This arayes recipe is super simple and delicious. Pita bread is stuffed with seasoned meat and then grilled to make a pita bread sandwich, also called kafta arayes (arayes kafta). These delicious pita sandwiches are a traditional Lebanese street food and are also very easy to make!Jump to Recipe
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Sometimes I am wanting a very flavorful meal, but at the same time I don’t want to do much work… and that’s when I decide to make these amazing Lebanese meat stuffed pitas- aka Arayes. It’s all of the flavor of Middle Eastern food, stuffed inside of pita bread and grilled for one amazing pita bread sandwich!
You can think of it as a kind of grilled flatbread sandwich Middle Eastern style. Oh and all of the Lebanese sauces go amazingly well with this recipe!
One thing that makes this recipe SOOOOO easy, is not having to cook the meat before stuffing the pita. YES! For this arayes recipe, all you need to do is mix up the meat with the spices (which is basically the recipe for kafta), stuff it inside of the pita bread and grill it! EASY PEASY!!!
Want to find out more about Lebanese food? Read this article >>> A Guide to Lebanese Food
Ingredients for Lebanese Arayes Recipe
- 3 large loaves of thin pita bread (must have hollow pockets – double ply pita about 12″ diameter) or 6 small loaves
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 large onion
- fresh parsley (curly or flat leaf parsley is fine)
- fresh mint (or dried mint)
- Lebanese 7 spices (Baharat seasoning)
- ground pepper
- cumin powder
- cayenne pepper powder
How to make beef kafta Arayes
Before we get started on making arayes, let’s talk a little bit about pita bread. Usually in Lebanese cuisine, pita bread is very thin and is hollow on the inside. There is a different kind of Lebanese unleavened bread that is even thinner, and has no pockets on the inside, however that is not the kind to use for this recipe.
You really want to look for a very thin pita bread that is 2 ply. If you have a local Meditteranean store, you should be able to find some. If you don’t, you will probably be stuck with a thicker pita pocket.
You can also check out my recipe for homemade Pita Bread <<<<<
How to Make Arayes Video
For the pita bread filling
So the super easy thing about this beef arayes recipe, is the fact that you don’t have to cook the meat before stuffing the pita bread! Let’s start by making the pita bread filling…
At this point you are basically making beef kafta. If you prefer, you can use ground lamb as well. Take the onion and mince it. It’s important that it is minced, because you don’t want chunks of onions in your beef. I use a food processor to mince it very finely.
Take the ground beef, minced onion, and all of the spices and herbs and add them into the ground beef. Mix it with a spoon or with your hand until combined.
Stuffing the pita bread
Cut the large thin pita bread into quarters. Separate the layers so that you have a pocket to fill. Take the beef mixture and spread a thin layer inside of the pita bread. You will be using about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture give or take. Flatten the pita bread back onto the seasoned meat and set aside.
Repeat until all of the meat is used up. Now let’s get ready to grill these kafta sandwiches!
How to grill beef arayes
There are several different methods to cooking these Lebanese arayes
- Grill using an outdoor grill (my method of choice)
- Grill using an indoor stovetop griddle (also a good choice)
- Pan sear (uses oil)
- Bake in the oven
For the outdoor grilling method of cooking this grilled arayes recipe, place the stuffed pita bread quarters directly on the grill grate over low heat. Grill on each side for about 4 minutes each side, taking care not to let the edges get burned. The pita bread should get crispy on the outside, especially towards the edges, and the meat should cook through since it is a very thin layer of meat.
If using a stovetop griddle, heat it to medium heat and put a thin layer of olive oil or cooking spray on the grill pan. Grill for about 4 minutes on each side until the edges are crispy.
Check out the best Lodge cast iron stovetop griddle below…
If you decide to go the pan seared arayes route, brush a little bit of olive oil onto the arayes pita bread and place in a shallow pan over medium heat. The outside of the pita should crisp up after about 4-5 minutes and the meat should cook through.
The last method is oven baked arayes. This is really not my method of choice and I don’t recommend it. The pita bread will not get crispy enough, and you will lose some of the grill flavor that really compliments this meat pita recipe so well. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the prepared beef arayes on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until the pita begins to brown and the meat is cooked through.
How to serve Arayes Kafta
It’s important for any Lebanese meat dish to be served with some sort of dipping sauce, whether that is just plain yogurt or labneh, or even better, mint yogurt sauce or lemon tahini dressing. My favorite serving dip to eat with these authentic arayes is with this Mint Yogurt Sauce.
Can you freeze arayes?
You may freeze arayes either before they are cooked or after. The meat freezes fine if you want to freeze the kafta meat, but you can also prepare these Lebanese sandwiches and freeze them for up to 3 months in a deep freezer. You can put them straight on the grill from frozen, just allow another minute or 2 of cooking time.
If your arayes are already grilled, you can freeze them, but you will need to reheat them on a baking sheet in a high heat oven AFTER defrosting them in the fridge.
How to reheat Lebanese arayes
If you have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. I do not recommend heating them in the microwave since they will become soggy. In order to avoid soggy pita bread arayes, place them on a baking sheet and reheat them in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F.
Check out these other Lebanese Recipes!
- Grilled Chicken Shawarma
- Lebanese Falafel
- Lebanese Stuffed Squash
- Fattoush Salad
- Lebanese Rice with Vermicelli
- Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
- Authentic Lebanese Hummus
Other popular recipes by A Pinch Of Adventure
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Arayes- Lebanese Meat-Stuffed Pitas
- 4 large loaves of thin pita bread (hollow/two ply) 14"-16" in diameter
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 lb lean ground beef or lamb for lamb arayes
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves substitute with 1 tbls dried mint leaf
- 1 teas salt
- ¼ teas ground cinnamon
- ¼ teas Lebanese 7 spices substitute with ¼ teas cinnamon and ¼ teas pepper
- ¼ teas ground black pepper
- ¼ teas cumin powder
- ¼ teas cayenne pepper powder
- Mince the onion in a food processor or blender
- Add the minced onion, herbs and spices to the ground beef and mix either by hand or with a spoon until combined
- With kitchen shears, cut the pita bread into fourths, separating the layers
- Spread 2-3 tablespoons of the meat mixture inside of the pita bread, pressing the top down on top when it is evenly spread. It should be a thin layer of meat
- On low heat, grill the pita sandwiches for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until it is crispy around the edges and the meat is cooked through (see above for different cooking methods)
- Serve while hot with mint yogurt sauce for dipping