These juicy&spicy Baked Turkish Meatballs (also known as "kofte" or "kofta") are extremely easy to make and full of flavour. You can serve them as an appetizer on their own or a main meal along with some Crispy Sauté Potatoes with Garlic, Homemade Pita Bread, or Turkish Rice Pilaf. They are also perfect for entertaining! You can shape them in patties and cook them on the BBQ for your summer parties.
Turkish Meatballs are one of my childhood favourite dishes and also the first proper dish I learnt how to make. I haven't changed the recipe much over the years and always kept it simple. They are soft, juicy, and spicy, the perfect comfort food to feed your family.
Why This Recipe Works?
- It is a very simple yet extremely delicious dish and is made with only a few ingredients.
- You can make the mixture in big batches, shape it into balls and keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- The leftovers taste even better, you can keep them refrigerated for up to five days.
- This recipe never fails to satisfy me, I've been making this dish for almost 30 years.
- It is a crowd-pleaser, this recipe will give you 24 to 26 meatballs.
Ingredients and Substitutes
Ingredients for Meatball Mixture
- Minced meat - The main ingredient for kofte is mince and its fat content is as important as the quality of the meat. The ideal mince should have %30 fat for soft and delicious koftes. Using lean mince will make them dry and tough. If you want to use lean mince, you should add some fat or oil to the mixture. I generally use half lamb and half beef mince to get the right balance of fat.
- Onion - It adds extra flavour and moisture to the meatballs. I prefer grating it into the mixture. You can also finely chop and sauté them if you prefer. You can substitute it with shallots.
- Garlic - It is another great flavouring for kofte dishes and is absolutely essential. You can turn it into a paste with a mortar and pestle or grate it with a Microplane. You can substitute the fresh garlic with the garlic powder.
- Egg - It helps to bind the meat, breadcrumbs, spices and herbs. For up to one kilo of meat, you usually won't need more than one egg.
- Breadcrumbs - They absorb the juices from the meat as it cooks, trapping them within the meatball. Also, they give meatballs a nice and soft texture.
- Parsley - Great tasting herb to add to the Kofte mixture. Use flat-leaf or curly parsley leaves for the best results. You can substitute it with thyme or oregano.
- Kofta spices - Most kofte recipes call for a blend of black pepper, paprika and/or chilli but you can also add coriander powder, cayenne pepper, cumin or a touch of cinnamon.
Ingredients for the Sauce
- Tomatoes - Red & juicy summer tomatoes are always the best option but you can add some tomato paste if your tomatoes are not perfectly red. Grate or blitz them in a food processor before adding them to the sauce.
- Peppers - Turkish green peppers are very popular in Turkish cooking. They are usually mild but some of them can be quite hot. Always check before using them as they can affect the spiciness of your dish. You can replace them with bell pepper or Spanish Padron peppers. Wash, dry and then cut them into chunks before sautéing.
- Oil - Vegetable oil is the best oil for cooking meatballs. You can also use canola oil, rapeseed oil or peanut oil.
- Paprika - I use mild paprika but smoked or hot paprika would also work perfectly with this sauce.
- Seasoning - Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
Making these authentic Turkish meatballs is very simple and straightforward. However, to achieve the best results you need to follow a few tips and simple steps:
Prepare the Meatballs
Place the mince, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, salt, paprika, chilli flakes, and freshly ground black pepper in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix everything together until it’s thoroughly combined, then continue kneading it for another 5 minutes.
Shape them into 24-26 equal-sized balls, about the size of a walnut. Preheat a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Heat the oil and then add the meatballs. Nicely brown the meatballs for about 2-3 minutes. Don't overcrowd the pan, do this in batches if necessary. Place the meatballs in an oven dish and then preheat the oven to 180 °C.
Prepare the Sauce
Place the peppers in the same pan and then sauté them for a few minutes. Add the grated tomatoes, paprika, salt, and freshly ground black pepper along with the vegetable stock or water. Bring the sauce to a boil and then pour it on the meatballs. Place the oven dish in preheated oven and then bake for 15 minutes, until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked.
For more delicious meatball/kofte/kofta dishes, why not try:
This deliciously spiced kofte dish is perfect to serve with rice or bulgur dishes such as Bulgur Pilaf, Turkish Rice Pilaf, or Turkish Bulgur Pilaf with Lentils. You can also serve it on some bread such as Bazlama (Turkish Bread), Homemade Pita Bread, or Garlic Naan Bread. To make it a complete feast, why not add some salad such as Piyaz (Turkish Bean Salad), Rocket Salad with Parmesan or Austrian Potato Salad.
Yes, you can absolutely make them in advance and keep them refrigerated for up to five days. They will taste even better after a day or two!
You can store the leftovers in an airtight container refrigerated for up to five days. If you want to keep them longer, layer them in between parchment papers in airtight containers, and then freeze them for up to three months. Let them thaw in the fridge overnight when you want to cook them and then cook as directed.
Top Tip From the Chef
For delicious and juice meatballs, use freshly minced meat with a minimum of 20% fat content. Also, let your kofte mixture rest for a minimum of 2 hours, ideally overnight for the flavours to meld.
I hope you enjoy the process of making these juicy Baked Turkish Meatballs as much as you enjoy eating them! 🙂
Bon appétit! / Afiyet Olsun!
Did you make this recipe?
Baked Turkish Meatballs
- 1 grater
For the Meatballs
- 500 g minced beef, lamb, or mixture (with a minimum of %30 fat content)
- 1 medium onion (grated)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 small egg
- 20 g breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon chopped parsley
For the Sauce
- 4 medium tomatoes (grated)
- 4 large Turkish green peppers (or 2 green bell peppers) (sliced or chunky diced)
- 150 ml vegetable stock or water
- ½ paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup vegetable or sunflower oil (for frying)
Making the Meatballs
- Place the mince, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, salt, paprika, chilli flakes, and freshly ground black pepper in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Mix everything together until it’s thoroughly combined, then continue kneading it for another 5 minutes.
- Shape them into 24-26 equal-sized balls, about the size of a walnut.
- Preheat a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat.
- Heat the oil and then add the meatballs. Nicely brown the meatballs for about 2-3 minutes. Don't overcrowd the pan, do this in batches if necessary.
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C and place the meatballs in an oven dish.
Prepare the Sauce
- Place the peppers in the same pan and saute them for a few minutes.
- Add the grated tomatoes, paprika, salt, and freshly ground black pepper along with the vegetable stock or water.
- Bring the sauce to a boil and pour on the meatballs.
- Place the oven dish in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes, until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
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