Beef Kofta Kebabs
Grilling season is still in full swing and grilling up Middle Eastern-style beef kofta kebabs is one of my favorite things to do! They’re packed with flavor and served with a delicious herby yogurt sauce that I want to put on everything. Tender Middle Eastern-spiced beef grilled to juicy perfection that you’ll want to have on repeat!
Big, bold flavors and spices make these beef kofta kebabs the perfect appetizer or main for any gathering. You can prep them in advance, bake them if you don’t feel like grilling, make them into meatballs for easy serving, the sky is the limit here. This recipe is so adaptable for any situation!
Middle Eastern-Style Beef Kofta Kebabs
This recipe is modeled after kofta, Middle-Eastern ground meat dish featuring a handful of warm spices, onion, and herbs. Kofta has roots in Persian, North Africa, Mediterranean, and Eastern European cuisine. The recipes vary from region to region.
Historically kofta is made with ground beef, pork, chicken or lamb mixed with rice, bulgur or mashed lentil. While this recipe isn’t authentic, the spirit and flavors of the dish are inspired by the classic Middle Eastern dish. Beef kofta kebabs are usually made up of ground beef or lamb or a combination of the two. I’m using ground beef, here but I love incorporating ground lamb too!
Beef kofta kebabs are perfect for serving as a hearty main dish, or a flavorful appetizer as part of a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern spread. The herby yogurt sauce is the perfect pairing with the spiced beef kofta! It’s loaded with fresh herbs and zippy lemon for a light and refreshing sauce that you’ll want to put on everything.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
Bold flavors – I love recipes that get me out of my comfort zone! Beef kofta kebabs are loaded with rich and flavorful spices. They’re a great way to try bold new flavors! Visit your local Middle Eastern market and get familiar with ingredients that you’ve never used before or use it as a chance to load up on new spices to experiment with.
Great for meal prep – This recipe is easy to double or triple and re-heats like a dream. I love prepping all the ingredients for beef kofta kebabs and enjoying them throughout the week for lunch. I usually serve beef kofta kebabs with some steamed basmati rice, salad, and lots of crunchy veggies like tomato, cucumber, and onion.
Great as an appetizer or main – Beef kofta kebabs are easy enough for a weeknight dinner, but also perfect for a party or gathering! You can prep them in advance and grill or bake a huge batch. Set them out on a platter with naan, rice, salad, and sauces and you’re ready!
How to Make Beef Kofta Kebabs
You’re going to love how quickly this recipe comes together. Just a quick mix of the meat, spices, and herbs and onto skewers they go! From there, you can pop them on the grill or roast them in the oven for ease.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Ground Beef. Opt for 85-90% fat so that the kebabs don’t dry out. You can also use a 50/50 mix of ground beef and ground lamb.
- Onion. The best option here is to grate the onion on a box grater. Grated onion adds moisture to the meat and is easier to evenly mix in.
- Garlic. Is it even a good recipe without copious amounts of garlic??
- Spices. Cumin, paprika, coriander, sumac, and ras el hanout give beef kofta kebabs warm spiced flavor.
- Lemon. Lemon zest in the meat mixture is so fresh and I always serve lemon wedges on the side.
- Herbs. Fresh parsley and mint absolutely make these kebabs!
- Yogurt sauce. The herby yogurt sauce is the perfect pairing with beef kofta kebabs. You’ll need yogurt or skyr, garlic, mint, cilantro, and lemon juice.
- Mix the meat. Mix all the ingredients for the kebabs in a large bowl until combined, but be careful to not overmix. If you have time, cover and refrigerate for an hour. This really helps the flavors meld.
- Skewer the kebabs. Take about 1/3 of a cup of the meat mixture and form it into a small log. Press the skewer into it and press the meat around it to seal it. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
- Make the sauce. For the herby yogurt sauce, combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Grill the kebabs. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. If you’re using an outdoor grill, make sure the grates are very clean and well-oiled. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side until the kebabs have grill marks and the meat is cooked through.
- Serve. Serve the grilled kebabs with chopped veggies like cucumber, tomato, and red onion, fresh herbs, herby yogurt sauce, and lemon wedges on the side.
Tips for Making Beef Kofta Kebabs
Here are my tips for making perfect and juicy beef kofta kebabs every time!
- Choose the right ground meat. When making beef kebabs, you want a ground meat with a decent amount of fat. If you’re using beef, you’ll want 85/15 but if you’re cutting it with ground lamb you can use 90/10 ground sirloin.
- Grate your onions. Even if you’re a wiz with a knife, I recommend grating the onion on a box grater. You get some juice from the onions and the grated onions melt right into the kebabs.
- Mix by hand. I always mix meatballs and ground meat by hand! Mixing beef kofta kebabs by hand keeps you from accidentally over-mixing the meat and ending up with tough kebabs.
- Let the meat marinate. If you have time, refrigerate the kebab mixture for at least an hour. This really gives a chance for the spices and flavors to meld.
- Don’t overcook the kebabs. Grill the kebabs just until they’re cooked through and no longer otherwise you run the risk of drying them out.
If you follow all my tips, you’ll be grilling up beef kofta kebabs like a pro in no time!
Cooking with Skyr
If you’re unfamiliar with skyr, get ready to have your life changed! It’s an amazingly creamy, rich, and nourishing yogurt-like product from Iceland. Skyr has been enjoyed in Iceland for thousands of years and makes the perfect addition to desserts, breakfasts, and sauces.
I love swapping in skyr anywhere I’d use yogurt or sour cream for a protein packed and healthy substitution.
What to Serve with Beef Kofta Kebabs
I love serving beef kofta kebabs as a whole spread! It’s the perfect recipe for a party or gathering and here are some of my favorite to serve with kebabs:
- Smoky Eggplant Dip
- Pita or Naan
- Lemon Dill Rice
- Greek Salad
- Sumac Potato Wedges
- Cucumber Yogurt Salad
- Pickled Onions
Storing, Freezing, and Reheating Beef Kofta Kebabs
To store beef kofta: Let the kebabs cool and store them in an airtight container for 4-6 days in the fridge.
Freezing beef kebabs: You can very easily freeze beef kofta kebabs! Let the kebabs cool to room temperature and then store in a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Try to press most of the air out of the bag while sealing, this helps prevent freezer burn. Label and freeze for up to 3 months. I don’t recommend freezing yogurt sauce.
Reheating: Leftovers of the kebabs can be microwaved, in a covered container, until steaming.
Beef Kofta Kebabs FAQs
Can I use different ground meats?
Absolutely! I love a mix of ground beef and lamb, but you can also use ground turkey or chicken. If you use ground poultry, I highly recommend going with all dark meat for a bit of fat so the kebabs don’t dry out.
Where can I find spices for beef kofta kebabs?
I always recommend checking out your local Middle Eastern or even Asian market! You’ll be able to find the spices needed no problem. I also recommend checking out the bulk spice section of your local grocery store–it’s a great resource for only buying as much as you need and trying out new spices! You can also find all the spices mentioned on Amazon.
Can I use wooden skewers?
Absolutely! Just make sure to soak wood or bamboo skewers ahead of grilling so that they don’t burn.
Can I bake beef kofta kebabs instead of grilling them?
Absolutely! Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and then broil them for 2-3 minutes on high until you have a bit of char on the outside. Using the broiler gives them a bit of that grilled flavor.
More Easy Grilling Recipes to Try Now
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Beef Kofta Kebabs
Beef Kofta Kebabs
- 2 lbs 85/15 ground beef
- 1/2 yellow onion, grated on a box grater
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, minced
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ras el hanout
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons sumac
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Herby Yogurt Sauce
- 1 cup plain greek yogurt or skyr
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
Herby Yogurt Sauce
- Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand just until all the ingredients are combined. If you have time, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Take 1/3 cup of the meat mixture and form into a small log. Press the skewer into the log and seal the meat around it. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
- Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium high. If you're using an outdoor grill, make sure to clean and oil the grates really well before cooking. Grill the kebabs 4-5 minutes per side until just cooked through.
- Transfer the skewers to a serving platter and serve with the herby yogurt sauce, fresh veggies, and lemon wedges.