Transylvanian meatballs with garlic sauce


*NB disclaimer* if you don’t like garlic, you won’t like this as Transylvanian Meatballs from the Hairy Dieters uses a full head of garlic and four separate cloves just for good measure!

I must admit to being disappointed after slaving away in the kitchen to make this recipe only for it to taste rather bland, somewhat ‘cardboardy’ and the garlic sauce was, well, a little too garlicy for my liking. I served it with a side salad as an alternative to pasta due to the calorie count already being quite high.

The Hairy Dieters do include two other meatball recipes in their various healthy eating books – Italian Meatballs in chunky tomato sauce from their ‘How to love food and lose weight’ book and Swedish Meatballs in their ‘Good eating’ publication. Both of these are cracking alternatives to ‘Transylvanian meatballs’ in my opinion. Where is Transylvania anyway?

Recipe: Transylvanian meatballs

Calories: 432 calories per portion (if serving 4); 288 calories per portion (if serving 6)

Serves: 4-6

Book: Hairy Dieters – Good Eating

Prep time: Approx 25 mins

Cooking time: Approx 20 mins


  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 600g lean beef mince
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 green pepper (deseeded and finely chopped)
  • 4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 100g breadcrumbs (Japanese panko are ideal)
  • 50g low-fat natural yoghurt
  • Flaked sea salt
  • Ground black pepper

Garlic sauce

  • 1 head of garlic (cloves separated but unpeeled)
  • 100g low-fat natural yoghurt
  • A pinch of caster sugar
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar

Cost per portion: Approx *£1.53 *cost based on serving 4 – Tesco prices December 2022.

Method: Preheat the oven to 220 degrees / Fan 200 degrees / Gas 7. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and green pepper and cook, stirring regularly, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic cloves and cook for another 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the hear and allow the veg to cool.

Put the beef in a large bowl and break it up. Season generously with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the paprika and breadcrumbs. Add the cooled onion, pepper and garlic, along with the yoghurt and mix the whole lot together. The easiest way to do this thoroughly is with your (very clean) hands.

From the mixture into balls of about 40g each – the size of a golfball. Space them evening on the baking tray and bake them in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until well browned.

Garlic sauce

To make the sauce, bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and add all the unpeeled garlic cloves. Simmer until the cloves are very tender – this should take about 15 minutes. Drain the garlic cloves and rinse them under cool running water until cool enough to handle. Squeeze the flesh out of the skins and then mash them on a chopping board with a fork.

Put the yoghurt in a bowl and add the mashed garlic, sugar and white wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and leave to stand for a few minutes.


2 thoughts on “Transylvanian meatballs with garlic sauce

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