Recipe for grilled kefta skewers

After posting the chicken kebab recipe, a reader asked for a beef kebab recipe, but not one made with chunks of meat but with spicy minced meat. I’m sure what he’s asking for is kofta skewers. This Middle Eastern kebab is typical street food made with ground beef and lots of herbs and spices.

Here is my version of kofta skewers. Now be sure to taste a sample (in the microwave) before putting the ground meat mixture on skewers. This way it’s easy to enhance the flavor with more onions, spices and herbs.

Grilled kofta skewers

Rita Heikenfeld


8 long skewers

2 pounds ground beef (I used ground chuck or ground round)

1 small onion, grated about 1/2 cup

3 garlic cloves, minced

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 to 1 teaspoon each: dried oregano and basil

Fresh mint palm, chopped

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

A handful of fresh parsley, chopped


Soak the skewers, if wooden, in water while preparing the kofta.

In a large bowl, gently mash the beef with a potato masher or wooden spoon to break it up. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix gently until well combined.

This can be done several hours in advance.

Take a small piece and microwave. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Divide the mixture into 8 pieces.

Shape each piece into a ball around the tip of each skewer.

Flatten each one on the skewer, making skewers about 4 to 5 inches long. Pinch the top and bottom edges to seal on the skewer.

Brush the skewers with olive oil.

Lightly brush the grill with olive oil.

Preheat to medium high, 375 degrees.

Grill the skewers until the desired doneness, turning them several times.

Yield: 8 skewers

I served mine with a side of tabbouleh and toasted pita bread with zaatar.

Perhaps you would like to serve the skewers with a dollop of tzatziki sauce and hummus.

Homemade Zaatar

Grilled pita with zaatar

Zaatar is a spice blend with sumac and herbs, such as oregano, thyme, salt and marjoram. Some recipes, like mine, call for sesame seeds.

I store mine in the freezer for longer shelf life.

Sumac imparts a lemony flavor. Use this recipe as a guide. If you don’t like sesame, leave it out.


This is what my corn looks like mid July - huge growth since the last photo shared mid June.

2 tablespoons ground sumac

1 tbsp each: dried oregano, marjoram, and thyme (if you can’t find marjoram, increase the oregano to 1-1/2 tbsp)

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Sesame seeds to taste – start with a good teaspoon or so (optional)


Corn in mid-June.

Just mix everything together.

For use on pita bread, brush bread with olive oil and sprinkle with zaatar.