Lamb Kofta Burgers

5 from 2 votes
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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.

Open face hamburgers with slice of tomato, mayonnaise and bun top off to the side
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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

What cut of lamb is lamb burgers?

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.

What is kafta meat made of?

Kafta calls for ground lamb, beef, or chicken. Kafta flavor comes from onions, fresh herbs, spices, and sometimes garlic too.

What does kofta taste like?

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!

Is a lamb burger leaner than beef?

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.

What is the difference between kofta and kebob?

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.

Can I cook burgers on the stove?

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

Seared Lamb Chops with Mint Salt Dry Rub

Pomegranate Glazed Leg of Lamb

Hummus with Lamb and Sumac

Lebanese Baked Kibbeh


Kofta burgers with tomatoes, garlic sauce, and buns in a row on a board
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5 from 2 votes

Lamb Kofta Burgers Recipe

Make the burgers in the traditional size, or as sliders. Just be sure to flatten them out as much as possible when shaping, so that they don’t get too thick and puck-ish when they cook. The raw meat mixture becomes soft with all of the seasonings and onion, so it’s helpful to chill it for a half hour or up to a day before grilling. Dress the burgers with toum garlic sauce, or standard mustard and ketchup. A quickie garlic sauce is mayonnaise with some minced garlic stirred in.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Total: 23 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 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
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Instructions 

  • 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.

Additional Info

Author: Maureen Abood
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
Servings: 4
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16 Comments

  1. Peter says:

    These are always a huge hit. I mix 1lb beef and 1lb lamb. I put about double the sumac in.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Sounds excellent Peter, thank you!

  2. Louise Frances says:

    These kofta’s are so delicious they remind me of the lamb burgers my grandmother used to make. Her Lebanese cooking was amazing and so is this recipe. I cut the recipe in half and was able to form 9 smaller patties, which are a perfect luncheon size. I added a handful of pine nuts for extra flavor and texture. Thank you Maureen for bringing me back in time to my grandmothers kitchen.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Love what you did here Louise!

  3. Gary Brownell says:

    Has anyone done a vegetarian version of this?

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Gary, will give that a think and would love to hear from anyone on it!

  4. Pokey Huffman says:

    MAUREEN….
    HOW DID YOU KNOW….???
    we–our ENTIRE FAMILY…… are in Turkey….at this very moment!!!! cruising the Southern Coast of Turkey/ the Agean and now the Med…TODAY!!!
    we had kofta for lunch…a FAVORITE of our ‘grands’…(almost a daily event!!) and we all were wishing for a recipe…you must have been reading our minds…sharing with Shawna and Alexandra…. YUM!!! THANK YOU!!! pokey xox❤️xox

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Pokey, that is SO neat!!! Have a beautiful trip and know that you can enjoy kofta any time you want with this (very delicious) recipe! Hugs to all!

  5. Anis Salloom says:

    When making the Lamb Kofta Burgers, try using American (Colorado) lamb meat. Australian and New Zealand lamb meats are too strong and gamey for this recipe. Grass fed Colorado lamb meat is Halal meat and is very tender. For me and my family, it is the only choice.

  6. Sabrina says:

    Sounds delicious! I love lamb kofta 🙂

  7. Dania says:

    So glad I discovered Rose Water & Orange Blossoms, your wonderful stories and mouthwatering recipes. I grew up watching my Lebanese grandmother make these amazing meals and would give anything to have her recipes. I am going to try the Kofta burgers this weekend with ground turkey as I don’t care for lamb or beef. Do you think substituting turkey will work ok?

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Thank you Dania! Yes, by all means use ground turkey, perhaps adding a touch of olive oil into the mixture to prevent it from being too dry. It’ll be great!. Let us know how you liked it!

      1. Sean Abass says:

        I tried the ground turkey instead of ground chuck beef, very slimy/sticky.
        I would not recommend olive oil, chill on wax paper to keep together. They were good and well liked!
        I like the idea of brushing oil on the grill.

        1. Maureen Abood says:

          Sean this is great info, thanks so much for letting us know about the tips for ground turkey!

  8. Amanda says:

    Had your potato salad last night with lamb burgers, grilled eggplant and grilled zucchini. Safe to say I have never enjoyed a burger meal so much. The potato salad, all lightened and brightened with mint and lemon, and the lamb burgers…will have to try this recipe too soon, because it is my new favorite meat. Just mayonnaise, cucumbers and tomatoes. Amazing. Thanks for the inspiration and recipes!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      That is music to my ears (and eyes), Amanda!