This easy kafta kabob recipe features grilled meatball skewers made with savory ground beef & onions. Perfect for a Mediterranean feast or backyard BBQ!
I picked this kafta kabob recipe up from a Mediterranean chef. He came to one of our blogger retreats a couple of years back and shared his kafta secrets. Now, there we’re bringing them to you so you can enjoy juicy beef kafta whenever your heart desires!
What is Kafta Kabob?
Kafta kabob, aka kofta, is a Lebanese meatball skewer made with ground beef, chicken, or lamb. It touts a savory, rich flavor due to the seasoning of herbs, onions, and Middle Eastern spices. You’ll find it served alongside other traditional goodies like hummus, pita bread, baba ganoush, and spiced rice. It’s tender, juicy, and perfect for your next backyard BBQ.
How to Prepare this Kafta Kabob Recipe
Preparing this kafta kabob recipe requires you to get your hands dirty – but isn’t that the fun part of cooking?
- Soak the Skewers: First, place the wooden skewers in a shallow dish of water and let them soak while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
- Make the Kafta Mixture: Next, place the ground beef, grated onion, fresh parsley, minced garlic cloves, sea salt, cumin, oregano, sumac, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Mix the ingredients by hand until well-combined.
- Assemble the Skewers: Wrap a bit of the meat mixture around each wooden skewer, leaving space at the bottom for holding.
- Grill the Kafta Kabobs: On a grill preheated to medium-high heat, grill the kabobs for about 8-10 minutes, flipping every so often.
- Remove the Kabobs: Next, remove the kabobs from the grill and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before digging in. Enjoy!
Hot Tip: You must soak the wooden skewers before grilling the kafta. This prevents them from burning! If you don’t wanna deal with soaking, invest in a metal set to last you years.
3 Tips for the Perfect Kafta Kabob
If you’ve never made kafta before, these 3 pointers will help you get a perfect skewer that doesn’t fall apart upon the first bite!
- Opt for lean ground beef. Lean ground beef is crucial to creating that dense, meatball-like texture of every good kafta kabob. A 90/10 or 85/15 fat ratio split is ideal.
- Firmly shape the beef around the skewer. To ensure that the kafta kabob doesn’t fall apart on the grill – or worse, while eating it – make sure to press the beef mixture tightly around the wooden skewer.
- Don’t overcook the meat. Whatever you do, avoid overcooking and drying out the lean beef. Once the internal temperature has reached 145°F, they’re good to go!
Other Ingredients to Add to Kafta: Lemon juice, coriander, fresh mint, black pepper, and ground allspice are other common ingredients added to the meat mixture. If any speak to you, feel free to add them!
Ideas for Serving
We love serving out kafta as the main star of a Mediterranean-style feast. Pair the savory skewers with avocado hummus, cucumber tomato salad, cilantro rice, tzatziki, pickled onions, and naan. If you want to keep it simple and low-carb, pair them with your favorite veggie side dish (grilled zucchini and mushrooms immediately come to mind).
Storage & Make-Ahead Best Practices
If you have leftovers to store away or want to prep ahead for a party, here’s all you need to know to keep your kafta fresh.
- Storing Leftovers: To keep your leftovers on hand for up to 5 days, store the kabobs in an airtight container in the fridge. This will keep the meat from drying out too quickly.
- Make-Ahead: If you’re preparing kafta for a party or just meal-prepping, you can assemble the skewers and store them raw in an airtight container for up to 2 days. We recommend storing them raw because they are so delicious when grilled right before serving!
Reheating: The best way to reheat kafta is in a baking dish covered with foil in the oven. You want to be extra careful not to overcook them!
What is kafta kabob meat made of?
Kafta kabob meat is made with either ground chicken, ground beef, or ground lamb mixed with diced onion and a variety of Middle Eastern spices. Sometimes, you’ll even find kafta with a combination of different ground meats.
What kind of beef do you use for kafta kabob?
The best kind of beef for kafta kabob is lean ground beef. Particularly, a 90/10 split is ideal. This yields the best texture and the least amount of excess grease (you don’t want that dripping on your hands!).
What is the difference between a kabob and a kafta kabob?
The main difference between typical beef kabobs and a kafta kabob is the style in which the meat is prepared. Kabobs tend to be made with slow-roasted, gyro-like meat sliced into thin pieces. On the other hand, kafta is prepared by wrapping a meatball-like patty of meat around a skewer.
How do you know when a beef kafta kabob is cooked?
You’ll know a beef kafta kabob is fully cooked when the internal temperature has reached 145°F. The skewer should also have a slightly crispy outer layer and golden brown char.
Is stew meat good for kafta kabobs?
The best meat for kafta kabobs is lean ground chicken, beef, or lamb, making stew meat a great cut to use so long as you have a meat grinder to break it down. If you don’t, your butcher might be willing to grind it for you.
More Meat Skewer Recipes to Try
- Amazing Shish Kabob Recipe (with Beef) – Classic, no-frills beef skewers
- The Best Grilled Lamb Kabobs – Savory soy sauce & teriyaki beef skewers
- Grilled Chicken Kebabs – Ranch-marinated chicken kebabs
- Shashlik – Slavic-style pork skewers
- Soak the wooden skewers in a tray with water while you prepare the recipe.
- Place all the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix them by hand until all the mixture is well-combined.
- Wrap the meat mixture around the wooden stick, creating about 1-inch of thickness and leaving 2-3 inches of space empty at the bottom.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and brush grill grates with oil. Grill the kafta kabobs for about 8-10 minutes, turning the skewer every few minutes to create grill marks on all sides.
- Remove the kafta kabobs from the grill and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
This was so good! I love the way it was seasoned, and it was really fun to make!
Love it! Thanks for commenting!
This turned out so flavorful! I'll definitely be making it again before the weather cools down.
Glad to hear that, Erin! Thanks for the feedback.
My family loves Mediterranean food and these were a huge hit...super easy to make and fun to eat! Thank you. 🙂
Thank you, Samantha!
Can these be pan fried with good results? I don’t have access to a grill right now..
Hey Mish- I haven't tried pan frying but I don't see why not! You'd have to keep an eye on them and test with a thermometer for doneness since I don't have a cooking time for you. 🙂
These are very good!!! Thank you for an amazing recipe!!! Made them like 4 times in a couple days!
So delicious! At first I was nervous about them falling apart, but then I figured out how to shape/roll them, and it was perfect!!!
Wow Lenchik, you are on a roll. We just ate some in Greece and I have to say this recipe is darn close to the local food. Glad you nailed it and it became a staple.
Yum - they were a hit with my family! Great recipe, saving it to make again!
Melissa, thats so awesome to hear! Hope you will love it as much as we do. 🙂
These turned out better than my favorite Mediterranean restaurant! Super flavorful and juicy. Will definitely make again!
Wow, what a compliment! Thank you, Taylor. 🙂
Absolutely amazing! Such a yummy kabob recipe. I like how easy they are to make as well.
Thank you, Matt! I agree, for how tasty they are they sure are easy to make.