Lebanese Kibbeh Balls

5 from 165 votes

These traditional fried Lebanese kibbeh balls are a delicious appetizer made with bulgur wheat and seasoned ground beef and onions filling!

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Kibbeh, also known spelled kibbi or kebbeh, is a mixture of cracked wheat, beef, onions and spices made into many different dishes like these kibbeh balls version. This is similar to my Baked Kibbeh recipe, but instead of layering the ingredients in a baking dish, you shape them into what we grew up calling footballs!

Kibbeh balls after fried on a white plate
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How to make kibbeh balls

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 and onion mixture.
  • Fold in the pine nuts, if you’re using them and set this aside.
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

Shape the kibbeh balls

  • Scoop a small amount of the kibbeh mixture and make an indent with your finger in the middle.
  • Hollow out the inside using your finger into a triangle shape.
  • Add the hashweh filling into the cavity you formed.
  • Close the shell with your fingers to resemble the shape of a football. Now you see why we called them that!
4 images showing how to form the shape with your hands
  • As you’re shaping them, you can set them on a plate or tray or if you have a helping hand, have another person start frying them while you continue to shape them.
Raw kibbeh balls before frying

Fry the kibbeh

  • Fry the kibbeh balls in hot oil in batches.
  • Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain the excess oil.
Showing how the recipe looks when frying

Tips for making kibbeh balls

  1. Keep the kibbeh dough cool when you make the footballs so that it is easy to work with. If needed, shape them in batches and keep the rest of the mixture refrigerated.
  2. Let the bulger wheat rest before mixing it with the other ingredients. This will help the wheat to absorb the excess moisture. If you don’t let it rest, your dough will be too wet.
  3. Don’t overcrowd the pot when you are frying them. If you add too many at a time, the temperature of the oil will drop and they will not cook through.
  4. You can also bake these in an oven. Spray the kibbeh with oil and bake in the oven at 400°F for around 30 minutes until a deep golden brown. It helps to flip them halfway through.
  5. Make sure the dough is super smooth. To ensure this process, the kibbeh mixture until the dough is soft and comes together in a ball. Then when shaping the kibbeh balls, don’t forget to wet your hands to make sure the dough sticks together.

Frequently asked questions

How long do they keep?

The fried kibbeh will keep well in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months.

If you are looking to make them ahead of time, you can freeze the uncooked kibbeh and then fry them right from frozen, which is very often the case.

Can I bake these instead of deep frying them?

It’s traditional to deep fry kibbeh balls. Along with falafel, it’s literally the only two foods that I deep fry in my kitchen because they’e so much better than baked! However, if you’d like to bake them, you can bake at 400°F degrees for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

What do you eat kibbeh balls with?

They can be eaten on their own, along with the Fattoush salad or dipped in Cucumber Yogurt Sauce as shown below.

Showing the inside of the kibbeh after biting into one

More Lebanese recipes:

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Kibbeh Balls

These traditional fried Lebanese kibbeh balls are a delicious appetizer made with bulgur wheat and seasoned ground beef and onions filling!
5 from 165 votes
Servings 12 kibbeh balls
Course Appetizer
Calories 268
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients
  

Kibbeh Mixture

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

Hashweh Filling

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon 7 Spice
  • ¼ cup pine nuts

For Frying

  • Vegetable or canola oil for deep frying

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 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 Fry

  • Add water to your hands, and scoop about 3 tablespoons of the kibbeh mixture. Use one finger to indent the middle of the scooped mixture and then hollow out the inside using your finger until it looks like a half shell.
  • Add about two tablespoons of the mixture into the shell and then close the shell and shape into a football with your hands. Place the kibbeh ball on a tray and repeat for the remaining mixture and filling.
  • Deep fry the kibbeh balls in the oil in batches of 6-8 until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
  • Serve warm with cucumber yogurt sauce, if desired.

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 them after cooked, it’s more common to make a second batch and freeze them before frying them. Thaw in the fridge overnight or fry from frozen.
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.
* Please note the nutrition label does not include the oil for frying.

Nutrition

Calories: 268kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 902mg, Potassium: 412mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 354IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 35mg, Iron: 3mg

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

Cuisine Lebanese
Course: Appetizer

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Comments

  1. I made it with ground lamb and it was very good. I’ve never had kibbe made with beef, so I shall try that the next time. Good recipe!

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