If you have some ground beef in the fridge, planning out dinners for the week is so much easier, because ground beef is easy to cook and very versatile. In this post, you'll find a collection of the best middle eastern ground beef recipes. These have all been tested to perfection and loved by many!
Why Ground Beef is so versatile!
Ground beef is my go-to protein when it comes to feeding my family. There are so many uses for it, especially in Middle Eastern cuisine, and its generally one of the easiest meats to cook. Over the years, I've also found it to be the most kid-friendly (maybe tied with chicken). Here are some of the reasons why I love it:
- Its quick to thaw (if frozen) and cook in a skillet
- You can adjust the amount of fat to your preference by choosing either regular, lean or extra lean
- It stores really well in the fridge and tastes good as new the next day
- It also freezes really well after cooking which makes it a great option for meal prepping
And because I know that you're all busy and can appreciate a quick protein option, I've put together this collection for you. It ranges from really quick and easy recipes like Kafta and Arayes, to more traditional and nostalgic Arabic recipes such as Dolma. You have so many to choose from, so you'll want to bookmark this page and come back to explore all of them.
What kind of Ground Beef is best for Middle Eastern cooking?
For a lot of traditional recipes, regular ground beef is used because Arabic / Middle Eastern recipes tend to be on the greasier side for added flavour. Fat gives food flavour, and generally, a higher fat percentage will result in juicier meat. However, I prefer to cook Arabic food the modern way and take a much healthier approach by sticking to extra lean ground beef and adding fat to it myself (through addition of olive oil, for example).
This is what the various types of ground beef mean, in general (the percentage will vary slightly):
- Regular: 20% - 30%
- Medium: 15% - 20%
- Lean: fat content between 10% - 15%
- Extra lean: fat content between 5% - 10%
Choosing the right type is up to you and your preferences, as well as the dish you are cooking.
What spices are used for Middle Eastern Ground Beef?
You will find that most Middle Eastern ground beef recipes use similar seasoning. My go-to is salt, pepper, allspice (the ground berry not a spice mix) and cinnamon. This is my favourite spice combination and in my opinion suits most applications. You can also simply season it with salt, pepper and Lebanese seven spice mix.
How to defrost Ground Beef
There are a few different ways that you can defrost ground beef, and I use all of them depending on how much time I have and whether I've planned ahead. I'll list them below in order of most preferred.
1. Defrost overnight in the fridge
This is easy enough and straight forward. Just take out the ground beef from the freezer, place it on a plate (to avoid anything leaking over the fridge) and leave it overnight in the fridge. This is the best way to defrost and my most used method. But sometimes I forget... and that's where these next ones come in.
2. Defrost in cold water
If I remember the morning of that I want to use ground beef, then I'll take it out first thing in the morning and place it in a sealed plastic bag and submerge it in cold water. I usually have to put a plate on top to keep it submerged because it tends to float to the top. This method will take 1-2 hours and will evenly defrost the beef.
3. Defrost in the microwave
My last option is the microwave when I need to use the ground beef within a few minutes to make a quick meal. The reason I don't love it is because it results in uneven defrosting and some of the beef around the outside starts to cook while the middle is still frozen. To work around this issue, I usually defrost it 1-2 minutes at a time, remove it and scrape off the defrosted beef and place it in a different plate, then put the remaining beef back in. I repeat this until the whole thing is defrosted.
15+ Middle Eastern Ground Beef Recipes
Kafta (with Beef)
Hashweh Rice (Arabic Keema Rice with ground beef)
Spicy Arayes | Middle Eastern Stuffed Pita
Easy Potato Moussaka With Eggplant
Lahm Bi Ajeen / Sfiha
Arabic Pasta with Yogurt Sauce
Egyptian Goulash (Phyllo meat pie)
Sambousak (Meat and Vegetarian Filling)
Bechamel Pasta Bake (Macarona Bechamel)
Dawood Basha (Middle Eastern Meatballs Stew)
Iraqi Dolma (Middle Eastern Stuffed Vegetables)
Mediterranean Eggplant Casserole (Kafta Bil Sanieh)
Eggplant Boats with Yogurt
Middle Eastern Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
If you tried these recipes, please consider leaving a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page - I'd love to hear from you! You can also hop on over to Instagram and say hello!
15+ Middle Eastern Ground Beef Recipes Including Kafta Kebob
- BBQ or Stove or Oven
- 1.5 lb extra lean ground beef
- 1 bunch parsley approx. 2 cups packed
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1.5 teaspoon seven spice middle eastern spice mix
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1.5 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 4 tablespoons olive oil plus more for grilling
- 1 tablespoon flour see notes
- Using a food processor, add the garlic, onions and parsley and process for a few seconds until finely chopped
- Add the mixture to the ground beef in a bowl, and add all the seasoning and olive oil. Mix well using your hands, then add the flour (see notes) and continue to mix until you form a dough (if dough does not feel firm, add slightly more flour)
- Form the Kafta into approximately 3-4 inch long pieces about 1 inch in thickness
- Heat up your BBQ or a grill pan on the stove and add a dash of olive oil (I recommend cast iron)
- Grill each Kafta for 2-3 minutes on each side (test a piece to ensure it is cooked to your liking) for a total of 6-8 minutes (see notes for baking)
- I typically use 1 tablespoon of flour to help the kafta bind together and be easier to skewer and BBQ. There are situations where there may be too much moisture which could cause the Kafta to fall apart (such as using thawed meat that may have some extra moisture in it). However if you have a dough that is firm, no need to use it! Adding a lot of flour can make the Kafta taste tough so use it sparingly.
- You can also bake the Kafta the oven at 400F for 15 to 20 mins until fully cooked through as a faster cooking method. Baking works, but grilling yields a juicier result.
- If you're using regular ground beef (not extra lean), you can reduce the olive oil to 1 tbsp since the meat will release fat