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.
These easy Kofta Ground Beef Bowls take inspiration from Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine with seasoned ground beef, creamy tzatziki, and a bright and fresh tomato cucumber salad all served as a tasty rice bowl. Easy to make, packed with protein and veggies, and better than takeout.
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.
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.
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. Check out these Greek Ground Turkey Bowls or Chicken Kofta Bowls for another shortcut takeout recipe using ground turkey or chicken instead of beef.
One more thing I love about these kofta bowls is that they are great for meal prep since everything can be prepped in advance and packed 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.
There is a similar item made in Greece called Keftedes, which are Greek meatballs made with ground beef and lamb and seasoned with fresh mint, lemon, oregano, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon.
Ingredients and Easy Swaps
Here is everything you need for these tasty kofta bowls.
- 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 authentic kofta flavor.
- Warm Spices: This is what sets the recipe apart from other meat and rice dishes. The 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.
- Salad: Although not technically part of this recipe, make sure to add some veggies to this bowl. Make a simple salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, and parsley. Or serve it with Greek salad or this easy Mediterranean salad.
Toppings for Ground Beef Bowls
Change up the flavor of these kofta bowls by choosing different toppings.
- Middle Eastern: Add a dollop of hummus, a classic Israeli or tabbouleh salad, and serve everything over a bed of steamed rice with roasted tomatoes and onions.
- Greek: Add all the classic Greek salad ingredients to your bowl including feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, Kalamata olives, red onions, red wine vinegar, and lots of lemon juice and oregano. Serve it on a bed of rice.
- Mediterranean: Start with a bed of arugula and marinated chickpeas. Then add black olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, hummus or romesco, and crunchy bell peppers.
Side Dishes for Kofta
Here are some ideas:
- Rice and grains: Since this is meant to be served as a bowl, this is delicious over cauliflower rice, brown rice, quinoa, or lentils.
- Greens: If you prefer something light, serve this over a bed of greens with chopped cucumber, red onion, tomato, and fresh herbs.
- Sandwiches and wraps: 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 used 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, grated 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 minutes 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.
Leftovers, Freezing, and Meal Prep
These ground beef bowls are perfect for meal prep.
- Leftovers: Store leftover ground beef and tzatziki separately in the fridge in an airtight container. Store for 4-5 days in the fridge.
- Meal prep: Pack your grains and beef together. Then pack the vegetables and tzatziki separately. Reheat the beef and grains in the microwave or a skillet and then add the fresh toppings. If you don't mind eating this cold, you can layer everything into your container, starting with the tzatziki, then the grains, then the beef, then the fresh veggies.
- Freezing: This beef can be frozen and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. The tzatziki doesn't freeze well.
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.
Kofta Ground Beef Bowl with Garlic Tzatziki
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- 2 Persian cucumbers (tzatziki)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (tzatziki)
- 1 garlic clove (tzatziki)
- 1 Pinch of salt (tzatziki)
- 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt (tzatziki)
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp oregano (tzatziki)
- 1/2 lemon, juice (tzatziki)
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper (tzatziki)
- 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
- 2 cups Persian cucumbers, chopped
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup red onion, sliced thin
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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 spices 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.
* 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.
These bowls don't contain the grains so you can choose your own. We recommend serving it over steamed rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, lentils, or chickpeas.
Toppings: Add cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, olives, greens, feta cheese, and any other toppings you like.
Use store-bought tzatziki to speed things up.
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