This Chicken Kofta Kebabs recipe is healthy and flavorful! It's made with juicy grilled ground chicken, fresh herbs, spices and tahini sauce.
It's officially grilling season and I'm kicking it off with this Grilled Chicken Kofta. Kofta a Middle Eastern inspired ground chicken dish made with fresh herbs like mint and parsley, an assortment of spices, and a creamy tahini sauce.
It can be nice to venture off the 'grilling beaten path' once in awhile and go for dishes beyond the standard American fare. When I'm in the mood to switch things up, I find it helpful to seek inspiration from world cuisines.
I used to work in a Middle Eastern restaurant and kofta was a mainstay on the menu. The version of kofta served at that particular restaurant was made with ground lamb and beef, but I decided to opt for ground chicken when creating this recipe.
Kofta can be served on a plate with an assortment of grilled veggies and grains like rice or quinoa, or stuffed into pita bread with some fresh veggies and drizzled with sauce.
One thing is certain - It's delicious any way you serve it.
- Where Does Kofta Come From?
- Ingredients For Chicken Kofta Kebabs
- What Is Chicken Kofta Made Of?
- Can I Use Ground Turkey?
- How To Season Chicken Kofta
- Can I Cut This Recipe In Half?
- How To Keep Kofta From Falling Apart
- How To Make Tahini Sauce
- How To Grill Chicken Kofta
- What To Serve With Chicken Kofta
- How Long Does Kofta Last In The Fridge?
- Chicken Kofta Kebabs with Tahini Sauce
Where Does Kofta Come From?
'Kofta' is a general word that refers to ground or minced meat that is mixed with spices and formed into balls, patties, or cylinders. It is thought to have originated in the Middle East and was originally made using ground lamb.
Once the meat is formed into balls or patties, it can be cooked on the grill, baked in the oven, sautéed on the stove top, or simmered with sauces or curries.
There are many different versions of kofta found across all kinds of cuisines. You might find it on the menu in a Turkish, Greek, Pakistani, or Indian restaurant in some form or another. The meat, spices, and cooking method may vary depending on the country.
This Chicken Kofta Kebab recipe is a general 'Mediterranean' version and not specific to any country or cuisine. It is not also not technically a 'kebab', because the meat is not cooked on a skewer.
Ingredients For Chicken Kofta Kebabs
Here's what you'll need to make it.
- 8 cloves Garlic (split)
- 1 Onion (any color)
- 2 lbs. Ground Chicken
- 2 Eggs
- ⅔ cup Gluten Free Panko Breadcrumbs (or regular Panko breadcrumbs if not gluten free)
- ½ cup fresh Parsley
- ½ cup fresh Mint
- 2 tsp. Ground Coriander
- 2 tsp. Paprika
- 1 tsp. Allspice
- 1 tsp. Cumin
- ½ tsp. Red Chili Flakes
- 1 tsp. plus pinch Kosher Salt (split)
- 1 tsp. plus pinch Pepper (split)
- ½ cup Tahini
- 5 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
- 5 Tbsp. Water
What Is Chicken Kofta Made Of?
Chicken kofta is full of fresh herbs and warming spices. This version is made with fresh parsley and mint, making it perfect to serve during the summer months.
The fresh herbs are pulsed in a food processor along with lots of garlic and onions. The mixture provides the kofta with a lot of flavor and helps to keep the meat moist as it cooks on the grill.
The ground chicken is combined with the herb mixture, along with spices, a few eggs, and some Panko breadcrumbs. The eggs and breadcrumbs help to hold the meat together as it cooks. The process is much like that of making meatballs.
- To make the chicken kofta, start by peeling 6 cloves of garlic and 1 onion (any color). Cut the garlic cloves in half and the onion into chunks.
- Place the garlic and onions into a food processor along with half a cup each of fresh parsley and mint.
- Pulse the garlic, onions, and herbs until combined.
Can I Use Ground Turkey?
You can use ground turkey in place of chicken if you prefer. I recommend using ground turkey with a higher fat content instead of lean ground turkey.
It's important to remember that using ground turkey may result in kofta that is slightly more dry, as it has a lower fat content.
You may also use ground beef, ground lamb, or a combination of the two if you prefer.
Cooking times may vary, depending on the type of ground meat used.
How To Season Chicken Kofta
There is no 'one way' to season kofta, as the spices used vary widely depending on the country of origin.
Generally, kofta is seasoned with warming spices, such as coriander, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne.
This recipe is made with allspice, which is a single spice made from the myrtle pepper (or pimento) tree. It's flavor is reminiscent of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Allspice is available in the spice aisle of any supermarket.
- Place 2 lbs. of ground chicken in a large mixing bowl. Add the herb mixture to the ground chicken.
- Along with the herb mixture, add 2 eggs, ⅔ cup gluten free Panko breadcrumbs (or regular Panko breadcrumbs if not gluten free), 2 tsp. each ground coriander and paprika, 1 tsp. each allspice and cumin, ½ tsp. red chili flakes, and 1 tsp. each kosher salt and pepper.
- Mix all of the ingredients together until completely combined. Try not to overwork the mixture, or it may become tough.
Can I Cut This Recipe In Half?
Absolutely, feel free to cut this recipe in half if you'd like to reduce the overall amount.
2 lbs. of ground chicken yields 12 kofta kebabs. Feel free to cut the amount to 1 lb. of chicken if you only require 6 kofta kebabs. Be sure to cut each of the other ingredients in half as well if you decide to reduce it.
How To Keep Kofta From Falling Apart
There are a few techniques that I like to use to help prevent the kofta from falling apart as it cooks on the grill.
The addition of the egg and Panko breadcrumbs definitely helps to hold the mixture together.
I also recommend chilling the kofta kebabs in the fridge for 30 minutes before grilling, as this helps to firm up the mixture and prevents it from falling apart on the grill.
I always chill turkey burgers in the fridge before grilling and it prevents them from falling apart and find it works just as well when making kofta.
Once the ground chicken mixture is ready, it's time to form the meat into kebabs. This process is much the same as forming meatballs.
- It's best to measure the ground chicken using a measuring cup, so that each kofta is uniform in size and cooks evenly. I used ⅓ cup measuring cup and ended up with 12 kofta kebabs.
- Measure ⅓ cup of the ground chicken mixture and form it into a tube. The shape is somewhere between a patty and a meatball. Place the formed kofta onto a baking sheet.
- Repeat with the remainder of the ground chicken. Place the baking sheet in the fridge and chill for 30 minutes before grilling.
The ground chicken mixture is sticky and the process is a bit messy. You can dip your hands in cold water in between each kofta if you want to prevent the meat from sticking to your hands.
Love chicken? Check out these recipes!
- Lemon Tarragon Chicken Salad
- Chicken Marsala Pasta
- Skillet Chipotle Chicken Tacos
- Instant Pot Mediterranean Chicken
- BBQ Ground Chicken Sloppy Joes
How To Make Tahini Sauce
The tahini sauce adds a great creamy flavor and texture to the Chicken Kofta Kebabs and can be prepared while the meat is chilling in the refrigerator.
Tahini is ground sesame paste and the texture of it is similar to that of peanut butter. It's earthy and a little bit nutty in flavor.
You can find tahini in almost any grocery store nowadays, or it may be purchased online.
- To make the tahini sauce, pour ½ cup tahini paste into a small bowl.
- Add 5 Tbsp. of lemon juice to the tahini, along with 5 Tbsp. of water.
- Stir these ingredients together with a small whisk or fork. The mixture will be chunky at first, so continue to stir until it forms a creamy sauce.
- Once the sauce is creamy, grate 2 cloves of garlic into the bowl and add a pinch of kosher salt and pepper. Stir until combined. (You can sub ¼ tsp. garlic powder if you prefer).
- Set aside until the kofta is ready.
You can also prepare any other ingredients while the kofta is chilling in the fridge.
Feel free to prepare any vegetable skewers, quinoa, rice, or other toppings at this time.
Love tahini? Check out these recipes!
How To Grill Chicken Kofta
The process of grilling kofta is much the same as grilling burgers. The kofta are placed over direct heat on both sides and then moved to indirect heat until the inside reaches a safe internal temperature.
You can use a charcoal or gas grill to make kofta. I use a Weber charcoal grill, but any kind of grill you have should work just fine.
- To grill the kofta, heat grill (either charcoal or gas) to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the kofta kebabs over the direct heat, cover, and cook for 4 minutes.
- Flip each of the kofta kebabs over, cover, and cook for another 4 minutes.
- Move each of the kebabs over to indirect heat, cover, and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This may be checked using a food thermometer.
- Once all of the kebabs are done, remove from grill.
Cooking times will vary depending on the type of grill used. When grilling, it's best to use internal temperature to determine if food is done cooking.
It's important not to overcook the kofta, or it may become tough, but it is especially important not to undercook it. Undercooked poultry is dangerous to consume. The safe internal temperature for ground chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
What To Serve With Chicken Kofta
Once the kofta is fully cooked, it's time to serve!
This dish is great, because it can be customized any way you like. Grilled Chicken Kofta pairs well with any type of grain, fresh or grilled vegetables, and a variety of sauces.
I love to serve it on top of quinoa with some grilled vegetables like zucchini and bell peppers, topped with a generous amount of tahini sauce and something pickled.
You can also serve it on top of white or brown rice, wild rice, or couscous if gluten is not an issue for you.
It would be great with grilled vegetables like mushrooms, tomatoes, corn, eggplant, or onions. Vegetable skewers are a delicious way to cook vegetables on the grill.
For tahini with even more kick, check out this Lemon Herb Tahini Sauce!
The addition of pickled vegetables adds a great tangy flavor and crunchy texture. Pickled green beans, carrots, asparagus, radishes, or peppers are delicious options.
You can also stuff the chicken kofta into gluten free pita bread (or regular pita bread if not gluten free) and top it with veggies and sauce if you prefer.
How Long Does Kofta Last In The Fridge?
Any leftover kofta kebabs should last 2-3 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Make sure the kofta has cooled completely before transferring to the fridge for storage.
Leftover tahini sauce should last 4-5 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Any leftover tahini sauce can be served over roasted vegetables, as a dip, or a salad dressing.
Love to grill? Check out these recipes!
- Grilled Italian Chicken Sandwich
- Grilled Corn Feta Salad
- Thai Chicken Rice Bowls
- Grilled Chuck Steak
- BBQ Sweet Potatoes
- Blue Cheese Burgers
- Roasted Poblano Burgers
- Jalapeno Sauce Burgers
Looking For Grilled Veggies To Serve With Kofta? Don't Miss These Recipes!
Chicken Kofta Kebabs with Tahini Sauce
For The Chicken Kofta:
For The Chicken Kofta:
- Peel 6 cloves of garlic and 1 onion (any color). Cut the garlic cloves in half and the onion into chunks.
- Place the garlic cloves and onion into a food processor along with ½ cup each fresh parsley and mint.
- Pulse the garlic, onions, and herbs until completely combined.
- Place 2 lbs. of ground chicken in a large mixing bowl. Add the garlic, onion, and herb mixture.
- Mix all of these ingredients until completely combined using your hands or a wooden spoon.
- Scoop a portion of the ground chicken mixture into your hands using ⅓ cup measuring cup. Form the ground chicken into a tube (the shape is somewhere between a patty and a meatball). Place the kofta kebab onto a baking sheet.
- Repeat with the remainder of the ground chicken (it should yield ~12 kofta kebabs). You can dip your hands into cold water in between each kebab to prevent it from sticking to your fingers.
- Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and allow the kofta kebabs to chill for 30 minutes before grilling.
- Heat a charcoal or gas grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once the grill is heated, place each of the kofta kebabs over the direct heat, cover, and grill for 4 minutes. Turn each of the kebabs over, cover, and grill for another 4 minutes.
- Move each of the kofta kebabs to the indirect heat, cover, and cook until the inside of the kebabs reaches a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This may be checked using a food thermometer.Cooking times may vary. I found that 8 minutes on indirect heat allowed for an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, but it may take a few minutes more.
- Remove the kofta from the grill and set aside.
For The Tahini Sauce:
- Pour ½ cup tahini into a small bowl.
- Add 5 Tbsp. lemon juice and 5 Tbsp. water to the bowl. Mix the ingredients together using a small whisk or fork. The mixture will be chunky at first, but will become creamy after a minute or two.
- To Serve: Serve the kofta kebabs over quinoa or grain of choice, grilled veggies, a generous amount of tahini sauce, and some pickled vegetables.You can also serve it in pita bread as a sandwich if you prefer.