Beef Bulgar Meatballs (Brazilian Style Kibbe)

Brazil is a country whose cuisine has been influenced by many cultures. As part of my foods of the World cup series, I am sharing one of my favorite quick snacks to grab in Brazil. Little football shaped beef meatballs with bulgar. Here is my version of Brazilian Style Kibbe (Quibe).

Brazilian Kibbe bulgar mint meatballs

Brazilian Kibbe is often made with ground beef (I know lamb can be used but have never personally been to any establishment which served lamb Kibbe here in Sao Paulo where I live, only beef).

Kibbe meatballs are seasoned with mint, oregano and mixed with bulgar which gives an exceptional and unique flavor. These are usually fried but can be baked.

Here in the area of Sao Paulo where we live, Kibbe are served with lime wedges on the side to squeeze over the top as you eat. However, Kibbe is served in many middle Eastern countries and can be seasoned and served differently.

My sister-in-law, married to my husband’s brother, has ancestors from the area of Turkey. This is her family recipe. Of course, like my recipe for Brazilian Chicken Pie (Torta de Frango), and Brazilian Lime Tart, I had to tweak the recipe, play with quantities, as well as technique in order to come up with a recipe that I can share.

This was toughest of my Brazilian recipes to actually reproduce. I had an idea of the recipe with vague quantities, but no real clear technique because I could not drive 8 1/2 hours to visit and view how to cook these.

One thing you will find in Brazil is that most people like to help. But it is often difficult to get a direct  answer if you have questions. For example, I found out from my butcher that you have to use a special meat (lean ground round AND that it has to be ground very finely—not sure how to translate that in technical terms).

Unlike meatballs in the U.S. there are no real binders in Kibbe. Thus, if your technique is off at all, you will fail at this recipe and the meatball will fall apart when you cook it.

Five tips for success:

1.       Use only lean ground round beef (if you use a high fat beef this recipe will not fry up nearly as well. The Kibbe literally will just fall apart and the bulgar crisps up too fast and falls apart). I will add that I have made it enough times I am able to use a fattier beef but I do not recommend it until you make these a few times.

2.     ALSO…ask your butcher to chop this extra fine.

3.     Part of the beef will be cooked and is the stuffing, the Other part of the beef, the outside, will be raw—AND must be COLD!!!!! If it is not cold it is very difficult to stuff the Kibbe. The reason it is stuffed, is because if all the meat is raw to start with the bulgar burns very, very easily before the inside of the Kibbe is cooked.

4.     You will make a cup shape out of the cold beef and put the cooked stuffing inside and then close up the seams very carefully, shaping into a football with your hands.

5.     Lastly, once placing the Kibbe in the hot oil, watch very closely. After only about 1 minute, or two, (the Kibbe will barely have begun to cook, roll over carefully to the other side and allow to cook. When brown, flip Kibbe and brown that other side. If you do not do this, the Kibbe will split.

My Mother-in-law does not use the same techniques I do. She does not stuff her Kibbe and she does not use cold meat. I have seen her burn this more than once and it is not edible and the center is raw.

I say this to mention that the techniques and tips I share are certainly not the only way to make Kibbe. However, these are tried and tested by me and will help guarantee success.

Kibbe are very tasty little treats and very filling because of the bulgar. With no further ado, here is the recipe.

Beef Bulgar Meatballs (Brazilian Style Kibbe)

Stuffing Ingredients:

1/2 lb. lean ground round beef (chopped extra finely by the butcher)

1 T. Oil

1 cup onions, minced finely

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. dried Oregano

1 tsp. dried Parsley


1.       Add the oil to a frying pan on Medium heat and fry the onions until soft and translucent.

2.     Add the garlic and fry until just starting to turn golden.

3.     Add the spices to bloom for about a minute.

4.     Add the 1/2 lb. ground beef and salt and brown completely. Set aside to cool.

Outside meat/bulgar Ingredients:

1.5 lbs. lean ground round (chopped extra finely by the butcher)

1 cup Bulgar, fine

1 cup onion, minced

1 c. mint, fresh, chopped finely

1 T. Parsley, fresh, chopped finely

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. Oregano, dried

1 T. Green onion, chopped finely

1 tsp. salt

1/2 T. hot sauce (optional)

Vegetable Oil (for frying)


1.       Add rinsed bulgar with 4 cups lukewarm tap water. Set aside to soak for 1 hour.

2.     Drain well. I use paper towels to press and absorb any excess water after it drains. Set aside.

3.     Combine onion, mint, parsley, green onion, garlic clove, Oregano, and salt in a food processor and process until it is all incorporated and looks like Pesto (if you do not have a food processor, you can use a blender….be very careful here. Add 2 T. water as liquid and blend. Don’t add too much or it will add too much liquid to the Kibbe).

4.     Add the onion herb mixture to the 1.5 lbs of beef, and drained bulgar. Make sure it is completely combined.

5.     Refrigerate this beef mixture at least 1 hour….it needs to be cold.

6.     Take the raw bulgar hamburger mixture and press into a cup type shape onto the surface of a baking tray. Be very careful.

It will look like this.

Brazilian cup shape kibbe

7.     Add cooked beef into the cup (not too much—don’t let it overflow).

Like this.

Brazilian kibbe stuffing added

8.     Shape the beef into a ball with tapered edges, like a little mini football, pinching edges to close.

It will look like this.

Brazilian kibbe pinch kibbe edges

And then this when edges sealed.

Brazilian Kibbe Football shaped

9.     Place on a baking tray and set aside. Continue until finished.

10.Heat oil in a pan to deep fry temperature of 375 degrees F. I just use a skillet that has high edges and fill it until the Kibbe are a little less than half covered by oil when placed in pan.

6.     Place the Kibbe a few at a time in the hot oil, and watch very closely. After only about 1 minute, or two, (the Kibbe will barely have begun to cook), roll over carefully to the other side and allow to cook.

7.     When brown, flip Kibbe and brown that other side. If you do not do this, the Kibbe will split.

11.    Fry all the Kibbe.

12.  Serve with lime wedges if desired. I like to mix a little mayonnaise or sour cream with hot sauce and dip it too (but I am not Brazilian:) My husband sticks with just the lime.

Enjoy!   by Rachel

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    • 6


      Thanks so much Yvonne. There are restaurants in the U.S. that serve kibbe. It is a common food found in many Middle Eastern countries and some South American countries that have citizens with middle eastern heritage. It is also spelled differently–I know here in Brazil it is Quibe, and I have also seen it spelled Kibbeh (but there are other ways too). Kibbe has a unique flavor but is very aromatic and delicious. This is how I was taught to make it and serve it where I live in Sao Paulo by my Brazilian sister-in-law who is of Turkish descent. Thanks for dropping by! Have a wonderful week:)

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    Thank you for sharing this Brazillian ‘meatball’ recipe – I’ve never heard of this dish before. It’s unusual to cook the meat twice, but I’m sure they’re delicious! I love, love, love finding new inspiration for meatballs – thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to try them! I’m glad I found you on Foodie Friday link-up. It’s great to meet new people who love food as much as I do
    Miss Food Fairy recently posted…In My Kitchen June 2014My Profile

    • 12


      Thanks so much:) Kibe has unique aromatic flavors- they’re very good. Thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. 17


    Thanks for sharing over at Merry Mondays link party. These LOOK AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!! -Treana @

  3. 21


    Thank you for sharing this post at City of Creative Dream’s City of Links on Friday! I appreciate you taking the time to party with me. Hope to see you again today :)
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