Meat Stuffed Pitas

5 from 264 votes

Quick and easy to make, these Lebanese meat stuffed pitas are one delicious recipe! These beef arayes are ready to enjoy in minutes and every bite is truly tasty!

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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.

Lebanese meat stuffed pita triangles served on a white platter with a small bowl of yogurt and parsley for garnish
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The best way to enjoy arayes is a delicious condiment like yogurt sauce or with creamy tahini sauce on top. The sauce is the perfect complement to the rich and savory flavors of the meat. What’s great about arayes is that they’re so versatile. You can eat it as a lunch or dinner or add your crispy meat stuffed pitas to a mezze board.

Why you’ll love this beef arayes recipe

  • So flavorful with Lebanese flare. Beef arayes are packed with flavor, thanks to the combination of savory meat and aromatic spices such as cumin, 7-spice, cinnamon, and cayenne.
  • Easy to make. Beef arayes are surprisingly easy to make, despite their impressive flavor. All you need to do is prepare the meat filling, stuff it into pita bread, and grill or bake until the bread is crispy and the filling is cooked through.
  • Authentic and delicious. Beef arayes is a beloved street food in the Middle East that has stood the test of time. Its authentic flavor and rich history make it a delicious and intriguing option for anyone looking to try something new and exciting.

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% fat free but you can go lower to 80% so keep it juicy especially if you’re baking.
  • 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.
Ingredients to make the recipe: ground beef, onions, parsley, spices and pita

How to make Arayes

  1. Add the ground beef and seasonings to a bowl.
  2. Use your hands to combine together.
  3. Cut each pita into quarters.
  4. Spread the beef mix into each piece of pita.
  5. Heat the oil in a grill pan, once hot, place in the stuffed pitas.
  6. Cook on both sides til golden brown.
6 image collage to show how to mix the ingredients together, cut the pita, stuff the pita and then cook it

Tips for making arayes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Don’t over-stuff the pita bread. When stuffing the pita bread, make sure not to overdo it. The filling should be evenly distributed throughout the pita bread, but not so much that it becomes difficult to seal.
  • 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.
  • Add cheese. Try adding feta, halloumi, or mozzarella are common choices that can be added to the meat mixture or placed on top of the arayes before grilling or baking your ground beef stuff pitas.
  • Different sauces and dips. In addition to the classic tahini sauce, you can also try serving arayes with hummus, tzatziki, or a spicy harissa sauce for a bit of heat.

How to store and reheat Lebanese arayes

Arayes are best enjoyed fresh and hot, but if you have any leftovers allow them to cool completely and then store them in an airtight container in the fridge.

To reheat the arayes, preheat your oven to 350°F and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until they are heated through and the pita bread is crispy.

How long does this arayes kafta recipe last in the fridge?

You can store arayes in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

Can I freeze meat stuffed pitas?

If you want to keep your arayes for longer, you can freeze them. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap or foil and place them in a freezer-safe container or bag. They will keep well for up to 2-3 months. Reheat in the oven at 350°F for 25 minutes.

Frequently asked questions

Can you make arayes with other meats?

I love to 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.

Can you make them ahead of time?

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.

What do you serve them with?

These can be served as an appetizer or main course. As an app, I like to serve them with a cilantro yogurt sauce, and as a main, they are great to pair with a salad like tabbouleh or shirazi.

Final serving of the meat stuffed pitas (arayes) with yogurt and parsley

So simple to make, but hands down delicious! Arayes are a tasty and satisfying Lebanese snack or meal that are enjoyed by many around the world. With their flavorful meat filling, crispy pita bread, and creamy tahini sauce, they are a delicious treat that can be enjoyed on their own or as part of a larger meal. Whether you’re a fan of Middle Eastern cuisine or just looking to try something new, arayes are definitely worth a try!

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Meat Stuffed Pitas (Arayes)

Quick and easy to make, these Lebanese meat stuffed pitas are one delicious recipe! These beef arayes are ready to enjoy in minutes and every bite is truly tasty!
5 from 264 votes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 444
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
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Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound ground beef 80-85% lean
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 small yellow onion minced
  • 2 teaspoons 7 spice
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 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

Instructions

  • 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

Stovetop Instructions

  • 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.

Baking Instructions

  • 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

Calories: 444kcal, Carbohydrates: 19g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 30g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 537mg, Potassium: 429mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 644IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 65mg, Iron: 3mg

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

Cuisine Lebanese
5 from 264 votes (251 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. Ainhoa says:

    These look delicious and I’m really looking forward to making them this weekend! Do you have a recipe for the double-ply pitas? Thanks!

  2. Girlwei says:

    Made these with some fresh pitas and tzakaki sauce! No leftovers! Best quick mix—stuffed and thrown onto the Blackstone for crispy hot meal! So easy, delicious and satisfying. Whole family loved it!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Yay, I’m so happy to hear the whole family enjoyed!

  3. Iman says:

    I tripled the recipe and made these last night for iftar and everyone from my inlaws to kids thought they were delicious. My only issue with them is how do I get them from getting soggy where the bread sticks to the pan? (I used the oven method).

    1. Yumna says:

      Hi there, glad you enjoyed them! You could try baking them on parchment to help with this.

  4. Lucy says:

    Made it for ma Arabic husband. He was impressed. Thank you, will make it again )

    1. Yumna says:

      Yay, so glad you both enjoyed it!

  5. Salma says:

    I love an easy recipe like this Meat Stuffed Pita. It was so moist and crunchy at the same time. Yum and yum!

  6. Tatiana says:

    This recipe was a hit at my house! We absolutely loved the flavor and it had such a unique taste. Yumna does it again!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thanks so much, Tatiana!

  7. Mota says:

    I made the Arayes for Iftar and really enjoyed it. So crispy and delicious. Also great with barbecue sauce.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      So glad you enjoyed them!

  8. Sara says:

    I have made these twice now. We love it. Second time I added a layer of Halloumi cheese to the pitas. It made it extra yummy.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      That makes me so happy to hear! That sounds delicious with the extra halloumi!

  9. Aileen says:

    Do i hafta cook the mince beef????

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Nope! The thin pita bread allows the beef mixture on the inside to cook faster since the heat permeates through it more easily.

  10. Vielka says:

    This is my third time making these. Today I couldn’t find the right type of pita so I used whole wheat soft tortillas folded in half. I also used ground chicken instead of beef and mixed up a small batch of The cilantro sauce. Everything turned
    Out Really good. Thank you. I will be making this again and again and again. I can see how they would work as little empanadas too.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      So glad you made it work and continued to enjoy! Yay!!

  11. Ayesha says:

    We are going camping and was wondering if we can freeze the stuffed pita and then cook on the hot plate stove.
    Thanks!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      I have yet to try that! I think it could work, but you would have to make sure the meat doesn’t go bad!

  12. Vanessa says:

    This was so tasty! We made this with ground lamb and also made the tzatziki sauce on your blog too! Wonderful flavors. Definitely a keeper!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you! That’s amazing to hear. Yay!!

  13. Ari says:

    We loved these meat stuffed pitas! The spices on them were incredible, and my husband and I both fell in love with the flavors. We called them “pita hamburgers” and suddenly, my 3 year old was a fan also 🙃 The best part is that they are super easy to make! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Yay! That’s amazing! Always happy to share!!

  14. Echo says:

    Hi, I made these last night using ground turkey and they were absolutely delicious! I tried the grill pan and the oven method au they both are great. The flavors are amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this part of you to help us enjoy delicious food for family, friends and live ones.

  15. Dominique says:

    These were amazing. Everyone enjoyed them! Even my difficult 4 year old! We had them with the greek yogourt and also with your Toum sauce. So good!!

  16. Tania says:

    Lovedddded this recipe!! SUPER EASY and tasty!!!!!!!!

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Yay! Thank you so much!

  17. Kathy Levesque says:

    Delicious! I will try w ground lamb next time, thank you 😋

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Thank you! For sure!!