A plate of tender koftes, now this hits the spot! You won’t find anything more comforting than meatballs, still warm from the frying pan, accompanied by a big dollop of cold yogurt. Lightly seasoned with cumin and onion, this is Turkish home cooking at its best!
Sure you can find restaurants specialized in koftes (köfte) all over Turkey but, in my opinion, they always taste better prepared by loving hands. If you don’t have a Turkish grandma doting on you, or in my case a loving mother-in-law, this recipe will get you as close to anne köftesi (mother’s meatballs) as possible.
These traditional Turkish meatballs are super tasty and moist and you only need a handful of ingredients. Moreover, the hands-on time is rather short since there is no resting time. You just combine everything, shape the meatballs and fry them!
A CLASSIC FOR TURKISH HOME COOKS
Frying the koftes make them really tender and indulgent but, for a healthier twist, you could cook them in a nonstick pan with a trickle of olive oil. Grilling koftes on the barbecue is also very popular in Turkey during summer and it adds a nice smokey flavor to the meat.
Pairing meat with yogurt might seem unusual but they complement each other beautifully. Between the tasty meatballs and the tangy yogurt, it’s an explosion of flavors! And if you can’t wait to dig in, the cold yogurt will prevent you from burning your mouth (and it’s simply delicious).
I usually make koftes to put in kizartma (big Turkish fry up) or to eat along with pasta with a red pepper paste sauce (salça). I also love eating them with a bulgur pilaf or with a simple salad and slices of fluffy bread! There are so many ways you could enjoy koftes.
Don’t worry if your koftes don’t all look alike. They don’t have to be similar, that’s the charm of homemade food. Every family has their own preferred shape. It can go from elongated to a circle. I guess, mine) are a bit in between. In any case, Turkish meatballs are always flat, unlike the round ‘balls’ you would see in Italian-American cuisine.
A FREEZER-FRIENDLY RECIPE
These koftes freeze very well so don’t be afraid of making a big batch! I usually freeze the meatballs after having cooked them. To freeze them, place the koftes on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and place the tray in the freezer for 2 hours. When the koftes are frozen solid you can place them in a plastic container (or a freezer bag to save space). You can keep them in the freezer for up to 4 months.
To reheat the frozen koftes, first, thaw them overnight in the fridge. Then place them in a single layer on a baking tray or in a baking dish lined with parchment paper and cover with aluminum foil (to keep the meatballs moist). Reheat the koftes in a preheated oven at 150°C (300°F) for 15 minutes or until warm through. My dad’s trick to check if it’s hot enough is to prick a meatball with the blade of a knife and to feel if it’s hot enough with the tip of his tongue.
You can also prepare the koftes in advance. Make the beef mixture, shape the koftes and keep them in the fridge covered with plastic wrap for up to 24h. Don’t wait longer than that before cooking them for food safety reasons.Print
Koftes are traditional Turkish meatballs, lightly seasoned with cumin and onion. They are super tasty and tender and oh so easy to make at home!
- 1 big onion
- 500g ground beef (2 ¼ cups / 18 oz)
- 1 egg
- 6 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp cumin, heaped
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- frying oil
- Turkish (or Greek) yogurt, to serve
- Peel the onion, discard the stems and rub the onion against the medium side of a box/cheese grater. Discard most of the onion juice and keep the pulp.
- Place the ground beef in a mixing bowl. Add the grated onion, egg, breadcrumbs and spices.
- Mix together well and knead for 5 min, like you would for bread dough. If you press a bit of mixture in your hands, it should hold its shape. If not, it might be too moist and you should add more breadcrumbs.
- With wet hands, take a small handful of the meat mixture and pat it into a flat elongated meatball, about 1cm thick (½ inch).
- Repeat until you run out of the köfte mixture. You should have about 14 koftes. Place them on a lightly oiled plate.
- Cover the surfaces of a frying pan with 2cm (1 inch) of oil and place over medium-high heat. Wait until the oil reaches 170°C (340°F), or until it’s hot enough to brown a cube of bread in 1min.
- Cook the koftes in 2 to 3 batches, frying them for 2 to 3 min per side or until brown.
- Remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate covered with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Serve the koftes straightaway with cold yogurt on the side.
Any leftover koftes will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Serving Size: 7 koftes
- Calories: 811
- Fat: 19.2g
Keywords: turkish meals, köfte, barbecue recipes