kibbeh

Kibbeh is one of my favorite Middle Eastern mezze, especially when it is homemade! There is something about the golden crispy shell stuffed with moist and perfectly spiced meat, toasted pine nuts, and onion formed in a fun football shape. It is super comforting and delicious.

And of course, with my husband being Middle Eastern, an easy and delicious kibbeh recipe is a must-have in this household. If you never made kibbeh before, read below for a step-by-step guide. Don't worry, they are not hard to make, but they do take some time to assemble. And of course, being me, I have to put an Asian flair and a health twist to the recipe.

What is Kibbeh?

Kibbeh is a Middle Eastern cuisine comfort food that is like a croquette. The word kibbeh in Arabic means "ball" or "lump," which is pretty much the description of what it is. Kibbeh is the national dish of Syria, and it is super popular in the Middle East. 

What exactly is kibbeh? A mixture of bulgur wheat, onion, and ground beef or lamb forms a shell stuffed with delicious ground beef, lamb, or a mixture of pine nuts and onion. The kibbeh croquettes can be both deep-fried or baked. It is often paired with a dipping sauce and served as mezze or a side dish.

What You Will Need To Make Air Fryer Kibbeh

Kitchen Tool

You will need to use either a food processor, Vitamix, or a handheld blender to make the shell. These machines will help combine and mix the bulgur wheat, meat, and other ingredients.

To cook the kibbeh, you will need either an oven, fryer, or an air fryer.

Bulgur Wheat

If you never had bulgur wheat before, it is a lemony Middle Eastern grain often used in tabbouleh. Bulgur comes from cracked wheat from whole-grain kernels, and as a result, it is one of the easiest to cook and most versatile whole grains.

You can find bulgur wheat at most grocery stores or International grocery stores in the grain section, especially Middle Eastern stores.

To make the outer shell of the air fryer kibbeh, you will need bulgur wheat to make a bulgur mixture.

Ground Meat

Some kibbeh in the Middle East is made from both ground lamb and beef meat mixture. But lamb is not your thing, that is totally fine. You can use ground beef only or other protein.

You will need to use ground beef to make both the shell and also the stuffing. To make it slightly healthier, I used 90% lean ground beef. You can use ground chicken or a mixture of ground meat to make it even healthier.

To make vegan-friendly or vegetarian kibbeh, you can try Beyond Meat ground beef. While I have not tried it personally, but it should work with this recipe.

Pine Nuts

To add some nuttiness and a crunch to kibbeh, adding toasted pine nuts is a must. You can either toast it alone or saute it with your onion.

Onion

You will need two large onions or two small onions to make this kibbeh recipe. You will need raw onion to make the shell and sautéed onion for the filling.

Spices

Making delicious kibbeh is all about the perfect blend of Middle Eastern spices. To make the blend, you will need the following spices

Ground Allspice

Ground Coriander

Ground Cinnamon

Ground Ginger (optional)

Ground Paprika (optional)

Sumac

Coconut Amino

To add my Asian flare, I have to add a splash of coconut amino (a healthier alternative to soy sauce). Coconut amino offers an umami flavor that just brings everything to the next level. Now, this is an optional ingredient only if you want to join in on my Asian flare.

Pomegranate molasses

In Lebanese kibbeh recipes, pomegranate molasses are often used and among other dishes. This is a hidden gem ingredient in Lebanese cuisine! If you don't have this ingredient at home, don't panic. You can omit this ingredient or substitute it with pomegranate juice or cranberry juice.

Avocado oil

To make the filling, you will need to saute the filling ingredients. While you can saute with olive oil, avocado oil has a higher smoking point, making it a better saute oil choice than olive oil.

How to cook kibbeh

Traditional kibbeh is deep-fried or baked until golden, crispy on the outside, and moist on the inside.

As you can imagine, nothing beats deep-fried kibbeh. While baked kibbeh is pretty delicious, they just can't beat the deep-fried version. In terms of health-wise though, deep-fried kibbeh is not exactly healthy since they are drenched in oil when deep frying. Thanks to a modern kitchen gadget: an air fryer, you can now enjoy that golden-crispy texture on the outside and moist on the side that a deep fryer provides. While I can't say it tastes exactly the same, but it is pretty close.

kibbeh

Air Fryer Kibbeh Recipe

Prep Time: 45 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Passive Time: 30 Minutes

Serving Size: 24

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Ingredients

Shell

1 1/2 cup fine bulgur wheat
1 cup Hot water
1 Large Onion finely chopped
1 lb lean ground beef or a mixture of ground beef and ground lamb
1 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika (optional)
Salt and black pepper

Meat Filling

Avocado oil
1 Large Onion finely chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 Tablespoon coconut amino
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1/4 teaspoon sumac
1/4 teaspoon Pomegranate molasses
Salt and black pepper
Fresh herbs for garnish

Directions

Filling

  1. To make the filling, heat avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute chopped onions until soft, and then add the ground beef. Break apart the ground beef with a wooden spoon into small pieces and cook until it's brown. Add coconut amino, pine nuts, a drizzle of pomegranate molasses, and spices until it's fully cooked. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

Meat Dough

  1. In a medium bowl, add the bulgur wheat with hot/warm water. Let it soak for 15-30 minutes, and then drain any excess water.
  2. To prepare the base meat mixture, add soaked bulgur wheat and onion into the food processor bowl. If a food processor is not available, you can use a Vitamix or handheld blender. Process until all the ingredients are almost pureed. Then add spices and ground beef. Process again until it is a smooth paste.
  3. Before making the football-shaped croquettes, make yourself a working station. Place meat dough, filling, and your air fryer basket next to each other.
  4. To make a croquette, first I like to put on gloves. Otherwise, you can get your hands or rub some oil in your hand, so the meat dough doesn't stick to your hand or the glove.
  5. Grab about a golf ball size meat dough and roll it into an egg-shaped ball. Use your index finger and poke a hole in the center. Press down and rotate your finger to form a thin wall. Pinch the narrow end together and seal it halfway. Your dough should now look like a funnel.
  6. Fill in the hole with about a spoonful of the filling and seal the remaining open area. Once it is sealed, roll it and shape it into a football-like shape. Then place it in the air fryer basket.
  7. Repeat until you run out of ingredients. You may need to wet your hand in between. And you should be able to make about 24 kibbeh balls.
  8. Once your air fryer basket is full, air fry at 375F for 10 minutes. Then give your basket a good shake and then run for another 10 minutes. Once it's done, check to see if your kibbeh is deep golden brown. If not, run for another minute or two, or until desired. Depends on your air fryer basket size, you may need to cook in two batches.
  9. Serve hot and enjoy!

Nutritional

Yield:  24 Serving size: 1

Amount per serving: Calories: 130 calories. Total Fat: 4.1 g, Saturated Fat 4.1g. Cholesterol: 24mg. Sodium: 27mg. Total Carbohydrate: 12.3g. Dietary fiber: 0.4g. Total Sugar: 0.6g. Protein: 10.2g.

**The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.**

Tips

  • Kitchen tool: if a food processor is not available, you can use a Vitamix or a handheld blender. You will follow the same instructions regardless of which tool you use.
  • Water bowl: If the meat dough sticks to your hands or gloves, wet hands or rub some oil will prevent the dough from sticking.
  • Gloves: If you don't want to touch raw meat, be sure to wear gloves before touching kibbeh dough.
  • Baked Kibbeh Recipe: To make the baked version, you will need to use extra oil in the baking pan to prevent it from sticking.

Cooking methods

This recipe works for deep frying, air frying, or baking.

Baking Method

To bake, place it in a baking dish and bake at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Before placing the kibbeh in the baking dish, be sure to grease it or place parchment paper down to prevent sticking.

Deep Frying

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan to 350 degrees F for about 5 minutes or until it's cooked until golden brown.

Air Frying

Air fry the kibbeh at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. Be sure to turn at 10 minutes.

How To Store Leftover Kibbeh

Store leftover cooked kibbeh in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Freezing instructions

If you want to keep them for longer, you can store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can freeze either already cooked kibbeh or raw kibbeh. To freeze raw kibbeh, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place them in the freezer for about an hour until they are frozen, and then place them in a freezer bag.

Leftover kibbeh dough Or filling

If you have leftover raw kibbeh dough or filling, you can cook it and serve it with rice or make it into a fried rice or noodle dish.

What To Serve With Kibbeh

In the Middle East, Kibbeh is often served as a mezze. You can serve it with hummus, pita bread, chickpea salad, stuffed grape leaves, watermelon arugula salad, and baba ganoush. You can make a dipping sauce to go with kibbehs such as tzatziki sauce, tahini sauce, or my family likes to eat it with garlic yogurt sauce.

Garlic Yogurt Sauce

You only need three ingredients to make the garlic yogurt sauce: minced garlic, lemon juice, and labneh. If you are unable to find labneh, you can use plain Greek yogurt.

kibbeh

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