This quinoa kibbeh is the gluten-free alternative to Lebanese baked stuffed kibbeh substituting quinoa in lieu of bulgar wheat. It's three-layer stuffed kibbeh made with minced beef, tender quinoa, onion, allspice, Lebanese seven spice, fresh mint, fresh basil, pinenuts, and pomegranate molasses.
What I Love About This Recipe
I love how this quinoa kibbeh tastes similar to traditional bulgar wheat kibbeh, but it's gluten-free! Also, I really love this version with fresh basil and fresh mint added to the meat mixture.
The middle layer stuffing is made with:
- Minced meat: Use ground beef or ground lamb.
- Pinenuts: This ingredient is optional but adds flavor to the kibbeh stuffing.
- Spices: The kibbeh stuffing spices consist of allspice and Lebanese seven spices.
- Pomegranate molasses (dibz roman): This ingredient adds a tangy sweet flavor to the kibbeh stuffing.
The kibbeh and quinoa meat mixture form the top and bottom layer of the stuffed quinoa kibbeh. Here are some notes on the ingredients:
- Quinoa: I use white quinoa grain because it resembles bulgar wheat; however, any color of quinoa grain works.
- Minced meat: Use either ground beef or ground lamb. Kibbeh is usually made with high-fat minced meat; however, lean ground meat works too.
- Fresh basil: This herb is an excellent flavor maker for kibbeh. Alternatively, use dried basil.
- Dried mint and fresh mint: I prefer dried mint and fresh mint for the kibbeh meat mixture.
- Spices: Kibbeh meat mixture spices consist of ground cinnamon, allspice, and Lebanese seven spices.
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Quinoa Kibbeh
This recipe is split into two parts: making the stuffing and meat mixture and assembling the kibbeh.
Make the Stuffing and Kibbeh Meat Mixture
Prepare the dry quinoa per the package instructions. I just boil the quinoa with water for 15 minutes, then strain it. Allow the quinoa to cool.
Make the kibbeh stuffing by frying the chopped onions in butter or oil. Add the minced meat breaking up the clumps. Once the meat has browned, add the spices. Turn off the stove and add the pomegranate molasses.
Add ⅓ of the minced meat, fresh basil, fresh mint, onion, spices, dried mint, and salt to the food processor.
Blend the food processor on high until the meat is fully blended. Scoop the seasoned meat mixture into a bowl.
Add the cooled quinoa, a couple of ice cubes, and the remaining meat to the food processor. The ice keeps the meat mixture cool when it blends.
Blend the quinoa and meat.
Assemble the Kibbeh
Add the quinoa and ground meat mixture to the bowl. Mix the meat mixture with a few ice cubes.
Dip your hands into ice water and spread half of the meat mixture into a greased 9" x 13" baking dish (or equivalent).
Tip: The quinoa meat mixture is a little stickier than bulgar wheat kibbeh. This is normal.
Spread the meat and pinenut stuffing into an even layer.
Add the remaining kibbeh mixture on top.
Using wet hands, smooth the kibbeh layer.
Cut the horizontal and vertical lines fully to the bottom. The other lines are shallow cuts to form a design.
Continue making lines for a design. Bake in a 400 ℉(205 ℃) oven for 40 to 50 minutes.
Tips and Tricks
- Cool the quinoa prior to blending with the minced meat. If you blend the hot quinoa with the raw meat, it will change its texture and possibly make the meat smell.
- Blend the quinoa and meat with ice cubes. This keeps the raw meat mixture cool.
- Wet your hands with cold water while forming the top and bottom kibbeh layers. Otherwise, the kibbeh mixture will be hard to deal with, and it will stick to your hands.
- Quinoa kibbeh is more sticky than bulgar wheat kibbeh, making it difficult to shape.
Variations and Substitutions
- Use lean or fatty minced meat. Lean meat makes kibbeh less moist. Fatty meat makes kibbeh more moist. Use ground lamb, beef, or veal.
- Add lamb fat, beef fat, butter, or oil to the kibbeh before popping it in the oven for added flavor.
- Substitute dried basil in lieu of fresh basil.
- Chef's knife and cutting board to prep the onion
- Small stovetop pot with a lid to prepare the quinoa
- Non-stick skillet to make the kibbeh stuffing
- Food processor to make the quinoa kibbeh meat mixture
- 9" x 13" baking dish or equivalent
Kibbeh is freezer-friendly; just assemble the dish without baking it. Store it in the freezer covered for up to 4 months. When ready to bake, thaw prior to baking. Store baked kibbeh in the fridge for up to 4 days. Kibbeh reheats well in the microwave.
Cooked quinoa is an excellent substitute for bulgar wheat.
Yes! Quinoa is an excellent substitution for bulgar wheat. In Lebanese cuisine, quinoa can be substituted for bulgar wheat in kibbeh and tabouli.
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Quinoa Kibbeh (Gluten-Free Kibbeh Recipe)
Kibbeh Meat Mixture
- 24 ounces ground beef or lamb
- 1 cup dry quinoa makes 3 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 medium onion quartered
- 6 sprigs of fresh mint
- 6 sprigs of fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Lebanese 7 spices
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoon dried mint
- oil to rub on top of kibbeh before baking
Make the Stuffing and Kibbeh Meat Mixture
- Cook the quinoa in water as per the package instructions. Allow the quinoa to cool off.
- To make the kibbeh stuffing: Fry the diced onions in butter on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the pine nuts for another minute or two. Add the ground meat breaking up the clumps as the meat browns. Once the meat is cooked, add the salt, allspice, black pepper, and seven spices. Turn off the heat. Add the pomegranate molasses and stir. Allow the stuffing to cool.
- To make the kibbeh meat mixture: Using a food processor, blend ⅓ of the ground meat with the quartered onion, fresh mint leaves, fresh basil leaves, allspice, cinnamon, seven spices, salt, black pepper, and dried mint. Set the meat into a large bowl. Add the remaining ⅔ of ground meat with the cooled cooked quinoa and some ice cubes. Blend the meat and quinoa together. Add this meat mixture to the other meat mixture and mix with your hands.
Assemble the Stuffed Kibbeh
- Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish. Heat the oven to 400 ℉(205 ℃). Get a bowl with water and ice ready.
- Scoop half of the kibbeh mixture into the baking dish. Wet your hands. Press the kibbeh into an even layer. Dip your hands in water when the kibbeh starts sticking to your hands.
- Spoon the kibbeh stuffing evenly on top of the kibbeh base.
- Make the top layer of the kibbeh mixture by spooning the kibbeh onto the stuffing. Continue wetting your hands as you smooth the kibbeh into an even layer.
- Cut all the way through the kibbeh horizontally and vertically once. Then make cuts (only going halfway down) diagonally forming a pattern.
- Add some oil, butter, or lamb fat on top of the kibbeh if desired. Bake in the oven at 400 ℉ (205 ℃) for about 40 minutes to 1 hour.
- Substitute dried basil for fresh basil.
- Freeze the assembled kibbeh (pre-baked without oil) for up to 4 months. Thaw before baking.