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Easy Grilled Beef Kofta: Lebanese Street Food

Easy Grilled Beef Kofta or Kafta, as it’s sometimes called, is a Lebanese-style street food that’s super simple to make at home. Tender and delicious Kofta Kebabs are made with Middle Eastern spices and are grilled indoors or out in less than 10 minutes.

Top view of kofta kebobs, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and warm pitas

If you love authentic street food and crave it at home, this is a simple recipe to recreate using only a handful of ingredients with no marinading or prep time involved.

While it’s absolutely perfect for the outdoor grill, it can also be made in a grill plan on the stovetop.

Much like Greek Chicken Souvlaki, Beef Kofta Kabobs is a delicious, easy-to-make popular street food. And the aroma it creates while grilling? Let’s just say it might cause you to dream of exotic cities, tempting marketplaces filled with treasures and spices and delicious food.

So when you’re craving the beauty of Lebanon or adventures in the Middle East, you can bring a little flavor of those places home by recreating their amazing food. Hint: it’s easier than you might think!

Top view of Beef Kofta Kebobs on white platter with hummus and tzatziki sauce

What is the Difference Between Kofta and Kafta

You will see this dish spelled as “kafta” and also as “kofta.” What is the difference? It’s widely known as “kafta” in Lebanon and referred to as “kofta” in other Middle Eastern countries.

Kofta literally means, “spiced meatball.” And that is exactly what it is. A mixture of ground meat, onions, ample amounts of fresh parsley, and a blend of spices known as Lebanese 7 Spice.

What is 7 Spice?

Lebanese 7 Spice is a mixture of middle eastern spices that are warm and savory, and incredibly delicious. Similar to allspice, but richer in flavor. It’s essential to Beef Kofta Kebobs, but can also be used to flavor grains.

You may be familiar with the term “baharat,” an Arabic word for spices. This spice mixture favors Indian garam masala but it is also sometimes used interchangeably with 7 Spice.

It’s important to know that 7 Spice recipes vary dramatically between communities, family recipes, and even spice manufacturers. But generally it consists of a blending of these common ground spices:

  • Allspice
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground cloves
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Nutmeg

Seven Spice can be found in specialty markets and some mainline grocers. But for this Beef Kofta recipe, we’ll be making our own variation.

Top view of Kofta ingredients on a wooden board with ground beef, onion, 7 spice and Italian parsley

Beef Kofta Kabob Ingredients

Here are the simple ingredients you’ll need to make your own authentic-style Beef Kofta at home. Specific measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Beef Kofta is made by combining the following ingredients:

  • Italian flat leaf parsley
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Ground beef (ground lamb or ground chicken)
  • Garlic
  • Our own 7 Spice: ground allspice, coriander, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, cayenne
  • Salt and pepper

How to Serve Kofta

I like to serve kofta with warmed pitas, thinly sliced red onions and cucumbers, tomatoes, greens or Tabbouleh Salad, hummus, and Tzatziki Sauce, which can be store-bought or homemade. Or you can also make a quick 2 Minute Greek Dill Yogurt Sauce instead.

How to Make Beef Kofta Kabobs

This simple recipe is made in minutes! You can use a food processor for super quick and easy prep, or chop the parsley and onions by hand before mixing into the ground meat.

Note: If using bamboo skewers, presoak them for about 30 minutes so they don’t burn on the grill.

Step-by-step instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but here is an overview:

Top view of ground beef, onions, garlic, and parsley in a food processor

Step 1: Chop the parsley and onions

If using a food processor, chop the parsley, quartered onion, and garlic first. Then add the ground meat, and spices and pulse a few times until blended. Be careful not to overmix. If you’re not using a food processor, chop finely the parsley, onion, and garlic before mixing into the ground meat and spices.

Step 2: Form the kofta meatballs

Evenly portion a handful of ground meat mixture and thread onto the soaked wooden skewers. Mold around the skewers to about 1 inch thickness for best results.

Kofta kabobs cooking on a grill

Step 3: Grill the kofta

Oil and preheat the grill to medium high and cook the kofta about 4 minutes on the first side, flip and cook on the other side for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve!

Tips for Making Kofta

  • Ground meat: While I love extra lean ground beef, kafta meatballs need the added moisture of higher-fat beef to stay juicy. Look for 10 to 15% fat.
  • Be careful not to overmix the meat. When using a food processor, chop the onions and parsley first and then mix into the meat. This will help avoid overmixing, which leads to dry meat.
  • Evenly proportion the meat. I like to use a large scoop so that each kafta is roughly the same size. Then thread a wooden skewer into the center and using your fingers, form the meatballs into long, oblong shapes on the skewer, about 1-inch in diameter.
  • Try not to overcook: Grill to medium for maximum flavor and juicy texture. They do continue to cook while resting off the grill.
  • Skewers: If using bamboo skewers, be sure to let them soak in water for at least 30 minutes so they don’t burn on the grill.

How do you serve Kofta?

Kafta is delicious served on a warm pita with salad greens, hummus, Tabbouleh Salad, thinly sliced red onions, and topped with Tzatziki Sauce or Yogurt Sauce. It’s also delicious served over rice or salad greens.

Kafta Questions

Can you make beef kafta ahead?

Yes. Store grilled kafta in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Then reheat when ready to serve. Or freeze for longer storage in a freezer container for up to 3 months.

Can you substitute another meat for the ground beef?

Absolutely! While we’re making ground beef kafta here, you can also use ground lamb, or a mixture of both for a beautiful flavor. Ground chicken works well too.

Do you have to grill kafta?

While I love the smokey flavor that results from grilling kafta, you can also cook them in a grill pan on the stovetop, or even bake them in the oven. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Can you make kafta without a food processor?

Yes! A food processor only makes the process quicker and easier. Otherwise, chop the onions and parsley and then mix into the ground meat much like making a meatball or meatloaf.

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Top view of Beef Kofta Kabob on warm pita with tzatziki sauce, hummus, tomatoes and cucumbers on a plate
Side view of Beef Kofta Kebabs on a white platter

Easy Grilled Beef Kofta

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes

Easy grilled Beef Kofta or Kafta, as it's sometimes called, is a Lebanese style street food that's super simple to make at home. Tender and delicious Kofta Kebabs are made with Middle Eastern spices and are grilled indoors or out in less than 10 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 lb ground beef (10% to 15% fat recommended)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne

Instructions

  1. If using wooden skewers, presoak for 30 minutes to an hour so they don't burn on the grill. Place the parsley, quartered onion, and garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, remove and set aside.

  2. Then add the ground beef and spices into the food processor. Pulse a few times until the ingredients have come together into a meatball consistency.

  3. In even amounts, I like to use a large scoop for this, thread a fistful of the meat mixture and mold it around the wooden skewer to about 1-inch thickness.

  4. Oil and preheat the grill to medium-high. Grill the kofta for 4 minutes on the first side, and then flip and cook another 3 to 4 minutes or until they reach your preferred level of doneness. Serve!

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 109Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 124mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 10g

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