Adana Kebab (Ground Lamb Kebab)

Adana Kebab (Ground Lamb Kebab)

The Spruce / Armando Rafael

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Chill Time: 30 mins
Total: 57 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
487 Calories
23g Fat
34g Carbs
34g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 487
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 30%
Saturated Fat 9g 47%
Cholesterol 110mg 37%
Sodium 633mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 34g
Vitamin C 9mg 45%
Calcium 106mg 8%
Iron 4mg 25%
Potassium 717mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Kebabs of all kinds are common in Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisines. This particular version is named after the city of Adana in Turkey, where it is said to have originated, and is traditionally made of minced lamb mounted on a skewer and grilled over charcoal.

Different cities and regions debate over how spicy the Adana kebab should be, but the inclusion of ground lamb as the choice of meat is a constant. This recipe seasons the lamb with onion, garlic, cumin, sumac, and red pepper flakes. The cooked kebabs are often served over warm flatbread to catch the drippings and are accompanied by roasted tomatoes, green or red peppers, sliced onions, and parsley. Less traditional, but equally delicious, would be to serve them over a bed of cooked basmati rice or an herbed couscous.

For this recipe, you'll need four metal skewers or wooden skewers that have been soaked in ice-cold water for an hour.


  • 1 pound ground lamb

  • 1 small onion, minced

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground sumac, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

  • 2 tablespoons ice water

For Serving:

  • Pita bread (or naan bread)

  • Romaine lettuce leaves

  • Chopped red onion

  • Fresh parsley

  • Grape tomatoes, sliced in half

  • Chopped cucumber

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Adana kebab (ground lamb kebab) ingredients

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground lamb, minced onion and garlic, 1 teaspoon each of the ground cumin and sumac, salt, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, and ice water.

    Kebab ingredients in a bowl

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  3. Knead the mixture by hand until it turns tacky and starts sticking to the side of the bowl. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to chill.

    Raw kebab mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  4. Wet your hands and place a quarter of the lamb mixture onto each skewer. One easy method is to use a 1-ounce scoop to form balls, thread a few onto each skewer, and then mash them together to form the kebab shape.

    Raw kebab on a stick

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  5. Preheat the grill to medium-high. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin and sumac.

    Ground cumin and sumac in a bowl

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  6. Grill the kebabs for approximately 12 minutes, until well charred on both sides. Sprinkle the spice mix over the kebabs while they are cooking.

    Adana kebab (ground lamb kebab) cooking on a grill

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  7. If desired, serve the kebabs nestled in lettuce leaves with sliced red onion, parsley, tomatoes, and chopped cucumbers along with warm pita or naan bread. Enjoy.

    Adana kebab (ground lamb kebab)

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael


  • Forming the meat into balls first and then threading them onto the skewer can make the task of placing the meat on the skewers easier. Once threaded, you can use your fingers to press them together, making sure they are adhering well to the skewer.
  • You can freeze any leftover mixture or kebabs for up to three months. The mixture should be placed in an airtight container; the skewers can be placed on a baking sheet, covered tightly, and then frozen. Do not place the skewers in a plastic freezer bag as they may puncture the bag and create holes. Defrost the meat mixture and skewered kebabs overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.

What Makes It an Adana Kebab?

In addition to the recipe variations, some historical directions include a restriction on the type of lamb that can be used, the type and shape of the knife used to grind it, and even the exact dimensions of the skewers used to cook it. In modern times, however, most people buy lamb already ground, and the choice of skewer is usually just whether to opt for metal or wood. But variations in spiciness and additional ingredients, such as minced onion and garlic in the kebabs, are still up to each cook and vary by personal taste as well as the traditions of regions and countries.