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Published May 11, 2022. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This incredible Middle Eastern Kibbeh Recipe is small croquet-like balls using lamb, bulgur wheat, and spices for an amazing meal. You won’t believe just how flavorful these are.
I’m a huge fan of middle eastern and Indiana cuisines as the flavors are so different than any other parts of the world. If you are similar then you absolutely have to try my Kofta Kebab recipe or Chana Masala.
Kibbeh is a popular middle eastern dish with a myriad of variations that combine ground meat and bulgur wheat. There are two specific parts to kibbeh, an outside shell, and an inside filling. Kibbeh is the national dish of both Syria and Lebanon.
This is easy to make a recipe that can be served as an appetizer or an entrée and is incredibly classic to serve in Lebanon with a garlic yogurt sauce which then makes it known as kibbeh bi labanieh. You won’t believe how far 2 pounds of meat can be stretched when serving this up to friends or family.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Lamb – Use ground lamb or a combination of lamb and lean ground beef.
- Nuts – I like to use pine nuts, but walnuts or slivered almonds can be used.
- Spices – I use a Lebanese 7 Spice blend, but you can use a simple combination of ground cumin, coriander, mint, and basil.
- Onions – Yellow onions work great, and you can substitute them for white or sweet onions.
- Herbs – I like the combination of fresh basil and mint.
- Bulgur – Use #1 fine bulgur wheat.
How to Make Kibbeh
Use these step-by-step procedures and images to make this Kibbeh recipe:
Pour some water over the bulgur wheat just until covered and mix and set aside for 15-20 minutes.
Next, caramelize some onions in olive oil in a large frying pan over low to medium heat until well browned, which takes about 20 minutes.
Turn the heat to high and add in the ground lamb and cook until lightly browned and cooked throughout. Stir often.
Stir in the spice blend, fresh basil, fresh mint, salt, and toasted pine nuts, and set aside.
Transfer the bulgur to a food processor along with some onions and pulse on high speed until the onions are finely minced.
Next, add the ground lamb, spices, fresh herbs, and salt, and pulse on high speed until it becomes smooth.
Lightly dip your hands in some water and grab about a golf ball size of the processed meat and wheat and form a ball.
Dip your thumb in some water and press in the center while rotating the meat to form a hollow cone-like shape.
Spoon in the cooked lamb and caramelized onion mixture into the inside of the hollowed-out kibbeh shell.
Pull up the sides of the kibbeh shell and pinch the top.
Cupping your hands, roll the kibbeh to form a pointy cylinder-like shape or quenelle.
Repeat this process until all the ingredients have been used up and place them on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
Fry the kibbeh in batches in a pan of neutral-flavored oil at 350° for 2 ½ to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked throughout.
Drain on a rack-lined cookie sheet tray.
Garnish with parsley and serve with optional garlic yogurt sauce.
Make-Ahead and Storage:
Make-Ahead: These are meant to be eaten when they are done cooking. However, you can keep this warm on a rack-lined cookie sheet tray in the oven at 165° for up to 30 minutes before serving.
How to Store: Cover and store in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. You can freeze these covered for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.
How to Reheat: Add the desired number of kibbehs to a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and bake at 350° for 6-8 minutes or until hot inside.
Chef Notes + Tips
- You can use a combination of beef and lamb, but all lamb is traditional.
- If the outside shell ingredients in the food processor are too dry and not moving, add a few tablespoons of water. If it’s too wet, add some flour or corn starch.
- Be sure to have little bowls of water and or oil to dip your hands in before forming the kibbeh so the meat does not stick.
- There should be enough oil to cover half of the kibbeh while they’re cooking.
- If at any point the kibbeh is sticking to your hands at all, just lightly coat your hands in a little bit of cold water.
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- 1 ½ cups cold water
- 2 cups bulgur wheat
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 2 peeled and roughly chopped yellow onions
- 1 ½ tablespoons Lebanese 7 spice
- 15 fresh basil leaves
- 15 fresh mint leaves
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 tablespoons Olive oil
- 2 peeled and small diced yellow onions
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 tablespoon Lebanese 7 spice
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- salt to taste
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- neutral-flavored oil for frying
- Pour the water over the bulgur wheat in a medium-size bowl just until covered. Mix and set aside for 15-20 minutes.
- Next, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large frying pan over low to medium heat and
- add in the 2 small-diced onions and brown stirring occasionally, which takes about 20 minutes.
- Turn the heat to high and add in the ground lamb and cook until lightly browned and cooked through out, which takes about 4-6 minutes. Stir often to break up into small pieces.
- Stir in the spice blend, fresh basil, fresh mint, salt, and toasted pine nuts, and set aside.
- Transfer the soaked bulgur wheat to a food processor along with the roughly chopped onions and pulse on high speed until the onions are finely minced.
- Next, add in the ground lamb, spices, fresh herbs, and salt, and pulse on high speed until it becomes smooth.
- Lightly dip your hands in some water and grab about a golf ball size of the processed meat and wheat and form to a ball.
- Dip your thumb in some water and press in the center while rotating the meat with your other hand to form a hollow cone-like shape.
- Spoon in some of the cooked lamb and caramelized onion mixture into the inside of the hollowed-out kibbeh shell.
- Pull up the sides of the kibbeh shell and pinch the top.
- Cupping your hands, roll the kibbeh to form a pointy cylinder-like shape or quenelle.
- Repeat this process until all the ingredients have been used up and place them on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
- Fry the kibbeh in batches in a pan of neutral flavored oil at 350° for 2 ½ to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked throughout.
- Drain on a rack lined cookie sheet tray.
- Garnish with parsley and serve with optional garlic yogurt sauce.
The Kibbeh were a huge hit for Easter Dinner. They are a lot more work than I had anticipated. I think next time I will make them like we do tamales, have a kibbeh party to help prepare them. Everyone loved them. I wasn’t sure how everyone would receive them, but all was a success.
I have received so many compliments, I will say you make it look so easy to roll them properly! 😊. Each football was different in size but they taste amazing! Thank you for helping us novice chefs ❤️
Thank you Chef Parisi for making my favorite arabic dish—-served with a great oil, lemon juice, dry mint dressing on a salad, is so devine!
God Bĺess you and your beautiful family and keep on cooking❣
I absolutely love seeing people celebrate Lebanese food. My gramma was Lebanese, and she taught us how to prepare most of it. My 4 grown boys and their wives love and cook it. My family’s favorite is raw kibba made with beef. I don’t care for many of the dishes, but I love to celebrate my heritage through cooking. Thank you.