Older kids and adults can enjoy this meal as is, or with an extra generous sprinkling of fresh dill.
How you can prepare these meatballs and orzo ahead of time
This meatball skillet meal can be prepared ahead of time either as a whole recipe in its entirety or in parts.
- The meatballs can be made up to two days ahead of time. You can then simply reheat it when it is time to eat.
- Zucchini can be cut up to 12 hours earlier. Just cover them with a damp paper towel and place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you need them. The tomatoes should be left until its time to cook, though.
- To make these meatballs cook faster, you can get out all of the necessary ingredients and tools you need before you start cooking, as well as measuring out your ingredients ahead of time.
How Your Kids Can Help in the Kitchen:
- Kids aged 1-3 can help you measure everything, plus pick the dill leaves off the stems, wash the veggies, and juice the lemon.
- Kids aged 4-6 can help do everything above, plus help you slice the zucchini and cherry tomatoes.
- Kids aged 7-10+ can help do everything above, plus help you mix and shape the meatballs.
*Please note that these recommendations are generalized, and to please use your personal discretion with your child’s skill level. And always, always supervise! Read more about how to have your children help you in the kitchen.
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Greek Meatballs and Lemon Orzo Skillet
This easy greek meatball skillet with lemon orzo is a great family friendly weeknight meal. Greek spiced beef meatballs are cooked with orzo, diced zucchini and tomatoes and sprinkled with fresh dill and fresh lemon juice. This 30 minute meal is flavorful and easy!
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp salt free greek seasoning
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 egg
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/4 cup orzo pasta
- 2 cups unsalted chicken broth
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a large bowl mix together the ground beef, panko breadcrumbs, greek seasoning, garlic, egg and pepper. Mix until just combined, but do not overmix.
- Form the meat mixture into balls using about 2 Tablespoons of meat mixture for each meatball.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat with 1 Tablespoon olive oil.
- Place the meatbals into the skillet in an even layer with some space in between. Cook the meatballs for 3-4 minutes per side, until nice and browned all over. If you need to, cook the meatballs in two batches.
- Turn off the heat on the stovetop.
- Add in the orzo and chicken broth to the skillet. Give it a slight, careful stir to make sure the orzo is evenly distributed.
- Cover with a lid or foil and place in the oven to bake for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the diced zucchini, recover with lid, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven and stir in the sliced cherry tomatoes, lemon juice and fresh dill.
Saturday 25th of June 2022
I don’t have a cast iron skillet. Can I just do the meatballs in a skillet on stove then transfer to baking pan?
Monday 27th of June 2022
Yes, although using a skillet that can transfer from the stovetop to the oven makes it a lot easier!
Monday 13th of June 2022
What did I do wrong? My orzo would not cook even after 25 minutes! It was a gummy mess! The meatballs were delicious though😀
Wednesday 1st of June 2022
Hello, Can brown rice or any other grain be used for a gluten free option? Thanks!
Monday 6th of June 2022
I haven't tried that, but I don't see what not! If you try let me know how it goes!
Tuesday 31st of May 2022
I’ve never heard of Greek seasoning. What brand makes it?
Monday 6th of June 2022
Oh, yes! Its a great spice blend. I get mine from the Spice House, but I know Penzey's also has them, and I have gotten them frequently at stores that have a good spice selection like Whole Foods.
Tuesday 19th of April 2022
This is so easy, I love a one pot meal, and so full of flavor. This has been one of my family’s favorites for at least a year now and I can’t believe I’ve never left a comment! Thanks for the awesome recipe.