Chicken and Poultry Dairy-Free Recipes

Ajvar Meatballs with Zesty Tomato Sauce

Tender and juicy in the middle. Seasoned to perfection. You are going to love these Ajvar meatballs simmered in a zesty tomato sauce. Serve with quinoa, rice, or smudged them into a hoagie roll.

the best ajvar meatballs gluten free

Ajvar is a thick and savory sauce consisting of roasted sweet red peppers, eggplant, onion, and garlic. It’s used in places like Southeast Europe, Albania, Bosnia, and Bulgaria, just to name a few.

There are many different types of Ajvar, but one thing is for sure, it’s absolutely delicious. Let’s make tasty some meatballs.

Step 1: add Ajvar to ground chicken or Turkey

ground chicken and ajvar in a glass bowl

You can use ground chicken or ground Turkey. You don’t even have to make Ajvar from scratch. I purchased my jar of Ajvar from my favorite Mediterranean market. It’s salty, a little spicy, and has the perfect amount of sweetness.

Step 2: add the egg, herbs, and spices

chicken with herbs and spices

Add in the fresh herbs and spices like dill and cumin. Mix until a beautiful red color form. Next, we will add a binder.

Step 3: add a binder like flour

flour with meat to make meatballs

I have a thing for banana flour. It’s really soft in texture and doesn’t really add any flavor. Feel free to use quinoa, all-purpose, or oat flour.

Step 4: form into meatballs and sauté until golden brown

meatballs in a pan

Measure each meatball the same size so that they all finish cooking at the same time.

I like to use my handy tablespoon to scoop out the meat and form them. Use what you have on hand.

Add olive oil or avocado oil into the pan first to create those beautiful brown sear marks.

Step 5: add the zest tomato sauce

healthy meatballs

Season the tomato sauce with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a lit bit of Ajvar before adding it to the pot.

After the meaballs are cooked, I like to sprinkle in a little bit of fresh chopped parsley.

healthy ajvar meatballs

I’m drooling over here!

More Deliciousness!

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Ajvar meatballs

Ajvar Meatballs

  • Author: ashley
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Halal


Juicy Ajvar meatballs simmered in a zest tomato sauce. Meal-prep them. Put them into the freezer or consume right away. You will want to make them again and again.



For the meatballs

1 lb. ground chicken

1 cup ajvar

¼ cup chopped dill

¼ cup chopped parsley

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp kosher salt

pepper to taste

1/3 cup banana flour, or flour of choice

Zesty Tomato Sauce

½ cup ajvar

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce (make sure it is your favorite tomato sauce, as the tomato sauce will be the dominating flavor.)

salt and pepper to taste


In a large mixing bowl, add the ground chicken, ajvar, egg, dill, parsley, and all the spices, salt, and pepper and mix until everything is well incorporated.

Next, add the flour of choice. Mix once more until everything is mixed well.

When ready, form the meat mixture into meatballs with your hands. If the meat mixture is too sticky, wet your hand with water, this will help the mixture to better shape its form.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil (just a drizzle) and place each meatball on the surface of the pan. Cook until the bottom of the meatball is golden brown (about 2-3 minutes). Flip the meatballs and repeat them. The internal temperature of the meatballs should reach 165°F.

Once the meatballs are golden brown, add the tomato sauce, ajvar, 1/2 cups of water, salt, and pepper to taste and gently stir to incorporate the ingredients. Cook on medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes.

To Serve: Place the meatballs over a bed of buttery rice, alongside quinoa, or inside a rustic Italian bread to create an ajvar marinara meatball sub. The options are endless, do whatever makes you happy! 🙂


How long does Ajvar Meatballs last? Store in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. 

How long does Ajvar Meatballs freeze? Freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months.

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: European-American

Keywords: ajvar meatballs recipe. ajvar chicken recipe where to buy ajvar. recipes using ajvar eastern european red pepper spread

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