Lebanese Meat Pies (Sfeehas)
Lebanese meat pies or sfeehas are savory pastries that are traditionally served like pizzas or as little triangles of doughy bread stuffed with a flavorful ground lamb or beef filling. Lebanese meat pies can be made in large sizes to be eaten for the main meal or smaller for appetizers!
Hello lil’ triangles of deliciousness, we ‘meat’ again.
Okay, that was horrible. We could just call them what normal people call them – Lebanese meat pie or Sfiha.
Sfeehas bring back a lot of childhood memories for me. They’re the epitome of ethnic comfort food. When my brother and I were younger, my parents used to buy these from a small little Lebanese bakery for us. They were treats that came around every couple of months or so, as the bakery was in the city and we lived in a tiny suburb over an hour away. Sometimes I’d pick the one with beef mixture, other times I went with spinach fatayer. I have distinct memories of cold, blistery winters, wearing 90s sweaters, and eating warm Lebanese meat pies by the fireplace.
I sometimes make my Lebanese meat pies into large, dinner-sized portions because that’s how I remember them being. I’ve pictured them smaller to serve as appetizers if you’re making these as finger food for a party. They are always a hit!
Ingredients for Lebanese Meat Pies:
- Self-rising flour: depending on where e you live in the world, this might be called self-raising flour. Self-rising flour containers both baking powder and a dash of salt.
- Milk Powder: gives homemade Lebanese meat pies a bakery-style flavor, texture, and tenderness to the final product. One that you can’t pinpoint while eating but you know that there’s something special about these rolls. If you can’t find it in stores, you can purchase it here.
- Seasonings and flavorings: You’ll need kosher salt, instant yeast, and granulated sugar. The sugar will help feed the yeast. You’ll need ground cinnamon, allspice, a dash of cayenne pepper, and sumac to flavor the sfiha filling.
- Sauce: You’ll need tahini paste and pomegranate molasses for the filling.
- Oil, ghee, and eggs: You’ll need a high-heat oil such as avocado or canola oil. You’ll also need a couple of eggs for the sfiha dough. The ghee is used for the filling. If you don’t want to use clarified butter, you can just use a splash of oil instead.
- Onions and tomatoes: Along with ground beef, these ingredients make up the filling.
- Finishing ingredients: Lemon juice and parsley are added as finishing ingredients for the filling. Traditionally, some families also add a handful of pine nuts. I didn’t grow up eating them this way, so I prefer them without it.
How to make lebanese meat pies:
- Make the dough. The first step is to make the dough. Add the flour, powdered milk, salt, yeast, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Give it a good whisk so that all the ingredients are mixed. Create a well in the middle; you’re going to add the oil and the eggs in the center. Using a wooden spoon, stir as you add the warm water. When the dough starts to come together, dump it out onto a work surface. Knead the dough for a few minutes. The dough starts to come together, place it in a bowl and loosely cover it with plastic wrap or a towel. Let the dough rise in a warm spot, like the oven (turned off, of course). Let it rise for 1 hour. While it’s rising, prepare the meat mixture.
- Make the filling: Heat the ghee or oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and saute for a few minutes. They should just start to turn translucent. Then add the ground beef or lamb. Brown the meat for 10-12 minutes. Kick the heat up to medium-high and add the tomatoes. Continue to cook for 8-9 more minutes. Season with salt, cinnamon powder, all spice powder, cayenne powder, and the sumac powder. Give it a stir. Add the tahini paste and pomegranate molasses. Let it cook for 1 more minute. Turn the stove off and add the lemon juice and chopped parsley. Taste and adjust with more seasonings are you’d like. Then allow the filling to cool completely before you attempt to fill the sfihas.
- Wrap them up. Divide the dough into 16 equal-sized balls for larger sfeehas or 32 for appetizer-sized ones. Before rolling out each dough ball, spread about a teaspoon or 2 of flour on the work surface. Roll the dough out either with your hands by pressing it out or with a rolling pin. The dough is going to feel somewhat oily, don’t be tempted to add too much more flour. Roll out the dough into a 5-6 inch circle. Place 1-2 tablespoons of the filling in the center. Grab 2 ends and bring them over the filling. Pinch the dough as you go to create a seal, and stop at the center. Bring the last side up and pinch the center and down the 2 sides. Some people like to let the filling show a little, while others like to close it up completely. It’s up to you how you’d like yours to look! Place on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet. Let the Lebanese meat pies rest for at least 10 minutes while the oven is preheating.
- Bare and serve. Place the baking tray in a warm oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until they start turning lightly golden brown. While they’re still warm, serve them with cold greek yogurt from the fridge as a dip or with lemon wedges to squeeze on top!
FAQs about this recipe
Yes, you can prepare the filling, allow it to cool completely, and then pop it in a container and into the fridge until you’ve made your dough and are ready to fill.
Meat pies can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator covered for up to 4 days. You can also bake and store them in the freezer for 2 months. Reheat the frozen sfiha in a 250ºF oven until warmed through. This usually takes about 15 minutes.
Yes, sfihas are also called lahm bi ajeen and it’s made with the ground beef mixture stuck to the bread and baked flat, like a pizza. You can also make them squares with pinched edges (reminds me of a pillow) and the filling sticking out of the top.
Recipe slightly adapted from Jerusalem A Cookbook.
Now come on, get to making Lebanese meat pies; you’re gonna love ’em!
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Lebanese Meat Stuffed Pitas (Arayes)
- Lebanese Garlic Sauce (Toum)
- Beef Kafta Kebabs
- Homemade Beef Shawarma
- Lebanese Rice Pilaf
Original recipe shared July 2014 updated with new images, post, and minor recipe updates Oct 2022.
- 3 ⅔ cup self-rising flour (plus more)
- 3 tablespoons powdered milk
- 2 ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ cup oil (avocado, canola, etc.)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup warm water (105-110º)
- 2 tablespoons ghee (or oil)
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon EACH: ground cinnamon AND allspice
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons EACH: sumac, lemon juice, AND chopped parsley
- 6 tablespoons tahini paste
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- DOUGH: Add the dry ingredient for the dough to a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Make a well in the center, and add oil and eggs. Using a wooden spoon or dough whisk, stir as you add the water. When the dough comes together, make sure it isn't dry. If it is, add another 1-2 tablespoons of room temperature water, bring it together, then dump it out on a clean work surface. Knead it 6-8 times. When it comes together but doesn’t hold its shape, place it in a bowl and loosely cover it with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
- FILLING: Heat the ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions for 3 minutes or until translucent. Add the ground beef, cook and crumble until the meat is cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. Kick the heat up to medium-high, add the tomatoes, and continue cooking for 8-9 minutes or until the tomatoes wilt and the liquid dries out. Add the kosher salt, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne, sumac, tahini, and pomegranate molasses. Let cool for one minute. Turn off the stove, then add the lemon juice and parsley. Let the filling cool to room temperature.
- ASSEMBLE: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425ºF. Divide the dough out into 16 (for large) or 32 (for small pieces). Roll out dough balls on a lightly floured work surface into a 4-6 inch circle. It’s okay if the dough feels a little oily, don’t add more flour. Place 2 tablespoons of filling for large sfeehas and 1 tablespoon for mini ones. Grab 2 ends and bring them to the center over the filling. Pinch the seam together to create a seal. Stop at the center and bring the last side up and pinch it down the sides to create a triangle. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 6 large per sheet pan or 12 small.
- BAKE: Let the pies rest for 15 minutes before baking. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the start to turn lightly golden browning. Mine took exactly 12 minutes. Serve warm with yogurt, or a tahini dip and lemon wedges.
Meat pieces can be stored in the refrigerator covered for up to 3 days. You can also bake and freeze them for up to 2 months. Reheat frozen pies in a 250ºF oven until warmed through; about 12-15 mins.