Kofta Ground Beef Bowl with Garlic Tzatziki

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All the delicious flavors of a Kofta kebab without all the hard work! This Kofta Ground Beef Bowl with Garlic Tzatziki is full of flavor and ready in thirty minutes.

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My husband and I have a standing weekly tradition of ordering out from our favorite local Mediterranean restaurant, but it always gets me thinking about recreating these meals at home. 

While he gets the chicken shawarma every single time, I love to try out different things but probably order the Beef Kofta Kebab more than anything else. I just love the intensely spiced meat covered with creamy tzatziki and served with a fresh Israeli salad

However, whenever I think about making this dish at home, I usually shy away because I don't feel like making the kebabs. That was until I realized that I could skip the kebab part altogether and make a ground beef version instead. (Check out these Korean Beef Bowls for another shortcut takeout recipe using ground beef.)

It's got all the same spices just without the extra step of making and grilling the kabob. It's so easy and if you love Mediterranean food, these will quickly become a favorite.

These Kofta bowls are also great for meal prep since everything can be prepped in packed away for lunch. 

What is Kofta?

Kofta, which is sometimes spelled kefta or kafta, is a Middle Eastern ground meat kebab that is cooked on a skewer over a hot grill. Usually, kofta is made with ground lamb seasoned with cumin, coriander, parsley, mint, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, allspice, and kosher salt.

The kofta mixture is formed into flattened meatballs or strips and placed on skewers. Once they are cooked, the beef kofta kabobs are traditionally served with flatbread, pita bread, yogurt, garlic, or tahini dressing.

Ingredients and Easy Swaps

  • Ground beef: You can use any type of ground meat in this recipe. Try it with ground turkey or ground chicken as well as the more traditional lean ground beef. You can also use a combination of ground beef and ground lamb for a more traditional flavor.
  • Warm Spices: This is what really sets the recipe apart from other meat and rice dishes. I used a combination of parsley, cumin, coriander, dried mint, red pepper flakes (or cayenne pepper), cinnamon, and allspice. They are earthy and slightly spicy herbs that will light up your mouth with flavor.
  • Garlic Cloves: For this recipe, go with fresh garlic cloves. Dried garlic powder will not have the same deep garlicky taste, but it will work. 
  • Homemade tzatziki: Although kofta is traditionally served with garlic sauce or tahini, I love it with yogurt sauce. This tzatziki is made with Greek yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, and garlic, It's the perfect pairing. Feel free to swap for store-bought if you don't want to make your own.

Side Dishes for Kofta

The most common side dishes for Kofta kabobs and bowls are white or saffron rice, roasted tomatoes, hummus, and salad. With that said, this bowl works with so many different side dishes. Here are some ideas:

  • Since this is a bowl, this is delicious over cauliflower rice, brown rice, or lentils.
  • If you prefer something light, serve this over a bed of greens with chopped cucumber, red onion, tomato, and fresh herbs. 
  • This makes a delicious wrap or pita sandwich. Simply add the ground beef, tzatziki, chopped vegetables, and greens. Fresh herbs kick things up even more with parsley, oregano, mint, or cilantro. 

Kofta Three Ways: Kabobs, Meatballs, or Ground Beef Bowls

This kofta beef recipe is super versatile and can be sued to make traditional kabobs, meatballs, or the quick and easy ground beef bowl we are sharing. Here's how to make each: 

  • Kofta kabobs: To make a traditional kabob, start by grating the onion instead of dicing it. The moisture of the grated onion ensures the kabob won't be dry.  Then combine the ground beef, spices, garted onion, and parsley.  If possible, refrigerate the meat for an hour or more to intensify the flavors. Then mold the meat around the skewer, using about 1/2 cup per skewer. Cook on a medium hot grill for about 2 minute per side. They can also be baked at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway. 
  • Kofta meatballs: Follow the same steps as above, but form them into meatballs instead. Then place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 18-22 minutes at 350 degrees until cooked through. 
  • Kofta ground beef bowl: For the quickest preparation, simply cook the ground beef, onion, garlic, and spices in a skillet. Stir in the parsley right before serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions about making kofta at home.

Sumac is a dark red Middle Eastern spice that's slightly sour and tart. It's made from ground sumac and salt. It is traditionally used in kofta kebabs. Add about 1/2 teaspoon per pound of ground meat if you would like to utilize it. If you don't have sumac, finish the final dish with a squeeze of lemon juice for a similar flavor. 

The most common reason that kofta comes out hard is that it is overcooked. When the beef is overcooked, it gets dry. This can also happen when the meat is overmixed if you are making kebabs or meatballs.

The Recipe
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Kofta Ground Beef Bowl with Garlic Tzatziki

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  • 2 Persian cucumbers
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 lemon, juice
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1.33 lbs. 95% lean ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
  • Salt and pepper

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To make the tzatziki: Use a box grater to grate the cucumber. Sprinkle with salt and let rest for 20 minutes. The salt will remove some of the moisture. Using a paper towel or cheesecloth, squeeze out as much moisture as you can from the cucumber. Meanwhile, using the back of your knife and a pinch of salt, crush the garlic into a paste. Once the cucumbers are ready, mix in the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, oregano, pepper, and salt if needed. Stir and refrigerate.


For the beef: Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and all of the spiced and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes until meat is just cooked through. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 more minutes.


To assemble the bowls: Choose your favorite grain or cauliflower rice. Top with ground beef and garlic tzatziki. Then add your favorite cooked or fresh vegetables. I like to serve mine with a Israeli salad.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 6 oz. beef and 1/4 cup tzatziki
Amount Per Serving
Calories 297
Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g
Saturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 94mg
Sodium 569mg
Total Carbohydrate 8g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 3g
Protein 39g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
1 Comment
On Kofta Ground Beef Bowl with Garlic Tzatziki
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Elizabeth Apelian
August 21, 2023 - 17:55
Just so you know, we use pilaf for rice!
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