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Grilled Turkish Lamb Kebabs

Grilled lamb kebabs, Turkish style


Based on J. Kenji López-Alt’s recipe at 


For the kebabs:

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground cumin, divided
  • 2 Tbsp ground sumac, divided
  • 2 Tbsp ground seedless pepper flakes such as Aleppo or Urfa pepper, divided
  • 2 Tbsp ice-cold water

For serving:

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 pieces flatbread (like pita)
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • Pickled peppers, such as pepperoncini or sport peppers

Lamb kebab ingredients


  • Mix together the lamb, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp sumac, and 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes. Knead and squish it together until it becomes sticky and tacky-fibrous. Add the water and continue to knead it together until well mixed. Chill in the refrigerator. 
    Mixing kebab meat with spices
  • Start your charcoal and preheat your grill.
  • Combine the remaining cumin, 2 tsp sumac, and chili flakes in a small bowl. Add 2 tsp salt. 
  • Toss the thinly sliced onion with the rest of the sumac (2 tsp) and salt to taste. Set aside. 
  • Divide the lamb mixture into 6-10 equally sized balls of meat.
  • Form each ball into a long, flat shape on the skewers (flat metal ones are best for this). Moistening your hands with water will make the process easier.
    Forming kebabs on skewers
  • Set your kebabs on the grill, sprinkle them with some of the spice mixture, and cook, turning every couple minutes two get even browning. Sprinkle more spice mixture on as you cook and turn the kebabs.
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  • After about 10 minutes, start checking the kebabs with your Thermapen.

Temping the kebabs

  • As the lowest internal temperature of each kebab reaches 160°F (71°C), remove them from the grill. 
  • Warm the flatbreads on the grill and serve the kebabs with the dressed onions, the peppers, parsley, and tomato.