middle eastern lamb kofta

Middle Eastern Lamb Kofta

Made with fragrant spices, roasted nuts, herbs and aromatics, this lamb kofta will take your taste buds on an adventure.

Servings: 6 (about 28 golf ball-sized meatballs)
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes


  • 1/4 cup each pine nuts, almonds, and walnuts (total 3/4 cup)
  • 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, roughly chopped (see note)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, gently packed (okay to substitute parsley)
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • Tzatziki and hummus, for serving


  1. Place the nuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until finely chopped but not pasty. Transfer the nuts to a small dry skillet over medium heat; cook, stirring frequently, until the nuts are lightly browned and fragrant, 5 to 6 minutes. Pour the nuts into mixing bowl large enough to hold all of the ingredients, and set aside to cool. (Don't leave the nuts in the pan, as the residual heat may cause them to burn.)
  2. Place the onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, and cilantro in the bowl of the food processor (no need to clean it first). Pulse until the vegetables are finely minced but not puréed. Set a fine sieve over a medium bowl. Transfer the minced vegetables to the sieve and use a rubber spatula to press out as much liquid as possible. Add the strained vegetable mixture to the bowl with the nuts.
  3. To the veggies and nuts, add the lamb, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt, and white pepper. Using your hands, mash the mixture together until evenly combined.
  4. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Form the mixture into patties about 2 inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick (they will puff up on the grill to look like meatballs). Place on the baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate until ready to cook.
  5. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates. Place the kofta on the grill and cook, covered, until browned, about 4 minutes per side or until cooked through. Serve with tzatziki and hummus.
  6. Note: If you like your kofta spicy, reserve some of the seeds from the jalapeño pepper and add them with the vegetables. Also, be sure to wash your hands well after handling hot peppers, and do not touch your eyes while working with them.
  7. Make-Ahead: The patties can be made and refrigerated up to two days ahead of time.
  8. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The uncooked patties can be frozen for up to three months. (Freeze the patties on a baking sheet or plate so their shape sets, then transfer them to a sealable plastic bag for easy storage.) Defrost the burgers overnight in the refrigerator prior to serving and then cook as directed.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

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  • Serving size: 4 meatballs
  • Calories: 438
  • Fat: 36 g
  • Saturated fat: 14 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4 g
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Sodium: 382 mg
  • Cholesterol: 95 mg

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.