Join! 12 weeks for $1

Check out our latest issues.

Missy Robbins tells all.

In Mumbai, we learned a home-cook friendly version of Butter Chicken.

Take a cooking class with us and our instructors from around the world.

NEW - 125 simple weeknight recipes from the world's healthiest cuisine.

1000+ hard-to-find items from around the world.

.
Kofte: a new spin on meatballs
Milk Street Bowtie Turkish Meatballs with Lime Yogurt Sauce

Turkish Meatballs with Lime Yogurt Sauce

20 minutes Plus cooling

Made This Recipe? Write a Review.
Thank you for submitting your review! A member of our team is confirming the review meets our site's Community Guidelines. It will be posted on the site shortly.

Turkish Meatballs with Lime Yogurt Sauce

Free

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.

4

Servings

Tip

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

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, grated (1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (8-inch) pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces)
1/4 cup whole-milk plain yogurt
1/4 cup water
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves, (1-ounce) finely chopped
1½ pounds 90-percent lean ground beef
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the meatballs
  • 3
  • 1

    medium shallot, finely chopped

  • 1

    garlic clove, grated (1 teaspoon)

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½

    teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1

    (8-inch) pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces)

  • ¼

    cup whole-milk plain yogurt

  • ¼

    cup water

  • 1

    cup packed fresh mint leaves, (1-ounce) finely chopped

  • pounds 90-percent lean ground beef

  • teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1

    teaspoon ground black pepper

For the lime yogurt sauce
  • 1

    cup plain whole-milk yogurt

  • 3

    tablespoons tahini

  • 3

    tablespoons lime juice

  • ½

    teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼

    teaspoon cayenne pepper

.
In the store
More

Mains

Reviews
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
Delicious!
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!
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.

Best,
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.


Down arrow

Turkish Meatballs with Lime Yogurt Sauce

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

20 minutes

Plus cooling

Tip

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.

For the meatballs
  • 3
  • 1

    medium shallot, finely chopped

  • 1

    garlic clove, grated (1 teaspoon)

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½

    teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1

    (8-inch) pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces)

  • ¼

    cup whole-milk plain yogurt

  • ¼

    cup water

  • 1

    cup packed fresh mint leaves, (1-ounce) finely chopped

  • pounds 90-percent lean ground beef

  • teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1

    teaspoon ground black pepper

For the lime yogurt sauce
  • 1

    cup plain whole-milk yogurt

  • 3

    tablespoons tahini

  • 3

    tablespoons lime juice

  • ½

    teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼

    teaspoon cayenne pepper

Step 1 of 3

Microwave shallot and spices in oil

2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1
medium shallot, finely chopped
1
garlic clove, grated (1 teaspoon)
½
teaspoon ground cumin
½
teaspoon ground cinnamon
½
teaspoon dried oregano

In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons olive oil, the shallot, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano. Microwave until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then set aside to cool.

Step 2 of 3

Roll the meatballs

1
(8-inch) pita bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 ounces)
¼
cup whole-milk plain yogurt
¼
cup water
1
cup packed fresh mint leaves, (1-ounce) finely chopped
pounds 90-percent lean ground beef
¾
teaspoons kosher salt
1
teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine the pita bread, yogurt and water and and use your hands to mash the mixture to a smooth paste. Add the reserved oil mixture, the mint, beef, ¾ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Use your hands to thoroughly mix.


Divide meat into 12 portions and use your hands to roll each into smooth balls. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Step 3 of 3

Cook beef meatballs in skillet, prepare the lime yogurt sauce, and serve

1
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1
cup plain whole-milk yogurt
3
tablespoons tahini
3
tablespoons lime juice
½
teaspoon kosher salt
¼
teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high until just beginning to smoke. Add the meatballs and use a metal spatula to press them into ½-inch-thick patties.


Cook over medium heat, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the meatballs register 140 degrees, cooked through, and are well browned on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter, tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes.


In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, tahini, lime juice, salt and cayenne until smooth.

Milk Street Bowtie Logo

Done!

Did you enjoy this recipe?

Want more?

See More Mains