Middle Eastern Meatballs (Kofta Kebabs)

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 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.

kofta kebabs in skillet

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.

Beef kofte kebabs with rice

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.

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Middle Eastern Meatballs (Kofta Kebabs)

Middle Eastern Meatballs (Kofta Kebabs) made in just one bowl and ready to bake in 15 minutes with authentic middle eastern spices, it tastes like the ground beef kebab you love but with minimal effort.  
Yield 18 Servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 94kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 229mg | Potassium: 186mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 2.5mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1.4mg
Keyword: kofta, meatballs, mediterranean food, Middle Eastern food, middle eastern meatballs

middle eastern meatballs collage

middle eastern meatballs collage
kofta kebab meatballs in skillet

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. I made the Kofta balls and they were absolutely delicious served with natural Greek yogurt . Wonderful complex flavours

  6. Finally I found the perfect recipe for meatballs And so easy to make them. Thank you , Chef!

  7. Delicious. Tucked meatballs into pita with slices of roasted eggplant and Tzatziki sauce.
    Will do again for sure.

  8. 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!

    1. 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.

  9. 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!
    ???? —

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

    Outstanding!!!

  13. 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!!!

  14. I’ve been tryin to find what I believe are these meatballs for awhile/ use to live with a Middle eastern/muslim lady I asked what is it I believe she said kebab that her friend made

    They made them in a air fryer but I do t talk to them anymore an I’m wondering how to do so an if this would be it / ig my question is how to make em in a airfryer

    1. I haven’t tested these in an air fryer yet. If you decide to try, I’d love to know how they turn out. Thanks!

  15. SO delicious! I didn’t have all the ingredients but I did have fresh mint, cilantro, nutmeg, and green onions so I subbed those for the ingredients in the recipe. I also just eyed the other spices and it turned out so amazing! This recipe made for a perfect lunch paired with a salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, and some garlic hummus in just 30 minutes! Definitely making this regularly.

  16. These were absolutely delicious! For the allspice, I had to substitute (cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon) but it wasn’t an issue. They were so fragrant and flavorful! Saving this to make again for friends when I can see them again!

  17. I would LOVE to make this recipe on bamboo skewers. How long would you soak the skewers and I don’t have a cast iron pan or grill pan. Could I cook them in the oven and then “finish” them in the pan to get the “crust”? If so, how long in the oven and what temp? My family LOVES these and since we are cooking at home right now and not ordering out, I really want to try to make them!

    1. Such a great idea! Make sure to soak the skewers for 30 minutes before placing them in the oven. I would suggest covering a baking sheet with foil and placing the skewers on that while in the oven. Cook for around 30 minutes turning them over halfway through the cooking process. For the crust, place it under the broiler for just a bit (make sure to watch them so they don’t burn though). Enjoy!

  18. I have no clue what I’m doing when it comes to middle eastern seasonings and roughly followed the spice proportions from your recipe. Made little kofta kebabs with bison and they tasted LEGIT!!!! Thank you for sharing this!!

  19. I luv this recipe…but I make a marinara sauce, with zatar spice and finish meatballs in this. I also use a middle eastern slice blend for quickness. But meatballs out of this world delicious…Thxs for sharing!

  20. The ingredients are perfectly proportioned. I use the ingredients but make it in a loaf pan instead. Delicious.

  21. I have attempted middle eastern foods so many times and this is the first time I felt like it was better than a restaurant. I served with a cucumber tomato salad, white rice, warm potatoes, and homemade tzakziki sauce. It was a “WOW THIS IS AMAZING” reaction from everyone who ate it!

  22. Excellent recipe! Will definitely make again!! Didn’t see the serving size before hand had six! I’m still in shock for how much the flavors are there for not having to marinate or let sit. It really is a 15 min prep meal! I went 50/50 lamb n beef….heavy on the salt….added a few shakes of bread crumbs and an egg. Maybe that’s why mine didn’t turn out as pretty and dark as the pics? Also used a sheet pan w foil. Would like them darker next time….

  23. I haven’t had kafta in decades!!

    Unrelated note: what’s the best internet resource for learning how to strip and reseason cast iron? I’ve got a few lodge skillets but they now have rust in them from lack of use and seasoning while living in a high-humidity area.

    1. For this recipe, each serving is 1 meatball. I tried to make it easier to determine nutritional facts based on how many you wanted to eat.

  24. I love the flavors of this dish. I used 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb ground lamb together for this recipe. Using a baking sheet worked great. Thank you Sabrina for sharing this great recipe.

  25. Delish—just made them! Baked half the meatballs and froze the rest for later. Served them on naan with tziki sauce. A true Moroccan—Indian—Greek delight!

  26. Sabrina, this recipe is just what I was looking for! One question: if I use dried mint and parsley, is the ratio the same? Thanks so much!

  27. Sabrina, I would like to make this recipe for my Veggan friend and serve with a Greek Salad. Is there a meat substitute I could use? Sounds delicious.

    1. I’ve never tested it using anything else, sorry. If you decide to try something, I’d love to know what you used and how it turned out. Thanks!

      1. I did experiment. I researched and found a meatless Italian-style meatball using ground chick peas. So that is what I used but followed your recipe for the seasonings. I used two cans of chick peas, and halved the portions of seasoning since I didn’t think the chick peas would equal two pounds of meat. They even held together fairly well which I was concerned because there is no egg in the recipe. Tasted delicious! My friend loved them.

  28. Just made these for dinner using ground elk meat. AMAZING!!! So flavorful and delicious. We made them on kebabs and grilled them. Myself and my boyfriend cannot stop raving about them. Thank you so much! Can’t wait to make them again.

  29. I mixed 1 pound of ground lamb with 1 pound of lean ground beef. Otherwise, I followed the original recipe completely. I could not believe how delicious these kebabs turned out and how easy they were to make. We frequently eat Mediterranean food out, and these kebabs are every bit as good as any that we have had out.

  30. Sabrina, yet another delicious recipe! I unfortunately didn’t have any allspice, but had everything else. I put them in a 12″ cast iron pan in the oven for 18 minutes. I got 17 meatballs with the recipe. I don’t have a ice cream scoop (hey, an excuse to buy another kitchen gadget!) so they were kinda round-ish. I think it gives them character 🙂 Will cook 14-15 minutes next time, as they were a a tiny bit well done, but still amazingly good! I served it with saffron rice and Lebanese yogurt sauce.
    I’m just really starting to get into cooking, and I really love your recipes. Each one I try gives me more confidence, so thank you so much!

  31. Loved these so much we made them twice just a few days apart 🙂 the first time with chicken (halving the recipe) and the second time with 2lbs of lamb. Very nice flavors in the spices! Thanks for the recipe — definitely going into our rotation.

  32. Great recipe! I made this in my toaster / convection oven and they came out pretty good. I had them in for 18 minutes which made them a tad overcooked. Will try a 14-15 minutes next time. Served with fusilli and cauliflower topped with cheese – made for a hearty, delicious, spicy meal!

  33. I would like to see links to suggested side dishes to accompany this. I’m going to make some pitas and rice, but I’ll bet there are better options.

  34. Thank you for sharing your arabic meatballs recipe. It was simple and the perfect flavor. I felt they taste similar yo ones I had in an arabic restaurant.

  35. I just followed your recipe and they are in the oven now. Looks and smells fantastic. I have had these in Persian and Lebanese restaurants and loved them. Will probably make this plenty more!

  36. These are delicious! I’ve made them several times, first with ground beef, and then with 1 lb. each ground turkey, ground chicken. I always leave out the mint. My husband doesn’t like tomato sauce, so he especially enjoys these. Thanks!!

    1. Looks like there was a glitch in the recipe card. Thanks for catching that. It should read 2 tablespoons. Thanks!

  37. Searching pinterest, I found your recipe. I made kebabs with the meat on metal skewers and grilled them. My 5yr old who isn’t picky, but just doesn’t comment too much on flavor, loved them and purred all through supper. Is there a traditional sauce that might be served with the meat, or is it eaten by itself in a pita?

  38. How do you keep your meatballs so round? When I brown meatballs in a skillet they get flat on the sides and end up looking like cubes! I prefer browning in a skillet rather than baking them.

  39. Hello! I am wondering how many meatballs this yields and how many meatballs per person? I am trying to scale this recipe to serve 60 people. Thanks!

    1. If you’re making it as an appetizer, I would suggest tripling it. If it’s for a main dish, you’re going to need to at least quadriple the recipe. Have a fun party!

  40. Just what I was looking for. These were easy & delicious! I (sadly) didn’t have mint, but they were great anyway, with a mix of lamb & beef. Will become a regular item in our rotation!

  41. I made the beef meatballs last weekend and my family loved it. My kids hated beef, my son had 3 and my daughter had 2. They told me to make them again this weekend. I am going to change it to beef patties instead of meatballs.

  42. Hi..Awesome recipe…Nice Blog…i do not support your point of view that ground Beef is preferable to Lamb…Beef mea is not Juicy as Lamb..Good Kofta Should be Juicy and mouthwatering…I will follow you on all your accounts…