This is a Lebanese style Beef Kafta recipe that’s made with ground beef, parsley, onions and a blend of Middle Eastern spices- perfect on the grill or stove
Prep Time: 15 minutesCook Time: 10 minutes6 servings
By: Yumna Jawad | Feel Good Foodie
When it comes to grilling, we love our burgers and hot dogs, but we are definitely more partial to Lebanese style grilling, which includes grilled chicken kabobs, shish tawook and this Beef Kafta recipe. It’s perfect for grilling outdoors or on a grill pan and is so full of flavor, but only requires four basic ingredients: ground beef, onions, parsley and spices.
What is kafta?
We call it Kafta in Lebanon and it’s also widely known as Kofta in other Middle Eastern countries. It’s basically a meatball using either beef, chicken or lamb, mixed with herbs, Middle Eastern spices and onions. All you really need is 4 ingredients: ground beef, onions, parsley and a spice blend similar to all spice.
Traditionally it’s served on pita with hummus, or you can also serve it with cauliflower rice or rice pilaf and a salad as pictured here.
How do you make beef kafta?
Do all the prep in a food processor. It makes everything super fine and that way when it’s all mixed together, the flavors are more robust! Start with about 1/2 bunch of parsley, remove the stems, wash and dry them, and pulse in the food processor. You should get about 1/4 cup chopped parsley.
Then, remove the parsley and set aside in a small bowl. No worries if some remain in the bowl of the food processor. Next, throw in one yellow onion in the food processor and pulse it until it’s also finely chopped.
Now, put everything together. The parsley comes back to the food processor with the onions and you can add in the ground beef and the Kafta spices. Pulse the food processor a few times until everything is well combined and forms a pasty meat mixture like this.
Time to form the patties! Well they’re not really patties. They have a unique beef kafta shape that’s oblong. When you shape the kafta, you can shape them around a wooden skewer to make grilling easier or just shape them with your hands if you’re grilling indoors.
The result is a juicy, flavorful protein packed beef kafta that is the hero to so many wonderful Lebanese side dishes.
What do you eat with beef kafta?
Fattoush Salad – Great option if you’re doing low-carb or keto.
Hummus – This works well for making sandwiches with the kafta.
Lebanese Rice – It’s the classic and comforting side dish for kafta.
Bulgur Pilaf – When you want some grains but not plain white rice.
Top tips to make beef kafta
- Use a good quality beef with 10-15% fat for this recipe. Making kafta is like making meatballs which requires some moisture to help it bind and stay juicy. The fat provides that much-needed moisture since we’re not using eggs.
- Pulse the beef only with the onions and parsley. It’s important to already have the parsley and onions chopped and then just pulse lightly with the beef in order to avoid over-mixing. Over-mixing can lead to overworked dry meat.
- Form the beef kafta into evenly sized shapes. This ensures that everything is finished cooking together making it all tender and juicy without anything being overcooked.
- Do not overcook the kaftas. They should be cooked to medium, this way they are more flavorful and aren’t dry. Keep in mind they’ll continue to cook when they’re resting off the grill.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you make beef kafta ahead of time?
Cooked kaftas will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days. They can be reheated or eaten cold. They also freeze well and will last for up to 3 months.
Can you use other meats instead of beef?
I love making kaftas with beef, but you can also use a ground lamb or ground chicken if you prefer. A lot of kaftas are made with a mix of beef and lamb mince for a really rich flavor.
Can you bake the kafta in the oven? instead
Yes, these work really well in the oven. Bake at 350ºF for around 15 to 20 minutes until they are cooked through.I do prefer the flavor of the kafta when grilled though.
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 small yellow onion quartered
1 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons 7 spice
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon coriander
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper to taste
1. Place the parsley in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, remove and set aside.
2. In the same food processor bowl used to chop the parsley, place the quartered onion and pulse until finely chopped. Drain the onions slightly to release excess moisture.
3. Return the parsley back to the bowl of the food processor with the onions. Add the ground beef to the food processor in addition to all the spices. Run the food processor on pulse once or twice until ingredients are well combined and form a pasty meat mixture.
4. Transfer the mixture from the food processor to a large bowl and form the Kafta into an oblong shape about 1 inch in thickness. You can form them on a wooden skewer or without.
5. Grease the grates of a gas grill or indoor grill pan, and preheat it to medium high heat. When heated through, transfer the kafta to the grill. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side, depending on your preferred level of doneness.
6. Serve hot off the grill with your choice of side.
Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 3-4 days in the fridge.
Make Ahead: You can make the patties ahead of time and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to grill them, thaw in the fridge overnight or for at least 6-8 hours.
Sourcing: You can find the the spices mentioned at Middle Eastern markets, natural-foods stores or even in large supermarkets, often located with other Middle Eastern ingredients. Sometimes you might even just find “Kafta” spices which has the spices all combined. In that case, you can use 1 1/2 tablespoon of the kafta spice in place of all the other spices. If you can’t find 7 Spice, substitute All Spice.
Nutritional Data: Please note that the nutrition label provided is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. It will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.
Calories: 202kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 52mg | Potassium: 237mg | Vitamin A: 75IU | Vitamin C: 2.1mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1.7mg