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Turkish Lamb Köfte

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4

Found all over Turkey and the Middle East, köfte (KOF-ta) are essentially meatballs, often made from lamb. They’re traditionally served with warm flatbread, raw onions, and plain yogurt, but they’re also delicious paired here with a bright, tangy yogurt sauce. The spice mix makes more than you’ll need—use it on beef, pork, and grilled vegetables, or stir it into hummus and other dips. You can make your own pomegranate molasses if you can’t find it in stores.


For the spice mix

  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried mint
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. hot paprika
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper

For the pomegranate-yogurt sauce

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbs. pomegranate molasses; more for serving
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tsp. ground sumac or 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

For the köfte

  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 medium plum tomato, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/4 cup finely grated red onion
  • 1 tsp. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 12-inch flat, wide skewers (soaked in water for 30 minutes if wooden)
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
  • 2 Tbs. pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. small fresh mint leaves (optional)

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size 2 skewers
  • Calories (kcal) : 300
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 170
  • Fat (g): 19
  • Saturated Fat (g): 7
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8
  • Cholesterol (mg): 80
  • Sodium (mg): 290
  • Carbohydrates (g): 10
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 21


Make the spice mix

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Make the yogurt sauce

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Make the köfte

  • Put the lamb, tomato, onion, pomegranate molasses, garlic, 1 Tbs. of the spice mix, and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix until combined and the meat is a bit sticky. With wet hands, divide the lamb into 8 portions. Working with one portion at a time and rewetting your hands as necessary to prevent sticking, press the lamb around the skewers into sausage shapes about 4-1/2 inches long. Transfer to a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 and up to 4 hours.
  • Prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) gas or charcoal grill fire for direct grilling. Oil the grill grate. Grill the köfte, turning once, until no longer pink in the center (cut into one to check), about 6 minutes.
  • Garnish with the pomegranate seeds and mint, if using. Drizzle more pomegranate molasses over the yogurt sauce, and then serve with the sauce.


Rate or Review

Reviews (3 reviews)

  • user-6898129 | 10/26/2021

    Love this recipe. I made them as an appetizer. I used 6” wooden bamboo skewers and made the logs 3” in length. Due to my time constraint, I totally prepped the dish with skewers and all, the day before. I pulled them out of the fridge 40 minutes before cooking and then grilled them on the BarBQ using a grilling mat. The grilling mat prevented any meat from sticking to or falling through the grill . Served with the yogurt dip. So easy to do and so well received by our guests.

  • User avater
    LuminosaJane | 08/04/2020

    Delicious!! We’ve made these 3-4 times this summer. We sous vide them in advance and take them camping to finish on the campfire. Kids devour them. We also enjoy serving them with the Chickpea and Cauliflower Salad which I also prepare in advance and take in separate containers to toss at the campsite. An excellent recipe!

  • user-3877874 | 05/23/2020

    Am amazed there are no other reviews. I have made these several times for dinner parties over the years (the recipe appeared in FC back in 2014). They are really tasty, despite being relatively simple to prepare. I follow the recipe, though last night I decided to forgo the skewers (when I have used skewers before I find that either the mixture is not robust enough to avoid the skewer just ripping away, or the skewer doesn’t grip the meat well enough to turn the Kofte). So, I used tongs and cooked them on a cooktop cast-iron grill plate. The tartness of the mint and pomegranate yoghurt complements the richness of the grilled lamb. I served it with unseasoned brown rice and the Chickpea and Cauliflower Salad with Curry vinaigrette (FC Issue #165, May/June 2020) - all 4 of us loved the complementary flavors. Will definitely make again.

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