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Kefta Kebabs – Delicious Middle Eastern Version Of Meatloaf

I’ve made kefta kebabs for years. Why I never posted my kefta recipe, I couldn’t tell you. And yes, this is on the menu again tonight. Some links in this post are affiliate links that earn me a commission if you purchase through them.

Delicious homemade kefta kebabs recipe to grill for paleo and gluten free weeknight dinner

Living in the Midwest, when you think of grilling, hot dogs and hamburgers – and maybe steak, if you’re lucky – are what come to mind. There are so many more options out there, especially when you’re like me and just done with a traditional hamburger.

Looking for more great grilling recipes? Check out some of my favorites at the end of this article.

That doesn’t mean that I want to go through a whole lot more time and effort to make dinner, especially not once the busy school schedule starts. Yesterday, for example, my kids had a cross country meet after school followed by a Boy Scout meeting.

That doesn’t count homework, and that doesn’t leave me much time to whip together dinner. That’s where kefta kebabs come in handy.

Enjoy gluten free kefta kebabs for dinner on the grill

These come together quickly, and they have a ton of flavor. They’re different enough to entice me to make them without being so out there that my dad turns up his nose and won’t try them.

My kids adore the flavors, so we’re all happy. I serve this with a simple salad and some rice, and we have our perfect weeknight dinner!

Because you soak the skewers ahead of time and I’ve found that the kefta kebabs stay on the skewers better if you let the meat rest after mixing it, these are perfect party food, too.

The last thing I want to do when I have guests is spend a ton of time prepping food. These I can cover and refrigerate in advance then grill up when it’s time to eat.

The next time you’re tired of “plain old hamburgers,” try this. You’ll move it into the regular rotation quickly.

And yes, this is totally allergy friendly, paleo, and all the other good dietary concerns, which makes it perfect for serving to a crowd. It’s naturally gluten and dairy free, which is my favorite way to cook!

What are kefta kebabs?

Kefta is also known as kofta, as the spelling translation from a non Arabic alphabet to the one we’re used to seeing results in a variety of spellings. I know it as kefta, but you’ll also find kofta, kafta, and more.

Essentially, kefta is a family of foods that contains ground meat mixed with spices and onions. Depending on what region your kefta originates, it may have a very different mix and taste. This happens to be my favorite.

And no, I’m not going to touch the debate over kebab versus kebob versus well… all the other spellings out there.

What meat should I use for kefta kebabs?

Traditionally, kefta can be made with almost any ground meat from ground chicken to beef to pork to lamb. I use ground beef simply because it’s the most widely available for me, and it matches well with the spices I use.

You can could definitely swap out the meat for pork or lamb or a mix of any of them.

One caveat: the ground chicken I find in stores tend to not hold together as well as other ground meats. If you use ground chicken, I suggest you either grind your own or use it in a mixture with other ground meat.

Regardless of what you choose, make sure you let your meat chill after you mix it so that it has a chance to relax a little. Chilling it at least a half hour helps to ensure that it retains its shape when you grill later.

Easy Middle Eastern Kefta Kebabs recipe

How to Make Kefta Kebabs (or Kofta Kebabs)

Start by soaking your skewers. I add them to a 9×13 pan with some water and add something heavy over them. That just makes me feel better and isn’t totally necessary. Make sure you soak the skewers for at least a half hour so they don’t burn on the grill.

Soak skewers before grilling

Peel onion and cut into quarters. Add to the food processor and pulse 15-20 times to chop.

Add the hamburger (and/or lamb), plus cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and parsley. Fresh is best, but if you don’t have fresh parsley, you can use dried.

Pulse until it starts to come together a bit then run for another 10-15 seconds. You want this to have a finer texture than typical ground meat. Notice how the  cinnamon changes the color of the meat a little? Yum!

Pulse until meat comes together

Refrigerate 30-60 minutes (or overnight), then form into sausages around your soaked skewers.

Form meat popsicles with kefta kebabs mixture

Grill on medium to medium high heat for 5 minutes on a side. You want this to form lovely grill marks and be cooked fully through without drying out the meat by overcooking it. Serve immediately with rice and a fresh salad or by themselves.

You can refrigerate any leftovers in a tightly sealed container and reheat the kefta kebabs the next day. I love making a ton of these then having them available for my kids to take for lunch the next day.

Have you ever tried kefta kebabs? What’s your favorite Middle Eastern food?

More great grilling recipes:

Kefta Kebabs - Middle Eastern Meatloaf

This delicious recipe for kefta kebabs is a great alternative to traditional grilling recipes. It has a ton of flavor without being too spicy for kids, and it's quick and easy to make. Bonus? It's naturally gluten and dairy-free plus paleo so it's great to make for parties and other large gatherings.
5 from 12 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: main dish
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 368kcal
Author: Michelle


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef or lamb or both
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin ground
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley rough chopped


  • Soak six skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.
  • Add quartered onion to food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add ground meat, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and parsley. Pulse food processor until the mixture starts to come together then run another 15-20 seconds to thoroughly mix and grind the meat more finely.
    1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/3 cup fresh parsley, 1 large onion
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes (up to overnight) to allow flavors to meld and meat to rest. Form cylindrical popsicles of meat along the six skewers.
  • Grill on medium high heat for 5 minutes per side. Cook through but don't overcook and dry out the meat.
  • Serve immediately.



  • Feel free to add up to half-ground pork if you choose.
  • If you don't have fresh parsley, you can substitute dried parsley. Use 2-3 tablespoons dried parsley.
  • For more tips and tricks, be sure to read the full article above.


Serving: 1skewer | Calories: 368kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 505mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

This site uses an online source to provide nutrition estimates as a courtesy. If you need exact values, please calculate yourself.

Easy to make kefta kebabs recipe for great kid friendly Middle Eastern alternative to a traditional hamburger or meatloaf. Ready in 30 minutes and gluten free and allergy friendly

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  1. […] pantry or fridge. It’s the perfect way to use up that last bit of ground beef after we made kefta kebabs or burgers honey habanero tacos the day […]

  2. Tia says:

    Delicious! Thanks for finally sharing your recipe! ;-)~
    I made a couple quick dips as well and these were fabulous!

  3. […] used this to make my favorite kefta kebabs more than once, and this grill fits plenty to feed my family of four with some leftovers. […]

  4. Amanda says:

    Looks delicious! Thank you for joining the Creative K Kids’ Tasty Tuesday, I can’t wait to see what you come up with next week.

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