These Beef Kafta Kebabs made with ground beef and filled with warm spices are excellent served on their own with rice or as a sandwich in fluffy pita bread. You’ll love this Middle Eastern inspired dish!
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What is Beef Kafta?
This isn’t your average way to spice up those pounds of ground beef languishing in your freezer!
Beef kafta – which can also be spelled as kefte, kofte, or kofta – is a centuries-old way to prepare ground beef using spices like cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, and parsley with origins in the Middle East.
You might be thinking, “Cinnamon in beef?! You ‘kafta’ be kidding me!” Trust us! In combination with the other spices and flavors, cinnamon makes this beef kafta dish what it is: delicious.
We love this beef kafta recipe! For us, it’s a fabulous departure from the typical Western ground beef dish.
This recipe’s versatility ensures it won’t become ho-hum in your home. You can eat this beef kafta on skewers, form it into meatballs or patties, use it as the base for a savory pita sandwich…the options are as plentiful as the spices!
- Ground beef: You can substitute ground turkey or lamb here, but this recipe for beef kafta was crafted with ground beef in mind! We suggest trying it as-written first and then playing around with different meats. Many kafta recipes are made with half beef and half lamb.
- Spices: You’ll want to make sure you have these exact spices ahead of time. The bright, warm flavors of beef kafta just wouldn’t be the same without the inclusion of allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, and parsley!
- Pantry staples: White bread, eggs, garlic, onion, and salt all play a role here.
- For serving: If you’re making sandwiches, you’ll need pita bread and the sauce of your choice. We like tzatziki, but tahini is more traditional. We also love adding cucumbers and tomatoes, Turkish Ezme, or homemade hummus. You can also enjoy the kebabs over Lebanese Rice.
How to Make Beef Kafta
- Soak the bread in water. Place the sandwich bread in a small bowl and cover with water. Set aside to soak while you continue with the recipe.
- Combine the beef with the spices. In a large bowl, combine beef, onion, garlic, parsley, allspice, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom. Use your hands to gently toss the mixture together.
- Add bread and eggs to the meat mixture. Remove the bread from the water and squeeze it to get rid of any excess water. Tear it into small pieces and add it to the meat and spice mixture. Add the beaten egg and again use your hands to gently combine the mixture until it’s well mixed.
- Form and chill. Shape the meat into patties or football shapes, or thread them onto skewers and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate overnight or for at least an hour.
- Grill it or skillet! Preheat the grill or heat a cast iron skillet with a bit of oil to medium heat. Add the patties to the grill and cook for 7-8 minutes a side or until cooked through. Remove from heat.
- Make it yours: To serve, place the patties in warmed pita bread with tabbouleh salad, sliced tomatoes, and red onion. Drizzle with the sauce of your choice.
Make Ahead / Storage Instructions
- Make ahead– These kafta kebabs are actually best prepared ahead of time! The kebabs can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance and stored in the fridge. I like to make them in the morning, then dinner time is a breeze! Cooked kebabs will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
- Reheating– Reheat in the microwave for about one minute or in a covered skillet over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
- Freezing kafta kebabs– Cooked kababs can also be frozen up to 3 months and should be thawed before reheating.
FAQs About Beef Kafta
How can I help the kebab meat stay moist?
Soaking the breadcrumbs in water helps keep the kebab nice and moist. You can also use a fattier beef (up to 80/20) if you prefer.
Do I have to refrigerate kafta before cooking it?
Unfortunately, yes – this step is pretty helpful as it ensures the meat retains its shape and doesn’t fall apart, whether you’re grilling your beef kafta on skewers or frying it up in some oil on the stove top. We recommend an hour minimum for the pre-cook refrigeration.
Can I make beef kafta in the oven?
Yep, you sure can, especially if you’ve formed the beef kofta onto skewers for kebabs. The oven should be pre-heated to 350 and the meat cooked on a foil-lined baking sheet for 10-15 minutes. Oven baked kafta won’t have the same crisp exterior as grilled or pan-seared kafta, but it will still be delicious!
What to Serve With Beef Kafta
We recommend using store-bought tzatziki sauce or our smooth and creamy homemade hummus drizzled over the meat.
Other sides that pair well with this recipe are this Mediterranean Chopped Salad with Greek Dressing, Turkish Ezme Salad (a personal favorite–it’s just the right amount of tangy and spicy), Greek Pasta Salad with Feta, or this Cucumber Tomato Salad.
You can also enjoy it with rice, lentil, or chickpea pilaf.
For the kafta:
- 2 slices white sandwich bread
- About 1/2 cup water
- 2 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 small onion, grated
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1 Tablespoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 2 teaspoons salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Warmed/Toasted/Grilled Pita Bread
- Cherry tomatoes, halved
- Chopped red onion
- Tzatziki sauce
- Place the sandwich bread in a small bowl and cover with water. Set aside to soak while you continue with the recipe.
- In a large bowl, combine beef, onion, garlic, parsley, allspice, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to gently toss the mixture together.
- Remove the bread from the water and squeeze it to get rid of any excess water. Tear it into small pieces and add it to the meat. Add the beaten egg and again use your hands to combine the mixture until it's well mixed. Shape the meat into patties or football shapes, or shape it onto skewers and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate overnight or for at least an hour.
- To cook, preheat the grill to medium high heat or heat a cast iron skillet with a bit of oil to medium heat. Add the patties to the grill and cook for 7-8 minutes a side or until cooked through. Remove from heat.
- To serve, place the patties in warmed pita bread with tabbouleh salad, sliced tomatoes, and red onion. Drizzle with tzatziki sauce.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 476Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 197mgSodium: 1154mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 48g
Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.