Kafta kebabs are a very popular Lebanese meat dish. These ground beef kebobs are very easy to make, and they taste great as you will see in this recipe! These Lebanese kebabs are like a Middle Eastern meatball or beef patty. You’ll be sure to love this recipe next time you have a cookout!Jump to Recipe
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Kafta or shish kafta (also spelled kofta or kofte or kafka), is a Middle Eastern skewer of meat. Lebanese kafta is a kebab made with beef, lamb or chicken that is seasoned with Middle Eastern spices and grilled.
Kofta kebabs can be found all over the Middle East from Lebanon, to Jordan and Turkey also. Each country gives it its own flare and flavor.
Within this particular post we will be covering my families Lebanese Beef Kafta recipe.
My whole entire life growing up, I thought it was "kafka", but now that I'm an adult, I'm finding out that it is really "kafta", or in other countries it's spelled "kofta".
Want to learn more about Lebanese food? Check out this article on What is Lebanese Cuisine
The ingredients for kafta skewers are pretty simple:
- lean ground beef
- yellow onion
- fresh parsley
- fresh mint (or dried mint if you don't have fresh)
- other kafta spices (specified in recipe card)
One key spice that you need is Lebanese 7 spices (also known as Baharat). There are so many Lebanese recipes that use this spice. If you don't have this spice you can substitute pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom, but I do recommend getting some. Check out the affiliate link below, this is a really good one.
Let's jump into how to make kafta Lebanese recipe. Kafta meat is very easy to make and quite frankly, these are the best kebabs ever IMO.
Like many Lebanese recipes, we start with an onion. Peel and quarter it and throw it into a food processor with your fresh chopped parsley. Pulse it until it is finely minced together. Mine almost turns into liquid.
In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef, minced onions and parsley, and the rest of the spices. Mix with your hand or with a spoon until just combined. You don't want to overwork the meat.
Using metal skewers, shape the ground beef mixture into long oblong pieces around the skewer, or make it into meatballs. After the meat is shaped and on the skewers, place them in a pan and into the fridge for at least 20 minutes before grilling.
Since you don't want your kafta kabob to fall apart on the grill, chilling it in the fridge will help it to stay together.
⏲️ Grilling time
Heat the grill up to medium heat and carefully place the prepared beef kofta skewers on the heated grill. Allow the skewers to grill for 4-5 minutes one one side and flip it once, cooking for another 4-5 minutes. When it's done, each Lebanese kebab should have beautiful grill marks on each side.
If you have leftovers, they can be stored in the fridge in an air tight container for up to 4 days. Beef kofta kebabs can also be put in the freezer for up to 3 months, either before or after cooking.
🥙 Serving suggestions
This Lebanese kofta recipe can be served many different ways, but I will give you my favorite ways to eat grilled kafta...
When talking about how to serve kafta, ALL kofta kebabs should be served with some sort of dip or sauce. Some of my favorites are:
While all of those really are AMAZING to compliment this recipe, I personally think the best sauce to serve with kofta is the Mint Yogurt Sauce.
Now that we covered the sauce, let's go through what to serve with kaftas that's not a condiment, but more of a side dish...
There are so many different ways to eat kofta. Besides serving it over rice or on pita bread, you can make it into a kafta burger, serve it over a salad, or in a bowl similar to my recipe for shawarma bowls.
You can also bake kofta in the oven (kafta bil sanieh) in the shape of meatballs and serve it over rice or with potatoes.
Is it healthy?
I would consider this recipe to be very healthy. It is lean meat that is full of herbs and spices and by itself, it is paleo, low carb, and Whole30 friendly.
Is kofta gluten free?
All kafta recipes should be gluten free and egg free. If you find a recipe for kafta calling for breadcrumbs or anything like that, avoid it. It is not authentic.
Kafta vs Kibbeh
There is quite a difference between kibbeh and kofta. Both are traditional Arabic recipes, however there are some major differrences:
- The quality of meat is different- Traditionally kibbeh meat is very particularly cut and prepared since some kibbeh is served raw (kibbeh nayeh). Beef kofta just uses lean ground beef
- They are seasoned differently- Kibbeh and kafta taste different because kafta spices vs spices in kibbeh are not the same. Kafta uses more spices
- Cracked wheat- kibbeh uses cracked wheat or bulgur within the meat, but kofta does not use any wheat product whatsoever
- Cooking method- Kofta is traditionally grilled, but kibbeh is either baked, fried or served raw
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A food processor for you kitchen will come in very handy for many recipes. I use mine so much and this is the one I have. It's made with quality and is very durable. I also highly recommend spices from The Spice House. You can shop on the affiliate links below.
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Kofta Kebab Recipe Lebanese
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 large yellow onion
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves substitute 1 tablespoon dried mint leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon Lebanese 7 Spices substitute with some pepper, cinnamon and cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
- In a food processor, add the roughly chopped onion, fresh parsley and fresh mint leaves. Process until very finely diced, almost liquid.
- In a large mixing bowl add the ground beef, onion mixture and all of the spices. Mix with your hand or a spoon until just combined. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Shape the kofta meat mixture onto the skewers. They can be made into an oblong shape or like meatballs.
- On a grill heated to medium heat, grill the kafta skewers for 5 minutes and then flip, grilling for another 5 minutes until done. Serve and enjoy!