Made with fragrant spices and lean ground turkey, these Middle Eastern-inspired Turkey Kofta Kebabs are a delicious way to grill dinner this summer. In just 40-minutes you’ll be filling pita pockets with these juicy koftas along with our easy Greek yogurt cucumber sauce. Take your tastebuds on a trip around the world with this succulent and satisfying weeknight dinner!

grilled ground turkey kofta kebabs in a pita pocket with tzatziki sauce and garnish

Why We Love This Recipe For Turkey Kofta

If you’re looking for the perfect blend of vibrant flavors and grilled perfection, look no further than Grilled Ground Turkey Kofta Kebabs! Middle Eastern cuisine is known for its liberal use of spices and this grilled turkey dish is no exception! I’ve made Mediterranean inspired kofta before with Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs, but this time I was motivated to create a healthier version made with ground turkey instead of lamb or beef. 

Kofta is enjoyed by a wide range of countries and cuisines from ranging from South Asia, to the Middle East and Arab cultures in North Africa and beyond! There are as many versions as there are nations and cultures that enjoy this juicy grilled meat on a stick. Essentially, Kofta is a type of meatball that’s comprised of ground meat mixed with onions, garlic, and other spices. It’s then shaped into balls, footballs or sausage-like shapes to be skewered, grilled, and traditionally served with pita or naan.

I’ve accented this recipe with a delectable Yogurt Cucumber Tzatziki Sauce dolloped on top. That said, some Roasted Garlic Hummus smeared in your pita would make a great companion to the tzatziki – no doubt about it. You can round out your turkey kofta kebabs with Mediterranean-inspired sides like 15 Minute Greek Cucumber Salad, Simple Tabbouleh Salad, or Isreali Couscous Salad.

I hope you’re getting hungry! Now fire up the grill and get ready to take your tastebuds on a journey!

Key Ingredients for the Kebabs and Yogurt Sauce

grilled turkey kofta ingredients mise en place

Ground Turkey

Ground turkey is lower in saturated fat in comparison to lamb or beef, so it makes this recipe healthier. Keep in mind that your ground turkey only keeps in the fridge for 2 or 3 days, so be prepared to grill your kofta kebabs soon after you purchase the meat. 

Onion and Garlic

Onion and garlic are going to flavor and moisten your ground turkey. For this recipe, you’ll need to mince both your onion and garlic, and you can read more about how to cut your onion here.

Parsley

One of the staple ingredients in traditional kofta is parsley. It doesn’t matter what kind of parsley you use, just make sure you wash and dry thoroughly. Then remove the stem and finely chop ¼ cup for your turkey mixture.

Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are the one ingredient in this recipe not traditional to kofta, but they sure are necessary. The turkey is too soft to hold its shape unless breadcrumbs are included to bind the ingredients together.

Ingredients For The Yogurt Cucumber Tzatziki Sauce

What are kofta kebabs in a pita pocket without creamy yogurt sauce to dserve with it? This is a simple tzatziki-inspired yogurt and cucumber sauce that does some multitasking; sure it tastes great, but it also helps to moisten the kofta for serving since it’s so lean compared to ground beef or lamb.

Cucumber

You will need half of a large cucumber for this recipe. Once you grate the cucumber, squeeze the excess moisture out so your sauce doesn’t get watery.

Yogurt

This recipe calls for Greek yogurt which is nice and thick and won’t get too watery when you add the cucumber. We opted for full-fat so that it couls also add richness, but if you only have fat-free on hand that works too.

Lemon Juice

If you can’t procure lemon juice, you can also use red wine vinegar and there will be little to no difference in taste. 

Garlic

Yes, that’s right, garlic again! Garlic will season both components of this recipe.

sumac, salt, pepper, allspice, clove, and cumin in a bowl

Spices For Kofta

Sumac

Ground sumac is a common spice in Middle Eastern cuisines, and is known for its tart flavor and vibrant red color. If you cannot find ground sumac, you can omit it or add a small amount of lemon zest.

Additional Spices

  • Ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground allspice
  • Ground cloves

Step By Step Instructions For Grilled Turkey Koftas

softening garlic and kneading kofta mixture

Step 1: Soften Onion and Garlic

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add your minced onion and half of the minced garlic and stir often until the onion softens and starts to brown. After about 5 minutes, scrape this mixture into a bowl and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes.

Step 2: Preheat Grill and Make Kofta Mixture

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and wash your hands. While you’re waiting for the grill to heat, knead the ground turkey, the onion mixture, parsley, breadcrumbs, and all spices in a medium bowl until everything is evenly distributed throughout the meat.

shaping kofta meat and putting it on skewers

Step 3: Shape and Skewer

Divide the kofta mixture into 8 portions and shape each into 3-inch sausage shapes. Thread the meat onto a heavy metal skewer.

oiling the grill and grilling kofta kebabs

Step 4: Oil the Grill

Soak a folded paper towel with oil and use tongs to drag it along the grill grate. Do this immediately before adding the meat, as the oil will cook off quickly.

Step 5: Grill the Kebabs

Grill your kebabs, turning once, until cooked through (9 to 13 minutes). Let the kebabs rest for 4 to 5 minutes.

mixing tzatziki and serving it on grilled ground turkey kofta kebabs

Step 6: Make the Tzatziki Sauce

While your kebabs rest, grate the cucumber and place it in a colander or strainer. Squeeze the excess moisture from the cucumber, and then stir the cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, the remaining garlic, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt. 

Step 7: Serve with Sauce

Serve your grilled kofta kebabs in a pita pocket with tzatziki sauce.

turkey kofta on skewers beside a bowl of greek yogurt cucumber sauce

FAQs and Expert Tips

How do you make turkey kofta kebabs stick together?

Traditional kofta made with lamb sticks together on its own due to the moisture content of the meat. Often times it is kneaded to help emulsify the fats. Since turkey is much leaner than lamb or beef, I’ve included breadcrumbs as a way to bond the kofta mixture together and make it stiff enough to hold its shape on the skewer.

What’s the difference between kofta kebabs and shish kebabs?

Kofta is ground (or minced) meat combined with onions, garlic, and spices, and then shaped into sausage-like shapes and skewered. Shish kebabs are cubes of meat cooked on a skewer.

How do you keep kebabs moist?

Take care not to overcook the meat, and serve the kebabs with sauces and sides that will enhance the moisture on your palette. 

Why do my kofta kebabs stick to the grill?

Your grill might not be oiled enough if your kofta kebabs are sticking. Use a paper towel soaked in oil and drag it along your already-heated grill grates by using tongs. Be sure to use enough oil and do it right before you add your kebabs or else the oil will cook off and your kebabs will stick. It is also important to wait until the kebabs release from the grill grates on their own. If you try to turn them and they are stuck, let them cook a minute (or more) longer and almost always they will release on their own.

Additional Recipes To Try

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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grilled ground turkey kofta kebabs in a pita pocket with tzatziki sauce

Grilled Ground Turkey Kofta Kebabs

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 40
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Description

Made with fragrant spices and lean ground turkey, these Middle-Eastern inspired Turkey Kofta Kebabs are a delicious way to grill dinner this summer. In just 40-minutes you’ll be filling pita pockets with these juicy koftas along with our easy Greek yogurt cucumber sauce. Take your tastebuds on a trip around the world with this succulent and satisfying weeknight dinner!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1 pound 85% Lean Ground Turkey
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sumac, optional
  • ¾  teaspoon salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ large cucumber
  • ½ cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and half of the garlic and cook, stirring often until the onion starts to soften and brown, about 5 minutes. Scrape into a bowl to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Meanwhile, knead ground turkey, the onion mixture, parsley, breadcrumbs, cumin, sumac, ½ teaspoon salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice and cloves in a medium bowl with clean hands until the seasonings are evenly distributed through the meat.
  3. Divide into 8 portions. Shape each portion into a 3-inch sausage shape. Thread meat onto a heavy metal skewer.
  4. Soak a folded paper towel with oil. Hold the towel with tongs. Drag it along the grill grate toward you to oil grill rack. Do this immediately before adding the meat, as the oil will cook off quickly.
  5. Grill kebabs, turning once, until cooked through, 9 to 13 minutes. Let rest 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, grate the cucumber and place in a colander or strainer. Squeeze excess moisture from the cucumber. Stir the cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, the remaining garlic and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. 
  7. Serve the kofta with the yogurt sauce. 

Notes

Ingredient Note:

Ground sumac is a common spice in Middle Eastern cuisines, and is known for its tart flavor and vibrant red color. If you cannot find ground sumac, you can omit it or add a small amount of lemon zest.

To Prevent The Kofta From Sticking To The Grill

Be sure to oil the hot grill rack right before you add your kebabs or else the oil will cook off and your kebabs will stick. It is also important to wait until the kebabs release from the grill grates on their own. If you try to turn them too early and they are stuck, let them cook a minute (or more) longer and almost always they will release on their own.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 kebabs and 1/4 cup sauce
  • Calories: 255
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fat: 11 g
  • Carbohydrates: 10 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 27 g