Classic Turkish meatballs

Beef kofte, rice and salad on a blue plate

Try these classic Turkish meatballs, then check out our lamb kofte, Moroccan kofte, healthy meatballs and more meatball recipes.

Wherever you are in Turkey, you won’t have to look far to find cafés that specialise in different types of meatballs, and there are dozens of regional specialities that vary from town to town. This is perhaps the most stripped down and simple köfte, the kind your mum might make when you get home from school. Just be sure to pound the meat together to get the right consistency – this will take at least a few minutes by hand. Put some elbow grease into it and you won’t be disappointed!

Recipes extracted from Ripe Figs: Recipes and Stories from the Eastern Mediterranean by Yasmin Khan (£26, Bloomsbury). Recipes are supplied by the publisher and not retested by us.

  • 19
  • Total time 40 minutes
  • Note + Chilling
  • Difficulty Easy


  • beef mince 800g
  • breadcrumbs 200g
  • flat-leaf parsley 25g, finely chopped
  • garlic 3 cloves, crushed
  • onion 1 medium, grated
  • egg 1, lightly beaten
  • cumin seeds 2 tsp, toasted and crushed
  • sweet paprika 1½ tsp
  • dried oregano 1½ tsp
  • pul biber chilli flakes or other mild chilli flakes ½ tsp
  • baking powder ¼ tsp
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • rice, breads, cucumber yogurt, pickles and salad, to serve


  • Step 1

    Put all the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl with 3 tbsp of water, seasoning with 2 tsp of salt and ½ tsp of black pepper. Use your hands to pound everything together for a few minutes until it is completely combined and the meat has softened and looks almost paste-like. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight, for the flavours to come together.

    Step 2

    When you’re ready to cook, take the meat from the fridge and mould it into golf ball-sized meatballs.

    Step 3

    Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Line a large plate with kitchen paper. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in the largest frying pan you have over a medium-high heat. In batches, put the meatballs in the pan and use the back of a spatula to press them down a little, so they form small oval patties. Cook the meatballs for 3 minutes on each side or until nicely browned, then transfer them to the lined plate and cook the next batch. You may need to add a little more oil if the pan starts to get dry.

    Step 4

    When you’ve fried all the meatballs, transfer them to a large baking tray and cook in the oven for 10 minutes until they are just cooked through. Serve with rice, breads, cucumber yogurt, pickles and a sharp, crunchy salad.

Nutritional data

  • kcals 485
  • fat 27.7g
  • saturates 10g
  • carbs 24.5g
  • sugars 3.2g
  • fibre 3g
  • protein 32.9g
  • salt 2.6g

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top