Baked Kibbeh

4.98 from 341 votes

Baked Kibbeh is a quintessential Lebanese recipe that is popular throughout the Middle East - made with beef, cracked wheat, onion and spices

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One of my favorite childhood recipes my mom always makes is this baked kibbeh. For so long I was so intimidated by making the recipe because it seemed tedious. However I’ve fine-tuned all the steps to simplify it while keeping all the classic flavors intact. This Lebanese version will remind you of your family’s recipe!

Baked kibbeh (also called kibbeh bil sanieh) topped with pine nuts
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What is kibbeh?

Kibbeh is an arabic word derived from “kubba”, which means ball. It is a combination of very lean ground meat, cracked bulgur wheat and spices. Some have likened kibbeh to meatloaf, which is a great way to describe it especially for this baked kibbeh version.

In this Lebanese recipe called Kibbeh Bil Sanieh, we layer the kibbeh with a hashweh mixture – made with onions, ground beef, spices and pine nuts. The layers are spread into a baking dish and then baked like a casserole. There are 4 popular ways to make kibbeh:

  1. Kibbeh Bil Sanieh (this baked version)
  2. Kibbeh Nayyeh (similar to a raw steak tartar)
  3. Kibbeh ‘Rass (balls or croquettes)
  4. Kibbeh bi Labanieh (balls cooked and served in warm yogurt)

How to make baked kibbeh

Cook the hashweh

  • Cook the onions with olive oil until softened and lightly golden.
  • Add the ground beef and cook with the onions until browned and cooked through.
  • Mix in the spices with the ground beef mixture.
  • Fold in the pine nuts, if you’re using them.
4 photo collage showing the hashweh mixture, starting with the onions, then beef, then spices and pine nuts

Combine the kibbeh mixture

  • Place the soaked bulgur, fresh herbs, kamouneh spice and onions into a food processor.
  • Blend until it’s well combined without any large chunks of onions.
  • Add the lean beef to the mixture along with salt and 7 Spice to season the beef.
  • Blend until the beef is well incorporated with the bulgur mixture. Then remove the food processor blade and divide in half.
4 photo collage showing the kibbeh ingredients in a food processor, first the bulgur, onions and spices, then the mixture, next with beef and then the final outcome
  • Spread half the mixture to the bottom of a prepared baking dish. I’m using 14-inch round. You can also use 9″x13″.
  • Add the hashweh filling on top.
  • Add the remaining kibbeh mixture on top of the hashweh in chunks so it’s easier to manage.
  • Use your hands to flatten out the meat mixture and fill in the gaps.
  • Cut diagonally to form diamond shapes, place a pine nut in the middle of each diamond, and drizzle the whole dish with olive oil.
  • When it’s done baking, the pine nuts will be toasted and the meat will pull away from the sides of the pan.
6 photo collage showing how to layer the baked kibbeh in a round baking dish

Tips for making baked kibbeh

  1. Prepare the hashweh filling layer before making the kibbeh layer. Since the kibbeh layer uses raw meat, you want to handle it for as little as possible and bake it immediately after prepping. Having the filling ready will make it more efficient.
  2. Divide the kibbeh in half and freeze half for later. This makes a very large amount with 8 generous servings. You can make in 2 smaller baking dishes and freeze one. Make sure not to add olive oil to the one being frozen until ready to bake.
  3. Use wet hands for layering the kibbeh mixture. Adding water to your hands will help to mold and shape the kibbeh mixture for the bottom and top layer so it’s smooth and even.
  4. Eliminate using water in the bulgur by adding more onions. You don’t need to soak the bulgur with water, but you will then need to add another small onion to the food processor. That moisture will help to soak and fluff the bulgur so it’s not crunchy.
Baked kibbeh Lebanese recipe in a round metal baking dish

Frequently asked questions

What do you eat with kibbeh?

We usually enjoy kibbeh with a cucumber yogurt sauce or just plain thick yogurt. My mom also loves to serve it with a fattoush salad.

Can I freeze the kibbeh?

Yes, it’s very common for families to make a double batch of this recipe or even divide this one in half to freeze some for later. You can freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then add olive oil on top and follow the baking instructions per the recipe.

Can I make this gluten free?

While I’ve never tried it myself, I’ve heard of some success with using quinoa instead of bulgur wheat. I recommend cooking the quinoa halfway so it’s softer but not fully cooked. It will continue cooking in the oven.

What can I use for the “kamouneh” spice if I don’t have it?

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon  black peppercorns
1 tablespoon  dried rose petals (optional)
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon 7 spice

Close up shot of the kibbeh with spatula for serving

More authentic Lebanese recipes:

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Baked Kibbeh

Baked Kibbeh is a quintessential Lebanese recipe that is popular throughout the Middle East – made with beef, cracked wheat, onion and spices
5 from 341 votes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 331
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
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Ingredients
  

Hashweh Filling

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for greasing pan & drizzling on top
  • 1 pound 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon 7 Spice
  • ¼ cup pine nuts plus more for topping

Kibbeh Mixture

  • 1 ½ cups fine #1 bulgur wheat
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 large onion quartered
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil and/or mint
  • ¼ cup kamouneh spice
  • 1 tablespoon salt + 1 teaspoon
  • 1 pound 100% lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons 7 Spice

Instructions

Make the Filling

  • Heat the olive oil. Add the beef and onions and cook until the beef is browned, about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and 7 Spice and fold in the pine nuts.

Make the Kibbeh Mixture

  • To prepare the base meat mixture, add the bulgur wheat to a medium bowl along with the water, fluff after 10 minutes to absorb all the water.
  • Transfer soaked bulgur to a food processor along with the onion, basil and/or mint, kamouneh spice and 1 tablespoon salt. Blend until well combined.
  • Add the lean beef to the food processor, along with the remaining salt and 7 Spice. Blend again until a meat paste forms. Divide the mixture in half.

Assemble and Bake

  • Preheat oven to 400°F degrees and grease a 14-inch round baking dish with olive oil; set aside.
  • Spread half of the kibbeh mixture on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spoon all the hashweh filling on top of the base layer. Finally, grab handfuls of the remaining kibbeh mixture and press down on top of the hashweh. Wet your hands with water to easily spread the mixture and fill in the gaps so it's smooth.
  • Slice kibbeh diagonally to form small diamonds. Top with pine nuts, and drizzle with olive oil to coat the top layer. Bake until meat is fully cooked and pine nuts look toasted, about 40-45 minutes.

Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 3-4 days in the fridge.
Freezing Instructions: You can also freeze the baked kibbeh recipe for up to 3 months. While you can freeze it after cooked, it’s more common to make a second batch and freeze it before baking them. Thaw in the fridge overnight, drizzle olive oil on top and then bake as directed.
Equipment: I recommend blending the ingredients for the kibbeh mixture using a food processor. And while you can bake it in a large casserole dish, it’s more traditional to bake it in a round aluminum or stainless steel pan like this one (Amazon affiliate link).
Sourcing: You can find the bulgur at Middle Eastern markets, natural-foods stores or even in large supermarkets, often located with other Middle Eastern ingredients.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However here are some common substitutes that would work well in this recipe
  • Instead of ground beef, you can use lamb, but it’s traditionally made with beef.
  • Instead of kamouneh spice, you can mix together cumin seeds, black peppercorn, marjoram, basil, mint, cinnamon and 7 Spice. You can find a recipe for how to making kamouneh spice here or use a combination you like.

Nutrition

Calories: 331kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 29g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 70mg, Sodium: 1271mg, Potassium: 629mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 572IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 57mg, Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

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Comments

  1. Rachelle says:

    Please tell me the general rule for the Bulgur ratio to the meat ratio in the Kibbeh mixture. For example if I use 500g of meat, how many g should the bulgur be?

  2. rana sasso says:

    Thank you Youmna! How can i make it vegetarian ? can i simply replace the meat with spinach ?

    1. Yumna says:

      Hi! I think the best ways are to make potato kibbeh and pumpkin kibbeh. The spinach would not work unfortunately since you need the meat to form the crust and the filling of the kibbeh. I’m hoping to create potato and pumpkin kibbeh in the future!

      1. Tala El Kurdi says:

        Hi Yumna,

        I recently got married and moved to Canada and never laid a hand in the kitchen before. I want you to know that your website has helped me survive 1 year so far while enjoying Lebanese food.

        Im making the Kebbeh today thanks to you! I got a “kibbeh spice” from the supermarket the other day so im hoping its the kamouneh spice thats mentioned 🙂

        Thank you for making this website and sharing all our favorite recipes that bring us so much joy!

        1. Yumna says:

          This is so nice to read, thank you!

  3. Jay says:

    Made all spices from scratch did as requested in recipe but unfortunately turned out so dry. Good taste but crumbly and didn’t serve up well

    1. Yumna says:

      So sorry to hear this didn’t turn out as expected. Do you mean the beef layer was dry or the Kibbeh mixture?

      1. Jay says:

        The beef layer was dry. I used mince with fat in it but how can I make this stay together. The two layers seperated and was crumbly

  4. Ann H. says:

    I grew up on Kibbeh, (my family is Lebanese), and I want to make it properly for my kids… However, I can’t seem to make it the way my mother used to make it. I have tried various recipes and it is hit and miss. Sometime is it works and sometimes it does not. And when it does, I can’t seem to repeat it.
    I think my problem is the ratio of meat to wheat. I noticed that the amount used is so different in different recipes. My kibbeh turns out so dry. Mind you, my mother used to always fry her Kubbie and I bake it. I would really appreciate it if I can get some suggestions. Thank you thank you thank you

    1. Yumna says:

      I know what you mean and this was a really hard recipe for me to write until I made it with my mother a few times and finally understood how the mixture should look and feel for the best results. Honestly, all of my tips and ratios are in the post and I highly recommend making the recipe as it’s written. You can reduce the amount by half if you want to test it. Let me know what you think and if you have any questions I can help with!

  5. Gabi says:

    I did not like this at all. I think the ground beef/bulgur wheat proportion was wrong, resulting in a very dry product. The spices were overpowering. I will have to find a different recipe next time.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Sorry to hear that. Are you used to have a Lebanese kibbeh or a different one? This is how it’s traditionally made in Lebanon and I did not deviate much from the way my family all makes it. Sorry to hear it didn’t work for you.

  6. david M. says:

    Hi Yumna J, I was really excited to find your website, having grown up eating Lebanese food, I found recipes I can do, especially since my older relatives are gone now and I only learned a few of the dishes. I have one comment, I can’t wait to use your Kibbeh recipe and I remember my grandmother adding cream cheese to the hasweh filling. It seemed to give the kibbeh a smooth texture. Thanks again! Yours is my go to cooking site.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you so much, David and welcome! I hope you enjoy, you’ll have to let me know what you think!

  7. LDJ says:

    I was missing some of the herbs for the spice mix, notably the rose petals and fresh mint, I substituted pine nuts for roasted almonds, and added a bit of pomegranate molasses to the filling.
    Overall, it turned out pretty well
    When i make this again, i plan on sourcing those herbs, adding raisins to the filling, and concocting a type of fresh herb chimichurri or pomegranate chili sauce to serve over top.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      That sounds so good!

  8. Nelly AP says:

    The flavor was absolutely delicious! I don’t know what I did wrong though- my top layer came out super dry and leathery in texture. I baked for 40 minutes.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Hmm, I am not sure what went wrong. Does your oven run hot? You could try lowering the temperature by 25 degrees and see if that helps.

  9. Don says:

    I was sure that putting the meat in the food processor was going to be a mess. I’ve been making kibbeh with my aunts since I was a kid in the 60s and 70s and I’ve never used a food processor. We used to hand grind the meat and onions. It took hours. This recipe is a game changer. It was so fast and easy and the results were better than our old hand grinder method. Awesome.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      So glad it turned out well for you, Don!

  10. Anita says:

    Love any insights to Arabic cooking.
    I’ve been baking kibbeh, SoufSouf, spfehis and Yabras for years.

    I don’t know what 7 spices?? Interested to hear more.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Hi Anita! So happy to hear that you enjoy Middle Eastern cuisine! I have a recipe for 7 spice with some info on it in the post that can help explain what it is.

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