Lamb Kofta Burgers
Jun 13, 2013, Updated May 23, 2023
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Lamb Kofta Burgers are a version of authentic Lebanese kofta–ground lamb (beef works too!) with lots of seasoning, char-grilled. Kofta (kafta) flavor takes the standard hamburger to new, delicious heights with an easy mix of onions, herbs, and spices.
It’s time to break the news to the traditional burger: Lebanese kafta makes the best burger on the planet! Juicy, mouthwatering flavor comes alive when burgers take on the kafta treatment.
Often traditional hamburgers leave me wanting for more: more juiciness, more flavor. Make your burgers better than good by giving them the easy lamb kafta treatment your eaters will ask for again and again!
What is Kofta?
Kafta (also: kofta, kefta, or kafta) is the Middle Eastern ground meat kebob (beef, lamb or even chicken) mixed with onions, garlic, herbs, and spices. Authentic Lebanese Grilled Kafta (Kofta) is shaped on a skewer and grilled. Sometimes traditional kafta is shaped and grilled without the stick, but still in the oblong shape, like a log.
Kafta is street food in the Middle East, where eaters take their kafta wrap on the go. Serve kafta with pita bread, salads, dips and sauces. Kafta is great with pita as a wrap with tahini sauce, turnip pickles and fresh herbs.
Ingredients to make Lamb Kofta Burgers
Ground lamb. Ground lamb is not generally available in varying fat levels the way ground beef is. It is front shoulder meat with and a high fat content, similar to ground chuck beef.
Yellow onion. Grate the onion rather than chopping it, so that it will meld well into the meat mixture.
Fresh mint. The herb-factor adds color and incredible fresh flavor. Mint is a natural with lamb! Chopped fresh parsley is also delicious here.
Sumac. Bright, tangy, a favorite of the Middle Eastern spices. Sumac is a traditional Lebanese spice that pairs well with lamb.
Cinnamon. As a warm savory spice, cinnamon works beautifully.
Salt and pepper.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil. To coat the burger patties before grilling.
Garlic Sauce. Use toum (here’s how to make toum, Traditional Lebanese garlic sauce) or make a quick sauce of mayonnaise and garlic.
Sliced tomatoes, sweet onion, flat lettuce leaves.
Burger buns, romaine or butter lettuce leaves, or pita pocket bread
Neutral oil is also useful to coat the grates of the grill to prevent sticking. Neutral oils such as avocado oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, or safflower oil have a high smoke point (they won’t burn so easily!).
How to make Kofta Burgers
Kofta burgers are just as easy to make as classic burgers. Follow one additional step that will help hold the burgers together while they grill:
Step 1. Make the meat mixture. In a large bowl, combine the lamb with the onion, parsley, mint, salt, pepper, sumac, and cinnamon.
Step 2. Shape the patties. Dip your hands in cold water if they become sticky, and to help smooth the meat into a flat, round patty shape. Burger patties are best if they are quite flat so that they don’t become puck-like during cooking. 2 pounds of meat yields four patties.
Step 3. Chill. Place the patties onto a wax paper lined plate and chill for ½ hour or up to one day, covered. The chill process helps the highly seasoned meat mixture firm up and hold together nicely when grilled.
Step 4. Heat the grill to medium high heat, first coating the grates with neutral oil (such as avocado oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, or safflower oil) to prevent the burgers from sticking. Meanwhile, brush the burger patties generously with olive oil.
Step 5. Grill the burgers for about 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Serve on buns with condiments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ground lamb is not generally available in varying fat levels the way ground beef is. It is front shoulder meat with and a high fat content, similar to ground chuck beef.
Kafta calls for ground lamb, beef, or chicken. Kafta flavor comes from onions, fresh herbs, spices, and sometimes garlic too.
Think of this mouthwatering flavor as a Middle Eastern meatball, though juicier and grilled. Fresh, bright flavor comes from sumac and fresh herbs. The flavor of kofta is irresistable!
Lamb may have the same calories as beef, but the fats may be healthier because they contain Omega 3 fatty acids. Look for grass-fed lamb for even higher healthy fats.
Kofta is seasoned ground meat wrapped around a skewer and grilled. Kebob or kebab is generally marinated pieces of meat or vegetables threaded on a skewer and grilled.
Yes! Use a large grill pan or sauté pan and cook as on the grill, about 4 minutes per side depending on the size of your burgers, until cooked through.
More Lamb Recipes
Lamb Kofta Burgers Recipe
- 2 pounds ground lamb or beef
- 2 tablespoons grated yellow onion
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley, flat or curly
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Few grinds black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Neutral oil, such as avocado oil or canola oil, to coat the grill grates
- 4-6 hamburger buns, kaiser rolls, large lettuce leaves, or pita bread
- Garlic sauce, mayonnaise, tomato slices, onion slices for garnish
- Combine the lamb with the onion, parsley, mint, salt, pepper, sumac, and cinnamon. Shape into 4-6 flat patties. Dip your hands in cold water if they become sticky, and to help smooth the meat into the patty. Place the patties onto a wax paper lined plate and chill for ½ hour or up to one day, covered.
- Brush or spray the grill grates with neutral oil. Heat the grill to medium high heat. Brush the patties with olive oil. Grill about 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Serve warm with condiments.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.