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Merguez Meatballs (Keto, Paleo-Friendly, Low-Carb)

These Merguez Meatballs are a delicious shortcut to the famous North African spicy sausage! It’s SO easy to make and there’s a cheesy surprise waiting for you in the center — the perfect low-carb dish.

What is Merguez?

If you haven’t heard of Merguez before, first picture a hot dog. It’s the exact same shape but the flavor profile and texture are on another level. It’s a spicy sausage, typically made with lamb, that can be found all throughout North Africa. Harissa gives the sausage its distinct bright red color naturally.

When Shakshuka took the brunch world by storm, more and more people began to learn about the rich cuisine in the Maghreb. Now, you can find harissa just about anywhere from Trader Joe’s to Whole Foods.

The History

Just like gadid (North African spiced jerky), Merguez originated with the intention to preserve meat. Heavily spicing, salting, and cooking meat in sausage form prevented it from going to waste. From grilling to sun-drying, there are so many ways to prepare and eat the sausage. Either way, the one ingredient you’ll always find in a recipe for Merguez is harissa.

When I visited Paris last year, I was shocked by the amount of small shops and booths I saw selling Merguez. Here in America, it’s rare to find a Moroccan restaurant and very very rare to find a Libyan restaurant (I have yet to find one sadly). After the French colonized North Africa, they decided to take the rich cuisine back with them. So now you can get Merguez in a baguette.

Making the Merguez Meatballs

The beauty in this recipe is no casing involved! The flavor of the meatballs is identical to Merguez without the hassle of stuffing sausages. It’s packed with 10 different spices. Some are spicy, others are more citrusy, and a few are more earthy and nutty. They all come together harmoniously!

To make it even better, there’s a cheesy surprise at the center of the meatball. It can’t get better than this!


1 pound ground beef (90/10)
5 garlic cloves, minced (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon harissa
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon sumac
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon fennel
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
8 mozzarella Ciliegine balls, cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt to sprinkle (1/4 teaspoon)
red pepper flakes


In a large bowl, add the ground beef, minced garlic, chopped parsley, harissa, salt, paprika, cumin, coriander, sumac, turmeric, fennel, black pepper, garlic powder, and cinnamon.
Use your hands to combine together, making sure not to overwork the meat. This will help to achieve a light fluffy meatball instead of a dense one.
Grab a small handful of meat and push half a mozzarella ball into the center. Use your hands to gently roll the meat into a ball, sealing tightly where the mozzarella ball is nestled into. Repeat until you have around 16 meatballs.
Over medium-high heat, add olive oil into a saute pan or skillet. Once the oil is hot, drop the meatballs in and leave room so that they are not sticking to each other. As they cook on the pan, sprinkle a pinch of salt on each side.
Allow each side of the meatball to get a nice dark brown sear before using a spoon to turn them over. Repeat this process until you have even browning.
Once they're seared perfectly all around, lower the heat and cover for a bit (about 2 minutes) to make sure it's fully cooked to the center.
Garnish with chili flakes for an extra kick and chopped parsley.
    • Hala
    • December 10, 2019

    Thank you very much ….. great Recipe Made it for my Algerian husband and he was mesmerized by it and could not believe how close the taste was to Merquez

      • January 12, 2020

      Aww Hala, that makes me so happy to hear! Glad you both enjoyed it and thanks for trusting my recipe to try. It means a lot.

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