Spicy minced Lamb Kofta Kebab Recipe (Giaourtlou)

Spicy minced Lamb Kofta Kebab Recipe (Giaourtlou)

These lovely homemade minced Lamb Kebabs (kofte / kofta) will definitely become the talk of your next barbecue! If your fluffy and soft pita breads need a juicy and extra tasty companion, you have just found it! And the best part? They are dead simple to make. Made in only 20 minutes, this traditional homemade minced lamb kofta kebab recipe never fails to impress!

What is the difference between Shish kebab and Kofte/ Kofta kebab?

Kofta kebab is one of the most popular dishes in Greece, served in every tavern and for good reason. To prepare a traditional lamb kofta kebab recipe, the minced meat is seasoned with more than ten different herbs and spices and it tastes like heaven!

Shish Kebab (also kebap or kabab) is a Middle Eastern dish of pieces of meat, fish, or vegetables roasted or grilled on a skewer or spit originating in the Middle East and later adopted in Greek cuisine.

This is a traditional lamb kofta kebab recipe with minced lamb from Constantinoupoli. It is one of the brightest examples of the influence of the Turkish cuisine in lots of popular Greek dishes. However in Greece most kebab recipes are prepared with ground meat formed in oblong shaped burgers around a skewer.

There are two other types of street food meat – pieces of meat-on-a-skewer, which are called souvlaki and chopped meat of a spit roast, called gyros.

Minced lamb Kofta Kebab recipe – Spices

Minced Lamb Kebabs (Kofta) owe their unique distinctive flavour and taste to the aggressive seasoning used on the meat. For example in this lamb kebab recipe more than 10 different herbs and spices are used! T

he downside is that the kebabs can become a bit hard to digest. To avoid this, a little trick that I use in this lamb kofta kebab recipe is to sauté the onions and garlic before adding them in the ground meat mixture. Doing so means that the meat is still infused with those gorgeous aromas, but because they are cooked, they are more discreet and gentle on the stomach.

Minced lamb Kofta Kebab – Texture and technique

Traditionally, lamb kofta kebabs have a completely different texture than common burgers. To make the perfect burgers (click here for recipe), your meat mixture shouldn’t be overworked. That way they remain fluffy. However the kofta kebabs must be tight and firm, but still juicy.

Butchers and tavernas when preparing this traditional minced lamb kebab recipe, they season the ground meat with spices and then cut it in little pieces with two large kitchen knives, traditionally called ‘baldades’. What this does is to allow the spices to infuse the meat and form almost a ground meat paste.

You can replicate this procedure at home by using a food processor. All you need to do is pulse the ground meat for 10-15 seconds, until it is very finely chopped and the spices have fully “penetrated” the meat. If you prefer your ground lamb kebabs to be fluffier (like a burger) mix the ingredients using your hands.

For this kofta kebab recipe you can either go with lamb or a combination of lamb and beef. I wouldn’t recommend going beef only as a little fat is necessary for extra flavour!

The best option is to grill the kofta kebabs on a char-coal barbecue, to get them all crunchy and smokey. However, if you don’t have access to one or are in a hurry, the best alternative is to use a heavy grill pan or the grill setting in your oven.

Giaourtlou Lamb kofta kebab recipe

Over the years in Greece I have seen countless variations for this ground lamb kebab recipe. One of my all time favourites is when a taverna treats me to a few Lamb kofta kebabs in a pita bread (click here for recipe) and garnished with yogurt and tomato sauce (also known as kebab giaourtlou on pita bread). If you have the time, this version is definitely worth it!

Lamb Kofta Kebab with Yogurt, roast Peppers and Tomatoes

Another delicious alternative for this ground lamb kebab recipe is to serve the kofta kebabs with roast peppers and tomatoes and a full spoon of yogurt seasoned with a pinch of cumin, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Grill the peppers and tomatoes on a gridle pan over high heat to get them all nicely coloured and finish in the oven along with the kebabs for extra flavour.

Above all – don’t forget the garnish! My personal favourite is to enjoy the kofta kebabs with some extra garlicky tzatziki sauce, pita breads and a nice refreshing Greek feta salad. So go ahead, prepare his traditional minced lamb kofta kebab recipe for your friends and family and enjoy over a glass of cold beer!

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Spicy minced Lamb Kofta Kebab Recipe (Giaourtlou)

Spicy minced Lamb Kofta Kebab Recipe (Giaourtlou)

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (553 votes, average: 4.75 out of 5)
  • Author: Eli K. Giannopoulos
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 kebabs 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: Greek


Spicy minced Lamb Kofta Kebab recipe (Giaourtlou)! With only 20 minutes prep time, these lovely homemade Lamb Kebabs will become the talk of your barbecue!



For the lamb kofta kebab

  • 250g mince lamb (9 oz.)
  • 250g mince beef (9 oz.)
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 (flat) tsp cumin
  • 1 (flat) tsp cinnamon
  • 1 (flat) tsp hot paprika
  • 1 (flat) tsp powdered all spice berries
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 a bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp pepper cayenne (optional)

To serve the kebabs

  • 45 pita breads
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 6 wooden or metal skewers

Kofta kebab Giaourtlou (alternative serving with yogurt sauce)

  • 4 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 500g strained Greek yogurt (17 oz.)



For the lamb kofta kebab

  1. To prepare this minced lamb kofta kebab recipe, heat a saucepan over medium high heat, add the olive oil, the chopped onion and garlic and sauté, until tender. In the meantime, add in a large bowl the minced meat, the spices and the tomato puree. Season well with salt and pepper and mix the mixture well, squeezing the ingredients with your hands (or a food processor). Add the chopped parsley and the sautéed onions and garlic. Using your hands mix all the ingredients together until combined.
  2. Place the mixture for the lamb kofta kebabs in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge to rest for 1 hour. (If you have the time it’s best to leave the kebabs in the fridge overnight).
  3. To assemble the kofta kebabs, cut the wooden skewers to fit your griddle pan and soak them in water. (This will prevent them from burning). Gently squeeze the meat around the skewers to form log-shaped kebabs, each about 10-12cm long. Make sure the meat is spread to an even thickness. Refrigerate the kebabs until you are ready to grill. If you have time, it is best to chill 30 minutes to let flavours mingle and firm up meat. (The ingredients for this lamb kebab recipe are enough for 6 skewers).
  4. Preheat a grill or griddle pan on a high heat. Brush the kofta kebabs with live oil and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until nicely coloured on all sides and cooked through.

To serve the kebabs

  1. While your lamb kofta kebabs are cooking, prepare the pita breads. Preheat the oven to 250C. Use a cooking brush to lightly oil the pita breads on both sides and season with salt and oregano. Place a large oven tray at the bottom of the oven and place the pita breads on top of the tray. Bake for 2-3 minutes.

Kofta kebab Giaourtlou (alternative serving with yogurt sauce)

  1. Alternatively you can serve the kofta kebabs with tomato sauce and Greek yogurt (kebab giaourtlou).
  2. To prepare the tomato sauce for the lamb kebabs melt the butter in a sauce pan, add the chopped tomatoes, the garlic and seasoning and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Layer a pita bread on a plate, top with the lamb kebabs, add two full spoons of the tomato sauce, 1 tbsp yogurt and garnish with sliced red onions.


  • Serving Size: 1 kebab (without serving propositions)
  • Calories: 224kcal
  • Sugar: 0.9g
  • Sodium: 829.7mg
  • Fat: 15.9g
  • Saturated Fat: 5.6g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 9.3g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.7g
  • Fiber: 1.2g
  • Protein: 16.6g
  • Cholesterol: 55.4mg

Keywords: minced lamb kebab, spicy lamb kebab, lamb kofta kebab, giaourtlou kebab

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  1. stephen broderson

    I just want say thank you for sharing Greece with rest of the world. I love all the recipes and the cultural insights you describe with each culinary journey. Thank you, and many blessings.

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