Lebanese Kafta

4.41 from 5 votes

Kafta is a traditional Lebanese dish of grilled seasoned ground beef or lamb. Use this recipe and watch the video to learn how to make this flavorful summer meal!

overhead image: kafta grilled ion bed of rice with side of grilled tomato slices

Whether you live in a subtropical climate like Lebanon or a frozen tundra in the midwest United States, everyone looks forward to outdoor grilling when the weather is nice.

Grilling ground beef or lamb can go far beyond a basic burger when you have unique and flavorful dishes to make with it, and Lebanese kafta is a great example.

What is Kafta?

This group or family of ground meatball or meatloaf dishes is known as kafta in Lebanon, but in other parts of the Middle East, India, and North Africa, it’s spelled kofta. 

The Meat Mixture

More often than not, Lebanese kafta is made by seasoning ground lamb or beef with finely grated onion, garlic, and Lebanese 7 spice

Kafta Shapes

Typically, the meat mixture is formed into patties, balls or thick logs, and it’s usually cooked on an outdoor grill. If you prefer, you can cook it in an oven, on an indoor grill, or in a skillet or grill pan on the stove top.

grilled ground meat formed into log shapes served on white plate with rice and grilled tomatoes

The Difference Between Kofta and Kebabs

Because of the different shape options, kafta (kofta) are typically rolled or shaped and cooked directly on the surface of the grill rather than being skewered for kebabs.

This doesn’t mean you can’t make them as kafta kabobs though; you’ll just have to shape the mixture around the skewers.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Ground meat– Beef kafta is a popular choice but ground lamb, chicken, or any other ground meat can be used.

🎯 TIP:
Be sure that the meat you use isn’t too lean, especially if you want to make kafta kabobs. 

Some people have difficulty getting ground meat to stick onto skewers for kebabs, and/or the meat falls off the skewer while it’s on the grill.

This can happen when the meat mixture is too dry. When you use fattier ground meat, it tends to stick together better.

  • Grated onion– For an authentic recipe, the onion should be finely grated rather than minced. Grating it makes for a smoother texture. I prefer making mine with little bits of onion, as shown in my photos.
  • Spices– The primary seasoning for kafta is Lebanese 7 spice, which is a mixture of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, fenugreek and ginger. I use it to season a lot of dishes, even if they aren’t necessarily Lebanese. You can buy the blend, or make your own with my Lebanese 7 spice recipe.

Feel free to adapt the seasonings to your liking as well. Change up the flavor entirely by adding North African (Moroccan) ras el hanout, or give them a bit of Greek flair by adding fresh mint and oregano!

Video: How to Make Lebanese Kafta

Be sure to watch the video in the recipe card below to see how easy it is to make this dish!

ground beef (in log shapes) cooking on grill with tomatoes


How many calories are in beef kofta?

The calories in the dish will vary depending on the size and shape you make. One pound of 80 percent lean ground beef grilled and serving 4 people, each kofta has 307 calories.

Can this meal be frozen?

Absolutely! Treat these just like you would regular meatballs or hamburger patties. The meat mixture can be frozen raw or cooked, for up to 3 months. Before cooking or reheating, you’ll need to allow the meat to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

close up image of ground lamb Lebanese kafta

Serving Suggestions for Kafta

This dish is fantastic with sides of vermicelli rice or potatoes, and cauliflower fritters or a fresh vegetable salad. For a larger meal, you could even serve it with a side of Harira (lentil soup).

You can eat them as-is, or serve them in lavash (Armenian flatbread) or khubz (pita bread).

overhead image: beef kofta on white dinner plate with rice and grilled tomatoes
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overhead image: kafta grilled ion bed of rice with side of grilled tomato slices

Lebanese Kafta (Beef or Lamb)

4.41 from 5 votes
Kafta is a traditional Lebanese dish of grilled seasoned ground beef or lamb. Use this recipe + video to make a flavorful summer meal!
Servings: 4
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Total: 27 mins


  • 1 lb lean ground beef or ground lamb
  • 1 cup yellow onion diced (See Note 1)
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 2 tsp Lebanese 7 spice
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil only if cooking in skillet
  • 1 large tomato or 2-3 Plum or Romas sliced


  • Put the ground beef in a large bowl with the chopped onion, parsley, Lebanese Spice Blend, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly using hands.
  • Divide the meat mixture into 6 to 10 patties or long fat fingers depending on the size you prefer. Feel free to use skewers if you like or grill without.
  • If grilling, clean and oil the grill. Grill on medium heat for 10-12 minutes. Make sure to keep turning the kafta to get grill marks on all sides (See Note 2). If using a skillet over medium heat, cook and brown on all sides (8-10 minutes).
  • If desired, add sliced tomato to the grill and cook along with the meat for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately with rice, salad, wrapped in a lavash (flatbread) or khubz (pita).



  1. For a smoother kafta feel free to finely grate the onion and squeeze excess liquid out before adding to the meat or pulse in food processor with parsley before adding to meat.
  2. If cooking in a skillet, add the oil to the pan and saute in a large skillet on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Turn the kafta over and cook for another 5 minutes.


Calories: 307kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 954mg | Potassium: 410mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 634IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 3mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Lebanese
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled Pinterest image (and shown): Lebanese Kafta - Beef or Lamb - Silk Road Recipes


I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    LOVED the flavors. Not sure about Emily, but I thought this was spot on Kevin. To each their own, right? 🙂

  2. 2 stars
    Was not a fan of these. The spice was too overpowering. Maybe halve the spice? I served it with a pearled couscous, grilled Roma tomato halves, and a cucumber-yogurt sauce.

    1. Appreciate you trying it and the feedback Emily. Pretty fair amount of spice I think, so maybe another blend next time? Cheers!

  3. 5 stars
    will be making this soon can i use mushrooms and add flax eggs too as am a vegan i never had lebanese food before perfect for my after office meals will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya