Içli Köfte (Turkish Stuffed Meatball)

turkish içli köfte

Hayati Kayhan / Fotolia.com

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
27 Calories
2g Fat
1g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 27
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 9mg 3%
Sodium 102mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 5mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 43mg 1%
*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.)

If you like Middle Eastern-style kibbe, you're sure to enjoy its Turkish counterpart. It is called içli köfte (eech-LEE' koof-TAY), which means "filled meatball." It's a dish that is common in the southeastern regional cuisine of Turkey where many Middle Eastern influences are present. They are especially famous in the city of Kilis.

These meatballs are usually served as a hot appetizer or meze before a meal of spicy kebabs. Balls of dough made from a mix of fine bulgur, potato, and spices are used as the outer shell. Favorite fillings include ground beef or lamb combined with ground nuts like pistachios, walnuts, or pine nuts along with spices. They're then fried to perfection. It's actually easier than it seems at first, especially once you get the hang of rolling and stuffing.

You can find stuffed meatballs on the list of appetizers in most meat and kebab restaurants and as hot finger food at home parties. The best meatballs have a soft but crispy shell, with juicy, steaming filling in the middle.


For the Filling:

  • 1/4 pound ground beef

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 1/3 cup walnut halves, or shelled pistachios, ground

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

For the Case:

  • 1/3 cup fine bulgur

  • 1 tablespoon ground beef

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 cup boiled mashed potato

  • 1/2 large egg, beaten

  • 1 small onion, grated

  • 3 to 4 cups sunflower oil, or other light oil for frying

  • Fresh Italian parsley, for garnish

Steps to Make It

Make the Filling

  1. In a small skillet, fry 1/4 pound ground beef until just cooked. Add the onion and continue to stir until the onion softens.

  2. Add the ground nuts, salt, black pepper, paprika, and hot red pepper flakes and continue to sauté. When all the flavors have combined, remove the pan from the heat and let it rest.

Make the Case

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the bulgur, ground beef, black pepper, salt, potato, egg, and onion. Knead together for several minutes to form a dough.

  2. Break off walnut-size pieces of the dough and roll them into balls.

  3. With your index finger, push some of the meat and nut filling into the center of the dough and close the end. Shape the meatballs to be narrower at the ends and thicker in the middle in a kind of spindle or football shape.

  4. In a large skillet, heat a generous amount of sunflower oil. Fry the meatballs evenly on all sides until dark golden-brown. Place on paper towels to drain.

  5. Serve piping hot. Garnish with fresh Italian parsley and serve with a dipping sauce of plain yogurt mixed with grated cucumber and fresh dill.

  6. Enjoy!