Simply Lebanese

Kibbeh (Kibbe Balls)

Kibbeh Balls
  • Prep Time
    90 mins.
  • Cook Time
    5 mins.
  • Serving
    10
Kibbeh is typically served deep fried in football-shaped balls and raw like a tartare as a side dish. Kibbeh is the epitome of Mid-East comfort food.
Kibbeh Balls

Kibbeh is the epitome of Middle-Eastern comfort food. Whether it is deep-fried or eaten raw, kibbeh is irresistible and a dish like no other. It is on the menu at every single Lebanese restaurant and has become well-known worldwide. Kibbeh is typically served deep fried in football-shaped balls or raw as a tartare side dish or “mezze” alongside hummus, tabbouleh, lahm bi ajeen, and cheese rolls.

I won’t lie, kibbeh was a dish I was intimidated by. It took a few years of full-time cooking before I dared try it. The good news is, once I did try it, I was surprised at how much easier it was than I thought! If you follow my directions, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll master this recipe.

What is Kibbeh?

Kibbeh is a meat and bulgur shell stuffed with a meat filling. Both beef and lamb are commonly used in Kibbeh. When asking your butcher for the type of beef to ground, ask for eye of round beef with all the fat trimmed. For lamb, ask for leg of lamb, or something similarly lean. The ground beef used in kibbeh is not your typical ground beef. The ground beef is extra lean (at least 90%) and ground 3 times at your butcher (instead of 1 or 2). The meat is also ground even more at home when combined with the remaining ingredients.

Kibbeh

You’ll notice that the extra lean ground beef in this recipe is combined with “kamouneh.” Kamouneh takes this kibbe recipe to the next level. Kamouneh is fine bulgur, onion, fresh mint, red bell pepper, and a variety of spices processed together in a food processor. You can also add fresh basil leaves and marjoram to the mix as well. Even in South Lebanon, each household has their own special recipe. If you have red pepper paste you can substitute that in the kamouneh instead of fresh red bell pepper.

Kibbeh Spices

The kibbeh spice blend is also known as kamouneh. You can purchase kamouneh pre-mixed and ground at most Middle-Eastern grocery stores. I store them in my freezer to retain the freshness as much as I can.

Kibbeh Spices
The kibbeh spice blend is also known as kammouneh

The kamouneh spice mix is a mix of different spices like cumin seeds and cinnamon, dried herbs, and dried rose buds. When making the kamouneh with fine bulgur I add marjoram and a small amount of a Habanero for a spicy kick (about ¼ of the pepper). The piece I added was so small that once I fully mixed all the lean beef I was barely able to taste it. If you can handle the spice, add about half of the habanero to the mix.

The Stuffing

Stuffing kibbeh is an activity that Lebanese families partake in together. Growing up, when my mother would stuff kibbeh, she would call me and my siblings to come and help. She taught us as well as she could to create the kibbeh ball, stuff, and close it.

When my grandmother makes kibbeh she has any one available help her and join in on the activity. This is because she made a batch of 100-200 kibbeh balls at once in preparation for the month of Ramadan or a special event or just to be shared with family and friends

Kibbeh freezes extremely well for 3-4 months in an airtight bag.

Kibbeh
Kibbeh freezes extremely well for 3-4 months in an airtight bag.

How to cook Kibbeh

Kibbeh balls are deep fried in a neutral oil like vegetable, canola or grapeseed until brown and crispy. I highly recommend you freeze the kibbeh for at least 1 hour before frying. Fresh kibbeh if deep fried immediately could lose its shape and break apart. Most often, they are deep fried straight out of the deep freezer. Kibbeh cooks quickly in 5-7 minutes and are best served warm or at room temperature.

If you are trying to be health conscious and prefer not to deep fry, spray the kibbe balls with non-stick spray and bake them in the oven at 375’ for about 15-20 minutes depending on your oven. Another option, which I prefer over baking, is air-frying them! Spray or brush them with oil and air-fry them for about 18 minutes at 390’.

STEP 1

In a large bowl, measure 1 cup of fine bulgur.

Pour 1½ cups of hot water into the bowl.

KIbbeh

STEP 2 - Kamouneh Mix

Grind your kibbeh spices if they are not already ground.

Prepare your kamouneh by adding 1 cup of fine bulgur, ½ onion, fresh mint leaves, piece of red bell pepper, kibbeh spices, dried marjoram, salt and piece of habanero (optional) to a large food processor. Process until the onion and red pepper are fully chopped and everything is combined. Set aside.

STEP 3 - Prepare the Filling

Finely chop a large onion. In a large skillet heat up 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Add the pine nuts and sauté for a few min until golden brown and set aside. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes until the meat is all browned. Add the chopped onion, remaining canola oil and salt. Season with the seven spices and black pepper and add the pine nuts. Cook until onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool.

STEP 4

Using your hands, knead the soaked bulgur for a few minutes, until all mashed together.

Add the extra lean ground beef, kamouneh, salt and kibbeh spice and mix with your hands until fully combined. Take about half the kibbeh dough and add it to the food processor.

Pulse for about 20 seconds or so until the mix has been fully incorporated. Do the same with the other half and add the kibbeh dough back to the bowl.

STEP 5

Fill a small bowl with water and ice cubes to help you make your kibbeh balls with a smooth finish. Wet your hand and take about 2 tablespoons of the kibbeh dough and roll it around in your hands to make a ball. Using your index finger, make a hole in this ball and begin rolling the kibbeh ball in your hands hallowing out the now oval ball. Check out the video below!

Add about 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling into the hole.

Seal the top by pinching in the kibbeh dough and using both hands, shape the dough corners into point football-shape ball. Use the ice water as needed. 

Set aside your finished Kibbeh on a large parchment paper-lined plate. Once you have filled the plate, freeze the kibbeh balls for at least 1 hour before frying.

Kibbeh

If you want to freeze the kibbeh for the future, add the balls after they have individually frozen for about 2 hours in a large freezer-safe Ziploc bag.

Kibbeh can be frozen for 3-4 months.

STEP 8

Heat up a large pot of canola oil to 350 degrees. Drop the frozen kibbeh balls into the hot oil. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot. Flip the kibbeh balls as needed to brown all the side. 

Kibbeh

Cook for about 5 minutes until browned and cooked through. Enjoy!

Kibbeh
KIbbeh
Kibbeh Balls

Kibbeh Balls (Kibbi)

Kibbeh is typically served deep fried in football-shaped balls and raw like a tartare as a side dish. Kibbeh is the epitome of Mid-East comfort food.
4.86 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Lebanese
Keyword: app, Kibbeh, kibbi, lebanese, mezze, middle eastern
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 117kcal
Author: Iman

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Fine Bulgur
  • 1 lb Ground Beef (Extra Lean beef, ground 3 times)
  • 1 cup Kamoune *See Ingredients Below
  • 2 cups Hot Water
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Kibbeh Spice mix

Filling

  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 lg. Onion (Chopped)
  • 3 tb. Canola Oil
  • ¼ cup Pine Nuts
  • 1 tb. Seven Spices
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Black Pepper

Kamoune

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, measure 1 cup of fine bulgur then pour 1½ cups of hot water into the bowl.
  • Grind your kibbeh spices if they are not already ground.
    Prepare your kamouneh by adding 1 cup of fine bulgur, ½ onion, fresh mint leaves, piece of red bell pepper, kibbeh spices, dried marjoram, salt and piece of habanero (optional) to a large food processor. Process until the onion and red pepper are fully chopped and everything is combined. Set aside.

Prepare the Filling

  • Finely chop a large onion. In a large skillet heat up 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Add the pine nuts and sauté for a few min until golden brown and set aside. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes until the meat is all browned. Add the chopped onion, remaining canola oil and salt. Season with the seven spices and black pepper and add the pine nuts. Cook until onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Kibbeh Balls

  • Using your hands, knead the soaked bulgur for a few minutes, until all mashed together.
    Add the extra lean ground beef, kammouneh, salt and kibbeh spice and mix with your hands until fully combined. Take about half the kibbeh dough and add it to the food processor.
    Pulse for about 20 seconds or so until the mix has been fully incorporated. Do the same with the other half and add the kibbeh dough back to the bowl.
  • Fill a small bowl with water and ice cubes to help you make your kibbeh balls with a smooth finish. Wet your hand and take about 2 tablespoons of the kibbeh dough and roll it around in your hands to make a ball. Using your index finger, make a hole in this ball and begin rolling the kibbeh ball in your hands hallowing out the now oval ball.
    Add about 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling into the hole.
    Seal the top by pinching in the kibbeh dough and using both hands, shape the dough corners into point football-shape ball. Use the ice water as needed.
  • Set aside your finished Kibbeh on a large parchment paper-lined plate. Once you have filled the plate, freeze the kibbeh balls for at least 1 hour before frying.
  • Heat up a large pot of canola oil to 350 degrees. Drop the frozen kibbeh balls into the hot oil. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot. Flip the kibbeh balls as needed to brown all the side. Cook for about 5 minutes until browned and cooked through.

Notes

If you want to freeze the kibbeh for the future, add the balls after they have individually frozen for about 2 hours in a large freezer-safe Ziploc bag. Kibbeh can be frozen for 3-4 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Ball | Calories: 117kcal | Carbohydrates: 6.8g | Protein: 6.2g | Fat: 7.2g | Saturated Fat: 1.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3.5g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 285mg | Potassium: 60mg | Fiber: 1.5g | Sugar: 0.6g

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    Recipe Reviews

    • Maryse

      Hi Iman and thanks for your great recipes!
      In this kibbeh balls recipe, your ingredients are for 10 people. Roughly, how many balls will it be?
      Thanks again

      • Iman

        Hi and thank you!!
        Depending on the size of your kibbeh balls, the recipe can make anywhere between 20-30 kibbe’s!

        • ernesto

          hello do you know where to buy kibbeh in bulk? I live in miami fl but I can not find a wholesale food market or warehouse. If you have any clue, please let me know. Thanks you so much for your time. Good day

          • Walt

            This is not in bulk, but Trader Joe’s sells Kibbeh frozen. They’re a bit larger than hand-made ones, and more uniform, but make for a nice quick snack. If you need to buy them in bulk, why not contact a local restaurant?

          • Iman

            Not sure!

    • Sofia

      Hi Iman

      I’m going to make this. Very confusing about kamouneh. What I understand is the spice mix with rosebuds is called kamouneh and this is the kibbeh spice mix and the mixture for outer layer is also called kamouneh. Did I get that right?

      • Iman

        It is a bit confusing, but you are correct. The kamouneh is the name of the spice mix, but also the name of the spice mix combined with the bulgur and various herbs. The video is quite helpful to see how I put it all together, enjoy!

    • Earn Online

      I simply couldn’t go away your site prior to suggesting that I extremely loved the usual info an individual provide on your guests? Is going to be again regularly to investigate cross-check new posts.

    • Sharifah

      I’m planning to make around 100-150 for a reception. I know I can make it ahead and freeze it, however is it possible to fry them the day before or two days before and reheat them in the oven?

      • Iman

        Yes, you can definitely pre-fry them the day or two before and store them in the fridge. The day of your reception, I would warm them in the oven in a tray on 300F until warmed through.

    • manal

      How many calories per ball of not fried?
      Thank you.

      • Iman

        Not sure, you could input the ingredients into a calorie counter online without any oil and check!

    • Rahat ahmed

      Filling time 1 tb seven spices means what?

      • Iman

        Seven spices is a type of Lebanese/Middle-eastern spice, so you need 1 tablespoon for the filling.

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