Içli Köfte (Turkish Stuffed Meatball)

turkish içli köfte

Hayati Kayhan / Fotolia.com

  • Total: 45 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Servings: 24 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1001 Calories
111g Fat
3g Carbs
2g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 1001
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 111g 142%
Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 8mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 2g
Calcium 7mg 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 walnuts (halves, or shelled pistachios; ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • For the Case:
  • 1/3 cup bulgur (fine)
  • 1 tablespoon ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup boiled mashed potato
  • 1/2 egg (beaten)
  • 1 small onion (grated)
  • 3 to 4 cups sunflower oil (or other light oil; the amount needed for frying)
  • Garnish: parsley (fresh, Italian)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this koftka dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

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!