Kibbe Recipe by Zaatar and Zaytoun Lebanese Food Blog (2024)

Making great kibbeh is an art form, and can take a lot of practise to get just right. You have to make sure the kibbeh is crunchy but not too dry.

The casing has to be thin but still substantial enough to balance the filling. The filling should complement the casing without overwhelming it.

When you bite a kibbeh it should be savoury and moderately spiced, never too spicy or bland.

Kibbe Recipe by Zaatar and Zaytoun Lebanese Food Blog (1)

So many things to consider but not impossible to perfect.

The finished kibbeh shouldn't be too big or too small. It should fit into the palm of your hand and you should be able to finish it in a few bites.

The perfect kibbeh will leave you wanting more and more till you can't count how many you've had.

Jump to:
  • Types of kibbeh
  • The filling
  • The spices
  • The meat
  • How to shape kibbeh
  • Top tips
  • 📖 Recipe

Types of kibbeh

The Lebanese are kibbeh experts which is why it's the national dish.

Essentially kibbeh is a bulgur wheat and meat based dish mixed with lots of different things and prepared in various ways.

This recipe is for individually fried morsels but can also be adapted to kibbeh bil sanieh (Kibbeh in a tray) to which you can find the recipe here.

We also have kibbeh labanieh here, where kibbeh is cooked in a rich garlicky yoghurt sauce. If you're feeling brave you can also try our raw kibbeh nayeh recipe.

Kibbe Recipe by Zaatar and Zaytoun Lebanese Food Blog (2)

The filling

What makes kibbeh so interesting is that the meat is presented two ways with different textures.

The filling shouldn't be too fine or chunky so you can't stuff the kibbeh balls easily. Press the mince meat for the filling down with the back of a spoon to break it apart.

A good amount of onions cooked slowly is needed to provide a sweetness to balance the savouriness.

The more you caramelise them and have patience the sweeter they will be. I always cook them on medium high heat for the first five minutes then turn it down to the lowest heat.

You can do plenty of things while the onions are cooking like prepare the casing.

The spicing of the filling is practically the same as the casing but also has sumac and nuts. I've used walnuts today though you can also use pine nuts, but they are more expensive!

Kibbe Recipe by Zaatar and Zaytoun Lebanese Food Blog (3)

The spices

You can find kibbeh or kamouneh spices in most middle eastern shops. However it is always better to make your own and we at Zaatar and Zaytoun have provided you with full recipes as below.

For the Lebanese seven spice (full recipe here)

  • 5tbspgaram masala or allspice
  • 2tbspturmeric
  • 2tbspblack pepper
  • 2tbspcinnamon
  • 1tbsppaprika
  • 1tbspcoriander
  • 1tbspcumin
  • 1tbspcayenne pepper

For the kamouneh kibbeh spice mix (full recipe here)

  • 2tbspcumin seeds
  • 1tbspdried rose petals
  • 1tbspblack peppercorns
  • 2tspdried marjoram
  • 2tspdried basil
  • 1tspdried mint
  • ½tspcinnamon
  • 1tbsp7 spice
  • 1tspsalt

The meat

I use a mix of lamb and beef mince which means its not too fatty but just tender enough though of course you can use whichever meat you prefer.

I use a ratio of 50:50 lamb to beef but you can also do 70:30 depending on which you prefer.

I know some people intentionally add extra lean lamb fat or 'leyeh' but I can't tolerate that taste so no.

Kibbe Recipe by Zaatar and Zaytoun Lebanese Food Blog (4)

How to shape kibbeh

I've made you a shaky video of my mum the pro shaping some kibbeh.

First make an indent in a golf sized ball as you turn the kibbeh. Then once you have a hollow shell, add some filling and close it up by pinching and turning in your hands until smooth.

Once you make your own kibbeh which admittedly needs a good few hours, you will turn your nose up at restaurant made ones which rarely contain the love and effort required to make them this good.

And I don't see the point of those fiddly kibbeh moulds where you have to put them in and press it, and then clean it bla bla. Doesn't seem worth the effort.

Top tips

I like to make lots and lots of kibbeh because its messy and more rewarding when you can freeze several batches to be consumed later.

You can also make any left over casing into 'cheats kibbe' which though has no filling, is also delicious and especially popular with children.

I usually shape these into flat rounds so I know the difference.

My cousin who has a restaurant somewhere in Paris told me the secret to making really great kibbeh is adding a spoon of cornflour to the casing which makes it extra crunchy.

Don't say I don't share my greatest tips with you, but only because I love you 😘

Kibbe Recipe by Zaatar and Zaytoun Lebanese Food Blog (5)

📖 Recipe

Kibbe Recipe by Zaatar and Zaytoun Lebanese Food Blog (6)

4.97 from 27 votes


Lebanese Kibbe Recipe (Fried Kibbeh Balls)

Classic fried kibbeh balls with a meat and nut filling

CourseAppetizer, Main Course, Side Dish


KeywordAuthentic, Classic, Traditional

Prep Time 2 hours

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes

Servings 40 Kibbehs


For the Kibbe filling:

  • 500gminced meat
  • 2-3onionschopped
  • 1teaspoon7 spice
  • 1.5tablespoonKibbeh Spices(Kamouneh Spice Mix)
  • ½teaspoonblack pepper
  • 1tablespoonsalt
  • 1cupchopped walnuts or pine nuts
  • 2tablespoonsumac

For the Kibbeh casing:

  • 1kilo fine bulgur wheat
  • 1kilo mince meat
  • 2onions
  • 1.5tablespoonKibbeh Spices
  • 1.5tablespooncornflour
  • 1teaspoon7 spice
  • ½teaspoonblack pepper
  • 1tablespoonsalt
  • Sunflower or vegetable oil


  1. Soak the bulgur wheat in enough water to cover and set aside

  2. To make the filling, sauté the chopped onions in regular olive oil until golden on medium low heat

  3. Add 500g of minced meat to the onions and cook out the meat on medium high heat

  4. Add the 7 spice, kamouneh spices, black pepper and salt and use the back of your wooden spoon to break up the meat

  5. When it is cooked turn off the heat and add the sumac and chopped walnuts. Taste to make any adjustments then cover and set aside

  6. Drain the bulgur wheat and add to a large bowl. Take out the kilo of meat and prepare food processor

  7. In several batches, add the bulgur wheat and equal amounts of meat to the food processor and process until it clumps together and starts to roll in the processor bowl.

  8. Roughly chop 2 onions to go in the food processor along with the 7 spices, kamouneh spices, black pepper and salt. Blitz well

  9. When you have combined all the meat and bulgur wheat in a bowl, add the blitzed onion spice mix and the cornflour, then bring everything together preferably with your hands

  10. If it is too dry add a bit of water, you don't want it too loose, sticky or crumbly but so it holds together nicely. If you don't mind tasting a bit of raw meat check a tiny bit for saltiness and adjust as necessary

  11. Add approx half a cup of sunflower to a small bowl which you can dip your fingers into when shaping the kibbeh to avoid sticking. Clean your table and arrange a workflow with a large clean tray, the sunflower oil, the filling and the casing mix

  12. Take some casing and roll into golf ball size, indent the middle then hollow out the inside with your index finger turning as you do so until you have a half shell. Add a spoon of filling and close up the casing. Compress well with your hands and shape into classic kibbeh morsels (see video)

  13. Line up the kibbeh on the tray until you finish the filling

  14. Deep fry your kibbeh morsels in sunflower or vegetable oil and serve with yoghurt dip

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

  • Roll any leftover casing into flat round 'cheats kibbeh'
  • You can also bake these kibbeh balls in yoghurt sauce to make kibbeh labanieh
  • Search our site for the full kamouneh spice blend recipe

If you make any of our recipes let us know how it went by giving us a star rating below.

We have a livelyFacebook groupwhere we post frequent recipes and discuss Lebanese cooking in general, as well as atiktok page.

Other Zaatar and Zaytoun recipes you might like to try:

  • Cheat's Kibbeh (Kibbe Kazabieh)
  • Frakeh (raw kibbeh)
  • Kibbet batata (Vegan Potato Kibbeh)
  • Pumpkin Kibbeh Recipe
Kibbe Recipe by Zaatar and Zaytoun Lebanese Food Blog (2024)


What is kibbeh the Lebanese national dish made of? ›

What is kibbeh made of? With origins in the Middle East – and considered the national dish of Lebanon – kibbeh is a combination of bulgur cracked wheat, chopped onions, baharat (seven spices) and lean beef, goat, lamb, fish or camel mince meat.

What are the different types of kibbeh? ›

Types of Kibbeh

Here's a run-down: Baked kibbeh, Kibbeh bil sanieh is stuffed kibbeh in a baking sheet or other baking dish. Raw kibbeh Kibbeh nayyeh, is like steak tartare, but with finer ground meat. Kibbeh labanieh is kibbeh balls with warmed yogurt sauce (Lebanese laban).

What is the difference between kofta and kibbeh? ›

Kafta vs Kibbeh

Beef kofta just uses lean ground beef. They are seasoned differently- Kibbeh and kafta taste different because kafta spices vs spices in kibbeh are not the same. Kafta uses more spices. Cracked wheat- kibbeh uses cracked wheat or bulgur within the meat, but kofta does not use any wheat product ...

What is kibbeh in arabic? ›

The word kibbeh stems from an Arabic verb meaning, "to form into a ball;" so that description is not entirely wrong. But as you'll see in today's kibbeh recipe, they're more like stuffed croquettes. There is a crispy outer shell made with bulgur wheat, onions, and finely ground beef.

What are 4 dishes traditionally eaten in Lebanon? ›

Well-known dishes include baba ghanouj, tabbouleh, sfeeha, falafel and shawarma. An important component of many Lebanese meals is hummus, a chickpea puree dish, and many dishes are eaten with flatbread. Well-known desserts include baklawa, sfouf and ka'ak.

What is the most traditional Lebanese food? ›

Kibbeh is the national dish of Lebanon and is a hearty, artsy, flavorful treat. It's made by pounding bulgur wheat and minced meat together with pine nuts and spices. The mixture is then rolled into balls and served raw, grilled, or deep-fried.

Which country invented kibbeh? ›

Kibbeh nayyeh or raw kibbeh (Arabic: كبة نيئة) is a Levantine mezze that likely originated in Aleppo, Syria.

Is kibbeh healthy? ›

Raw meat has been linked to numerous food poisoning outbreaks. Kibbeh nayyeh has specifically been linked to an outbreak as well. Dangerous bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella are often present in raw meat and are known to cause serious illness with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

What is the difference between kibbeh and falafel? ›

Falafel: Deep-fried chickpea patties - often tucked into pita pockets. Kibbeh: Deep-fried balls of beef, lamb and/or bulger.

Is kofta Greek or Lebanese? ›

Koftas are found in the traditional cuisines of Armenia, Afghanistan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Lebanon, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Morocco, Pakistan, Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Turkey. Kofta is also a popular dish among Assyrian people.

Do people eat raw kibbeh? ›

Kibbeh nayeh is a traditional Levantine raw meat dish made with either spiced raw beef or with spiced raw lean lamb mince. Lebanese raw kibbeh is a very cultural dish served with the mezze (appetizer table). Some would say that it is the national dish of Lebanon, either as raw kibbeh or in its cooked form.

What is kofta called in English? ›

/ˈkɔːftə/ [uncountable, countable] ​a Middle Eastern or South Asian dish of meat, fish or cheese mixed with spices and shaped into balls; one of these ballsTopics Foodc2. Word Origin.

Do Egyptians eat kibbeh? ›

It may also be layered and cooked on a tray, deep-fried, grilled, or served raw. In Mesopotamian cuisine, versions with rice or farina are found. Outside of Syria, versions are found in Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, the Persian Gulf, Armenia, Kurdistan and Turkey, and among Assyrian people.

What is the difference between kibbeh and Kibbeh Nayeh? ›

The term "Kibbeh Nayeh" means "Raw Kibbeh" and is used to differentiate it from the famous traditional Kibbeh, which is fried. Kibbeh Nayeh is tartar. Considering that in gastronomic terms it is called tartar, and preparation of raw meat or fish, finely chopped and seasoned with spices.

What is the Lebanese word for meat? ›

the word for meat in arabic is lahm. lah moon and I will hegbu lahm.

What meat is kibbeh made of? ›

What is kibbeh? A dish made of ground beef or lamb combined with bulghur wheat, pureed onion, and spices. Kibbeh can and should be eaten raw as kibbeh nayeh. Then when you've had your fill of that, bake or fry the kibbeh, stuffed with still more meat with onion and spices, to a deep and delectable golden brown.

What are kibbeh balls made of? ›

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.

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