Kibbeh Bil Sanieh, or baked kibbeh, is an authentic popular Lebanese dish enjoyed all over the Middle East. It is made up of two layers of bulgur with a middle layer of ground beef, spices, and onions, and pine nuts perfectly placed on top. This is the healthier alternative to the well known fried kibbeh.
What is Kibbeh bil Sanieh or Baked Kibbeh?
Have you ever had fried Kibbeh? If not, you must try the football-shaped stuffed beef balls with deliciously seasoned ground beef. One important thing to know about fried Kibbeh balls is that they are a bit time consuming to prepare. The main reason being is that, traditionally speaking, fried kibbeh has an aesthetic aspect to it, meaning it’s meant to look good! Yes, a huge part of the fried kibbeh appeal is the beauty in its miniature size and football shape! Many of us know the tactic of “we eat with our eyes before our mouths” and it truly applies to fried kibbeh balls. But here’s the good news, Kibbeh Bil Sanieh is going to save you some time and is still just as attractive to the eye as it is appealing to the taste buds.
This identical sister recipe here consists of the same ingredients but is an easier and healthier version. Instead of making 30-50 shaped balls, we spread out the beef bulgur mixture in a pan, fill it with ground beef, and then top it with another layer of the bulgur and beef mixture. No frying involved! We simply use olive oil and it is so convenient to enjoy this savory dish in much less time!
How To Make Baked Kibbeh
To Begin With:
First, we soak the fine #1 bulgur in warm water until all the water is absorbed and the bulgur is soft. This step is very important because it ensures that the bulgur won’t remain crunchy and ruin the texture of the dish after it’s cooked. Crunchy bulgur will make this dish unenjoyable, even if you like the kibbeh thin and crisp! There is a huge difference between crisping up the kibbeh layers and having bits and pieces of tough and crunchy bulgur within the kibbeh mixture.
An additional step that is old school and would help the texture become softer and easier to consume is to mash and scrunch up the bulgur together well with your hands after it has softened! This ensures water has been absorbed equally to all the bulgur and more thoroughly. It also sort of breaks up the larger bulgur pieces after they’ve softened which makes them even more soft and better for baking!
Then you have to:
Prepare your spices and get out your food processor! Blend the spice with your bulgur mixture in the processor to enhance flavor and get the right texture!
Secret tips anyone who makes kibbeh bil saniyeh knows or should know:
This recipe can make two 12 inch round pans of baked kibbeh. If you decide to only make one large pan instead, like I did and have left over bulgur and meat mixture, then you can make them into patties and bake them the same way. You can choose to stuff them or not. Either way you can freeze the prepared kibbeh pan or the kibbeh patties for up to 2 months. For the patties you can place them in an air tight zip lock bags.
Prepare your meat filling by frying your onion, ground meat, and adding spices. You can start by browning your pine nuts first, or toasting them alone and adding them later. You can omit the pine nuts in the mixture altogether if you prefer as well!
You have a few steps to work on here. First, you smooth out the bottom layer of your kibbeh mixture into your pan after spraying it with cooking oil or covering the bottom with some olive oil. Put your kibbeh into the pan and pat with your hand, dipped in a little water so the kibbeh doesn’t stick as you press it down.
Then you add the meat mixture on top and spread carefully and evenly over the bottom kibbeh layer. Try to pour the meat filling around the pan slowly so you don’t have to spread it out with a spoon and mess with the bottom kibbeh layer as you do.
Then add your top layer of kibbeh, but cautiously. I found the best way is to take out handfuls of kibbeh and pat them in your hands to flatten them. You then add them close to each other all around the pan over the meat mixture. Then dip your fingers into some water and pat the kibbeh until you smooth it out and have the entire kibbeh pressed into one flat surface. Then you take a knife and cut into diagonal diamond-like shapes. Add a pine nut or two onto each individual piece. Pour olive oil on top and place in the oven to cook!
Serving up Kibbeh Bil Sanieh
Kibbi Bil Sanieh comes in handy when you’re in need of a grand meal that will satisfy guests and looks like you slaved over it lol. This can be made easily and in a short time.
Serve baked kibbeh with salad: from a simple tomato, onion, and cucumber salad to a classic Arabic Salad or fattoush. You can pair it with yogurt or a cucumber yoghurt salad. Simply serve it with fresh cut veggies like radishes, shallots, and peppers, or a tzatziki sauce which is my favorite with kibbeh.
Baked Kibbeh is wonderful because it tastes amazing served warm and tastes even better served cold! It’s all about preference here, but try it both ways and you won’t regret it!
Frequently Asked Questions:
The important thing is to thin your layers of kibbeh mixture as much as possible. That way the more you cook it, the more it crisps up. Also, adding the right amount of oil and using higher heat help in crisping it up further.
Not at all. You can use any cooking oil of your choice or even a cooking spray. But remember, whatever type of oil you choose may affect the flavor a bit.
Yes! Leftover cooked kibbeh can be frozen up to at least three months in an airtight container.
It definitely can. In fact it’s a perfect meal prep meal. You can prepare it and freeze it raw for up to three months in Pyrex pan covered appropriately. Simply remove the night before and store in fridge, and cook in oven before lunch or dinner.
You can flatten them out into patties and bake or fry them, or even freeze them for later use. If you have leftover meat mixture, you can turn them into kibbeh balls and do the same as well. In Middle Eastern culture, the mixture that’s left is served up raw as is with some radishes, green onions, and mint!
Bulgur and Beef Layers
- #1 Fine cracked wheat bulgur
- warm water
- ground beef
- onion small
- tablespoon paprika
- teaspoon cinnamon
- ground kamooni spice
- 7 spice (All spice)
- baking powder
- oil divided – ¼ to oil the pan and ¼ to be drizzled right before baking
- olive oil
- ground beef
- onion; finely cubed
- 7 spices (all spice)
- pine nuts
- salt to taste
Recipes You May Want To Try
- BRAISED GREEN BEANS- LOUBIEH BZEIT
- DURUM WHEAT CHICKEN SOUP- FRIKEH
- EASY STUFFED CABBAGE (MALFOOF)
- SMOOTH HUMMUS RECIPE
- SATISFYING FRUIT SALAD
- HALAWET EL RIZ – RICE AND CHEESE CREAM
Kibbeh Bil Sanieh (Baked Kibbeh)
Bulgur and Beef Layers
- 2 cups #1 Fine cracked wheat bulgur
- 3 cups warm water
- 2 lbs ground beef
- ½ onion small
- ½ tablespoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons ground kamooni spice
- 2 teaspoons 7 spice All spice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ cup oil divided – ¼ to oil the pan and ¼ to be drizzled right before baking
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 large onion finely cubed
- 1 tablespoon 7 spices all spice
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- ½ tablespoon salt to taste
- Soak the bulgur with water for about an hour, until the bulgur has softened.
- To the food processor add 2 lbs. ground beef, the soaked bulgur half of a small onion, paprika, cinnamon, kamooni, all spice (7 spice), baking powder, flour, and salt. Blend until well incorporated.
- In a large skillet add 4 tablespoons of olive oil on high, add in the raw pine nuts and toast for about 2 minutes, add 1 lb. ground beef and sear for a few minutes, then add the finely cubed large onion for another 4 -6 minutes. Add the 7 spices (all spice), and salt. Mix well and set aside.
- In a large round baking pan brush with olive oil then take about ⅓ of the bulgur and meat mixture and begin spreading and pressing down, add more of the meat and bulgur mixture based on how thin or thick you want it.
- The next layer is the sautéed ground beef and onion mixture. Be sure to spread it all around.
- The top and last layer is again the bulgur and beef mixture. Place a little water on your hands and add patches of the mixture until the whole pan is covered. Add more or less based on how thick or thin you want the layers.
- With slightly wet hands smooth the surface of any bumps.
- Wet a small kitchen knife and cut vertical and parallel lines, 2 inches apart to form diamond shapes. On each diamond shape add a pine nut.
- Drizzle olive (about ½ cup) all over the finished kibbeh.
- Preheat oven at 450° F. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned/cooked. Then broil on high for about 2-5 minutes, over 2 minutes if you want a crispy texture.