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Adana Kebab, a popular Turkish dish, is comprised of seasoned ground lamb that’s skewered and grilled over charcoal. It’s richly spiced, flavorful, juicy, and easier to make at home than you might think!

close up top view of adana kebab with sumac onion

Before I lived in the Middle East, my only experience with lamb was at my grandparent’s house on Easter. It always made the whole house smell funny, and it came served with gelatinous dollops of bright green-colored mint jelly. Needless to say, as a kid I wasn’t really a fan.

As an adult when I had the chance to live in the Middle East I gave lamb another try. I had a completely different experience. The lamb there was fresh, seasoned well, and grilled over charcoal. No funky musty odor; just the smell of grilling meat. It showed me that I really do like lamb!

If you enjoy grilled meat, you will love Adana Kebab. Just a few seasonings accentuate the flavor of savory, juicy lamb and the meat’s flavor really shines through.

I like to serve it with Sumac Onions because their tanginess cuts through the lamb’s richness, but this is optional. You can serve these grilled lamb kebabs on flatbread, or with rice and a variety of salads.

This is a healthy, easy, and delicious dish that you can also make in your oven instead of on the grill!

spread of turkish lamb kebabs with flatbread and vegetables

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Restaurant-quality. If you’ve ever been to a Turkish or Middle Eastern restaurant and ordered kebabs, you’re about to realize just how easy it is to make at home!
  • This recipe converts people who think they don’t like lamb. I’ve had a few people who told me they don’t like lamb try this and tell me they love it! With lamb, it’s really all about how you prepare it and this method is a sure winner.
  • Leftovers are delicious! I have an easy method for reheating leftovers in the oven or air fryer that ensures the meat stays tender and juicy.

The Best Homemade Adana Kebab Recipe

In Turkey where this dish is from, the Designation of Origin is very specific on how it should be prepared. It must be made from the meat of a male lamb less than 1 year old who was raised in his natural environment and ate the natural flora.

The silverskin, nerves, and internal fat is removed from the meat, and the meat rests for a while. After that, meat and tail fat (at a ratio of 5:1) are hand-minced using a crescent-shaped cleaver.

Once the meat is minced, it’s seasoned, skewered, and grilled over charcoal.

(You can read more about Adana Kebab on Wikipedia.)

Of course it would be very difficult for people outside of Turkey to follow these steps! At home, ground lamb works very well, and the blend of seasonings complements the juicy meat perfectly.

Ingredients

ingredients for adana kebab
  • Ground lamb
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Sumac
  • Cumin
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Paprika
  • Olive oil

Step-by-Step Instructions

how to make and skewer kebabs
  1. Peel and grate an onion.
  2. Add all ingredients for the kebabs to a large bowl.
  3. Use your hands to combine everything, being careful not to over-mix.
  4. Slightly wet your hands, and shape the meat onto skewers. Brush both sides of each skewer with olive oil.
lamb kebabs on grill

Grill the kebabs over medium-high heat until they’re charred on the outside and cooked to your desired level of doneness inside, rotating the skewers as necessary.

Storage and Reheating

Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.

You can reheat kebabs in the oven or air fryer.

To reheat kebabs in an oven, remove the kebab meat from the skewer. Wrap the meat in foil, and add a splash of water. Heat in a 400F oven until warm, about 8 to 10 minutes.

To reheat kebabs in an air fryer, remove the kebab meat from the skewer. Wrap the meat in foil, and add a splash of water. Heat in a 375F air fryer until warm, about 8 to 10 minutes.

turkish grilled lamb kebabs graphic

Adana Kebab FAQs

What Are Adana Kebabs?

Hailing from Turkey, Adana kebabı consists of lamb that’s finely minced by hand. It’s seasoned with salt, paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes or urfa pepper. Many recipes also add sumac and cumin. The meat is then skewered onto wide metal skewers and grilled. (You can read more about Adana Kebab on Wikipedia.)

Can I Make Ground Lamb Kebabs in the Oven?

Yes! If you don’t have a grill, you can cook these in the oven instead. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Skewer the meat as directed in the recipe.
  2. Place a baking rack on top of a large baking tray. Brush the skewered meat with olive oil, and arrange the kebabs on the baking rack so they don’t touch.
  3. Bake at 425F until they’re cooked to your liking, about 7 to 10 minutes per side, flipping once halfway through.
platter of ground lamb kebabs on flatbread with vegetables

Can I Use Beef Instead of Lamb?

Traditionally, lamb is used to make this recipe. But of course you can use what you like! If you prefer beef instead of lamb, use 80/20 ground beef, which is 80% lean with 20% fat (look for ground chuck).

Do I Need to Make the Sumac Onions?

No, the Sumac Onions are optional with this dish. However, they are easy to make, and a delicious pairing with grilled lamb!

Sumac, which is made from dried and ground berries, is a brick-colored spice used in Middle Eastern cooking. It lends a gorgeous color, and also a tangy tart flavor similar to lemon.

Sumac Onions are slightly softened and less piquant than raw onion, thanks to the addition of sumac and lemon juice. (They’re somewhat similar to pickled red onion!) They add a tangy bite which balances the richness of grilled meat really well.

sumac onions

What Do You Serve with Ground Lamb Adana Kebabs?

Just about any type of rice or salad pairs well with this dish. Here are a few ideas:

grilled lamb kebab recipe

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Adana Kebab Recipe (Turkish Ground Lamb Kebabs)

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Adana Kebab, a popular Turkish dish, is comprised of seasoned ground lamb that’s skewered and grilled over charcoal. It’s richly spiced, flavorful, juicy, and easier to make at home than you might think!

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Ingredients
 

Sumac Onions:

  • 1 large red onion peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Lamb Kebab:

  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 small-medium onion peeled and grated
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes more or less to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika I use sweet, but you can use hot if you want to add more heat
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil to brush on the meat before grilling

Serving Suggestions:

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Parsley
  • Flatbread
  • Grilled peppers I used yellow wax pepper

Instructions
 

For the Sumac Onions:

  • Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate until using (at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days).

For the Lamb Kebab:

  • Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Use your hands to combine, being careful not to over-mix.
  • Slightly wet your hands, and shape the meat onto skewers. Brush both sides of each skewer with olive oil.
  • Preheat a grill to medium-high. Once hot, add the kebabs and grill until they’re charred on the outside and cooked to your desired level of doneness inside, rotating the skewers as necessary. (The exact cooking time will vary based on your skewer size. I used 3 large skewers and it took about 15 to 18 minutes total.)
  • Serve hot along with Sumac Onion and anything else you like.

Notes

  • Nutritional Information: The nutrition information for this recipe was calculated without the Sumac Onions or serving suggestions.
  • Skewers: You can use metal skewers or wooden skewers, but large metal skewers are more traditional. If you use wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes first. This will help prevent them from catching on fire on the grill. My skewers were large so I only needed 3 for all this meat; however, the amount of skewers you use doesn’t matter. Just note that if you use smaller skewers, the meat will cook faster.
  • Sumac Onion: Store this in a covered glass jar in the fridge for up to 3 days. Note that over time the onions will soften more.
  • Storage: Store leftover kebabs covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can reheat kebabs in the oven or air fryer.
  • Reheating: To reheat kebabs in an oven, remove the kebab meat from the skewer. Wrap the meat in foil, and add a splash of water. Heat in a 400F oven until warm, about 8 to 10 minutes. To reheat kebabs in an air fryer, remove the kebab meat from the skewer. Wrap the meat in foil, and add a splash of water. Heat in a 375F air fryer until warm, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Beef Instead of Lamb: If you prefer beef instead of lamb, use 80/20 ground beef, which is 80% lean with 20% fat (look for ground chuck).

How to Make These in the Oven:

  1. Skewer the meat as directed in the recipe.
  2. Place a baking rack on top of a large baking tray. Brush the skewered meat with olive oil, and arrange the kebabs on the baking rack so they don’t touch.
  3. Bake at 425F until they’re cooked to your liking, about 7 to 10 minutes per side, flipping once halfway through.

Nutrition

Calories: 354kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 658mg | Potassium: 301mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 278IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Turkish

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adana kebab pin
Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. Antoinette Weinhofer says:

    5 stars
    My family loves this recipe — I make it often since it is so easy to make and if we have homegrown onions we will use them, otherwise the red onion is perfect — I actually weigh out small meatballs and then put them on the skewer and square it off by pressing down on all 4 sides
    Thank you for sharing this recipe

  2. Geraldo Cubito says:

    Amazing read! Your post instantly reminded me of a friend who shares similar thoughts. I’m sending this to him – he’ll love it as much as I did. Thanks for reigniting those insightful conversations with your clear and engaging writing. Keep sharing!

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