Lebanese Kibbeh, or kibbeh bil sanieh, in essence is a Mediterranean meatloaf made with either spiced lamb mince or lean ground beef. Baked kibbeh is stuffed with toasted pine nuts and a ground beef mixture, then cut into diamonds and baked.Jump to Recipe
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Any Lebanese dinner is not complete without baked Kibbeh or kibbeh bil sanieh (also spelled kibbi, kibbie, kibbe). Growing up in a Lebanese-American home, every holiday meal there had to be kibbeh nayeh (which is raw) and the oven baked kibbeh as well.
Actually, it wasn't just common on holidays only, I'm pretty sure my Sittie (Grandma) made it on many Sunday dinners when we were over there. Food is a very central part of Lebanese culture, and Kibbeh is about as Lebanese as it gets!
Want to learn more about Lebanese food? Check out this article here "The Ultimate Guide to Lebanese Food"
So what is Kibbeh anyway? Lebanese Kibbeh is basically a Middle Eastern version of meat loaf that is stuffed with a ground beef and pine nut mixture called "Hashweh". It is very common to find Kibbeh with pine nuts at your local Middle Eastern restaurant, since it really is a staple Middle Eastern food.
What kind of meat to use in Lebanese Kibbeh?
This is hotly debated. My ancestors in Lebanon used to use lamb mince only for this recipe, HOWEVER since coming to the US, that was abandoned for the most part. My whole family uses very lean ground beef.
Feel free to use ground lamb, but also there is no shame in using ground beef. Just make sure it's prepared correctly.
You CANNOT use just any ground beef you buy in a package in a store. It is extremely important to use fresh lean ground beef, properly prepared for kibbeh, especially if you will be serving any of it for raw kibbeh.
I dedicate a whole section in my article on Kibbeh Nayeh to what kind of meat to get and how to get it from a butcher. Please see that article which may answer any further questions you have.
- Freshly ground lean beef (ground eye of round, completely trimmed of fat)
- Fine Bulgur #1 (yellow or red, I use yellow)
- Mint Leaf
- Ground cinnamon
- Pine Nuts
- Butter or ghee
A little note on these ingredients here. You can find bulgur (or cracked wheat) at your local Mediterranean grocery store. If you do not have a local grocery store to buy specialty items, you can find it on Amazon as well.
You just want to make sure you use a fine bulgur as opposed to coarse bulgur. Don't know what it is? Here is an article from The Spruce Eats on Bulgur Wheat.
Now, for the cinnamon, some families use Lebanese 7 spices (or Baharat seasoning) instead, but we just used ground cinnamon. If you want to use 7 spices, that is totally fine, it's up to you. You can find some at The Spice House through my affiliate link.
When it comes to pine nuts, there really is no good substitute for them and they are very important to use in this baked kibbeh recipe. You also need to toast them in order to get rid of any bitter taste. If you are wondering where to buy pine nuts, I recommend either your local Mediterranean store or through my affiliate link below.
If you want to know more about pine nuts and how to prepare them, you can check out my article "How to Toast Pine Nuts".
How to make Kibbeh
Lebanese baked kibbeh is really rather easy to make, as long as you have a food processor. A food processor will make your life so much easier and I highly recommend adding one to your kitchen repertoire if you haven't done so yet. I personally use a Cuisinart food processor and can swear buy its efficiency and durability.
I have had mine for nearly 13 years now and it works amazingly! My mom has had hers for almost 40 years. FORTY YEARS and it works as good as mine! Get one today through my affiliate link below!
Now onto the kibbeh... Preheat the oven to 400 F. You will want to make sure that you are working with cold ingredients the whole time. Get out your bulgur and measure ⅔ of a cup of it into a 1 cup measurer. Fill it with water up to the 1 cup line (or even a little higher) and soak the bulgur for at least 25 minutes.
You can let it soak in the fridge while you start working on the rest of the kibbeh. It is important to soak it long enough to absorb all of the water. You don't want crunchy cracked wheat!
Now, get 1 medium sized yellow onion and remove the skin. Quarter it and throw it into the food processor. You will want to finely chop it in the food processor until it is nearly a liquid. If you are using fresh mint leaves, put it in the food processor with the onion.
Once, that is done add the cold lean beef to the food processor. Pulse it several times until it is combined, but don't over work it! You don't want the meat getting warm at all.
Remove the meat and onion mixture and add them to a large mixing bowl. Add the soaked bulgur, mint, salt, pepper, cinnamon and basil. You can either use 20 fresh mint leaves or substitute it with 1 ½ teaspoons dried mint leaf.
Dip your hands into ice water and gently mix all of the ingredients together by hand. Refrigerate it while you prepare the hashweh filling.
You have successfully prepared Kibbeh Nayeh, which is served raw with the mezze and appetizers, but we aren't serving it raw today! So keep on reading...
Making the filling
Take ½ lb of lean ground beef, or ground round and put it in a skillet over medium heat. Add the toasted pine nuts, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 medium diced onion, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Brown it all together, breaking up the meat until it is no longer pink.
Assembling baked kibbeh
Generously butter or grease a 8x8 or 9x11 baking dish, depending on how thick you want it. Take half of the raw kibbeh mixture and layer it evenly on the bottom of the pan. Take the kibbeh stuffing and evenly distribute it on top of that layer.
The top layer is a little trickier since you can't easily spread the raw kibbeh meat mixture over the stuffing. Take a little bit of the kibbeh beef mixture in your hands and flatten it to how thick you want the layer. Place it on top of the filling layer and repeat with another bit of the kibbeh beef mixture until the whole top is covered.
How to Cut it
Important!* When making baked kibbeh, you should ALWAYS cut it BEFORE baking it in the oven!
There is a picture below of how to cut Kibbeh. It is usually cut into diamonds, just like baklava is cut. I have a very in depth tutorial on my baklava recipe of how to cut it, if you are still having questions.
Go ahead and with a sharp knife, cut down the middle of the pan of kibbeh. Cut in half again on either side until you reach your desired size. It will be different depending on what size of pan you use.
Now to get the diamond shape when cutting, start where one of the cuts meats the edge of the pan and cut diagonally at a 45 degree angle making a diamond. Continue onto the next one until the whole pan is cut into diamonds (see below).
After cutting it, put several pats of butter on the top, then you will bake it! Cover it with foil and place it in the preheated oven and baked it on 400 for 25 minutes, then lower the oven to 300 F and remove the foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes. Kibbeh is done when it begins to brown on the edges and you can smell the wonderful aromatics!
Another popular way to make this traditional recipe, is to form it into meatballs and fry it. Check out the full recipe here ----> Fried Kibbeh Balls
🥗 Side dishes
How to serve it and what to serve Lebanese Kibbeh
Authentic Lebanese kibbeh is almost always served with Labneh, which is a very thick yogurt. You can substitute it with whole milk yogurt or you can serve it also with this recipe for mint yogurt sauce.
Some other great Lebanese dishes that compliment this kibbeh bil sanieh recipe are:
- Lebanese Chicken and Rice
- Fattoush Salad
- Tabbouleh Salad
- Homemade Pita Bread
- Za'atar Bread
- Lebanese Meat Pies
Can you freeze Kibbeh?
Yes! This kibbeh recipe can be frozen after assembling it, before it's cooked.
In order to baked it, thaw completely overnight in the fridge and bake it according to the instructions.
Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days. It reheats fine in the microwave.
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Lebanese Kibbeh (Kibbeh Bil Sanieh)
For the kibbeh meat mixture
- 1 lb lean ground beef ground round steak or ground sirloin, trimmed of all fat. See note in blog post
- 1 yellow onion
- ⅔ cup Yellow Bulgar #1 (fine cracked wheat)
- ½ cup water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon heaping
- ½ teaspoon basil
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried mint leaf or 20 fresh mint leaves
- 2-3 tablespoons butter
For the Hashweh Filling
- ½ lb lean ground beef or ground round
- ¼ cups toasted pine nuts
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Hashweh Filling
- In a skillet over medium heat, add ½ pound of lean ground beef, diced onion, butter, pine nuts and spices. Brown together, breaking apart the meat as it cooks. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the Kibbeh.
For the Beef Kibbeh Mixture
- Preheat the oven to 400° F
- Soak the finely cracked bulgur wheat in about ½ cup of water. I measure out ⅔ of a cup of the bulgur then fill water up to the one cup line on the measuring cup. Let it soak for 30 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed.
- Place the onion in the food processor and process until finely ground, nearly liquid. If using fresh mint leaves, grind it with the onions as well.
- Add the 1 pound of lean ground beef to the food processor and pulse until just combined. Do not over work and don't let it get warm. *see note on the kind of beef
- Place the meat mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the soaked cracked wheat along with the salt, pepper, cinnamon, basil, and dried mint leaf.
- Dip your hands into ice cold water and mix the ingredients by hand until combined. Don't let it get warm. Dip your hands into cold water again if you have to. Cover and place in the fridge.
- In a buttered or greased 8 x 8 baking dish (9 x 11 if you want it thinner), Evenly layer ½ of the kibbeh meat mixture to the bottom of the pan, making sure it is smoothed out.
- Add the prepared hashweh filling over the first layer of kibbeh meat
- Take the rest of the kibbeh mixture and carefully layer the top layer. I usually flatten some of the kibbeh meat in my hands and place it on top.
- BEFORE baking the kibbeh, cut it into diamonds and add several pats of butter on top.
- Cover with foil and place in the preheat oven on 400° F for 25 minutes.
- Lower the oven temperature to 300° F, remove the foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes until it begins to brown around the edges. Serve and enjoy!