Last Updated on June 9, 2022 by Carne Diem
Origin: Middle Eastern, Lebanese
Method: Stovetop and ovenJump to Recipe
Popular in the Middle East and considered to be the National dish of Lebanon, Kibbeh takes on many forms. From deep fried balls or torpedoes of tender beef and lamb, to being eaten raw like steak tartar, there are endless versions of this National treasure and each family has their own method and recipe for making it. Thankfully, some of my good friends were willing to share their family recipe for their baked kibbeh and I am so happy that they did. It is delicious! While their version was absolute perfection I changed a couple minor things as to not give away all of their family's secret recipe, but this version of Kibbeh Bil Sanieh is pretty dang good too.
Making the Lebanese Baked Kibbeh
To make the Lebanese Kibbeh you are going to need 3 pounds of ground meat. We prefer to use 2 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of ground lamb, but you can go all beef or play with the ratios. We prefer 80/20 beef if we are going to be using lamb as well, since the lamb is pretty lean. If you are doing an all beef version use a leaner ground beef such as ground round.
In addition to the meat, you will need 1 cup cracked bulgur wheat, pine nuts, ghee or clarified butter, an onion, cinnamon, pepper, and salt.
Prepare the bulgur wheat
When choosing your bulgur wheat, you want a fine or medium grind. This is sometimes labelled as #1 or #2 ground bulgur wheat. Your first step will be to soak the bulgur wheat to soften it. Bulgur wheat is a parboiled whole grain wheat common in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is probably most recognized as a major component of tabbouleh.
Some recipes will call for soaking in cold water while others recommend using hot or boiling water. For the most part we have not really noticed a difference. If you have more of a medium ground bulgur wheat, however, you may consider using hot water to make sure it completely softens, which is what we did here. If you have a fine ground cracked wheat soaking in cold water that will probably do the trick.
Take one cup of the cracked wheat and put it in a medium sized bowl. Boil about 2 cups of water and pour over the bulgur wheat. Let sit for about 10 minutes then drain the water and fluff the cracked wheat with a fork or spoon.
Preparing the outer layers of the Lebanese Baked Kibbeh
For the outer layers of the Kibbeh Bil Sanieh you are going to use 2 pounds of your ground meat. If you are using lamb, use it here. Basically you will be making a bit of meat like paste to go above and below the more crumbly cooked beef mixture.
Add about 2 tablespoons of water to a large bowl. Add in the salt, pepper, and cinnamon and stir to combine. This will help the spices distribute more evenly. Next add the meat and mix well with the spices. Add the shredded onions. We feel that shredded onions work best in the recipe as you avoid large chunks of onion and it helps even out the moisture throughout the meat.
Next add the meat mixture along with the softened bulgur wheat to the bowl or a food processor.
Pulse the mixture until well combined and smooth. You want a thick paste-like texture. If the meat is still crumbly add a little bit more water (about a tablespoon at a time), and pulse again until you reach the desired consistency. Cover and set aside. Traditionally this layer is hand ground until smooth using a mortar and pestle like kibbeh grinder. Thankfully, a food processor makes this step a breeze.
Making the middle layer of the Kibbeh Bil Sanieh
For the middle layer of the Lebanese Baked Kibbeh you will need 1 pound of ground beef, and ⅓ of a cup of pine nuts. We prefer a little bit fattier meat for this layer so we typically use 80/20. This provides plenty of fat for the beef to cook in and helps cook the pine nuts. This excess fat will be drained before using the meat.
Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat and brown the ground beef.
Once the meat is browned, add in the pine nuts and cook for about 1 more minute, then turn off the heat.
Drain the grease from the pan and prepare your kibbeh for baking
Assembling the Lebanese Baked Kibbeh
In a measuring cup, melt about ½ a cup of ghee.
Coat the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking dish with about half of the melted ghee. Reserve the rest for coating the top of the Kibbeh Bil Sanieh.
Remove half of the meat mixture from the food processor and form into a single layer covering the bottom of the 9x13 pan. If the mixture is too sticky to work with, dampen your hands with a little water.
Once the first layer is complete it is time to add the middle layer. Spread the cooked ground beef/pine nut mixture over the bottom layer.
Finally, form the final layer of the Lebanese Baked Kibbeh. Carefully form a layer of meat with the rest of the meat and cracked wheat mixture. Spread the meat evenly to all edges of the pan.
Next, knife the edges of the meat in the pan. Glaze the top of the kibbeh with the remaining melted ghee. Carefully cut the meat into diamonds, cutting through all three layers.
If desired you can top each diamond with a pine nut to make it look a little fancier, but this is not necessary.
Baking the Lebanese Baked Kibbeh
Preheat your oven or smoker to 350 degrees. Bake the Kibbeh Bil Sanieh for 30 minutes.
Next brown the top of the kibbeh by broiling for about 3 minutes. Keep a close watch to avoid burning the top. Remove when the top is a nice golden brown.
Serving the Lebanese Baked Kibbeh
Serve the Kibbeh Bil Sanieh warm with some tahini sauce or even some cool Tzatziki Sauce.
Pair it with a great Lebanese white wine and some homemade hummus and warm pita bread. The kibbeh works great as a main course or it can also be a great accompaniment to your favorite Middle Eastern dishes like Smoked Lebanese Chicken Shawarma, tabbouleh, or sfeeha. Better yet, make it a part of a full mezze spread and invite your friends and family over.
Thanks again for visiting Carne Diem. If you tried and enjoyed our recipe, please share with others. Also don’t forget to tag us @Carne_Diem_Culinary or #CarneDiemBlog, we love to see your pics! To be notified of future recipes please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, or sign up for our e-mail notifications.
Lebanese Baked Kibbeh
- food processor
- 9x13 pan
- ¼ Cup Ghee melted
Layers 1 and 3
- 1 Pound Ground Beef or Ground Round
- 1 Pound Ground Lamb
- 1 Cup Bulgar Wheat
- 1 White or Yellow Onion Shredded
- 1 tea Cinnamon
- 1 tea Black Pepper
- 1 tea Salt
- 1 Pound Ground Beef 80/20
- ⅓ Cup Pine Nuts
Making layers 1 and 3
- Take the cracked wheat and put it in a bowl. Cover with 2 cups of boiling water. Let sit for 10 minutes then drain the water.
- In a medium bowl combine the spices and salt with 2 tablespoons of water. Add the ground meat for layer 1 and mix to combine.
- Add the meat mixture along with the bulgur wheat and shredded onions to a food processor. Pulse until smooth. If needed add a small amount of cold water to make certain the mixture is smooth and not dry and crumbly. Set aside
Making Layer 2
- For the middle layer, take 1 pound of ground round and brown it in a skillet. Add ⅓ of a cup of pine nuts. Cook for 1-2 more minutes then remove from the heat and drain the grease.
Forming the kibbeh
- Spread half of the melted ghee over the bottom and sides of the 9x13 baking dish. Reserve the remaining ghee.
- Take the meat mixture for layers 1 and 3 and divide in half. Use half of the mixture to form into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
- Once the first layer is complete, add the middle layer using the cooking ground meat/pine nut mixture, and cover the first layer.
- Add a top layer with the rest of the meat and cracked wheat mixture.
- Knife the edges of the meat in the pan. Glaze the kibbeh mixture with the remaining ghee, then cut the meat into diamonds.
- Bake the kibbeh at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- When done baking, broil the kibbeh for 3 minutes until golden brown, making sure to watch it so it does not burn.
- Serve warm.