Octopus Meatballs

Spread the love

The first time I saw or heard of octopus meatballs were from Maria’s blog at Kali Orexi (BonAppeti. Maria is a Greek blogger resided in the NYC suburbs and she shares dishes she’s created or ones inspired by her ancestral homeland of the island of Kalymnos. For those not familiar with Greek geography, Kalymnos is located in the east Aegean, near Turkey and the closest major Greek island being Kos. Kalymnos is also famous for its sponge divers, traditional local cooking with includes Easter goat stuffed with rice, herbs and organ meat.

Before the Kalymnians celebrate their Easter feast, there has to be a fasting period and one of their unique dishes has to be these meatballs made of ground octopus meat. One simply grinds-up cooked octopus, adds onions, garlic, herbs and some binder to hold everything together. Many recipes call for using whole octopus but I’d rather use the tentacles whole for grilling.

sun-dried octopus, Naxos

Before any octopus can be enjoyed it must be cooked and it must be tender. My favourite way is to braise slowly in its own liquid. About half of the octopus’ weight is water and after you’ve braised it you’ll easily see that it has shrunk to about half. This braising process takes anywhere from 45 minutes for a small octopus to over two hours for the largest beasties. Once the octopus is fork-tender – it’s good to eat and then one may grill, pickle or enjoy the octopus in any one of the many ways I’ve enjoyed this delicacy from the sea.

The octopus consists of 8 tentacles and the head. All are edible but the head usually is not served – the chef or host/hostess get to eat this part. The head isn’t that attractive but it is every bit as edible as the esthetically appealing tentacles. Another reason why I chose to share this octopus meatballs recipe is because I learned that many simply discard or throw out the head…a sin to throw perfectly edible food!

My solution is to keep the head, grind up the meat in your food processor and use the mince to make these meatballs. If you’re not fasting you may use egg and breadcrumbs as binder, some scallions of sweated onions for flavour and the usual Greek herbs like oregano and mint. Dill would also work wonderfully here.

If you’re fasting, you can avoid egg and use more breadcrumbs or take my advice and use a medium-sized boiled potato that gets grated into the mixture with the octopus mince. The starches from potatoes make for a wonderful binder and your meatballs with have a hint of seafood flavour (I like the taste of seafood) and when fried, they remarkably taste like “meatballs”. Love octopus? You’ll love these octopus meatballs, a fantastic morsel that’s ideal for your meze table with Ouzo on ice. Kali Orexi!


For the Octopus Meatballs (χταποδοκεφτεδες) recipe and more, please buy my Everything Mediterranean cookbook.


© 2012 – 2014,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

14 Comments for “Octopus Meatballs”



During lent, we use as a binder: Taro, or Kolokasi, as we call it here in Cyprus. It works MUCH better than potatoes! As it gets very sticky if it’s held in your hands, hold it in a towel while peeling it and then finely grate it.


Kάποια μέρα είχα δει στην τηλεόραση τον Μαμαλάκη να μαγειρευει χταποδο-μπιφτέκια, σε ένα μοναστήρι στο Αγιον Ορος. Μου είχαν κάνει μεγάλη εντύπωση και τα έφτιαξα.
Εμένα μου άρεσαν πολύ, στους γιους μου όμως όχι και τόσο, γι αυτό και δεν τα ξανα-επιχείρησα.
Σίγουρα είναι ένα πολύ ιδιαίτερο φαγάκι Peter!
Και τα έχεις φτιάξει λαχταριστά!
Φιλιά, καλή βδομάδα!


I love octopus though never tried them as meatballs, neat idea, would love to try – thanks!

By the way, just nominated you the Sunshine Award, if you’d like to check out at my blog.


Never tasted — but love! Would a tzatziki dipping sauce be too strong an accompaniment? Is it traditionally served as an appetizer or have you ever had it stewed and served as an entree?


Joan, I’ve never tried these with Tzatziki but Skordalia (garlic condiment made with bread or potato) would be great, stewed as you put it with a light tomato sauce and what the heck, add some pasta!


I saw this post come up in my reader yesterday, but I didn’t get a chance to read it. Well, it must have stuck in my mind, because I had a crazy dream about an octopus last night!


These are a great idea for people who are squeamish about eating octopus, plus who would turn down meatballs? Another great recipe from your amazing collection!