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A hearty, all in one meal of meatballs, potato, peppers and tomatoes. With simple and well-balanced spices this traditional dish is a classic 'Homemade style' lokanta type of main. Suitable throughout the year but especially good during the summer season when plum tomatoes and sweet & hot peppers are stars of the farmers market.

 Original recipe & blog post from July 2019 updated with new pictures & details July 2020. 

Close up of cooked Turkish meatballs as a tray bake with potato, pepper and tomato sauce. One cut tomato above. 

A dish that will forever stay close to my heart.

Izmir köfte, Smyrna meatballs or simply oven-meatballs (Fırında köfte) as it's called locally to us is one of the first dishes I experienced in Aydın and the very first that my dearest marital Aunt - Emir Yenge made for me. 

I can still taste that first bite and almost make it just like Emir yenge taught me.



The only major difference is baking the meatballs rather than pre fry them which is easier on the washing up and spares a few calories, (you could fry them in batches too if you prefer, the same goes for the potatoes)

No matter how hard I try I can never get that same taste, mostly I figure because Emir yenge makes hers on an open fire which gives the most delightful smoky taste and secondly things just tastes better when you're up in the village that looks over the plains of Aydın - My own cooking included!

Turkish meatballs on a baklava style tray ready for oven baking. Rear aluminium tray shows potato wedges and a child's hand.


Emir yenges house, which neighbours my in-law's bolthole has this wonderful courtyard, it's not massive but it can host a large group. There's a huge open fire sat in the corner and masses of carnations. She is really, really good at growing them.

Beautiful blood-red flowers nestle amongst a few fruit trees and there's that vibrant blue paint that features in the village up and down the country. 

Our houses are a little scruffy in that quaint, don't you dare change it village way and their fun to escape too when you want to sleep early and well but wake up with a start (the mosque is next door and the ding ding dang or the speaker opening is rather intense). 

Its a really happy place that just does something to you when you're there, waiting for the food to cook away on the crackling fire, the heady clove smell of the flowers, hot steamy rabbit blood coloured tea, birds constantly tweeting, the cows grazing in the nearby rugged fields moo in response to mothers call to wandering children.

It just somehow makes the food taste extra special.

Tray of baked Turkish meatballs with peppers and tatoes and cut tomato sauce. Izmir koftes


In the last year, I've discovered how good cornmeal, Mısır unu in Turkish is in meatballs and burgers - I trick my husband was accidentally concealing from me. Breadcrumbs 'Galta unu' is disappointingly ultra-fine, so it's been a very welcome exchange in my Turkish recipes. 

That also means that this has become a gluten-free Izmir köfte recipe but if you prefer you can swap back to the breadcrumbs, the quantity would be exactly the same.

For me the best Smyrna meatballs are made using fresh, ripe in-season tomatoes (Extra special), but more often made using my Handy Homemade Tomato Sauce which is perfect for getting you through much of the summers cooking with less effort. But in the winter I use Domates Salçası - Sundried Tomato Paste and water mixed together.



Turkish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce Izmir Köftesi

A hearty, all in one meal of meatballs, potato, peppers and tomatoes. With simple and well-balanced spices this traditional dish is a classic 'Homemade style' lokanta type of main. Suitable throughout the year but especially good during the summer season when plum tomatoes and sweet & hot peppers are stars of the farmers market.



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Category: Meat 'Et'
Cuisine Type Turkish


Turkish Oven Meatballs

400 Grams Lean mince
1/2 Cup Cornmeal (Approx 1/2 'Çay' glass 'Mısır unu'))
50 Millilitre Milk (1/2 'Çay' glass)
1 Onion, Grated
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 Egg
1/2 Bunch Parsley, chopped fine

Meatball spices

1/4 Teaspooon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Black pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Pul biber / Aleppo pepper flakes
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin


2 Large Potatoes, wedges
1 Large Sweet red pepper
4 Large Long green peppers


4 Large Tomatoes grated mixed with 1/2 cup water
1 Cup Handy Homemade Tomato Sauce, mixed with 1 cup water
2 Tablespoons Tomaot paste 'Domates salçası' mixed with 2 cups water

Turkish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce Izmir Köftesi Directions

  1. Mix the meatball ingredients minus the egg and kneed for a few minutes.
  2. Add in the spices and egg and combine.
  3. Allow the mixture to rest for at least 15 minutes but ideally 1-2 hours in the fridge.
  4. For full-on flavour make the mince the day before required and rest overnight in the fridge.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  6. Grease or line two oven tray.
  7. Take the mince mixture and divide into walnut-sized balls, the mixture should make around 18 - 20 meatballs.
  8. These can remain as balls or for an authentic dish shape them into finger-shaped meatballs.
  9. Place on the meatballs on one oven tray and the potato wedges on the other.
  10. Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes.
  11. Combine the potatoes and meatballs into one tray or large casserole dish.
  12. Arrange the peppers and add the tomato sauce of choice.
  13. Either:
    A. Grated tomatoes
    B. Handy Tomato sauce
    C. Salça / Tomato paste
  14. A) For the grated tomatoes, place over the top of the tray ingredients and add a half cup of water.
  15. B) Handy tomato sauce can be mixed with a little water and poured on top
  16. C) For salça using the frying pan loosen up the salça in some water and pour over the tray.
  17. Return the meatballs to the oven and bake for a further 30 minutes.

Recipe notes


  • This dish works very well served with raw or sumac seasoned onions and yoghurt.
  • The dish is even more delightful if made a day ahead and warmed up. 
  • The spices used in Turkish oven-baked meatballs vary a lot between Turkish households / lokantas. Personally, I used around 1/4 teaspoon of salt & pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and red pepper flakes (Aleppo pepper), feel free to adjust this either way to suit your tastebuds.  






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pinable image of Izmir kofte. Text overlay: Ovenbaked Smyrna meatballs.
pinable image of Izmir kofte. Text overlay: Gluten free, oven baked, Izmir kofte.



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