Lamb Koftas with Sour Cherry Sauce and Pistachios | Paleo & Glutenfree Recipe

Lamb Koftas with Sour Cherry Sauce & Pistachios | Paleo & Glutenfree

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This recipe for cherry studded Persian Lamb Meatballs is easy to make and will impress everyone. The sweet and sour cherry sauce and the chopped pistachios complement the rich, spiced lamb koftas so well and take this paleo and gluten free recipe to the next level! 

Lamb Koftas with Sour Cherry Sauce and Pistachios | Paleo & Glutenfree Recipe

A note about affiliate links in this post: some of these links will take you to Amazon where I may receive a small percentage of sales, at no extra cost to you. 

Happy Sunday, everyone! Oh, and what a week it has been. Starting with our big move from Calgary to Saskatchewan on Monday. It is my first time in this part of Canada and I am already feeling very much at home in the little town next to the South Saskatchewan River, that we moved to. Having had bad luck with the first apartment we had rented, (which felt and smelt as if it had been formerly used as a sauna for chain smoking cats), we got really lucky with our second place. What I like most about it, is that it is directly opposite from a school which reminds me of my days as a teacher, plus it makes for great morning entertainment. Today we are gonna check out the Wolf Willow Winery  and I am all kinds of excited. I heard they make their own rhubarb wine and I cannot wait to try it.

Before it strikes wine o clock, though, I am gonna help myself to a big old portion of these delicious Persian Lamb Koftas with Sour Cherry Sauce and chopped pistachios. I came up with this creation after an afternoon with Marsha Mehran’s  novel Pomegranate Soup which made me so hungry that I had to get cooking something Persian right away. What I love about Persian food are the flavourful combinations – the mix of meat, bold spices and fresh herbs with sweet or tart fruits like cherries, plums, pomegranates, apricots, and raisins. Fun to eat and fun to cook.

Lamb Koftas | Turkish Lamb Meatballs with Sour Cherry Sauce and Pistachios

These spicy Persian lamb meatballs with Sour Cherry Sauce make for such an easy and satisfying lunch or dinner! 

Making kofta is a brilliant way of using minced lamb as an alternative to minced beef or pork. I love lamb and I find that the earthy flavor of lamb goes so well with the tartness of the sour cherry sauce.The sweet and tangy dried cherries add another unexpected element to the dish and the chopped pistachio nuts are a great change in texture.

You can buy sour cherries frozen or dried, both sweetened and unsweetened. Sweetened sour cherries work for this recipe, but if you are eating a paleo diet, or cutting out sugar like I do, I recommend these No Sugar Added Dried Cherries . I still have a bunch left from my cherry drying experiment so mine had no additives whatsoever. Cranberries are a possible alternative.

Lamb Meatballs with Sour Cherry Sauce and Pistachios Paleo and gluten free

The sweet and sour cherry sauce complements the rich, spiced lamb meatballs exceptionally well. If you do not find minced lamb, or are not a fan, you can use ground beef, pork or turkey instead.

Lamb Koftas with Sour Cherry Sauce and Pistachios | Paleo and Gluten Free

The recipe for lamb koftas with sour cherry sauce is both Paleo friendly and gluten free. If you are eating a strict Paleo diet, you can substitute the rice in the picture with cauliflower rice or with a side of cauliflower tabouleh.

Make sure to defrost the frozen cherries and to soak the dried cherries, before chopping them and adding them to the meatballs. They make the lamb koftas extra juicy. I was naughty and used some brandy for soaking the dried cherries, which was really delicious. Water or Organic Cherry Juice work really well. If you use frozen cherries, you can simply use the liquid that gathers around the defrosted cherries.

These lamb koftas can be made in bigger batches and freeze well. The cherry sauce is only one way of enjoying them! You could also add them to pasta sauces to create a twist on your classic spaghetti and meatballs.

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A note about affiliate links in this post: some of these links will take you to Amazon where I may receive a small percentage of sales, at no extra cost to you. 

Lamb Meatballs with Sour Cherry Sauce and Pistachios Paleo and gluten free
5 from 1 vote

Lamb Koftas with Sour Cherry Sauce & Pistachios

This recipe for cherry studded Persian Lamb Meatballs is easy to make and will impress everyone. The sweet and sour cherry sauce and chopped pistachios complement the spiced lamb koftas and take this paleo & gluten free recipe to the next level! 

Course dinner, lunch, main
Cuisine middleeastern, persian, turkish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 2 portions
Calories 800 kcal
Author Kiki Johnson


  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 40 g dried cherries substitute with raisins or cranberries
  • 20 g unshelled pistachios
  • 400 g minced lamb substitute with beef or pork
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 5 tsp coconut oil use avocado oil or butter instead
  • 2 1/2 tsp honey
  • 150 ml bone broth beef or vegetable broth
  • 150 g sour cherries fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 bunch mint


  1. Put the dried cherries in a bowl and cover with either water, unsweetened cherry juice or juice that gathered around the thawed cherries. Put the bowl in the microwave for 15 seconds to let the liquid come to a quick boil, then let cherries soak in the liquid for 15 to 30 minute. Chop the soaked cherries coarsely in a food processor.

  2. Chop the pistachios and put some aside for decoration. Add the rest of them to a bowl together with minced lamb, 3/4 tsp of salt, 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, cumin, cloves, cayenne and the chopped cherries. Shape this mixture into walnut sized meatballs and put them on a plate. 

  3. Heat 3 tsp of coconut oil in a pan on medium - high heat. Fry koftas in the pan for about 6 minutes, until nicely browned from all sides. Transfer the meatballs to a plate.

  4. Wipe out the pan and heat another 2 tsp of coconut oil on medium heat. Add the sliced onion and a pinch of salt and fry them for about 5 minutes, stirring once in a while. Add leftover cinnamon and honey, let fry for a minute, add the broth and cherries. Let this sauce come to a boil for about a minute, then juice the lemon directly into the pan. Add the meatballs, let come to a boil, put the lid on and reduce the temperature to low. Let simmer for about 8 minutes.

  5. Chop the mint. Lift the lid and season the sauce with salt and more honey, if needed. Thicken the sauce with a small amount of konjac flour, if needed. If not eating paleo, you can thicken the sauce with cornstarch.

  6. Serve the kofta on a bed of cauliflower rice and sprinkle with pistachios and mint.

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Persian Lamb Koftas with Sour Cherry Sauce and Pistachios | paleo & gluten free recipe |


  1. I’ve never tried lamb before, but these look and sound like they would be quite delicious. I love that cherry sauce you’ve made. Yum!

    • Thanks so much Joanna!Happy you like the recipe. Oh, sounds like you have missed out. Lamb is delicious. Especially in combination with fruity sauces! A real treat. Maybe you get a chance to try it out soon. Cheers, Kiki

  2. 5 stars
    We really enjoy lamb so I’m sure we’d really like this recipe. The combination of flavors is very interesting. I bet it is delicious — I’ve always like cinnamon, cloves, and cumin but I’ve never cooked a main dish with cherries. I’m betting them on my grocery list.

    • Hi Marisa! Oh we are such big fans of lamb as well and I guarantee you that you would enjoy this dish. The cherries are a really nice addition and the sauce is both sweet and savory at once. Quite addictive. Have a great week

  3. 5 stars
    I LURVE lamb koftas but I’ve never tried them with a sour cherry sauce. Sounds like a delicious decision to me though!

  4. I have some minced lamb in the freezer that I was wondering what to do with. Every year we process two lambs. I have great recipes for everything but the mince! This looks like it will fix that.

    • That’s great Pam. It is my favourite recipe for minced lamb. Well, and good old Sheperd’s Pie, of course. I envy you for all that lovely lamb meat that you must have in your freezer! Enjoy.

  5. I love all of the different flavors in this dish! It’s the perfect mix of sweet and savory.

  6. Kylee from Kylee Cooks

    I adore koftas! I’m such a huge fan of lamb (I’m a new zealander – we live on lamb!) I love this blend of flavors, sour and sweet is a lovely combo.

    • Thanks so much Kylee. Oh, I really do envy you for all that lovely lamb. New Zealand is definitely on my list of countries to visit. And the abundance of my favourite meat is just one of the minor reasons. Cheers from Canada, Kiki

  7. oh I hadn’t tried koftas with the addition of pistachios, that sounds brilliant! I have to say I don’t cook very often with lamb as I find it challenging to find quality cuts. This is a dish which I would like to try in the winter season here when its a bit less hot and humid.

    • Thanks, Helene. It is definitely a comfort food kind of dish. Perfect for the cold season. I find it difficult to find nice cuts for roasts as well, which is why we often go for frozen minced spring lamb. It is the easiest to get in Canada.

  8. 5 stars
    I love lamb very much!! And am often looking for different ways to prepare it. I love the combination with sour cherry sauce and Pistachios. This looks so delicious. Can’t wait to try it.

  9. This looks DELICIOUS! I’ve never made lamb before, but I think I should definitely make this recipe!

  10. I love lamb, but I hardly ever eat it because I don’t find it very often in my grocery store. This looks really good, and I’m loving the contrast of the tart cherry to the lamb. Very nice looking recipe

  11. Oh wow I can imagine the sour cherry goes so well with these! I just had lamb kabobs tonight. Deeeelish.

  12. Love all the colors on the plate here ! Looks very pretty! I bet they taste delicious too!

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