Chicken kafta is a great choice if you're looking for a delicious and easy recipe. This ground chicken dish is seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices and can be grilled or cooked in a pan for a quick and flavorful meal.
✅ Why This Recipe Works
Simple to make – No hours of prep needed. All you need is to marinate the chicken ahead of time. Once you’re ready to make the burrito, it will take 10 minutes to put it together.
Flavorful and well-balanced – By utilizing expert cooking techniques to make the kafta, you can make a mouthwatering meal from the comfort of your home
Low in calories and packed with protein – This recipe was specially developed to be packed with protein and low-calorie, so you can satisfy your Mediterranean food cravings while staying in shape
💭 What is Chicken Kafta
Chicken kafta is a popular Middle Eastern dish made from ground chicken mixed with various herbs, spices, and aromatics. It’s most commonly made with pork or beef, but the chicken one is equally delicious with a better macronutrient profile.
It can be served in a variety of ways, depending on personal preferences and regional variations. This is a great dish for a summer barbecue and is great served with a side of my high-protein hummus.
Chicken Kafta vs. Kebabs
A common question is how is chicken kafta distinguished from a chicken kebab. Chicken kafta is often characterized by being made of ground meat, while kebabs often consist of whole pieces of chicken thigh or chicken breast.
They are often seasoned differently as well, as kafta is typically seasoned with a variety of spices and skewered by itself, while chicken kebabs are often skewered along with onions, bell peppers, and other vegetables.
🍎 Calories and Nutrition – Is It Healthy
Chicken kafta is naturally very healthy as it predominantly consists of ground chicken, a lean protein, and is predominantly seasoned with spices and herbs, which have a negligible amount of calories.
To keep this meal healthy, it's important to be mindful when choosing the carb sides and sauces that accompany it. Careful portioning of carb sides is essential as they can quickly ramp up the calorie count. Similarly, the sauces, which are often high in fat, should be chosen wisely to avoid excessive calorie consumption.
This recipe has 392 calories with 37 grams of protein, 11 grams of fat, and 36 grams of carbs.
Here’s what I did to make it healthier:
- Used chicken as my protein base – Despite chicken not being the traditional kafta meat, chicken is a great lean protein option and is just as delicious as any other ground meat
- Portioned a serving of rice – I served this with 1 portion of rice at 160 calories.
- Served with yogurt sauce – I picked a relatively healthier sauce option to serve the chicken kafta with – yogurt sauce has some protein content and is less fatty than other options
- Use cooking spray instead of oil – I used cooking spray instead of oil, saving 120 calories per tablespoon
For a detailed breakdown of each ingredient, their portioning, and how they make up the nutrition profile of this chicken kafta recipe, you may refer to the table below:
📋 Ingredient Notes
To make the chicken kafta recipe, you will need these key ingredients.
Ground Chicken – I used ground chicken for this recipe for a great lean protein source.
Salt – The salt plays an important factor here in maintaining the moistness of the chicken and flavoring the meat. A good rule of thumb is to use 1.5% of the weight of the chicken in salt.
Cumin – A key spice in giving the chicken kafta its unique flavor.
Herbs – Minced parsley and/or mint give the chicken kafta a tinge of freshness.
See my recipe card below for a complete list of the ingredients with measurements.
📖 Substitutions and Variations
Use turkey – Another great lean protein option. The taste will likely be drier though given turkey is dryer
Herbs – While minced parsley and/or mint are the most popular herbs to use here, you can also use either one of them. Cilantro would also work well as a substitute.
Spices – At a bare minimum, I would include salt and cumin. Paprika can also be substituted with Aleppo peppers and pepper flakes.
Other carb options – Pita bread and/or rice are commonly paired with the chicken kafta
Sauce Options – Hummus, Tzatziki, Baba ghanoush, and Garlic sauce are common sauces and dip to serve with
Cook it on the grill outside – This recipe shows you how to cook the meal indoors out of simplicity, but you can also bring this outside to grill for an outdoor barbecue party.
🔪 Step by Step Instructions
Prepare the skewers – About 20-30 minutes before cooking, soak the skewers in water. This will make it easier for the meat to stick to the skewer
Prepare the ingredients – Get all the ingredients for the recipe and set aside. Mince the parsley, onion, and garlic into small, fine pieces.
Make the chicken mixture – In a large mixing bowl, add the ground chicken and mix in the minced parsley, onion, and garlic, along with the salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin. Mix everything together thoroughly so that the aromatics and spices are evenly distributed throughout the ground chicken.
Skewer the ground chicken – Take the presoaked skewers and add small pieces of meat throughout the skewer. Avoid adding a big clump of meat onto the skewer at once so that the meat is more easily distributed.
Cook the chicken – Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over the stove to medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray to prevent the kaftas from sticking to the pan. Add the chicken skewers onto the pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until the chicken skewers reach a 165-degree F internal temperature.
Serve with sauces and rice – Serve your chicken kaftas with sauces and rice and enjoy your delicious Mediterranean meal!
💭 Recipe FAQs
If the meat is falling off the skewer, it’s likely that you did not soak the skewers for long enough or that you are trying to add too much meat to the skewer.
Yes, you can make this in advance by pre-making the skewers and storing them in the fridge until they are ready to cook.
🍽 What To Eat It With
Chicken kaftas are a very versatile meal that pairs well with a variety of carbs, veggies, and dips. Here are some of the most popular options:
- Carb Sides: You can serve it with some delicious pita bread, flat bread, and/or a side of rice.
- Dips: Hummus, tzatziki, and baba ghanoush are some popular dips to serve it with.
- Vegetables and salads: Grilled veggies, Tabouli, Fattoush, and pickles are common veggie sides that kafta is served with.
💡 Expert Tips
Use the right salt ratio – With lower-fat meats like chicken, it’s essential to use enough salt to fully flavor the meat. A good rule of thumb is to use 1.5% of the weight of the meat (so for a 100-gram serving of chicken, use 1.5 grams).
Mince aromatics small enough – This will result in an even flavor distribution in every bite of the chicken kafta.
Get the grill lines – To get the grill lines on the chicken kafta, use a cast iron pan with grill marks and place the chicken kaftas perpendicular to the grill lines. Be sure the pan is hot enough to give it a good char.
🥡 Storage and Reheating
You can store this recipe in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. This is a great option to meal prep and eat throughout the week!
You can also freeze cooked or raw kaftas for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the fridge before reheating or cooking.
To reheat the kaftas, cover the kaftas and heat them in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes, or until fully warmed.
🍽 Related Recipes
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Chicken Kafta Recipe
- 6 oz Ground Chicken
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 2 tablespoon Onion
- 3.5 grams Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Cumin
- ¼ teaspoon Paprika
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- 4-5 Sprigs Parsley
- 1 serving Rice
- Prepare the skewers – About 20-30 minutes before cooking, soak the skewers in water. This will make it easier for the meat to stick to the skewer
- Prepare the ingredients – Get all the ingredients for the recipe and set aside. Mince the parsley, onion, and garlic into small, fine pieces.
- Make the chicken mixture – In a large mixing bowl, add the ground chicken and mix in the minced parsley, onion, and garlic, along with the salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin. Mix everything together thoroughly so that the aromatics and spices are evenly distributed throughout the ground chicken.
- Skewer the ground chicken – Take the presoaked skewers and add small pieces of meat throughout the skewer. Avoid adding a big clump of meat onto the skewer at once so that the meat is more easily distributed.
- Cook the chicken – Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over the stove to medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray to prevent the kaftas from sticking to the pan. Add the chicken skewers onto the pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until the chicken skewers reach a 165-degree F internal temperature.
- Serve with sauces and rice – Serve your chicken kaftas with sauces and rice and enjoy your delicious Mediterranean meal!
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