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If you’re up for a flavor-packed journey through Saudi Arabian cuisine, you’ve got to try my Easy Beef Kabsa recipe. This timeless dish is like a ticket to the heart of the Middle East.

Imagine perfectly fluffy rice soaking up all those amazing flavors from the spices, onions, tomatoes, carrots, and beef broth, topped with tender chunks of beef and adorned with toasted almonds, creating a dish that’s unlike anything else. It’s the perfect choice to surprise your family or guests at a special get-together.

In this recipe, every grain of rice holds a story, and every spice tells a tale of tradition. Give it a try, and let me know how much you enjoyed it!

Love in a Plate of Kabsa

In a black plate, some brown nuts, diced vegetables, and chopped parsley top beef shanks. Under the meat pieces, cooked basmati rice sits forming with all others kabsa wirt beef dish.
A single grain of this rice dish tips the scale.

Kabsa: the poetry of spices, the rhythm of rice, and the melody of Middle Eastern hospitality.

Origin and Tradition

The word “kabsa” is an Arabic word that literally means pressed or packed together. The name actually comes from the way the dish is prepared, where all ingredients are stacked together in one pot.

Kabsa is a fragrant dish made of two main ingredients: meat and rice. But the meat can be lamb, beef, chicken, or, even less commonly, fish.

As for rice, use some cups of basmati rice for this meal. The dish is very popular and desirable in the Middle East in general and the Gulf countries in particular. It is a traditional dish in the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and, most importantly, Saudi Arabia, where the dish originated.

A Full Meal Powered by Beef Shanks

A metal pot with a layer of uncooked basmati rice with diced tomatoes and carrots, cooked beef or lamb, and meat broth.
A feast without Kabsa is like a day without sunshine—incomplete and lacking flavor.

Chicken Kabsa

Did you know that you can prepare chicken kabsa instead of kabsa with beef shanks? It’s quite easy and appetizing for those chicken fans in your family.

To make chicken kabsa, you can follow the same exact steps in the recipe card. You just leave out the beef or lamb shanks. Instead, you can choose either one of two options.

One way is by using whole chicken thighs, drumsticks, or breasts, either boned or deboned. You first grill the chicken cuts over a large pan or grill. Then, go through the other steps. At last, put the grilled chicken pieces on top of the rice.

The other way is by cooking the chicken pieces. Place them, covered with water, in a large pot. Boil them on medium-high heat for 10–15 minutes and then on medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Then, you follow the same steps; you only replace the cooked beef shanks or lamb pieces with the chicken ones.

Spice It Up!

A large wooden spoon with whole spices and some pieces scattered around it. Near the spoon, a large bowl is there with orange beef kabsa ground spices inside it.
Add some kabsa spice magic to your rice!

Tips and Hints for the Perfect Beef Kabsa

To have fluffy kabsa rice, first wash the rice, soak it in water for 30 minutes, and then drain. Also, be careful about the amount of water you add.

If you find your rice slightly undercooked, here’s a handy tip: introduce a small amount of water and let it steam on medium heat. This simple trick works like magic.

It’s common to eat beef or lamb kabsa with side dips. In general, Saudis have the dish with a sauce called shatta, or chili pepper sauce. Mix green pepper, garlic, tomato, cilantro, black pepper, and enough salt in a small bowl to get the sauce.

One variation of the kabsa with beef shanks recipe goes without broth. You can replace the meat broth with tomato sauce. It’s a mixture of tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.

Pro Tip

Give the meat a fragrant touch before you cook it. Add some cardamom pods, black lime bay leaves, and a cinnamon stick to the meat broth.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of beef meat is best for this recipe?

The best kind is lean beef with a little fat. It cooks tenderly and can be cut into chunks easily.

What is the difference between Kabsa and Chicken Mandi?

One of the primary differences is in the cooking method. Yemeni Chicken Mandi follows a traditional approach, prepared in a vessel partially buried in the ground, resembling an earthen oven. On the other hand, Saudi Chicken Kabsa is cooked on the stove.

What’s the difference between Kabsa and Biryani?

These Middle Eastern chicken and rice recipes are very similar, including their preparation. The only significant difference is that Biryani has a bolder, somewhat spicier flavor.

Pro Tip

It’s a rule of thumb that says when you use one cup of basmati rice, you add one and a half cups of liquid. Make sure not to stir the rice while it is cooking.


Refrigeration: Store the beef Kabsa in airtight containers or sealable plastic bags. Place it in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking to minimize bacterial growth.

Freezing: If you want to store beef Kabsa for a longer period of time, you can freeze it. Place the Kabsa in airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. It’s advisable to consume frozen beef Kabsa within 2–3 months for the best quality.

Reheating: Reheat beef Kabsa on the stovetop or in the microwave until it reaches a safe internal temperature.

Serving Suggestions

Traditionally, beef Kabsa is served alongside Middle Eastern salads such as fatoush, tabouleh, or any Arabic salad, enhancing the dining experience with a variety of fresh and vibrant flavors.

To complement the richness of the dish, consider serving it with plain yogurt or a yogurt garlic sauce, providing a cool and tangy contrast that balances the robust and savory notes of the beef Kabsa. This combination not only adds depth to the meal but also offers a well-rounded and satisfying dining experience.

Beef Kabsa: The Queen of Middle Eastern Dishes

A silver metal plate has kabsa with cooked meat and basmati rice, topped with diced tomatoes, chopped parsley, and toasted nuts.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Meat Substitutions: Instead of beef, you can use lamb, chicken, or a combination of meats to suit your preferences.
  • Rice Variations: While traditional kabsa uses long-grain basmati rice, you can experiment with other rice varieties like jasmine rice or even brown rice for a nuttier flavor and added nutrition.
  • Saffron Infused Beef Kabseh: Add a touch of luxury by infusing saffron into the dish, providing a distinct and aromatic flavor.

Ingredients of Kabsa with Beef Shanks

Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is used to sauté the veggies.

Veggies: Kabsa becomes delectable with a combination of vegetables such as onions, carrots, and tomatoes, all cubed into large chunks.

Ginger and garlic: You can also use the paste or freshly grated or minced ginger and garlic.

Kabsa spice: This is one of these whole spices. But you can prepare it yourself if it isn’t available. Use equal amounts of these ground spices: turmeric, fennel, cilantro powder, ground ginger, black pepper, black cardamom, and cumin.

Basmati rice: Always opt for long-grain basmati rice.

Meat broth: You can use the broth of the cooked beef.

Salt: Salt is the balancing factor that brings out all tastes and flavors.

For the Topping

Almonds: Choose slivered almonds. You can also use raw cashews or pine nuts.

Olive oil: It makes the nuts crunchy. To do so, heat this vegetable oil and add the nuts.

(Scroll down for recipe details.)

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5 from 2 votes

Easy Beef Kabsa

By: Lama
Kabsa with Beef Shanks is a comforting meal made with warm rice, cubed veggies, cooked beef shanks in one pot, and then topped with toasted almonds. This is the simple version of Kabsa compared to others I make that require more steps! ⁣
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 2 pounds Beef shanks, or lamb
  • ¼ cup olive oil, extra virgin
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 carrots, cubed
  • 1 large tomato, largely cubed
  • 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic, paste or freshly grated/minced
  • 3 tablespoons kabsa spice
  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 1 dry lemon, optional
  • 3 ½ cups meat broth
  • 2 tablespoons salt


  • 1 cup slivered almonds , and/or raw cashews
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


  • Place the beef shanks and dry lemon (loomi) in a pressure cooker for 1 hour.
  • Remove the meat and gently piece each chunk using your hands into the size you desire.
  • Sift the meat broth to clean from any gunk.
  • Wash and drain your rice until the water runs clear.
  • In a medium pot, add 1/4 cup oil on high heat and then sauté the cubed onions and carrots for 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the ginger and garlic paste and stir for another 2 minutes, or you can use fresh garlic and ginger.
  • Add in the soaked and drained rice, cooked meat chunks, kabsa spice, salt, meat broth and cubed tomatoes, and then stir.
  • Let it boil for 1 minute, and then cover the pot and lower to simmer for 15 -17 minutes.
  • Allow rice to rest for 10 minutes before serving. 
  • Toast the slivered almonds with olive oil until they are golden brown to garnish the rice along with minced parsley.



  • To have fluffy kabsa rice, first wash the rice, soak it in water for 30 minutes, and then drain. Also, be careful about the amount of water to add. It’s a rule of thumb that says when you use one cup Basmati rice, you add one a half cups liquid. Make sure not to stir the rice while cooking.
  • It’s common to eat beef or lamb kabsa with side dips. In general, Saudis have the dish with a sauce called Shatta or chili pepper sauce. 
  • One variation of the kabsa with beef shanks recipe goes without broth. You can replace the meat broth with tomato sauce.
  • Give the meat a fragrant touch before you cook it. Add some cardamom pods, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick to the meat broth.        
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About Lama

I'm Lama, welcome to my blog where you will find simple and diverse recipes your entire family will enjoy. I am honored to connect with you through the recipes I prepare!

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