Middle Eastern Meatballs (Kofta Kebabs) made in 15 minutes with authentic middle eastern spices, just like the ground beef kebab you love at restaurants.
Middle Eastern Meatballs (Kofta Kebabs)
Middle Eastern food is in my comfort zone because I grew up eating it. Anytime I need to feel more at home (we live a long ways away from home right now), I reach for my old family favorites. Growing up, my mom would make ground beef kebabs almost every week, so I have a soft spot in my heart for these kofta kebab meatballs.
When my mom would make Kofta Kebabs she never made them into meatball shape, instead forming them into log shapes. For the purposes of keeping this recipe from going viral in a weird way because of the shape and color of the food I formed them into meatballs (we also make them into meatballs now) and by doing that it actually makes the process a lot easier for you too!
How do I know they’d go viral in a bad way you ask? Well the first time I made them for my kids they giggled and made inappropriate jokes about them. Point taken, we adjusted the way we make them at home.
One of the easiest ways to make a meatball is with a cookie scoop. I use this one and scoop them directly onto the sheet pans or cast iron skillets. Don’t worry about the bottom being flat, these kebabs are going to be larger than a classic meatball and the bottoms being flat only help you in cutting them in half with your fork. No escaping meatballs from your plate!
What kind of meat is kofta?
Traditionally lamb is used in kofta, sometimes even a lamb and beef mixture. This recipe uses ground beef instead of a lamb mixture because most people tend to use ground beef and the flavor of lamb for people who aren’t used to it can be slightly gamey.
How do you make kofta kebabs?
The way kofta kebabs are traditionally make is by either forming the meat around metal skewers over an open grill or by creating a cigar or log shaped meat mixture which can be cooked on the grill, on the stovetop or in the oven.
Create a free account to Save Recipes
What do you serve with Kofta?
Traditionally a rice pilaf, roasted bell peppers, hummus or greek salad are served along side kofte kebabs. Often people stuff them into pita bread pockets with hummus, tomatoes and lettuce.
What are in Turkish Kofta Kebabs?
This recipe varies from a traditional Turkish kofta kebab as the Turkish variety usually includes breadcrumbs, egg or milk soaked bread.
Important Kofta Kebab Recipe Notes:
- Do not skip the mint or the seasonings, they’re meant to work together to make a very unique flavor you’re familiar with if you’ve ordered this in restaurants.
- If you don’t have fresh mint you can use dried mint. Make sure you are using dried spearmint instead of peppermint as the menthol content in peppermint is 8 times higher than that of spearmint and you don’t want the recipe to taste like a candy cane.
- You can shape the mixture into classic kofta kebab shapes as well, or you can even shape it into a hamburger patty to make a middle eastern burger.
- The recipe can be cooked on the grill if desired or even in grill pans if you shape it into thinner or flatter shapes.
- Make sure you don’t cook the kebabs until they’re well done, refer to the picture below for keeping them moist by allowing them to stay somewhat pink in the center.
Can you meal prep the kebabs ahead of time?
- If making same day: Combine the ingredients and press a piece of saran wrap over the top of the bowl to keep it fresh, then just scoop and bake.
- If prepping for the future: Prepare the recipe and scoop it onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze until firm then add to a freezer safe container. To cook: Add the meatballs to a skillet or cookie sheet with at least ½ inch lip and bake at 425 for 18-20 minutes.
- If making for lunch: For easier eating, use a 1 ½ tablespoon cookie scoop to make mini kofte kebabs. This makes eating at lunch easier and makes the meatballs bite sized. Cook the meatballs on a cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes.
Tools Used in the making of this Middle Eastern Meatballs:
Cast Iron Skillet: This is my most used pan in my kitchen, heavy, keeps heat well and gives the BEST sear ever.
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint minced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1/3 cup grated onion
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Add all the ingredients except the beef into a bowl and stir well.
- Add in the beef and stir until just combined.
- Form into ¼ cup meatballs (I use an ice cream scoop) onto your cast iron skillet or sheet pan.
- Cook for 15-18 minutes or until cooked through.
Delicious served with a green tahini sauce
I substituted 1 lb. ground turkey, with 1 lb. ground lamb. And the recipe come out great. It lightens the dish and you softens the lamb flavor. I also made a yogurt dipping sauce..2 Table spoons of plain yogurt, 1 Table tsp. of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. of onion powder, fresh chopped dill to taste. I’m definitely making this again.
I am Palestinian , have been eating Kofta all my life and this is the best Kofta I have ever had . So much flavor. My family eagerly waits for me to make this for dinner over and over. Thanks for sharing your amazing recipe with us
PS I must confess when I don’t have fresh mint and parsley on hand I use the dry version and the outcome still delicious
I made these last night but used ground chicken instead of beef and so I reduced oven temp to 400 and increased cooking time to 22 mins on a evoo sprayed cast iron skillet. They were superb, even got a thumbs up from picky hubby. Will make these again.
How much would equal one serving??
Hello, I have saved a few of your recipes and thoroughly enjoy them. I was reading through your directions for this recipe. The first step you mention is to turn your oven on to 425 degrees, but then I don’t see the step where you put the meatballs into the oven? Do you put them in the oven or just cook them completely in the pan?
Can you freeze left over kifta Love this recipe but at times I have left overs and want to freeze them
I made the Kofta balls and they were absolutely delicious served with natural Greek yogurt . Wonderful complex flavours
When putting the iron skillet in the oven do I put parchment paper on top ?
Hi Sabrina, did you add oil to the pan or is that the oil from the meatballs
It is oil from the meatballs.
Finally I found the perfect recipe for meatballs And so easy to make them. Thank you , Chef!
You are so kind, thank you so much!
Delicious. Tucked meatballs into pita with slices of roasted eggplant and Tzatziki sauce.
Will do again for sure.
HI Sabrina. I have been looking for a kofta recipe to make for my first attempt. Yours looks great. I would like to make them in the shape of logs rather than balls. How would I adjust the cooking time for them. I have to make a bunch so I was going to try making them in the oven to then take them to deliver to some friends for a special treat. Will they travel well and are there any special tricks I will need to do if made in the oven to get that crisp of a grill?
Thanks so much!
Karin, I wouldn’t adjust for long, maybe a few extra minutes, not much more. I am so sorry I didn’t see this before now.
Does the beef need to have a certain percentage of fat for these?
I like to use 80/20. It gives just the right amount of meat-to-fat ratio. Enjoy!
Amazingly good and so quick to make! I used (weirdly) ground bison and they were lovely. Also clove in place of allspice (half what was called for, since clove is intense) seemed to have worked fine. Thank you!
Thanks for all of the suggestions, Sam.
I just made this and it is AMAZING ??
These were excellent! I actually made them with a mix of venison and pork and they were truly fantastic – you would never know they weren’t beef.
I have tried multiple Kafta recipes and this one is by far the best.
Thank you for specifying using spearmint instead of peppermint. I have always wondered which mint to use in middle eastern recipes so I never made them. The recipes usually just say “mint”. I’m going to try your recipe this week. It sounds delicious.
I made these Kafta Meatballs with meatloaf mix 11/4 lb Beef, Veal,Pork; (10 gulf ball size balls).
I DID have KAFTA seasoning and what wasn’t in the jar I added.
I made them stovetop using cast iron. I did add about a 1/4 cup Panko, no other changes.
Served on top of pan toasted 10 inch flour tortillas with the Taziziki sauce. Really good!
Any you can serve like a Gyro.
Made these kebabs for dinner tonight with my family hummus recipe, labne and fattoush salad and it was absolutely amazing! So excited to add this to our meal rotation. Thank you for sharing this yumminess!!!
Show More Comments