This beef kofta recipe combines ground beef with aromatic Middle Eastern spices and fresh herbs. It’s a perfect recipe for a quick and easy lunch or weeknight dinner.
What is Kofta?
Kofta, also spelled kafta, is a popular Middle-Eastern ground meat dish made from ground meat, usually beef or lamb, that is combined with various spices, herbs, and onions. The mixture is shaped into small cylindrical or round patties and then grilled, baked, or even pan-fried with a little oil. The mixture can also be formed onto metal or bamboo skewers before grilling. When formed on a skewer, the kafta is also technically called a kebab (or kebob depending on the dialect).
Kofta is often served with vermicelli rice, Lebanese pita or Taboon flatbread, and traditional tomato and cucumber salad or a fattoush salad. You can also serve it with eggplant hummus or mutabal (roasted eggplant dip). Try it with my Fiesta Salad recipe too.
For a really healthy meal, make “rice bowls” using brown rice or cauliflower rice as the base and layer with the grilled kafta, Jerusalem salad, pickled red onion, pickled cauliflower, feta cheese, fresh mint and some yogurt sauce or garlic sauce (Toum). Don’t forget to add some shatta or fermented hot sauce.
This recipe is the basis for other Levantine recipes such as Arayes and Kafta Tray Bake.
This recipe uses simple ingredients from your pantry and fridge. It comes together in very little time. For substitutions, check the next section.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Ground Beef: You can certainly use ground lamb, or a combination of lamb and beef. Extra lean or lean ground beef works well. You can also use ground turkey or ground chicken and make Chicken kafta instead. You can also make this recipe vegan by using a vegan minced meat substitute.
- Baharat: I know that most folks probably don’t have Baharat (Levantine 7-Spice Blend) in their pantries, but don’t let that stop you. You can use a combination of equal parts cumin, coriander and cinnamon to achieve a similar flavor profile. If you love to prepare Middle Eastern, Lebanese or Levantine food, I suggest you pick up some Baharat from your local Middle Eastern store or online.
- Chili flake: I personally like to use Aleppo pepper flakes, but you can use any red pepper flakes you like or leave it out altogether.
- Garlic Powder: I like using garlic powder in this recipe because it’s easier to incorporate in the mix, but you can totally use fresh grated garlic too.
- Fresh Parsley: This is quite traditional. I recommend using flat-leaf Italian parsley but you can use the curly variety too if that’s what you have on hand. You can include other fresh herbs like cilantro, thyme or even oregano.
Scroll down to the recipe card for the exact measurements and quantities needed.
How to make this Easy Beef Kofta Recipe
Step 1. Process: In a small food processor, pulse the chopped onion and parsley until fine.
Step 2. Mix: In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, onion and parsley mixture, spices, salt and pepper. Mix really well.
Step 3. Form: Form the meat mixture into oblong shapes. Don’t make them too thick. 1 inch (2cm) thickness works well. You can freeform them, or form them onto a skewer.
Step 4. Grill: Preheat your BBQ or grill pan on medium heat. Spray or brush on some neutral oil and grill the beef kebabs for 4-6 minutes on each side until cooked through. The internal temperature should be at least 165F.
Serve: Serve the grilled kafta as a main with some side dishes like Lebanese rice, pita bread, flatbread, Lebanese potatoes, and/or chopped salad. A drizzle of tahini sauce is also traditional and so is a sprinkling of sumac.
- Check the seasoning. Fry up a small coin sized portion of the mixture and taste it. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Bake. If you don’t have a BBQ or grill pan, you can bake your kafta kebabs on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Just give them a good spray or brush with oil (neural or olive oil is fine here).
- Don’t overcook. It’s really easy to overcook ground beef which will make it really dry. Invest in a meat thermometer so you know exactly when to remove the kofta from the grill.
- You can skip the food processor and just chop the onion and parsley by hand.
- Mixture too wet? Depending on the moisture level in your mixture, it might be a little too wet and difficult to form into patties. Feel free to use a tablespoon or two of bread crumbs to help it come together.
- Make kebabs: If you plan to grill the kafta on skewers on a coal or gas grill, I recommend you soak the wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before forming the kebab to help reduce the chance of burning the skewers.
Yes, you can choose to make the mixture and book it on the fly when you need it or cook it in advance and reheat it as needed.
You can definitely make the beef kofta mixture 1 day ahead of time. Another possibility is to make the mixture and freeze it in freezer bags for future use. The uncooked mixture will last in the freezer for 6 months. All you’ll need to do then is defrost, form, and grill, which saves you time, especially on a busy weeknight.
Store leftover cooked beef kofta kebabs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can reheat them quickly in the microwave or a toaster oven. Note that when reheated they will be dryer so make sure to serve with them with a nice sauce.
If you make this homemade Beef Kofta Kebab Recipe or any other main dishes on Urban Farm and Kitchen, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe.
Beef Kofta (Easy Kafta Kebabs)
- 1 Medium onion - Chopped
- ¼ cup Fresh parsley
- 1 lb Ground beef - Use lean or medium lean. Don't use extra lean.
- 1 tablespoon Baharat spice mix - or 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Chili flakes - Optional
- Kosher salt and black pepper - start with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. You may need more.
- Process. In a small food processor, pulse the chopped onion and parsley until fine.
- Mix. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onion and parsley mixture, spices, salt and pepper. Mix really well. See the note below on how to check the seasoning level.
- Form. Form the meat mixture into oblong shapes. Don’t make them too thick. 1 inch (2cm) thickness works well. You can freeform them, or form them onto a skewer.
- Grill. Preheat your BBQ or grill pan on medium-high heat. Spray or brush the hot grill with some neutral oil and cook the beef kebabs for 6-8 minutes on each side until cooked through. The internal temperature should be at least 165F.