Lebanese Meat Pies

5 from 199 votes

These Lebanese meat pies (sfeehas) are a delicious Middle Eastern appetizer. Made with a crispy dough and filled with a spiced meat filling.

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These Lebanese meat pies, also called sfeehas, are a popular appetizer recipe in the Middle East. They are made with a simple dough recipe that’s stuffed with a spiced ground beef and onions mixture and baked until golden, usually in a pizza oven.

Sfeehas or Lebanese meat pies on a serving dish
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Ingredients & substitutions

  • Dough: You can use the dough recipe below, use your own dough recipe or a store-bought one.
  • Ground beef: Use 90-95% lean ground beef for the recipe. If you use something less lean, be sure to drain out the excess fat so the filling doesn’t carry too much moisture. You can also make this with ground lamb as a substitute.
  • Onions: Yellow onions add flavor to the beef filling. Dice it finely so that it mixes well with the rest of the filling ingredients. You can also use red onions, shallots or green onions.
  • Tomatoes: These are optional but they add so much flavor to the meat stuffing. If you’re using tomatoes, it’s helpful to remove the seeded core which contains a lot of juices. This way the meat filling doesn’t get too moist or affect the dough.
  • Parsley: Parsley adds a nice burst of freshness to each bite. You could use another fresh herb like cilantro or basil for a different flavor.
  • Spices: Traditional Middle Eastern spices that can be swapped to your taste.
Ingredients to make the recipe

How to make Lebanese meat pies

Make the dough

  • The dough recipe is a an easy basic recipe that is common in Lebanese meat, cheese and spinach pies. It will have more olive oil than basic pizza dough, which helps it get golden in the oven.
Dough balls on greased pan

Cook the filling

  • Add the ground beef and onions to a hot skillet.
  • Cook util the beef is browned and the onions are soft.
  • Add the tomatoes, spices and parsley.
  • Stir to combine until the ground beef filling is fragrant and the spices are well incorporated.
4 image collage to show how to make the filling

Assemble & bake

  • Press the dough into circles. You can also roll, but it’s easier to press them out instead.
  • Place some of the beef filling in the middle of each circle.
  • Fold the dough over to cover the beef.
  • Seal the edges with a fork or your fingers.
4 image collage to show how to stuff the dough
  • Bake on a lined baking sheet until golden brown.
Meat pies on baking dish with parchment paper before baking

Tips for making meat pies

  1. Don’t be tempted to add more flour to the dough recipe. It should feel wet and oily and this will help them crisp in the oven and get that beautiful golden color. If you’re using store-bought dough, it helps to add oil to your hands when working with the dough.
  2. Flatten out the dough with your hands, not rolling pin. Instead use your hands and simply press down on the dough so they open up without becoming too thin.
  3. Spread the filling and make the meat pie in the baking pan. Think of an assembly line when making these meat pies and assemble them where you’ll bake them. This also helps to minimize the chance of the dough getting too thin from transferring it from the countertop to the baking dish.
  4. Fry them! While these are traditionally made in a pizza oven and baked at very high temperatures, it’s also quite popular to fry them in vegetable oil. They come out more crispy. But be sure to seal them tightly because they sometimes unravel when frying.

Frequently asked questions

How long do they keep?

These Lebanese meat pies will keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days. Let them cool before storing in an airtight container. You can enjoy them cold, or reheat them in the oven at 350F for 10 to 15 minutes til warmed through.

Can you freeze them?

Yes! Sfeehas will keep well frozen for up to 3 months, thaw them in the fridge overnight before reheating. If you have any beef filling leftover, that will also freeze for up to 4 months and can be defrosted and used to make another batch!

What do you eat them with?

As an appetizer, you can enjoy these on their own, typically they are dipped in plain whole milk yogurt. You could also serve them with this cucumber yogurt sauce.

Lebanese sfeehas meat pies with one cut open to show filling

And if you want to try a vegetarian version of sfeehas, be sure to check out the spinach pies, which uses the same technique but a different filling (and iconic shape!)

More Lebanese recipes:

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Lebanese Meat Pies

These Lebanese meat pies (sfeehas) are a delicious Middle Eastern appetizer. Made with a crispy dough and filled with a spiced meat filling.
5 from 199 votes
Servings 15 servings
Course Appetizer
Calories 195
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
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Meat Filling

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 pound 95% lean ground beef
  • 3 Roma tomatoes seeded and chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons 7 Spice
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon


Make the Dough

  • Combine the warm water, sugar and yeast in a bowl. Add the flour and salt and mix together until well combined. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead the mixture until sticky.
  • Add the olive oil and continue kneading until the dough becomes soft and smooth and lightly sticky without leaving any dough on your fingers.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly greased and allow it to proof until doubled, about 90 minutes.
  • Remove the dough and divide into 30 pieces and reshape to round balls. Let sit in an oiled tray until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Make the stuffing

  • In a medium size pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and cook the onions until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the beef and onions and cook until the beef is browned, about 8-10 minutes. Fold in the tomatoes and parsley, then season with salt, 7 Spice, sumac and cinnamon.

Assemble & Cook

  • Preheat the oven to 425ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Roll out the dough in 4-5 inch circles. Place 2 tablespoons of the mixture inside each circle.
  • Hold two ends of the dough and seal them together over the filling, pinching the dough together to help bind. Fold the last side up to meet the first two sides, pinching the dough together with the first two sides to bind.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
  • Serve warm on their own or with plain whole milk yogurt as a dip.


Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 4 days in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or oven until warmed through.
Make Ahead Tips: You can prepare the stuffing up to one day in advance and the mixture actually gets more flavorful after one day.
Freezing Instructions: You can freeze the meat pies before cooking by placing them on a baking sheet in the freezer. When frozen, transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag and keep for 3 months. You can also freeze the baked meat pies after they’ve cooled completely for up to 3 months.
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 ground lamb or ground chicken or even ground turkey.
  • Instead of parsley, you can use more cilantro or basil, but parsley is more traditional.
  • Instead of yellow onions, you can use red onions or green onions.
  • Instead of 7 spice and sumac, you can substitute with more cinnamon and black pepper and cumin.


Calories: 195kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 19mg, Sodium: 493mg, Potassium: 200mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 267IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 14mg, Iron: 2mg

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

Cuisine Lebanese
Course: Appetizer
5 from 199 votes (189 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. Ruth Pino says:

    Can I brush them with olive oil or an egg wash before I bake them. Is it necessary?
    Some of mine opened up?

  2. Vanessa says:

    For some reason I was only able to do 16 small balls…I am very curious how you were able to do 30!!! Also I accidently left my dough rising 30 minutes more and did not do a second rise so that might be the problem but it was very sticky and impossible to flat down without adding more flour :/ Other than that it did taste very good.

    1. Yumna says:

      Hi Vanessa, is it possible your yeast was not active? Sounds like maybe the dough didn’t expand as much as it should have hence the smaller amount of dough and stickiness. Maybe try with some fresh yeast packets the next time around!

  3. Martina says:

    Hi, great recipe thanks
    I wonder can you share some ideas for ideas of how else I can use this dough as had lots left over

    1. Yumna says:

      Hi there! Did you make a full batch of the filling? The recipe should use up all the dough, but if you have any leftover you can use it for flatbreads, just flatten and bake at 425˚F until golden brown, then top as you see fit.

  4. Ana says:

    These were really delicious, I just used ground turkey and 2.5X the spices. You’re absolutely precise, they lasted exactly 4 days in the fridge as in they were all eaten! I also really appreciate the clear instructions. Thank you.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      You’re so welcome!

  5. Jerry says:

    I have a question about the sumac, I may only be able to get this online. I noticed that some of the offerings have salt in the ingredients, I do my best to cut back on salt when I cook. Did you use sumac with or without salt in this recipe? I would prefer no salt .

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Hi Jerry, you can use the salt free sumac! Hope you enjoy!

  6. Sarah Jagenberg says:

    My family always called these little meat pies fatayer. I LOVE these. I don’t use tomatoes or parsley, but instead I use toasted pine nuts and lots of white vinegar and lemon juice! I am looking forward to trying this differently like yours!! Thanks!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      You’ll have to let me know what you think when you make them!

  7. Jerr says:

    My husband had asked me to make him fatayer, something his mom made from when he was little. Found this recipe and I’m so glad I did. It’s fantastic!!!
    Now, please don’t come after me in the comments (I know ppl tend to get heated about recipe changes) – I did adjust the recipe (switched up the meat). Apparently, using ground beef was not a thing his family used. His family made them with pork loin – chopped to miniature cubes. So, I accommodated his request.
    Besides this change, everything I followed as per recipe instructions. (fried instead of bake) And lemme tell you….it’s bloody delicious! He was so impressed. I’ve made this 3 times now all within 30 days. Lol!
    1st attempt at this recipe spices were followed just as written. 2nd & 3rd attempt made a few tweaks. Found out our taste buds preferred to opt out of using 1/2 tsp cinnamon and we made it with more onions. Seriously, so tasty! Oh and this dough recipe..Damn, it’s perfect. The olive oil scared me a bit at first but trusted the process. I do find the assembly part a bit challenging. The seams of the dough would open up (mostlikely because of the added olive oil) even after I use a fork to seal. I’ve tried using an egg wash which helped a bit. Any other tips on this?

    Anyway, Best fatayer recipe! Thank you so much for sharing this!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      So glad you and your husband enjoyed them! Thanks for sharing your tips, too, I love variation. It sounds like the filling may be a little too thick for the size of your dough. You can try cutting back on the filling (I’ve never made it with pork) and see if that helps.

  8. Pepo says:

    Sorry, those are empanadas, sfeeha have the filling uncooked until hit the oven.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Hi Pepo, while I appreciate your thoughts here, this is how I like to make my sfeeha, enclosed in the dough. Which requires that I cook the meat beforehand. If I were to try and cook the meat raw in the closed dough, it wouldn’t work out very well. Plus, I find them much more portable and great for packing in lunches without worrying about the meat falling out. You certainly can make sfeeha with open dough and raw meat and then bake it.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I will try this beautiful recipe

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Can’t wait to hear what you think!

  10. Patricia says:

    Can I substitute the fresh tomato for can tomatoes? How many cup maesriwould you put in the recipe?

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      It should work! I would use the same amount – around 3/4 cup tomatoes.

      1. Patricia says:

        Thanks for your response. Can wait to do it!

      2. Patricia says:

        Thanks for your response. Can wait to make it!

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