Beef Koftas with Toasted Couscous

Fragrant and flavorful meaty skewers are charred on the grill in this quick dinner.

Beef Koftas with Toasted Couscous
Photo: Greg DuPree
Hands On Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
30 mins

You need just 30 minutes to make this satisfying dinner. Koftas are spiced football-shaped meatballs found in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. Here, grated onion, fresh herbs, and a fragrant shawarma spice blend infuse every bite of the ground meat. Shawarma blends often contain coriander, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, and turmeric, so you can easily make one at home in a pinch. A fresh couscous salad is a refreshing sidekick with juicy tomatoes and punchy scallions. Add tahini or seasoned yogurt for dipping!


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for grill

  • 1 ½ cups pearl couscous

  • 1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1 ½ pounds 85% lean ground beef

  • ¼ cup grated yellow onion

  • 2 teaspoons shawarma spice blend (such as McCormick)

  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh tender herbs (such as parsley and mint), divided

  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 4 scallions, sliced


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add couscous; cook, stirring often, until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Fill saucepan with hot water; add 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until couscous is al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain couscous and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil to prevent sticking.

  2. Combine beef, onion, spice blend, 1/4 cup chopped herbs, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Using your hands, mix and knead mixture until smooth. Shape into 12 cylinders (about 2 ounces each); thread a skewer through center of each cylinder. Gently squeeze meat onto skewer to elongate slightly.

  3. Oil grates and preheat grill to high (450°F to 500°F). Grill koftas, uncovered, turning often, until browned and cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes.

  4. Add tomatoes, scallions, and remaining 2 tablespoons chopped herbs, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper to couscous; stir to combine. Serve with kofta.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

656 Calories
28g Fat
54g Carbs
43g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 656
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 28g 36%
Cholesterol 111mg 37%
Sodium 962mg 42%
Total Carbohydrate 54g 20%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 43g

*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.

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