A favorite across the middle-east, Lamb Kibbeh is packed full of flavor. Meat patties stuffed with more meat for perfect doneness, all cooked to perfection. Top it off with easy Homemade Tzatziki sauce and the result is the centerpiece for an ethnic meal your family will absolutely love!
Mike's Recipe Rundown
- Taste: Tons of flavor here. Lamb itself comes with a wonderful, almost soft, juicy meat flavor. We add to that a generous amount of syrian spice, a carefully balanced blend of allspice, cumin, cloves, black pepper and nutmeg give a unique, deep and savory taste that you get with authentic middle eastern dishes.
- Texture: Cracked wheat (bulgur) mixes in with the meat to lend a crispy crust wrapped around a ground meat center. There are two options for cooking the patties. The traditional way is to pan fry them to golden perfection. But, since we're being weight conscious around here, we go the baked route. In fact, I prefer the baked version to the fried version. The end texture lets the flavor of the lamb shine.
- Difficulty - Above average: None of the steps here necessarily require a ton of technique, but there are a few steps that take some time. This is best made for Sunday dinner, when you have the afternoon clear to do the steps in stages as the day progresses.
- Pros: A truly authentic middle-eastern bite with an absolute ton of flavor. As someone who was raised on Syrian food, this brings back warm memories of family gatherings growing up. I love spreading the joy of this meal to my own kids, as well as you!
- Cons: I kind of touched on it above, but it's worth noting that this does take some time to come together. You want to cook your filling, cool it, wrap it and let it set in the fridge before you cook it. If I'm planning on eating dinner around 5:30, I typically get started with this around 2:00pm. Now, you're only actively working in spurts, as a lot of the time is simply letting things cool, set in the fridge or bake in the oven. But from start to finish, this one will chew some clock.
- Would I make it again? Of course! This is a favorite on the Syrian side of my family, and for good reason! We love making this for family gatherings.
Find out why people love our most popular recipes, like Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin, Instant Pot Chicken a la King and Homemade Beef Stroganoff. When it's burning hot in Tallahassee, I love to pop some Arnold Palmer Popsicles in the freezer, or cool off with Pomegranate Margaritas.
Kibbeh Tips and Tricks
- This recipe is for lamb, but you can easily sub in ground beef as well. I'd recommend ground chuck, specifically. Chuck works well if a) you want to save a few bucks or b) you can't find lamb at your local store. Additionally, the fat content of chuck helps to mock the softness that lamb gives you.
- Speaking of saving a few bucks, if you have an electric meat grinder (affiliate), grinding your own lamb is a great way to save money. At my local Publix, ground lamb costs $9.99 a pound, but I can get a boneless lamb shoulder from Costco for only $5.99 a pound. I simply run it through my electric meat grinder at home and save a ton of cash.
- I typically make my own syrian spice at home, but you can find pre-mixed versions as well. At my local Middle-Eastern grocer, they sell "Seven Spice" which is pretty similiar.
- Making your Tzatziki at least an hour ahead of time is definitely recommended. This allows the oils in the garlic, lemon and mint to disperse more evenly throughout the yogurt, giving a nice even taste.
- If you are trying to make these on a weeknight, it's can be doable. Simply complete all the steps up to cooking the kibbeh the night before. Wrap the tray of patties tightly with plastic wrap and store them in the fridge overnight and cook the following day. Prep should not be done more than a day in advance, however.
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How to make Lamb Kibbeh with Tzatziki
Using a microplane grater (affiliate), grate your english cucumber. Place into a mesh strainer (affiliate) and press to get all the excess water out. Place into a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and squeeze in fresh lemon juice.
Using the same microplane grater, grate in your fresh garlic. Add a splash of olive oil and chopped fresh mint. Of course, you'll want to add your whole milk greek yogurt next, and stir everything together. Cover and place in the fridge while moving on.
Syrian Spice & Bulgur
Measure out allspice, cumin, cloves, black pepper and nutmeg and dump into a small bowl. Stir together until well blended and set aside. If doing in advance, cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
Next, place bulgur in a side bowl and cover with an inch of cold water. Cover with a paper towel and set out at room temp for one hour.
Now, in a large mixing bowl (affiliate), place all of your ground lamb, cold water and syrian spice. Mix by hand until meat is evenly seasoned. Separate meat into two sections, ⅓ for the filling and ⅔ for the wrap. Place the meat for the wrap in the fridge for later.
Heat a frying pan (affiliate) or cast iron pan (affiliate) to medium high heat. Add in the seasoned lamb for the filling (⅓ of total lamb) and cook for 4 minutes. Add diced onions and stir together. Cook until no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes more.
Reduce heat to medium low. Make a well in the center of your pan and add pine nuts. Pine nuts will cook very quickly. When they begin to brown, stir them around to brown them evenly. Then stir them into the meat and remove pan from heat.
When filling is cool enough, transfer it to a bowl and place it in the fridge for an hour to cool off.
Remove the ⅔ of the ground lamb allotted for the wrap from the fridge. Add in soaked bulgur, which should now feel softer with a bit of fluff to it. Mix together by hand until bulgur is evenly distributed.
Remove filling from fridge. Lay down a sheet of plastic wrap on a cutting board and place a small handful of your raw lamb/bulgur mix on top. Press flat to that it created a flat circle, about 2 inches in diameter.
In center of meat, spoon in about 2 Tbsp of cooked lamb/onion/pine nut filling. Carefully wrap the raw lamb/bulgur mix around the filling, forming it into a patty with your hand. Place onto a baking sheet and repeat until all meat is used.
Place baking sheet into fridge for one hour so that patties hold shape. This prevents them from falling apart while they cook.
tip: if you're making these ahead of time, simply stop here and wrap the baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap. Leave in fridge overnight and cook the following day.
Preheat oven to 375°. When it's warm, remove the baking sheet with kibbeh patties from the fridge and place on the center rack of the oven. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until outside of patties are no longer pink.
Switch off heat on oven and turn broiler on high. Broil patties until the tops are turn nice and brown. Every oven is different, so watch them carefully. In mine, this took about 5 minutes. They can burn easily if left unattended, so definitely keep a close eye.
When the tops are browned, remove the pan from the oven and flip patties over with a spatula. Return to oven to broil opposite side. This will go quicker, since the broiler is now pre-heated. Broil until opposite side is also brown, about 2-3 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving. Spoon onto plate and place two patties on top. Spoon an additional dollop of tzatziki on top and serve. Goes great alongside tabbouleh and syrian string cheese.
What to do with leftover Kibbeh
Kibbeh can be stored in fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To reheat, simply heat in microwave until warm, about 2-3 minutes. Serve with reserved tzatziki sauce.
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Lamb Kibbeh with Tzatziki
- Total Time: 2.75 hours
- Yield: 16 kibbeh 1x
- ½ english cucumber
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove fresh garlic
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ Tbsp fresh mint (chopped)
- 2 cups whole milk greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp allspice
- 2 Tbsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp ground cloves
- 1 Tbsp black pepper
- ½ Tbsp nutmeg
- 1 cup #1 grade cracked wheat (aka bulgur)
- 3 lbs ground lamb (or ground beef, can do a mixture of both)'
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 small onion, diced
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
- Tzatziki: Grate english cucumber with a microplane grater. Place in mesh strainer (affiliate) and press to get excess water out. Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Grate in fresh garlic with microplane grater (affiliate). Add olive oil, salt, fresh lemon juice, fresh chopped dill and greek yogurt. Stir everything together. Cover and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Syrian Spice & Soaking Bulgur: Mix together all dry ingredients for syrian spice in a bowl and set aside at room temperature. Meanwhile, place bulgur in a bowl and cover with 1 inch of water. Cover bowl with paper towel and leave out at room temp.
- Season Kibbeh: Season ground meat with syrian spice and cold water. Mix together by hand until spice is evenly distributed. Split into two sections, ⅓ of the meat for the filling and ⅔ of the meat for the wrap. Leave the ⅔ for the wrap in the bowl and place in the fridge to keep cool
- Make filling: Heat a large saute pan or cast iron pan to medium high heat. Add in ground meat and cook 4 minutes before adding diced onions. Stir everything together and continue cooking until no longer pink, about 4 more minutes. Reduce heat to medium low. Make a well in the center and add the pine nuts. Cook until golden brown (this happens quickly), then stir into meat. Transfer mixture to a bowl and place in the fridge for an hour to cool.
- Wrap Kibbeh: Mix together soaked bulgur and remaining raw meat by hand until evenly mixed. Remove cooked filling from fridge. Place plastic wrap down on a cutting board. On top, place a small handful of raw meat/bulgar mix, and press flat with your palm. In the center, place 2 Tbsp of cooked filling. Carefully wrap the raw meat around, compressing it with your hands. Some people shape them in football-like ovals, I prefer patties. Repeat until all meat is used and place on baking sheet. Place in fridge for one hour to hold form.
- Cook: Preheat oven to 375°. Place baking sheet in center for 10 minutes, until meat is no longer pink. Turn heat off and turn broiler on high. Broil until tops are brown, about 5 minutes (watch them closely). Flip over and cook until opposite side browns, about 3 minutes more. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve with tzatziki sauce.
- Prep Time: 2.5 hours
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Middle-Eastern
Keywords: Lebonese Food, Baked Kibbeh, Middle-Eastern Recipe