Shabbat shalom! In honor of this wonderful shabbat, we’re sharing a our kibbe recipe with you, as well as what I think are pretty good directions on how to shape them. I tried taking a video, but let’s just say my phone got covered in oily meat and had to be wiped clean very carefully.¬†Stephanie and I have been writing about kibbe for a long time now. We use it in recipes all the time. It’s a Friday night staple in the Blanco house, and it’s actually surprising if we don’t eat kibbe for Shabbat dinner.


Well what is a kibbe, you ask? They’re really small meatballs. Meat-stuffed-meatballs.


A little clarification: The outside is equal parts ground meat and rice, stuffed with ground meat inside and shaped into a ball with two pointy ends. We make peas and kibbe, kibbe cherry, kibbe mushroom and hamud with them. We throw them into chicken and eggplant dinners. We just love them!

So why did it take so long to actually share this recipe with you? It’s not because we never make them. It’s not because we’re mean. It’s because our hands get so sticky and meaty when we make them, we just don’t think about getting our cameras out and taking photos! But we should. Because even though you can buy these from just about any butcher in Brooklyn, they’re very easy to make, even relaxing and fun. I used to sit at the coffee table and watch a movie while making them. Just make sure to schedule your manicure for after your kibbe are in the freezer.

Oh, and more good news is that you can make a whole lot and then just freeze them. You know how I love the freezer!

Ground rice might be hard to find – but you can grind some rice in a food grinder or food processor; don’t use rice flour, it’s too fine. If you buy it from the butcher, make sure to use it or freeze it right away! the combination of rice and meat makes the meat go bad very quickly (thanks for the tip, marni!).

Here’s what the kibbe should look like as you shape them – The instructions are written for you below, but I know some people are visual learners, so this might help for a lot of you.

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  • 1 3/4 – 2 pounds kibbe meat (1 pound ground beef + 1 pound uncooked ground rice)
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • Water
  • Lemon juice
  • Oil





1. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, oil, celery leaves, salt, cinnamon, and allspice and mix well.

2. In a tiny prep bowl, put water, a splash of oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

3. Roll the shell (kibbe meat) mixture into 1 inch round balls

4. Dip your finger in lemon juice, then holding the ball in the palm of your left hand, use your right index finger to poke a hole (not all the way) through the ball and hollow it out, thinning out the sides and making a point at the end with your palm.

5. Fill with about 1 teaspoon of the filling.

6. Pinch together the opening and shape into point with your left palm.

7. Place on wax paper lined baking sheet and repeat.

Kibbes can be frozen and used for cooking as needed. No need to defrost them first!

  • I have a sincere love for Sephardic food, and this is one of my favorites. These and those ‘meat pizzas’

  • Nothing I love more than meatballs! And these with extra meat inside! YUM!

  • I love these. I have thought about making semolina wrapped kibbeh for a while. I like the way you approach this dish.

  • Chanie@BusyInBrooklyn

    I’ve always wanted to learn how kibbe is made, thanks for this great tutorial!

  • LilMissCakes

    Meatball stuffed meatballs? Yes please!

  • Jamie Geller

    I didnt even know kibbe could be made like this I was only familiar with the semolina version – thanks for opening up a whole new world

  • Wow, such terrific instructions! I’ve never made these. This is an inspiration.

  • Great tutorial, but how are they cooked? Bake? Fry?

    • jessica matthews

      we linked to a bunch of kibbe recipes that we’ve posted in the past – check them out!

  • I need more Syrian dishes like this for Shabbat more often. Or ever. Love it.

  • Thanks for the pictures, it makes the process so much clearer. We love kibbe but have never tried making them. Now it seems do-able, thanks.

  • I always thought this had bulgur in it or something, this seems so easy.

    • you’re thinking of the bigger, fried version, often eaten as an appetizer! we’ll have to share that recipe soon, too.

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  • shahar azoulay

    Considering that I am about five years late I don’t know if anyone is going to come across this, but I really want to try this recipe and do a good job! Any advice for how to make kibbe meat at home would be much appreciated. The post warned that rice flour is too fine, but I’m not sure how fine or coarse the rice should be or if the variety of rice is important. For the ground beef which is combined with the rice to make the kibbe meat, or the meat for the shell part, should I order a coarse or fine grind and what proportion of fat is optimal. When I make kefta for example I use a 70/30 blend, for a regular burger 80/20, but I don’t know what the ideal texture is once the kibbe is cooked, and I’m not sure how the ground rice, the grind of the rice and the meat, and the proportion of fat will affect the texture that I should be going for. The same info would also be helpful for the meat filing. Sometimes there are also instructions when it comes to handling ground meat for certain recipes that suggest how long to work the meat or whether to avoid working it for any longer than is absolutely necessary. With the shell meat when combining the ground rice and meat do I want to really incorporate them or just kind of work the flour in gently without making the mixrure too pasty. Thanks for any advice! I’m planning to try this even if I have to experiment with the shell.