Beef Kafta Kebabs
Lebanese-inspired Beef Kafta is a household favorite! Onions, fresh parsley, and tons of spices make the Kafta kabob tender and flavorful. Grill them indoors or outdoors and serve them with vermicelli rice and lots of sauce!
Tender ground beef (or ground lamb) loaded with minced onions, garlic, fresh parsley, and so many spices that work beautifully together. I love serving this up with a batch of homemade extra smooth hummus or toum and lots of Shirazi salad or fattoush on the side with vermicelli rice! If you’ve never had kafta before, think of it as extra flavorful meatballs just in an oblong shape!
I can’t tell you how afraid I was to make kafta at home before. Putting the ground meat mixture on the wooden skewers terrified me. It stems from my early days of cooking when I attempted making them and I just couldn’t get the meat to stay on the skewers! Well, 10 years in and I’ve done away with the skewers entirely.
We’re freestyling these kabobs and never looking back!
Ingredients for homemade kafta:
- Ground beef: I like to use 90:10 ground beef for this recipe. It’s just the right amount of fat to help the kafta hold together without the kabobs being greasy. You could also use 95% lean ground beef but I definitely do prefer this recipe with a little more fat than that! Feel free to swap the ground beef or lamb here or use a 50:50 of each of those.
- Fresh Parsley: adds both color and flavor to the kebobs.
- Onions: I use a roughly cut-up yellow onion that I pulse along with the parsley and garlic in the food processor. You could also use a red onion for this recipe.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic, onions, and parsley are the base of the beef kebabs along with the ground meat.
- Spice blend: You’ll need ground sumac, kosher salt, allspice, ground cumin, coriander, white or black pepper, cinnamon, ground cloves, cayenne pepper, and ground nutmeg for this recipe!
How to make homemade beef kofta kebabs:
- Process the aromatics. Start by adding the parsley, onions, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Pulse and break down into smaller pieces. Transfer the mixture into a fine-mesh strainer to drain out all the excess liquid. I like to press down with a silicone spatula to help remove any additional liquid.
- Pulse the ground beef. Add the ground beef and all the seasonings into the same food processor and pulse a few times until the seasonings evenly disperse into the meat. Add the pulsed onion mixture back into the food processor and continue to pulse until the protein is combined with the onions. You want the meat to be slightly pasty, this will help it bind properly.
- Shape the kebabs. Transfer the mixture into a dish and cut into 10 equal pieces. Shape the meat into a sphere or ball between the palm of your hands then gently roll to create that oblong kefta shape. You can shape the kafta a few hours in advance and line them up on a baking sheet. Just be sure to cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to grill.
- Cook them p. Heat an indoor grill pan or outdoor grill over medium-high heat. When the grill is hot, spray it with a high heat cooking oil or oil the grates with oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Place the kafta a few inches apart. Grill them in batches if you are doing this on a grill pan. Cook for 8-10 minutes total and flip them around the halfway mark. Serve warm with salad, tahini sauce, toum, or a cucumber and tomato salad.
FAQs about this recipe:
- Can I make kafta sandwiches or wraps with this? Yes! Use the meat in a kafta wrap with pita bread or Lebanese bread topped with sliced onions, tomatoes, pickles, and lots of garlic sauce.
- What are your serving suggestions? We like this with homemade vermicelli rice, with Shirazi salad or fattoush salad, and lots of hummus and toum on the side.
- Can I use lamb instead of ground beef? You can use all lamb or a 50:50 combination of the two. Just be sure to use lamb that isn’t completely lean (Ideally you want it to be 90:10 as well)
- Do you have instructions on how I can make this kafta recipe in the air fryer to the oven? You can air fry these, however, this isn’t something I’ve had a chance to test yet. I would try around 375ºF for roughly 7-8 minutes as a starting point!
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Lebanese Meat-Stuffed Pitas (Arayes)
- Persian Chicken Kebabs (Jujeh Chicken)
- Beef Shawarma Bowls
- Most Delicious Homemade Shawarma Seasoning
- Cheesy Zaatar Bread (Manakish)
- 1 pound (90%) lean ground beef (or lamb)
- 1 cup parsley, lightly packed
- 1 yellow onion, quartered
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons ground sumac
- 1 teaspoon EACH: kosher salt AND allspice
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon EACH: white pepper, cinnamon, AND ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon EACH: cayenne pepper, ground cardamom AND ground nutmeg
- PROCESS: In the bowl of a food processor, add the parsley, onions, garlic, and pulse until they break down into small pieces. Place this mixture in a sieve to drain any excess liquid then press down with a silicone spatula to make sure you get most of it; set aside for now.
- PULSE: Add the ground beef and all the seasonings to the bowl of the food processor and pulse long enough to combine before adding the drained onions mixture. Run the food processor, long pulsing 4-6 more times until the meat and onions mixture is combined. The meat will be slightly pasty and that’s perfect! You need it to be that way so it binds.
- SHAPE: Transfer the kafta mixture to a bowl. You can form the oblong kafta shapes on a wooden/metal skewer or freehand them by turning them into oblong patties; Place the kafta on a clean plate and continue shaping the remaining meat. I make about 10 pieces total.
- COOK: Heat an indoor grill pan or an outdoor grill (see notes) over medium heat. When hot, spray the grates with a high heat oil and place the kafta on the grill. Grill or 8-10 minutes total, flipping the kafta halfway through until cooked to your liking. Serve warm with Shirazi salad and Lebanese rice pilaf or in pitas with homemade toum!
- Shaped Kofta: can be placed on a freezer paper-lined baking sheet and flash frozen. Simply transfer them to a zip-top bag afterward. I stick to grilling these on an outdoor grill and do so from frozen!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 274Total Fat: 16gCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 26g
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