My mother was a working mom. For all of her adult life, she went to work at 8 in the morning and came back at 6 each evening. Every day, after she walked into the house, she put on her apron and called me into the kitchen so that we could start cooking together. It was my favorite time of the day. She was the chef and I was the apprentice.
In my younger years, I was responsible for salads. But once I reached my teenage years, she taught me how to make some of the more complicated dishes. This recipe for Turkish meatballs, or as we call them kofte, was the first grown-up dish I learned from her. Even now, many years later, every time I make these the smell that fills my kitchen reminds me of those magical days of my childhood.
About This Turkish Meatballs Recipe:
If you have ever been to Turkey, you know that Turks love their meatballs. It is our version of a go-to weeknight dinner, as it is quick and easy to make and requires only a few ingredients.
Now, you might look at the recipe below and tell me that there are more than “just a few ingredients” – and you would be right. Though traditional Turkish meatballs are made with only ground beef, onion, stale bread, egg, salt and pepper, my mother would also always add garlic, cumin, and parsley. And so, I follow in her footsteps.
A Few Tips and Tricks For The Best Turkish Meatballs:
– I used 85% lean and 15% fat Organic ground beef. However, if you have a butcher who can ground it fresh for you, I recommend adding a little bit more fat. Ideally, 80% lean and 20% fat.
– In much the same way that Italians typically make their meatballs, you can mix 50% ground beef with 50% ground lamb for even more flavor.
– When I set out to make this recipe, I made a phone call to my mom’s best friend just for her to refresh my memory as I wanted make sure I was not missing anything. She told me that I should also use a little bit of baking soda to help them keep their shape, make them tender, and help them rise as they cook. She was right.
– After you mix all of the ingredients together, be sure to let it sit for a few hours. If you have time, allow the mixture to sit overnight in the fridge. The extra time spent in the fridge allows the ingredients to mingle and bring out the flavors that take these to the next level.
– You can also do what my mother used to do, which is: Make a big batch, shape it into balls, layer them in between parchment papers in airtight containers, and freeze them for up to 2 months. A day before you are ready to serve, let them thaw in the fridge, and cook as directed.
– As you can see in the video, I used a grill pan, but you can also use a cast-iron skillet or better yet, come summer time, grill them outside.
– The trick to prevent them from burning is to turn them every few minutes and gently press them with the back of a spatula as they cook. This way, both the inside and the outside of the meatballs will cook evenly. As in all meat dishes, after they are cooked, cover them with aluminum foil, and let them sit for a few minutes to make sure that all of their juices will remain in the meat.
– I served my Turkish Meatballs with a dollop of Tahini Yogurt Sauce, but you can serve them with, pretty much, any starch as you like: Mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, quinoa, etc.
If you liked this Turkish Meatballs kofte recipe you might also like
- Company Pot Roast
- Slow Cooked Beef Brisket Tacos
- Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce
- Meatball and Potato Bake
- Instant Pot Pot Roast
- Thai Steak Salad
- Beef Vegetable Soup
- Flank Steak Tacos Marinade
Other Turkish recipes you might also like:
- Turkish Coffee
- Turkish Lentil Soup
- Simit Recipe
- Bulgar Pilaf
- Mediterranean Hummus
- Borek Recipe
- Yogurt Dressing
- Green Beans Mediterranean Recipe
- Yogurt Tahini Dressing
Turkish Meatballs Kofte Recipe
For The Turkish Meatballs
- 1 medium-size onion peeled
- 1 pound ground beef 85% lean 15% fat, preferably freshly ground & organic
- 3/4 cup bread crumbs
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley chopped (optional)
To Serve (optional for 4 servings)
- 1 cup Tahini Yogurt Sauce
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate arils
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
- Using a box shredder or a food processor, shred the onion. Pass it through a strainer to remove its juices.
- Transfer onion to a large bowl. Add in the ground beef, bread crumbs, garlic, egg, cumin, baking soda, salt and pepper. If using, add in the Italian parsley into the bowl.
- Use your hands to thoroughly mix. I usually mix it for 5-7 minutes to ensure that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Cover it with stretch film and place in the fridge for 2 hours or, if possible, let it sit overnight.
- Divide meatballs into 15 portions (like seen in the video and/or in the photo above) and roll each portion into a small ball. Each ball should be somewhere between 2 ½ or 3 tablespoons. Lightly flatten each ball in the palm of your hands. Continue with the rest of the meat.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch grill or cast iron pan until it is shimmering hot.
- Add in the meatballs and cook for 7-8 minutes, turning them several times as they cook to prevent them before burning. Use a spatula to lightly press as they cook.
- If you have a smaller pan, you might have to do this in two batches.
- Transfer cooked meatballs into a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and let it sit 5 minutes before serving.
- If you prefer to serve like I did, spread a dollop of Tahini Yogurt Sauce at the bottom of a plate and add 3 meatballs in the middle. Garnish it with pine nuts, pomegranate arils, and chopped fresh parsley.
- These meatballs freeze very well. Simply, make a big batch, shape it into balls, layer them in between parchment papers in airtight containers, and freeze them for up to 2 months. A day before you are ready to serve, let them thaw in the fridge, and cook as directed.
- As you can see in the video, I used a grill pan, but you can also use a cast iron skillet or better yet, come summer time, grill them outside.
- The trick to prevent them from burning is to turn them every few minutes and gently press them with the back of a spatula as they cook. This way, both the inside and the outside of the meatballs will cook evenly. As in all meat dishes, after they are cooked, cover them with aluminum foil, and let them sit for a few minutes to make sure that all of their juices will remain in the meat.
- I served my Turkish Meatballs with a dollop of Tahini Yogurt Sauce, but you can serve them with, pretty much, any starch as you like: Mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, quinoa, etc.
- The nutritional data below does not include the calories coming from the Tahini Yogurt Sauce.
This is now a family favourite. I make it at least once a week. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.
YAY! This is music to my ears Colette. Thanks for coming by and taking the time to leave a review.
Thank you for sharing your family history with us! If I do not eat beef, what kind of meat would you recommend as a good substitute? Your Turkish coffee recipe is excellent by the way – just as I remember it in Istanbul 🙂
I am happy to hear that you enjoyed reading my story and my Turkish coffee recipe. 🙂
You can easily substitute ground chicken or turkey in this recipe.
Let me know how it turns out. Cheers!
Made these tonight and absolutely loved them! Huge hit in our house. Simple and very flavourful! Just curious if anyone has ever tried to bake them??
So glad you liked them.
You can certainly bake them. I would probably bake them at 350 for 20-25 minutes, but keep an eye on it after the 15-minute mark to make sure they don’t burn.
I hope this helps.
Thanks for coming by and taking the time to leave a review.
Please correct the prep time. If you need to leave the mixture to sit for 2 hours, then the prep time is not 2hours. I was just about to make this for dinner. Very disappointed reader.
I sincerely apologize for missing that information Annette. The change has been made.
As someone who takes pride in her work, it is never my intention to disappoint a reader. This was an error from my end.
I am very sorry.
These were outstanding! I rarely make recipes as written but did with these (and the Tahini Yogurt Sauce) and wouldn’t change a thing. We Found grilling them at 3 minutes per side over medium heat on a preheated gas grill was the perfect amount of time. My hubby is always sort of indifferent about middle Eastern food (not me, I love it!), but he couldn’t stop raving about the meatballs or the sauce. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe!
It makes me so happy to hear that you liked it. My American husband (who is pretty new to Turkish food) loves it as well.
Thanks for letting me know and leaving such a sweet comment.
We love the sauce with these!
So glad to hear that. Thanks Susie.
The cumin in this is so unique!
It sure is. Thanks Beth.
This quickly became a favorite in my house!
So happy to hear that. Thanks Toni.
I’ve never had Turkish meatballs before these. Boy was I missing out!
So glad to hear that you tried them out. Thanks Sommer.
Your Turkish meatballs were terrific!! Loved the twist with the different seasonings and the baking soda!
So glad you liked it. Thanks Liz.
Made these tonight and they were delicious. Very flavorful for so few ingredients. Yogurt dip is a must for this amazing dish!
My meatballs took closer to 7-8 minutes to cook through, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly.
Thanks so much for letting me know. I agree that the yogurt dip is a must. 🙂
I am updating the recipe with your timing.
So glad to hear you liked it.
These look so delicious!!
Thank you my friend <3
I plan to make these this week! Question on passing the onions through a strainer…I’m assuming we are tossing out the onion juice to reduce that wetness from being added to the mixture? Thank you for posting about your mom and learning to cook at her side. Lovely.
Yes, you are. No need for the juices as they would make the meatballs soggy.
Hope you like it my friend. Cheers!
Ayse! Your videos are so great! You even got the yogurt swipe to coordinate with the music… amazing! I love that this is a family recipe. It gives it such an authentic feel and those Turkish spices are some of my favorites. I wish I had a grill pan like you to be able get those beautiful grill marks in the winter!
Awwww thank you my friend. I really appreciate your kind words about my videos. They take a a very long time, but they are so worth the time as I believe they are so helpful to readers.
I bought that grill pan last year when it was on sale. It was a spur of the moment purchase that I am glad I did.
Much love to you my friend.