Lemon Greek Meatball Soup Giouvarlakia/Youvarlakia Recipe

Learn how to make homemade Giouvarlakia, a traditional Greek meatball soup flavoured with dill and thickened with avgolemono, a lemon egg sauce.

This quick & easy Youvarlakia recipe is the perfect comfort food for busy households looking to inject a bit of healthy Mediterranean nutrition into the midweek meal.

A steaming bowl of Giouvarlakia is the perfect Greek-style comfort food, featuring affordable ingredients like ground beef, rice, dill, onion, garlic chicken stock and lemons.

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Save our Giouvarlakia Greek Lemon Soup recipe to Pinterest!
Save our Giouvarlakia Greek Lemon Soup recipe to Pinterest!

What Is Giouvarlakia?

Giouvarlakia, also known as Yuvarlakia, is a traditional Greek soup consisting of homemade meatballs prepared with ground beef, rice, and fresh herbs.

The soup broth is often thickened with avgolemono, a creamy lemon flavoured egg sauce.

This authentic Greek Meatball Soup is a heart warming comfort food often served in the winter on a cold day.

Yuvarlakia is best served with some crusty sourdough bread and a bit of feta cheese. In Greece, restaurants sometimes serve the soup with fries.

What Does Avgolemono Mean?

Avgolemono is a combination of two words. Avgo, which means an egg in Greek and lemoni, which means lemon in Greek.

This creamy and slightly acidic sauce adds delicious depth to the meatball soup. Giouvarlakia or Yiouvarlakia would just be a plain meatball soup if it was not for the addition of avgolemono. The secret to this recipe is in the sauce, as they say!

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Traditional Youvarlakia Greek Lemon Soup recipe ingredients.
Traditional Youvarlakia Greek Lemon Soup recipe ingredients.

Travel to Greece by Cooking Greek Meatball Soup at Home

I love traveling to Europe.

As a professional food and travel journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing meals in Europe, from traditional markets to award winning restaurants.

During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through IrelandScotlandEnglandWalesPortugalSpainBelgiumHollandDenmarkNorwaySwedenFinlandRussia,EstoniaLatviaPolandCzech RepublicGermanyAustriaCroatiaBosniaHungarySlovakiaTurkey and Italy.

For over ten years, I’ve been on the hunt for the best Youvarlakia recipe. In Greece, I enjoyed comforting bowls of Giouvarlakia at restaurants in Meteora, Tzitzikas Kai in Athens, Kokkalo The Bone in Santorini and Kiki’s Taverna in Mykonos.

After you’ve enjoyed your first spoonfuls, you’ll realize why authentic Meatball Lemon Soup is a must-try when visiting Greece!

Our easy Giouvarlakia recipe features tender meatballs made of minced beef, rice and dill.
Our easy Giouvarlakia recipe features tender meatballs made of minced beef, rice and dill.

Where To Eat Giouvarlakia Greek Meatball Soup

If you live in a large city in North America you’ll likely have access to a local Greek restaurant that serves Giouvarlakia.

Haven’t traveled to Greece before? It may be helpful to first sample Lemony Greek Meatball Soup at a local restaurant to better understand how the popular comfort food is served. You’ll get an idea for the ideal ground beef to rice ratio of the meatballs, how thick to make the avgolemono sauce and other complimentary Greek dishes to serve at the table.

In Toronto, popular Greek restaurants that may serve Lemon Meatball Soup include Mamakas Taverna, Mezes Greek Restaurant, Estiatorio Volos and Messini.

Giouvarlakia meatballs floating in soup broth.
Giouvarlakia meatballs floating in soup broth.

My Family Loves This Easy Youvarlakia Recipe

My family are big fans of Mediterranean cuisine.

We love cooking flavourful dishes from Greece, Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, France, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Spain, and Turkey.

After traveling to Greece I wanted to share my love for Giouvarlakia with friends and family by making the comforting soup at home.

I prepared the recipe at our cottage in Muskoka on a cold winter morning. I cooked the soup in the morning while everyone kept cozy by the fire, eagerly awaiting lunch. The perfume of dill, lemon and beef wafted through the air, making our mouths water.

This easy Greek Meatball Soup is a tasty way to incorporate fresh and flavourful ingredients into a healthy Mediterranean diet. The attractive soup is a real show stopper if you’ve got company coming for dinner!

We like to dress up each bowl with a sprinkle of chopped fresh dill and a wedge of lemon before serving.

Youvarlakia is a Greek soup featuring a creamy broth flavoured with lemon.
Youvarlakia is a Greek soup featuring a creamy broth flavoured with lemon.

Youvarlakia Recipe Health Benefits

This homemade Youvarlakia recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!

Beef is a great source of protein and minerals like iron as well as an excellent source of the amino acid L-caine. Beef also features antioxidant glutathione known for its anti-aging benefits.

Nearly 50% of the people in the world get over 50% of their daily calories from rice. If eating brown rice featuring nutritious bran you’ll enjoy health benefits like cancer risk reduction and diabetes control.

Dill is packed with micronutrients such as Vitamin A and C, responsible for healthy vision, skin and immune function.

Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.

Eggs contain two vital nutrients that are not present in many foods: iodine and vitamin D. Eggs are also rich in tissue-building protein and vitamin B12, which helps your body manufacture blood cells.

Olive Oil is ranked as one of the healthiest fats and is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. It contains vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants.

A rich source of phytochemicals and vitamin C, lemons help boost your immune system and neutralize free radicals that cause disease and skin aging. Lemons also protect against heart disease and help improve blood flow to the brain.

Youvarlakia Giouvarlakia Recipe Photo Image.
Youvarlakia Giouvarlakia Recipe Photo Image.

Giouvarlakia Recipe Cooking Tips

Greek Meatball Soup is quick and easy to make at home. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:

  • Use a large pot or Dutch Oven to prepare the soup over your stove.
  • We like to use lean ground beef when preparing Youvarlakia meatballs but you can use medium minced beef for a fattier flavour and texture.
  • Giouvarlakia doesn’t have to be prepared with beef you can also use ground veal or pork.
  • Use your favourite long grain rice when mixing together the meatball mixture. We suggest Thai jasmine or Indian basmati.
  • We suggest using a Greek olive oil in this recipe but you can use a flavourless vegetable like canola if you prefer.
  • We’ve used a Spanish cooking onion in this recipe but you can substitute for white or vidalia onion in you prefer
  • We like to flavour this soup with fresh dill but you can substitue with parsley.
  • When preparing avgolemono be sure to temper the sauce to ensure the eggs do not curdle. You do this by adding a little bit of the hot soup broth into the egg and lemon mixture, whisking quickly to help it thicken. This will increase the temperature slightly so when the egg mixture is added to the pot it does not get shocked by the temperature difference and curdle. It should as a thickening agent, similar to a custard or hollandaise.
  • If you want to add additional healthy vegetables to the soup you can add finely chopped carrots and celery. A great nutritional boost!
  • We suggest garnishing the dish with chopped dill and a lemon wedge. You can also add crumbled Greek-style cow’s milk feta cheese. Crumble it on top before serving.
Serve authentic Giouvarlakia with a lemon wedge and garnished with fresh dill.
Serve authentic Giouvarlakia with a lemon wedge and garnished with fresh dill.

What To Serve with Giouvarlakia

This flavour-packed soup recipe is the perfect dish to serve at a Mediterranean or Greek themed feast.

During the colder months of the year, Giouvarlakia does a great job at warming you up so we love to serve it in the winter after spending a day outside skiing or skating.

While the dish is often served in the winter we love to make it in the summer, when the dill plant in our backyard garden grows sky high.

If you’re looking to impress dinner guests we suggest serving this tasty soup with other popular dishes from Greece and the Mediterranean region such as:

We love serving this Giouvarlakia recipe at a Greek themed dinner party.
We love serving this Giouvarlakia recipe at a Greek themed dinner party.

Leftovers & Storage

The soup will thicken and become creamy as it sits because of the starch in the rice and egg in the lemon sauce. After serving lunch or dinner and returning to your kitchen don’t be shocked if the leftover soup in the pot takes on a much thicker consistency.

Leftovers taste amazing, and you can store them in the fridge for 3-5 days in an airtight container.

Reheat the soup gently on the stovetop or in a microwave, stirring carefully to avoid breaking up the meatballs as they do fall apart easily. You can thin out the soup when reheating by adding a splash of chicken stock.

We don’t recommend freezing this soup as the meatballs will fall apart when thawing.

You May Also Enjoy These Soup Recipes…

Now you're an expert on how to make authentic Youvarlakia Greek Lemon Soup!
Now you’re an expert on how to make authentic Youvarlakia Greek Lemon Soup!

How To Make Giouvarlakia Greek Meatball Soup

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5 from 1 vote

Youvarlakia/Giouvarlakia Greek Lemon Soup

How to make a traditional Giouvarlakia recipe. Our easy Greek Meatball Soup features tender beef & rice meatballs, lemon and dill.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: Youvarlakia
Servings: 4
Calories: 426kcal


  • Large pot or Dutch Oven
  • French knife
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • whisk



  • 500 g Minced Beef
  • 1/4 cup Long Grain Rice
  • 1/2 cup Dill
  • 1 Small Spanish Onion finely chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 3.5 cups Chicken Stock

Avgolemono Egg Lemon Sauce

  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Lemons juice and zest
  • 1 tbsp Dill chopped
  • 1 tsp Cornstarch


  • Place all the meatball ingredients into a large bowl. Knead the mixture by squeezing the ingredients with your hands until smooth. Leave the mixture to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes. Form the meatballs and set them aside.
  • Place the meatballs in the bottom of a large pot or dutch oven. Gently pour chicken stock over the meatballs until they are covered then bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer then put the lid back on and cook for 20-25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the egg lemon sauce. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk. Add the lemon juice/zest, dill and cornstarch then whisk until combined. Add into the bowl a ladle of hot soup and whisk quickly. Add one more ladle and whisk again until combined.
  • Stir in the egg lemon sauce into the youvarlakia soup and cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, until warm but not boiling.
  • Serve this traditional Greek meatball soup, while still hot with a sprinkle of chopped dill.
  • Do not cover any leftovers until they have cooled or the sauce may curdle.


Calories: 426kcal | Carbohydrates: 19.1g | Protein: 45.3g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5.1g | Cholesterol: 234mg | Sodium: 1393mg | Potassium: 847mg | Fiber: 2.3g | Sugar: 2.4g | Calcium: 158mg | Iron: 28mg

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