Meet Kibbeh: The National Dish of Lebanon

Kibbeh, a national dish of Lebanon, is the heart of Lebanese cuisine. The Kibbeh is a classic Middle Eastern dish that’s cherished across the globe. With its tantalizing mix of bulgur, ground meat, and spices, this dish is not only an iconic Lebanese creation but also a delectable representation of Mediterranean flavors.

The origin of Kibbeh traces back to the ancient Middle East. It’s believed that this dish was born out of necessity and creativity—using available ingredients like meat, bulgur wheat, and spices to create a filling meal. The name “Kibbeh” itself is derived from the Arabic word “kubba”, which means ball—a reference to its traditional shape.

Our team at Remitly created this guide as part of our series that celebrates the culinary traditions of our customers around the world.

The Origin of Kibbeh

Historically, Kibbeh has been a staple in Lebanese households for centuries. Its roots are deeply embedded in the region’s culture and traditions. The preparation process was often a communal activity where families would gather together to handcraft these delicious morsels.

Over time, Kibbeh evolved into more than just sustenance—it became an integral part of celebrations and gatherings. It symbolizes hospitality and generosity in Lebanese culture—an offering made with love and care.

Ingredients Used in Kibbeh

The primary ingredients used in traditional Kibbeh include finely ground meat (usually lamb or beef), bulgur wheat, onions, and an array of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice. These ingredients are combined meticulously to form a dough-like mixture, which is then shaped into balls or patties.

Inside these shells lies another layer of flavor—a filling made from minced meat cooked with onions, pine nuts or almonds, and additional spices. This combination results in a dish that is hearty yet delicate—a balance between the robustness of meat and subtlety of grains.

A Step-by-Step Recipe of Kibbeh


  •  1 cup fine bulgur wheat
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Soak the bulgur wheat in cold water for 20–30 minutes, then drain and squeeze out any excess water.
  2. In a food processor, combine the soaked bulgur, minced meat, chopped onions, olive oil, mint leaves, pine nuts, cumin, allspice, salt, and black pepper.

  3. Blend until you have a smooth, consistent mixture. You can also use a mortar and pestle or a meat grinder for a more authentic touch.

  4. Now, it’s time to shape your kibbeh. You can form them into balls, patties, or even stuff them with additional meat and onions.

  5. Serve your kibbeh as raw kibbeh, fried until golden brown, or baked in the oven. It’s best enjoyed with a side of pita bread, hummus, and a refreshing yogurt sauce.

Variations of Kibbeh Across Lebanon

Kibbeh isn’t just one dish—it’s a category of dishes with numerous variations across Lebanon. Some regions prefer it raw (Kibbeh Nayyeh), while others bake it in trays (Kibbeh Bil Sanieh). There are also vegetarian versions made from pumpkin or potato instead of meat.

Each variation has its own unique taste profile yet shares the same essence—a testament to the versatility of this beloved dish. It’s this diversity that makes Kibbeh an exciting culinary adventure—one that takes you on a gastronomic journey across Lebanon.

Popular Pairings with Kibbeh

Kibbeh pairs well with various side dishes and beverages. A popular choice is tabbouleh—a refreshing salad made from parsley, tomatoes, onions, bulgur wheat, lemon juice, and olive oil. Another favored pairing is hummus—a creamy dip made from chickpeas.

As for drinks, arak—an anise-flavored spirit—is often served with Kibbeh. Its strong flavor complements the rich taste of the dish, making it a popular choice among locals and tourists alike.

Exploring Other Lebanese Delights

Lebanese cuisine is a treasure trove of flavors, and Kibbeh is just the beginning. Here are a few other Lebanese dishes you must try:

1. Tabbouleh: This refreshing salad boasts a mix of cracked wheat, finely chopped fresh herbs, tomatoes, and a lemony dressing. It’s the perfect side dish for any meal.

2. Hummus: Creamy, nutty, and oh-so-delicious, hummus is a staple in Lebanese mezze. It’s made from chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of garlic.

3. Fattoush: A Lebanese salad with a crunchy twist! Fattoush is made with crispy pita bread, mixed greens, cucumbers, and sumac, all drizzled with a zesty dressing.

4. Meatballs (Dawood Pasha): Lebanese meatballs are packed with flavor, often served with a rich tomato sauce. They make a fantastic main course.

Lebanese cuisine is a true treasure trove of tantalizing flavors. Whether you’re savoring kibbeh or any other Lebanese dish, the Middle Eastern culinary experience is a journey of delightful discoveries for your taste buds.

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