Kibbeh is a Middle Eastern dish made of bulgur, ground beef and warm spices. Learn how to make this kibbeh recipe with this step-by-step tutorial and video. These Middle Eastern meatballs are made of a tender shell stuffed with a delicious spiced filling and is full of amazing Middle Eastern flavors.
Middle Eastern dishes are my absolute favorite. Not only because I grew up having them on a regular basis, but also because of the incredibly good flavor they carry. From falafel and kofta kebab to mujadara and everything in between, Middle Eastern food offers so many dishes that everyone loves and craves. Today we are working with a classic dish called kibbeh, it’s a Middle Eastern delicacy made with ground beef or lamb, fine bulgur, onion and a combination of Middle Eastern spices.
What is kibbeh?
Kibbeh, also known as kubbeh, kibie, quibe or kubba is a classic Levantine dish made mainly with bulgur, ground meat (lamb or beef) and middle eastern spices such as allspice and cinnamon. The word itself roughly means “the shape of a ball” in Arabic. Two popular ways of making kibbeh is to fry or bake them, both of which are included in this kibbeh tutorial with video. Some call kibbeh middle eastern meatballs, I guess that could be correct.
According to Wikipedia, There are different types of this recipe depending on the regions and countries. One of the most popular types of kibie is called kibbeh nayeh also known as raw kibbeh which is made with bulgur, very finely minced raw meat (lamb or beef), mint and spices and it’s similar to steak tartar.
A type of Iraqi kubba called kubba halab is made with rice instead of bulgur. This type of kibie is also common in Iran with the addition of barberries. Some other types of this Middle Eastern dish are kibbeh aras (disk kibeh), sumac kibbeh and yogurt kibbeh. The city of Aleppo in Syria is famous for offering more than 17 types of kibbehs.
Fun fact: This dish is found throughout Latin America, especially in Brazil because of the large number of Levantine immigrants that moved there in 19th century.
Ingredients to make Lebanese kibbeh recipe
To make this Lebanese stuffed croquette recipe, you need the following ingredients:
For the dough:
- Spices – salt, pepper, paprika, dried mint, cumin
- Ground beef
For the filling:
- Olive oil
- Ground beef
- Spices – salt, pepper, allspice, cinnamon
- Pine nuts
For the yogurt sauce:
How to make kibbeh
Making this recipe at home could be a time consuming but absolutely worth it. Taking time to make dishes such as kibbeh or dolma is very common in the Middle East. To make sure you’re doing all the steps correctly, please make sure to watch the video and the step-by-step tutorial.
- Make the kibbeh dough
Place the bulgur in a large bowl. Pour warm water over it. Wash the bulgur and discard the water. Just leave a little water in the bowl for the bulgur to absorb. To the bulgur, add the spices, grated onion and the ground beef. Mix and knead well until all the ingredients are well combined. You can do this step using a food processor. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for one hour.
- Make the filling
Heat olive oil in a pan and saute onion until golden. Add in the ground beef and the spices. Cook the beef until it’s brown, breaking it into small chunks as it’s cooking. Stir in the pine nuts and cook for a minute. Turn the heat off and set the filling aside.
- Assemble and deep fry
To make fried kibbeh, divide the dough into balls as big as eggs. With wet hands, shape each ball. Using you index finger, press into the ball to poke a hole. Rotate the ball until it forms into a cylinder. Fill the shell with the filling. Seal the edges using wet hands to form a football. Repeat this step until you run out of dough.
Place all the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, start heating some oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. There should be enough oil to cover the kibbeh balls when you fry them. Once the oil is hot and you can see small bubbles, start deep frying the beef croquettes in batches. Make sure not to overcrowd the saucepan. Fry the balls for about 5 minutes until it’s golden brown on all sides and completely cooked.
Baked kibbeh is a common way to make this middle eastern dish as well. To make baked kubbah, preheat the oven to 400ºF and divide the dough into two parts. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with non stick oil spray and spread half of the dough at the bottom of the baking dish. It’s easier to spread the dough with wet hands.
Top the dough with the filling and spread it evenly. With wet hands, spread the other half of the dough on the filling, patching every part that might tear. Using a knife, cut the top part into diamonds (as shown in the video). Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Let baked kibbeh cool for a few minutes before slicing it. To serve this dish, open it up and spread some yogurt sauce on it. Put the top on and serve.
How to serve Middle Eastern kibbeh
Kibbeh is often served with a side salad such as Mediterranean salad or fattoush. Here we made a simple yogurt garlic sauce to dip it in but you can also serve them with tzatziki sauce or tahini sauce.
What to do with the leftovers
Store the leftover kibbeh in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. If you have leftover filling, you can serve it with some plain white rice or even some Lebanese rice with vermicelli.
Can I freeze kibbeh?
It’s possible to freeze kubba. I advise you to freeze kibbeh balls before frying them, this way you can enjoy them fresh and crispy. However, it’s also possible to freeze cooked kibbeh as well. I have included both method here.
- Freeze raw kibbeh: Form and stuff the kibbeh balls as mentioned in the recipe. Put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 1 hour until they are frozen. Add them in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To cook, heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and deep fry the kibbeh balls until golden brown on all sides.
- Freeze cooked kibbeh: If freezing cooked kibbeh, let it cool completely. Place them in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw them in the fridge and place them on a baking sheet. Heat in the oven at 280ºF for about 20 minutes until heated through.
Notes and tips to make kibbeh
- Make sure you’re using fine bulgur and not coarse bulgur to make kibbeh. Coarse bulgur won’t stick to the ground meat and the ball would fall apart.
- If using ground beef to make kibbeh croquettes, please use 90% lean for best results.
- You can shape these balls into football shaped croquettes, or balls, or even patties.
- For easier work, make sure that the dough is cold at all times. You can either take small portions of the dough and leave the rest in the fridge or place the dough in a large bowl full of ice and work with it.
- Keep you hands wet while shaping the kibbeh balls to make the process much easier.
Tools and ingredients used in this recipe:
Kibbeh Recipe (Video Tutorial)
- 2 cups fine bulgur
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 large onion
- 1 lb ground beef
- Oil for frying
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions finely chopped
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp dried mint
- Place bulgur in a large bowl and pour warm water over it. Wash and empty the water, just leave a bit behind for the bulgur to absorb.
- Add the salt, pepper, paprika, dried mint and cumin to the bulgur and mix well.
- Grate the onion and add it to the bulgur. Add the beef and knead well until fully combined.
- Refrigerate for one to two hours.
- Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Saute onion until golden.
- Add in ground beef, salt, pepper, allspice and cinnamon. Brown the ground beef until cooked.
- Stir in the pine nuts.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Divide the dough in half. Coat a 9x13 baking dish with non stick spray.
- Spread half of the dough in the baking dish. Top with the filling. Spread the other half of the dough on top of the filling. Wet your hands with a bit of water so you can spread the dough easily.
- Using a knife, cut the kibbeh to form diamonds as shown in the video.
- Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until completely cooked.
- Let the baked kibbeh cool for 10 minutes. Then slice and serve with yogurt sauce.
- After the dough is chilled in the fridge, take it out and place it on the counter.
- Divide the dough into pieces as big as an egg.
- Using wet hands, take one of the dough balls and with your index finger, poke a hole into the ball. Rotate the ball so it shapes an empty cylinder with thin walls (as shown in the video).
- Fill the ball with the filling, and using wet hands, bring the top together to seal it. It will look almost like a football.
- If shaping the kibbeh as mentioned doesn't work for you, you can also flatten a dough ball in your hand, place a tablespoon of filling in the middle and then bring the kibbeh together on all sides using wet hands.
- Repeat the steps until you run out of kibbeh dough.
- Place all the prepares kibbeh on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 30 minutes. This will help the kibbeh to stay together when frying.
- Heat enough vegetable oil in a sauce pan to cover the kibbeh when deep frying. The oil should be hot enough that you see small bubbles. But it shouldn't be smoking or two hot otherwise the kibbeh will burn on the outside and raw on the inside.
- Once the oil is hot, take the kibbeh balls out of the freezer and deep fry them in batches, moving them around gently to make sure they're fried on all sides.
- Place them on a plate with paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with yogurt sauce.
- Mix yogurt with salt, minced garlic and mint.
- Serve with kibbeh.
- It's important to use fine bulgur to make kibbeh at home. Coarse bulgur won't stick together as well.
- Please use 90% lean ground beef to make this dish.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate. Please read the post for freezing instructions.