In this weeknight-friendly baked kofta meatballs recipe, ground beef is seasoned with tantalizing Middle Eastern spices and cooked in the oven until golden brown and juicy. Serve these meatballs over creamy hummus and finish with sizzled, slightly spicy olive oil, and toasted pine nuts. Heavenly! 

baked meatballs over hummus garnished with olive oil, pine nuts and parsley on a plate next to a blue napkin, and small bowls of parsley, pine nuts and olive oil.
Photo Credits: Mariam Hamdy

I love a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs covered in red sauce, but pasta is not the only thing that goes well with meatballs. If you're ready for something different and next-level delicious, this baked kofta meatball recipe over hummus is for you! It is a decidedly Middle Eastern take on a meatball dinner, inspired by one of my all-time favorite meals, kofta kebabs.

First, I season the meat, either ground beef or ground lamb (whichever you prefer) with allspice, cardamom, paprika and nutmeg, among other flavor makers like garlic, onions and parsley. I always use my secret ingredient for juicy meatballs—a piece of bread soaked in water. Then it's just a matter of mixing everything up, shaping the kofta meatballs and popping them in the oven. Once the meatballs are ready, serve them on a bed of creamy, protein-packed hummus (Homemade hummus is delicious, of course, but store bought works well too), and finish with spicy warmed olive oil, and crunchy pine nuts.

If you’ve never had a Middle Eastern take on the standard meatball, I know you’ll be diving head first into the deep end after this recipe. And don't worry, I have you covered with more meatball recipes: Greek, Moroccan, doused in caramelized onion sauce, Piccata-style, and even meatball soup! I guess you could say meatballs are kind of my thing.

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients for this Kofta Meatballs Recipe
  2. How to Make Kofta Meatballs
    1. To Make the Baked Meatballs
    2. To Serve
  3. What to Serve with Middle Eastern Baked Kofta Meatballs
  4. Try These Mediterranean Meatball Recipes 
  5. Middle Eastern Kofta Meatballs with Hummus Recipe
ingredients for meatballs over hummus including ground beef or lamb, bread, onion, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, allspice, cardamom, sumac, nutmeg, paprika, cayenne, olive oil, pine nuts and hummus.


Ingredients for this Kofta Meatballs Recipe

This baked meatballs recipe builds bold Middle Eastern flavor with fairly standard pantry ingredients. The star is the warming spices, along with Aleppo pepper, which is fairly easy to find at the grocery store these days (or online at our shop).

  • Meat: Both ground beef and lamb work well in this recipe.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: A final drizzle of warm, spiced oil adds incredible richness to the dish. Use a high quality, full flavor oil. I especially love the peppery kick of our Spanish Hojiblanca with this recipe. 
  • Bread: I use white sandwich bread but you can use any soft bread of your choice, including gluten free bread. 
  • Fresh seasonings: Onion, garlic, and parsley bring a bold and fresh depth of flavor.
  • Dry seasonings: Allspicegreen cardamom, paprika, sumac, and ground nutmeg give the meatballs a distinctly Middle Eastern flavor. Cayenne adds a nice heat, but you can leave it off if you don’t like spicy. Kosher salt and black pepper enhance the flavor. 
  • Pine nuts: A garnish of freshly toasted pine nuts add buttery, nutty flavor and crunchy texture.
  • Aleppo pepper: Toasts in hot olive oil to give a final richness to the dish and give a mild kick. You can substitute with red chili flakes or Urfa biber if you’d like. 
  • Hummus: I like to use plain hummus here to let the meatballs do all the talking, but roasted red pepper hummus or lemon hummus would also work well. Make your own or use a high quality store bought variety. 
  • Pita bread (optional): Pita bread really becomes a utensil in this dish, scooping the hummus and meatballs together in a beautiful way. Freshly baked pita is an unmatched luxury, but store-bought works well too—you may just want to soften it a bit by toasting over low heat. 
a close up of aleppo pepper infused olive oil being drizzled onto a plate of meatballs over hummus with a spoon.


How to Make Kofta Meatballs

These baked meatballs feel like a luxurious, exciting dinner, but are secretly a sheet pan meal all dressed up. Here’s how you make them: 


To Make the Baked Meatballs

  • Get ready. Heat your oven to 425°F. Lightly brush a large sheet pan with a thin layer of olive oil.
  • Soak the bread until very tender. In a large bowl cover a lightly toasted slice of bread with 1 cup of water. Let it sit for 15 minutes. a soaked slice of bread in a clear mixing bowl.
  • Prepare the fresh seasonings. While the bread soaks, add a quartered yellow onion, 2 garlic cloves, and the leaves from a parsley bunch (set aside a small handful of leaves for garnish) to a food processor. Pulse until they are finely minced. (You can also do this by hand.)
  • Crumble the bread. Take the bread out of the water and squeeze the liquid out of it. Discard the water and use your hands to crumble the bread slice back into the bowl. This is the secret to a juicy meatball! 
  • Make the meatball mixture. Into the bowl with the bread, add a good drizzle of olive oil, the onion and garlic mixture, and 1 pound of ground beef or lamb. Season with 1 ½ teaspoons allspice, ¼ teaspoon cayenne, a big pinch of salt and pepper, and ½ teaspoon each of cardamom, paprika, sumac, and nutmeg. Use your hands to mix it all together, making sure everything is well combined. meatball mixture in a clear mixing bowl.
  • Roll the meatballs. Form the meat mixture into small balls, just slightly larger than a golf ball. Arrange them on the prepared sheet pan without touching. uncooked meatballs on a sheet pan.
  • Bake the meatballs. Place in the oven and bake, turning over halfway through, until the meatballs are well browned and the center is no longer pink, 20 to 25 minutes. baked meatballs on a sheet pan.


To Serve

  • Toast the pine nuts. While the meatballs roast, set a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet and ¼ cup pine nuts. Toast, stirring, until they are fragrant and golden. Stay close by and stir constantly so they don’t burn. Transfer to a small plate. pine nuts toasting in a skillet.
  • Make the sizzled Aleppo oil. A few minutes before the meatballs have cooked through, return the skillet where you toasted the pine nuts to medium heat. Add the ¼ cup of olive oil and ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper. You just want to warm and flavor the oil. This should only take a few minutes. Turn off the heat. olive oil and aleppo pepper in a small white bowl.
  • Assemble. Remove the meatballs from the oven. Spread hummus on a plate or platter, using a spoon to make swoops and swirls. Pour the warmed oil over the hummus and top with meatballs. Garnish with the toasted pine nuts and reserved parsley leaves. Serve with pita bread on the side. 
a close up of a serving of meatballs over hummus on a blue plate with a fork.


What to Serve with Middle Eastern Baked Kofta Meatballs

To me, there’s nothing quite like scooping hummus and warm meatballs into a steaming freshly baked pita. It’s optional, but I recommend you experience it if you can (or substitute with store bought to save time).

For a side salad, you want something bright, fresh, and crunchy to balance the richness of the meatballs. Creamy cucumber salad, cucumber tomato salad, and traditional Greek salad all come to mind.

Try These Mediterranean Meatball Recipes 

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Middle Eastern Kofta Meatballs with Hummus

Suzy Karadsheh
baked meatballs over hummus garnished with olive oil, pine nuts and parsley on a plate next to a blue napkin, a stack of blue plates with forks, and small bowls of parsley, pine nuts and olive oil.
In this decadent weeknight-friendly recipe, meat is seasoned kofta-style with warming Middle Eastern spices. It’s baked in the oven until golden brown and juicy for a fuss-free, fail-proof weeknight recipe. Both beef and lamb work well, so pick the meat that speaks to your cravings. A bed of creamy hummus, sizzled Aleppo olive oil, and crunchy freshly toasted pine nuts bring an extra luxurious richness and depth of flavor to this simple kofta meatballs dinner.
Prep – 20 minutes
Cook – 30 minutes
Total – 50 minutes
Cuisine:
Middle Eastern
Serves – 6
Course:
Entree

Ingredients
  

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 slice of bread, toasted
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 whole bunch parsley, stems removed (about 2 packed cups of leaves)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground green cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sumac
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 10 ounces hummus (about 1 cup)
  • Pita bread, for serving (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Get ready. Heat your oven to 425°F. Lightly brush a large sheet pan with a thin layer of olive oil.
  • Soak the bread until very tender. In a large bowl cover the bread with 1 cup of water. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Prepare the fresh seasonings. While the bread soaks, add the onion, garlic, and parsley (set aside a small handful of leaves for garnish) to a food processor and pulse until they are finely minced. You can also do this by hand if you'd like, just make sure everything is very finely chopped.
  • Crumble the bread. Use your hands to squeeze the liquid out of the bread. Discard the water and crumble the bread slice back into the bowl. This is the secret to a juicy meatball!
  • Make the meatball mixture. Into the bowl with the bread, add a good drizzle of olive oil, the onion and garlic mixture, ground meat, allspice, cardamom, paprika, sumac, nutmeg, cayenne, and a big pinch each of kosher salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix it all together, making sure everything is well combined.
  • Roll the meatballs. Form the meat mixture into small balls, just slightly larger than the size of a golf ball. Arrange them on the prepared sheet pan without touching.
  • Bake the meatballs. Place in the oven and bake, turning over halfway through, until the meatballs are well browned and the center is no longer pink, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Toast the pine nuts. While the meatballs roast, set a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet and the pine nuts. Toast, stirring, until they are fragrant and golden. Stay close by and stir constantly so they don’t burn. Transfer to a small plate.
  • Make the sizzled Aleppo oil. A few minutes before the meatballs have cooked through, return the skillet where you toasted the pine nuts to medium heat. Add the ¼ cup of olive oil and the Aleppo pepper. You just want to warm and flavor the oil. This should only take a few minutes. Turn off the heat.
  • Assemble. Remove the meatballs from the oven. Spread hummus on a plate or platter, using a spoon to make swoops and swirls. Pour the warmed oil over the hummus and top with meatballs. Garnish with the toasted pine nuts and reserved parsley leaves. Serve with pita bread on the side.

Video

Notes

  • I use white sandwich bread but you can use any soft bread of your choice, including gluten free bread. 
  • You can substitute the Aleppo pepper with red chili flakes. 
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 255.2kcalCarbohydrates: 5.7gProtein: 14.6gFat: 19.4gSaturated Fat: 6.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 7.7gTrans Fat: 0.9gCholesterol: 53.7mgSodium: 75.8mgPotassium: 290.7mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1.3gVitamin A: 160.6IUVitamin C: 2.2mgCalcium: 31.6mgIron: 2.1mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. Teri says:

    5 stars
    You had so much fun in your kitchen preparing and making the Kofta Meatballs with Hummus just had to try too and they are fantastic! And the taste on my goodness, can’t wait to try the Mediterranean Breakfast yum yum yummy! Well done Suzy!

    Teri - Brew City Wisconsin 🥳

    1. TMD Team says:

      Thanks so much, Teri!

  2. Kate says:

    Hi Suzy, Thank you so much for your recipes. I enjoy them so much, in my opinon the best in the internet. Congrats, I also love your lovely girlish tops and casual ambience. I have a question about this recipe, any particular reason why you didn't include egg? Thanks

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Kate! Thank you so much for the sweet message! We just didn't feel an egg was necessary in this recipe. I do hope you give it a try!

  3. Emily says:

    5 stars
    I was skeptical about a meatball with hummus (not gonna lie) but - wow! - a creamy a delightful flavor combination. Yum!

    1. TMD Team says:

      So glad we won you over, Emily!

  4. Nabeela Chadha says:

    4 stars
    I just want to say that I love so many of your recipes! This one is great too, but I had an issue with the meatball mixture having too much moisture. It was difficult to form meatballs without it falling apart. I actually ended up adding breadcrumbs to absorb some of the moisture which seemed to work well. I'm wondering if you know why that may have happened? Is it possible that there was too much liquid in the bread? I tried to squeeze as much out as possible.

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Nabeela. It's so hard to know what might have gone wrong without being there. Yes, there certainly still could have been too much moisture still in the bread, or perhaps the drizzle of olive oil was a bit too generous? I'm glad you were able to find a fix and enjoy the meatballs!

  5. Fay Appleyard says:

    5 stars
    Hello Suzy, This recipe is so delicious! the meat balls were succulent, I'd put that down to the addition of the moist bread and the seasonings were wonderful. I always make my own tahini and hummus as I like a very toasted sesame seed tahini. I've tried quite a few of your recipes and not been disappointed. Thank you for all your hard work!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Fay! What a thoughtful comment. Thank you for taking the time to tell me you enjoyed the recipe and many others. I truly appreciate it!

  6. Filiz says:

    Can I use chickpea flour instead of bread and what would be the measure. Thanks.

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Filiz--
      We didn't try it with chickpea flour so I can't say it's something you'd have to experiment with. If you want it to be Gluten free you could use GF Bread or just leave the bread out entirely. The meatballs may not be as moist, but they will still be delicious!

  7. Jillian says:

    This looks INCREDIBLE. I was wondering about "make ahead" options? For example, could you make the meatballs a day before and leave them in the fridge, then do the finishing steps? Or even freeze them pre-cooked? Thank you! I am so excited to try it!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Jillian! Yes to all of the above! You can precook them then warm them gently in the oven or a skillet and finish the recipe as written. You can also keep them in the fridge for up to 24 hours uncooked and finish them the next day.

  8. Thea Wiser says:

    5 stars
    What a delicious dish!! My husband was a bit hesitant but after the first bite he could not stop!! I’ve tried so many of your recipes and so far all are keepers!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Thea! So glad you're enjoying the recipes on the site. Thank you for letting us know what you like so we can create more of it! Here's another meatball recipe you might enjoy!

  9. Stacia says:

    HI! This recipe looks delish….Question: It says this recipe feeds 6 people. Approximately how many meatballs does one batch make. A “more-or-less” number is great. It doesn’t need to be exact. Any info anyone has is appreciated! Thank you!
    Stacia

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Stacia. This recipe makes 20 meatballs, give or take :). Enjoy!

  10. Kari says:

    Would you have to modify anything to use ground turkey or chicken?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Nope! It should be fine as-is using either. Enjoy!

  11. Mich says:

    5 stars
    Awesome! Delicious!!! I make my meatballs about half smaller so they're (my) bite-size when scooped up into pita. You know, I'm Italian, French, & Irish, but must have lived in Lebanon, Turkey, or Persia in another life. I'm crazy for this food, it's inexplicable. My very favorite is tahini - you cannot buy a better hummus than your own, my hummus has a LOT in it; also lots of raw garlic. Then again you can't beat kalamatas in it... But then again I love Indian food, also, so I may have been many different nationalities! Thank you so much, your recipes are divine!!

    1. Summer Miller says:

      Hi, Mich! I'm Summer. I work here at The Mediterranean Dish and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your enthusiasm for all of these wonderful foods and flavors. Thanks for swinging by to share your thoughts.

  12. Lawrence Kellie says:

    I don't want to minimize your recipe in any way, however, this looks like it could be baked into a meatloaf.

    Lawrence