Kibbeh, an oval-shaped meatball, is made with bulgur wheat, ground meat, and lots of herbs and is a very popular Lebanese dish. The first time that I had it was when my friend, Nadia (from Lebanon) made it for my family. The kibbeh was deep fried then served with a creamy tahini sauce and was absolutely delicious! This recipe has all of those delicious flavors in pie-form and is super easy to make.
Watch the Video Tutorial Here:
We Greeks like to turn everything into a pita (pie)! 99.9% of the time it always tastes better that way. We call this dish: pligouri me keema and I didn’t realize what it was until after I tasted it. This is basically a Kibbeh pie!! How genius and easy! So, naturally, I had to share this one with you.
Kibbeh are very tedious to make. Now, don’t get me wrong. They’re totally worth the effort and I’ve never met a deep-fried meatball that I didn’t absolutely love, but, I’m not always in the mood to fry food. Correction, I avoid frying things unless they’re some type of donut or chicken cutlets..lol!
And, when the result is this good why bother? The koupes pie (Greek word for Kibbeh) has all of the flavor and less than a quarter of the effort.
How to make the best koupes (kibbeh) pie:
First, we start with fine bulgur wheat. Make sure to buy the fine and not the course or medium grain. It is sold in Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food markets. Then, it should be soaked with boiling hot water. Begin with this step while the meat filling is prepared. It will take 45 minutes to an hour and the bulgur will be soft enough to use.
In the meantime, make the filling. Use ground beef, lamb, chicken, or turkey. Whatever you have will work. You can even make this pie vegan by substituting this delicious meatless Bolognese sauce.
Since the filling and the bulgur, wheat crust are going to need some onion flavor, begin by cooking both onions together with some olive oil until soft and golden. This usually takes about 10 minutes over medium heat. Take half of the onions and add them to the bulgur mixture that is soaking and continue with the meat sauce.
Add the ground meat and brown a little bit. Add all of the seasonings and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until fully cooked. Taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Add the aromatic fresh herbs. I love to use lots of fresh parsley and mint but, feel free to use whatever you have or love.
Mix it all together and set aside.
By now, the bulgur should be ready. Mix the onions and the bulgur together and season with some salt and pepper. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.
I like to add some ground meat to the crust. One pound is enough and also season it with about a teaspoon of additional salt. Add less, if you prefer. Knead it all together until the mixture holds together.
It is time to assemble the pie!
A 10-inch round deep-dish (about 3 inches deep) pie pan works perfectly for this recipe. Take half of the bulgur crust mixture and press it on the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
Add the meat filling in the center and then top with the remaining bulgur mixture. Press it down and then score it with a knife.
I like to cut it into diamond shapes. Do this by first cutting 3-4 straight lines and then slice it 3 or four more times at a diagonal to create the diamond shapes. However, you can cut any shape that you like.
If you will be serving them as a main course, just slice them into 8 equal triangles. Just like a pizza.
Brush the top of the pie with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle a little bit of salt on top. Then, bake at 350 °F until it is golden on top. About 45 minutes up to 1 hour.
You can turn the broiler on for the last few minutes to help the pie brown on top. Just make sure to keep a close eye on it so that it does not burn.
Allow the pie to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes then serve it with some creamy tahini sauce, lemon wedges, and a salad.
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- For the Crust & Top:
- 2 cups (315 grams) fine Bulgur wheat
- 2 cups (500ml) boiling hot water
- ½ cup (81 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1-pound ground beef or lamb
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- For the filling:
- • ¼ cup olive oil
- • 1-pound ground beef or lamb
- • 1 onion, finely chopped
- • 3 garlic cloves, grated
- • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
- • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- • 2-3 tablespoons pine nuts or sliced almonds
- For serving: tahini sauce or tzatziki
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F, 180 °C.
- Place the bulgur with the flour in a large bowl and pour 2 cups of boiling hot water over it. Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix together. Cover and set aside for 1 hour to absorb the liquid and soften.
- Make the meat filling:
- Cook the onions (both onions from the meat filling and the crust) with the olive oil over medium heat until soft and golden. Transfer half of the onions to the bulgur mixture.
- Add the garlic to the remaining onions in the pan and warm through 20 seconds or so.
- Add 1 pound of ground beef and sauté until lightly browned.
- Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and add nuts. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the meat is cooked through. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Add the herbs and mix together. Set aside.
- Season the bulgur wheat and mix together. Adjust seasoning if needed.
- Add the uncooked ground beef with a half teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Knead the mixture with your hands until it is all combined and holds together.
- Press half of the mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch round deep-dish pie pan (3 inches deep).
- Spread the meat filling in the center and top with the remaining bulgur mixture. Lightly press it down.
- Brush the top with some olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Scour it with a knife into either diamond shapes (in the video) or into 8 pieces.
- Bake on the center rack of your preheated oven for 1 hour or until golden. Turn the broiler element on for a few minutes to get some good color and crispiness on the top of the crust.
- Allow the pie to set for at least 20 minutes then, serve with tahini sauce or tzatziki.
Make-Ahead Instructions: This pie can be assembled ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for 1 day then, baked. It may also be assembled and then frozen up to 2 months.