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Arayes is a popular street food in Lebanon that is basically kafta meat stuffed inside pita bread and then grilled or oven baked. It’s a great way to use up leftover kafta meat or hashweh meat and works well as an appetizer or main meal.
Ingredients & substitutions
- Ground Beef: The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t have to cook the beef before you stuff the pitas, so it’s so fuss free to make! I prefer to use lean ground beef that is 85-90% fat free.
- Seasonings: Fresh parsley, 7 spice, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne, salt and pepper.
- Onion: Finely mince the onion so that it combines easily with the ground beef.
- Pita: Use double ply pita bread for these arayes. We spread the seasoned beef between the two layers of the pita, so you need pita with a pocket.
- Oil: For cooking. I always like to use olive oil, but canola or vegetable will work too.
How to make Arayes
- Add the ground beef and seasonings to a bowl.
- Use your hands to combine together.
- Cut each pita into quarters.
- Spread the beef mix into each piece of pita.
- Heat the oil in a grill pan, once hot, place in the stuffed pitas.
- Cook on both sides til golden brown.
Tips for making arayes
- Use ground beef with some fat in it. Aim for 85% or 90% fat-free ground beef which has some fat in it to keep the pita pockets juicy without drying out.
- Don’t over-cook the arayes. You want to make sure that the pita is crisp and golden on the outside and that’s your cue that they are done cooking. Over-cooking the beef can make it really dry. Feel free to lift up the pita to check on the beef.
- Use thin pita bread if possible. The thin pita bread allows the beef mixture on the inside to cook faster since the heat permeates through it more easily. It also tends to get more crispy.
- Add veggies inside. While it’s traditional to enjoy these meat stuffed pitas alone, you can certainly stuff veggies inside for a full meal. It’s best to use cooked veggies like peppers, zucchini or mushrooms and add them after cooking.
Frequently asked questions
I love tho make meat stuffed pitas with ground beef, but ground lamb is also really tasty and popular. You can use ground chicken or turkey, but make sure that it is fully cooked through, I also find that the fat content can be too low and they can dry out more easily.
These Lebanese pitas are best served as soon as you make them so that the pita is crispy and the meat is perfectly cooked. If you like, you can make the beef filling a day or two ahead of time and keep it covered in the fridge. If you make too much meat mixture, leftovers can be frozen for later use.
These meat stuffed pitas are perfectly crispy on the outside with juicy seasoned meat on inside. So simple to make, but hands down delicious!
More lebanese recipes:
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Meat Stuffed Pitas (Arayes)
- 1 pound ground beef
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 small yellow onion minced
- 2 teaspoons 7 spice
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, to taste
- 2 double-play pita breads
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for stovetop cooking
- Olive oil cooking spray for oven baking
- Place the ground beef, parsley, onions, 7 Spice, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix until well combined.
- Cut each pita into fourth. Pull part the two sides of pita. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the beef mixture
- Heat a grill pan or regular pan on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Place four of the stuffed pitas on the grill pan and cook until the pita is golden in color and beef is cooked to your liking, about 7-10 minutes total. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and the remaining stuffed pitas.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place the stuffed pitas on a baking dish and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Bake until the pita is golden and crispy and the beef is cooked to your liking, about 8-10 minutes.
- Serve hot with plain yogurt for dipping, if desired.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.