Monthly Mingle: Lebanese Kibbee Recipe

When I saw the Monthly Mingle ‘Arabian Nights’ challenge presented by What’s For Lunch, Honey, I had to participate. I’ve enjoyed eating an occasional kebab but never explored cooking from this region.

I researched a few sites to get an idea for some of the common dishes. When I stumbled upon Kibbee, it seemed like a good fit. The national dish of Turkey, Kibbee is common in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Made with ground meat, spices and bulgur (ground wheat) the dish is typically made into oval shapes and fried. The recipe I found is baked, but I don’t know if it really saved me any calories. It turns out pretty dang rich in the end.

The ingredients for the recipe are common with the exception of bulgur. It was the thing that made me pick this dish though — I wondered what bulgur would taste like. Today, I ran out on my lunch break to the nearby Whole Foods to do my shopping. I did have trouble finding the bulgur and couldn’t find it with the other grains. I eventually found it in their bulk foods section which meant I was able to get the precise amount needed for the recipe. I also picked up pine nuts and ground beef (I grew up on a sheep farm … so I can’t eat a cute little lamb).

The recipe was easy to follow and from beginning to end, it’s maybe a 45 minute meal to prepare. The end result is a lightly spiced and savory dish, with layers of olive oil soaked bulgur sandwiching the ground meat. As it bakes, the flavors absorb into the bulgur and make for a very rich meal. I would definetly make it again but next time I might use a bit more salt along with a little more spice.

Lebanese Kibbee (in pan)

1 lb Ground lamb or beef
1 1/2 c Bulgur (ground wheat)
2 md Onions, chopped fine to med
1/2 c Pine nuts
1/2 c Olive oil
1/4 ts Allspice
1/8 ts Cinnamon
1/3 c Flour (or more)

In heavy pan, combine meat, onions, allspice and cinnamon on medium flame and cook until all the pink is gone. Keep pressing meat so pieces of onion disappear, about 10 minutes.

In a bowl, soak bulgur in warm water to cover. Cover bowl; let stand until all the water is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. In bulgur, drain all water (if any is left). Combine flour, salt and olive oil. Mix so that ingredients stick together.

Grease baking pan with oil. Spread half the bulgur mixture on bottom of pan. Put meat mixture on top; add pine nuts. Top with rest of bulgur.

Cut into squares and sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

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  1. Allen, Kibbee is a great mezzeh faves of mine. Although I do have to admit I was taken a back with the shape you went with. But I like it. Great entry to the MM. Thank you!

  2. ok i stumbled upon your blog and i am loving your recipes. Its great to get ideas. I do think of myself as quite a foodie. I grew up eating kibee and looking at your recipe i just wanted to tell you how i do it. My mom always took the wheat,onions and spices and 1/2 the meat and ground it in the food processor a few times. THen laid that out. Then more meat,pine nuts, onion and spices cooked in a pan and layered in the midle topped with more of the raw meat. This is also how you would make the round fried one. You make a ball of the raw meat/bulgar and stick your finger to mak a whole. Put some of the cooked meat inside and then cover the hole and make into little footballs. Then you fry them until golden. Now the other thing is either way you serve them fried or in the pan you need cucumber sauce. Very easy just yogurt, mint,cucumbers, lemon and salt…it is amazing :) email me

  3. This does look good. Might be too grainy for an Arab. This might be the Turkish way of preparing the meal, or did you get as a Lebanese recipe?

    I’m originally Lebanese and back in Lebanon, and Melissa is actually right. You mix bulgur and raw meat to make the two top and bottom slices of kibbeh. Oh and that yogurt and cucumber salad goes PERFECTLY with it as Melissa said.

    It’s great that you actually went for this recipe:)

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