Lamb or Beef Kofta Kabob (Kebab)

Lamb or Beef Kofta Kabob (Kebab)

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If you are not Middle Eastern, you might be wondering “what the heck is a kofta?” Is it meat, is it vegetable, or is it some mysterious Middle Eastern ingredient? Actually, it’s none of those! “Kofta” is a word used throughout the Middle East, meaning ground meat. Today, there are many kabob variations, including fruit kabobs, veggie kabobs, and even dessert kabobs. However, there was a time when “kabobs,” which originated in the Middle East, referred to “skewered meat.” “Kofta kabob,” specifically, refers to kabobs made with ground meat.

Kofta Kabob Variations

Kofta kebab is usually made using beef, lamb, or a combination of the two. Not a meat fan? That’s ok, there’s also chicken and seafood kabobs. I would also like to point out the difference between kofta kabobs and Shish Kabobs. The latter refers to marinated and skewered chunks of meat, instead of a ground meat mixture.

Ingredients and Tools for Making Kofta Kabob

Luckily, sumac is the only elusive ingredient in this recipe. But, you can follow the Amazon link above, or purchase it at a Middle Eastern market. If you like to cook, you probably already have a food processor. It will come in handy for grinding the onion and the herbs into a fine pulp. I also recommend purchasing some flat skewers. Although I’ve seen people use wooden skewers, it’s not the authentic way of making kofta kabob. The meat mixture is traditionally formed onto the flat skewers, giving the kabobs their distinct shape.

kofta kabob on a  bbq

Serving Suggestions

Kofta kabobs are served with vermicelli rice, pita bread, and grilled vegetables. Additionally, tahini sauce, pickled vegetables, and sumac are sometimes served on the side. This recipe will yield eight 12″ kabobs or sixteen 6″ kabobs. Finally, be sure to stop by after you try this recipe to leave me a recipe review. I love hearing from YOU!

kofta kabobs on foil

If you love lamb, like I do, check out the following recipes: lamb cracklins, Okra Stew, Shawarma, and Lamb Shishkabobs. Don’t forget to check out my  Classic Middle Eastern Food Combinations. And if you’re ready to try something completely different, check out my Gourmet Elk Burgers recipe!

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5 from 3 votes
kofta kabob
Kofta Kabob (Kebab)
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
4 hrs 40 mins

Tender and juicy kofta kebab using lamb, beef, or a mixture of both.

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Assyrian, Middle Eastern
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 363 kcal
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 T. dried parsley (or 1/2 cup fresh)
  • 2 tsp. dried mint
  • 2 lbs. ground beef 20% fat
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 2-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2-1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 T. sumac powder
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  1. Place the chopped onion, parsley, and mint in a food processor.
  2. Pulse the food processor until the onion is liquified.
  3. Pour the onion mixture into a large bowl, along with the remaining ingredients. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-6 hours, or overnight.
  5. Divide the meat into 8 or 16 equal portions, depending on which size kabobs you’re making. Take one portion of the meat mixture and roll into a meatball. Push a flat skewer through the meat. Using the same hand that’s holding the meatball, begin forming the meatball onto the skewer. If the meat is too sticky, wetting your hand will help. Flatten the meat onto the skewer until you have formed a 6″ kabob. If you want to make 12″ kabobs, use twice as much meat.
  6. Heat and oil the grill. Place skewers at an angle to give the kabobs the grill marks.
  7. After a few minutes turn the skewers over. If they get stuck, use a spatula to carefully free them from the grill. Cook five minutes or less per side.
  8. If you don’t have skewers, just shape the meat into long, flat patties and grill the same way mentioned above. Once both sides are browned, remove from the grill.
Nutrition Facts
Kofta Kabob (Kebab)
Amount Per Serving (2 small kabobs)
Calories 363 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Fat 23g35%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 71mg24%
Sodium 974mg42%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 15g17%
Protein 37g74%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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4 thoughts on “Lamb or Beef Kofta Kabob (Kebab)”

  • Thanks for the comment, Kristin! I guess the fact that you haven’t tried kofta kebabs is one of the reasons why I love to blog. I love introducing new foods to others. Hope you give the recipe a try and let me know what think. It can easily be made with only beef. The key is to keep it pretty fatty; dry kebabs are not very tasty. Since you’re on Keto that shouldn’t be a problem, right? Enjoy!

  • Hi Tereasa, thanks for your comment! To answer your question, I wouldn’t
    t be surprised if it was pronounced differently in Turkey. I’m Assyrian, and we pronounce is “Koofta” Do you recall how it was cooked? Was it grilled or fried in a pan? There is another recipe called “kitlehteh,” which are football-shaped meat patties, that are usually fried in a pan. Also, I can relate to the memory comment! 😉

  • Is this pronounced like Kurfda? I lived in Turkey for a little while when I was younger and we used to eat kurfda all the time. I’ve tried to find a recipe for years. I am going to try it but it’s been so many years I probably don’t even remember what it really tastes like, lol! It’s a favorite memory of mine and that’s saying a lot as these days I don’t remember a whole lot!

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