Baked Kibbeh is a quintessential Lebanese recipe that is popular throughout the Middle East - made with beef, cracked wheat, onion and spices
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!
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:
- Kibbeh Bil Sanieh (this baked version)
- Kibbeh Nayyeh (similar to a raw steak tartar)
- Kibbeh ‘Rass (balls or croquettes)
- 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.
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.
- 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.
Tips for making baked kibbeh
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Frequently asked questions
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.
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.
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.
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
More authentic Lebanese recipes:
- Peas and Carrots Stew
- Beef Kafta
- Stuffed Eggplant Recipe
- Bulgur Pilaf
- Lebanese Rice
- Sayadieh Rice and Fish
- Okra Stew
If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Baked Kibbeh recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
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 ground beef to the food processor and blend until well combined.
- Add the lean beef, 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.
- 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.