Ground beef kafta kabob are a classic grilled Moroccan dinner. Grilled up and served with creamy tahini yogurt sauce, this kafta recipe makes a quick, flavorful meal.
What is Kafta?
Moroccan kafta (often called kofta and kefta) is a classic dish, traditionally made with either seasoned ground beef or lamb. The addition of fresh herbs adds SO much flavor to the meat, taking this dish way beyond typical burgers or ground beef kabobs.
The seasoned meat skewers are easy to prepare and can be made ahead, so they're perfect to cook up for both large gatherings and regular family meals.
If you're not in the mood to grill, you can easily bake the skewers in the oven, or skip the kabobs and use the mixture to make kefta meatballs instead.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutes
- Ground meat
To prevent the kefta from being too dry, be sure to use ground meat with a bit of fat in it. If you'll be making ground beef kabobs, an 80/20 or 85/15 blend works the best. This provides enough fat to keep the meat juicy.
My personal preference is to use a combination of ground beef and ground lamb, not only for the nice fat to protein ratio, but also for the additional flavor.
- Fresh herbs
Use fresh herbs rather than dried if at all possible; doing this adds so much extra flavor to the meat. I use a mixture of fresh Italian parsley (that's the flat leaf variety), cilantro, and mint.
To keep the Moroccan kefta from falling apart, you need something to bind the ingredients together. This is what the breadcrumbs are for. I use unseasoned bread crumbs because there are plenty of spices in the meat.
If you want to add a bit of texture, you can use panko crumbs instead of traditional bread crumbs.
Tips for making ground beef kabobs
- Don't overmix the meat mixture.
Obviously, you want to blend and incorporate the ingredients together, but avoid overmixing. One easy way to do this is to combine the ingredients together using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or pulse them together with a food processor.
Keeping your hands off of the meat as much as possible will help keep the kefta juicy.
- Chill the mixture before shaping.
It's important to refrigerate the meat mixture before you shape it onto the skewers. If the ground beef mixture is too warm, it will be much more difficult to keep it attached when you add them to the hot grill.
Another tip for keeping the beef from falling off of the skewers is to dip your fingers into a little bit of water before you start shaping the mixture. The extra moisture will help keep everything in place.
- Preheat the grill.
To get a nice sear and grill marks on the kabobs, be sure that your grill is thoroughly preheated.
Kafta Recipe Video
To watch how to shape the kabobs and see the process of making the kefta recipe from start to finish, check out the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!
When you're ready to eat, there are a couple of different ways to serve the Moroccan kebabs.
Some people like to eat the meat right off of the skewer, but that can be dangerous, especially if your skewers are metal and/or have a sharp point on the end.
For ease (and safety), just slide the meat off of the skewers. They can be served over a bed of rice, Greek spanakorizo or Moroccan couscous, and they're also delicious with shirazi salad or chopped veggie salad.
To eat them street food style, slip the beef kefta into warm pita bread. I like to serve them with tahini yogurt sauce or shatta sauce, and top them with diced tomato or some spicy lemon pickle.
After the meat is cooked and cooled, it can be frozen for up to 3 months. Just slide them off of the skewers and lay them flat on a sheet pan in the freezer until they're partially frozen. Then, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and slip them into an airtight container or freezer storage bag.
Either bamboo or metal skewers work well. If you'll be using bamboo, be sure to soak them in water for a few minutes before using them. This keeps the wood moist, preventing it from catching fire while on the grill.
Kafta Kabob (Ground Beef Kabobs)
- 1 ½ lbs ground beef (See Note 1)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 medium white onion quartered
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves plus more for serving
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves
Tahini Yogurt Sauce
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 lemon (½ grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons juice)
- 2 tablespoon mint leaves minced
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 tablespoon water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Place the ground beef (and or lamb mix), red pepper flakes, salt, ground fennel, cumin and breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
- In a food processor place the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, mint and process until very finely chopped, scraping down sides of bowl.
- Place in a fine mesh sieve and allow to drain excess liquid. Press with fingers or with back of spoon to extract.
- Transfer mixture to bowl with the ground meats and mix by hands until evenly combined. Chill mixture at least 1 hour.
- Make the Tahini Yogurt Sauce: Zest half of the lemon and then juice it. You need 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- In a bowl whisk together the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, mint, tahini, water, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Prepare grill at 450°F. Clean and lightly oil grill grates.
- Divide meat mixture into 8 portions and form each portion into a 5”-long sausage shape. Insert a metal skewer lengthwise through each portion.
- Drizzle with olive oil and grill, turning occasionally, until just cooked through, 8–10 minutes total.
- Drizzle tahini yogurt sauce over kefta. Serve over couscous, tabouli salad or rice with warm pita bread and lemon wedges.
- I use a 80/20 ground beef if I mix it with ground lamb. So if you choose to add lamb, you would use ¾ lb ground beef and ¾ lb ground lamb total.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.