Spicy Fish Meatballs


Last Updated on January 9, 2024

Spicy fish meatballs cooked in a tomato and paprika based sauce with hints of zesty lemon. This spicy and hearty dish is a weekly staple in our house and the perfect cozy meal! 

spicy fish meatballs

Spicy Moroccan Fish Meatballs

Growing up, moroccan fish was a Friday night staple at our Shabbat table. There’s nothing like coming home to the smell of shabbat cooking, and to this day this fish recipe is one of my favorites.

Based off of my moroccan fish recipe, these spicy fish meatballs are prepped then cooked in a simple sauce made with chickpeas, garlic, carrots, jalapeno, tomato paste and a few simple spices.

You’re left with tender fish meatballs and a saucy base that’s delicious on its own, or served with fresh challah.

moroccan fish meatballs

There are many variations of this recipe online. This version is a tried and true recipe that I’ve been making for a while, and I’m so excited to finally share it with you all.

The fish meatballs can be made with various types of white fish, and adjusted to your liking for spiciness. I’ve even made them with salmon for a bolder flavor. 

The fish meatballs take a little bit of prep, but they can be made ahead of time and frozen. Here’s what you’ll need for the fish meatballs:

  • 1.2-1.5 lbs skinless white fish like flounder, cod or tilapia. Alternatively, you can use salmon
  • Finely grated yellow onion + carrots- I love to add some veggies for flavor and moisture
  • Garlic
  • Parsley & cilantro
  • Lemon zest- this is my favorite addition to these fish meatballs to add a delicious zesty flavor
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Egg
  • Spices: paprika, cumin, turmeric, crushed chili flakes, salt & pepper

Grind the fish in a food processor or chop finely with a knife. Combine with the grated veggies, egg, breadcrumbs, lemon zest and spices and roll into balls. 

Moroccan Fish Sauce

For the sauce, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chickpeas
  • Bell pepper
  • Carrots
  • Jalapeno
  • Garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • Cilantro
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon slices
  • Water
  • Spices: paprika, cumin, turmeric, chili flakes, salt & pepper

How to make Moroccan Fish

This recipe comes together easily in just a few simple steps.

  1. Start by slicing up your veggies and sauteeing them in olive oil for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the spices and tomato paste and mix together for another couple of minutes.
  3. Pour in the water and cilantro, then cover the pot to let the veggies cook for 15-20 minutes. Here’s where I like to adjust the salt or spiciness.
  4. Once the veggies are tender, place the fish meatballs into the sauce. They should be covered at least 3/4 of the way through with the sauce. Spoon the sauce over each fish fillet, then cover the pot to let it simmer for 25-30 minutes.
spicy fish meatballs

How to serve your Spicy Moroccan Fish Meatballs

Traditionally, we serve this as a starter course for Friday night dinner with some challah to dip. If you prepare this during the week or as a main course, it would delicious over fluffy white rice or couscous.

moroccan fish

These spicy fish meatballs are a labor of love, and are so worth the end product! I hope you guys try them and love them as much as we do. 

More fish recipes to try:

Mediterranean Salmon Bowls

Walnut & Pistachio Crusted Flounder

Tuna Burgers with Tahini Cabbage Salad

Spicy Fish Meatballs

5 from 2 votes
Course: Uncategorized


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NOTES: this recipe yields about 24-26 fish meatballs. If you are feeding a smaller crowd, you can freeze some of the fish meatballs and only cook half the amount. 


  • Fish Meatballs
  • 1.2 1.2 -1.5 lbs white fish (flounder, cod, tilapia) or salmon

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 breadcrumbs

  • 1 1 egg

  • 1 1 carrot, peeled

  • 1/2 1/2 yellow onion

  • 3 3 garlic cloves

  • Handful parsley

  • Handful cilantro

  • 1 tbsp 1 lemon zest

  • 1 tbsp 1 olive oil

  • 2 tsp 2 paprika

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 cumin

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 salt

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 black pepper

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 turmeric

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 crushed chili pepper

  • Moroccan Fish Sauce
  • 1 can 1 chickpeas (15 oz), drained

  • 1 1 red bell pepper

  • 2 small 2 carrots, peeled

  • 1 1 -2 jalapeno peppers, depending on spice preference

  • 5 cloves 5 garlic

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 olive oil, plus a little more

  • 2 tbsp 2 tomato paste

  • 1.5 1.5 -2 cups water

  • Handful cilantro, chopped

  • 1 tbsp 1 paprika

  • 1 tsp 1 salt

  • 1 tsp 1 cumin

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 turmeric

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 black pepper

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 crushed chili pepper

  • 4 4 -5 lemon slices


  • To prepare the fish meatballs, grind the fish in a blender or food processor until pureed. Transfer to a bowl
  • Add the carrots, onion and garlic to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add them to the bowl with the fish.
  • Add in the herbs, spices, lemon zest, breadcrumbs, egg and tbsp of olive oil and combine everything well with your hands.
  • Roll about 1 1/2 tbsp of the mix into balls. Repeat with remaining fish mixture and set in the fridge while you prepare the sauce. If you don’t plan on cooking all of the fish meatballs, you can freeze as many as you’d like for up to 3 months and cook at a later time.
  • To prepare the sauce, start by slicing the bell pepper, carrots and jalapeno pepper to 3″ strips.
  • Heat a large pan, ideally a saute pan, on medium heat then coat the bottom in about 1/4 cup olive oil. Add the peppers, jalapeno and carrots to the pan and saute on medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add in the garlic and chickpeas and toss together for another 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the spices with another tsp of olive oil, tomato paste and cilantro and stir together. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of water and mix again. Lower the flame and cover the pan. Let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes on low heat.
  • After 20 minutes, taste and adjust salt and spice level. Add the fish meatballs into the sauce with another 1/4 cup of water. The fish should be covered 3/4 of the way. Nestle the lemon slices into the sauce throughout the pan. Top with more chopped cilantro and cover the pan.
  • Let the fish simmer on low for 20-30 minutes. Be sure to spoon the sauce over each fish meatball once done.
  • Serve warm with challah, or over rice or couscous.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @somethingnutritious on Instagram- I’d love to see your creations!

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