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Turkish Meatballs with Lime Yogurt Sauce

4 Servings

20 minutes Plus cooling

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There are many variations (and spellings) of kofta across the Middle East and North Africa, but essentially they’re seasoned patties, often made from ground lamb or a blend of beef and lamb. It’s the rest of the world’s answer to the Italian meatball. We particularly liked Turkish kofta, which sometimes are squashed flat and can be grilled, fried or even cooked on a skewer. We went with an all-beef version using 90 percent lean beef, though this recipe also works with a blend of lamb and beef. We pan-fried our patties, which gave us a deliciously crispy crust. To stop our meat mixture from getting tough in the middle we borrowed the French technique known as panade. It involves mixing a bread and dairy paste into the ground meat to bind it together and keep it moist during cooking. Since we already were serving pita bread with the patties, we used crumbled pita for our panade. We served the cooked patties in pita pockets with sliced tomato, cucumber, red onion and parsley. They also would be good over rice pilaf and served with a simple salad.




Don’t use stale bread for the meatballs. The fresh pita bread added light texture and fresh flavor that stale bread couldn't. Likewise, use whole-milk plain yogurt, not Greek-style to get the right consistency in both the meatballs and the sauce.

20 minutes

Plus cooling

For the meatballs


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Nadine L.
June 24, 2022
Astonishingly good.
This might be my favourite M.S. recipe. I love Middle Eastern flavours. Meatballs are tender and juicy. Sauce is exquisite. We will be making this one over and over. Delicious folded into flatbreads with cucumber, tomato and a generous ladling of the healthy sauce. Amazing.
Catherine S.
June 2, 2022
I only had a 1/2 # of ground beef and 1# of ground chicken. The substitute of ground chicken worked well. This will be a recipe I will use over and over! so flavorful!
Melissa G.
August 21, 2022
Great for the weeknight
This was a wonderful dish
Sona E.

Excellent flavor, especially with the mint leaves. Yogurt sauce is outstanding!

Myrna A.

Family favorite! I have made this a few times and everyone loves it. I cut back on the salt as it always ends up a tad salty.

Sarah K.

No fresh mint so will try refreshing mint tea leaves from a tea bag. Hope two gives some flavor as a sad substitute.

Julie S.

Can I make this with ground turkey?

Janelle C.

Hi Julie,

You'll need to account for the turkey's dryness so you may need to adjust the lean meat to fatty meat ratio.

The Milk Street Team

Kelly H.

I just made this dish tonight and LOVED it and the yogurt sauce. Definitely a re-do. So easy too.

George G.

Incredible, one of our all-time favorite dishes.

Sarah K.

These are terrific and a family favorite! The only thing I did differently was make the meatballs smaller and broil them (I am counting calories). My kids eat these with pita bread, my husband makes a lettuce wrap with them, and I eat them on salad greens. The dressing is nicely spiced and goes perfectly with the meatballs; it can also be used as a salad dressing.