This spiced beef on whole-wheat flatbread is an easy weeknight dinner that tops flatbreads with cumin, paprika, and cinnamon-spiced beef, cucumber, yogurt, red onion, and cilantro.
Spiced ground beef is a staple of many Mediterranean cuisines. And it’s perhaps never tasted better than on this simple whole-wheat flatbread gussied up with cool yogurt, crisp red onion, cucumber ribbons, and a squeeze of tart lemon. Everyone who’s made this has lauded its perfect balance of warming spices and marveled at how everyday ingredients can come together so easily to make something so unexpected. Hello, Wednesday night dinner! And kindly note, it’s easy to double the recipe to serve more or to ensure leftovers.–Jenny Howard
Spiced Beef on Whole-Wheat Flatbread
For the flatbreads
- 6 ounces lean ground beef* preferably 80 to 85% lean
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 small onion (4 oz | 113 g) grated
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 whole-wheat flatbread rounds naan, or pita breads, 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 cm) in diameter
- 1 cucumber shaved lengthwise into long ribbons with a vegetable peeler or halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro leaves
- 1/2 small red onion (2 oz | 57 g) thinly sliced
- Lemon wedges
Make the flatbreads
- Preheat the oven to 475ºF (250ºC).
- In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef, breaking it up with the back of a spoon or spatula, until browned, about 4 minutes. Drain off any excess fat. Add the garlic and grated onion and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, parsley, salt, cayenne, cumin, paprika, and cinnamon and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
- Arrange the flatbreads, naan, or pita on a rimmed baking sheet and spoon the ground beef on top, spreading it almost to the edges. Bake until the edges of the flatbreads are beginning to crisp and brown, 4 to 8 minutes. (For a softer flatbread, bake for just 3 to 4 minutes. For a crisper flatbread, closer to 7 to 8 minutes.) Remove the flatbreads from the oven.
- Top each flatbread with a few strips or slices of cucumber, a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkling of parsley or cilantro, and a few slices of red onion. Serve with a couple of lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over the top.
*CAN I SUBSTITUTE GROUND LAMB FOR GROUND BEEF?You can easily substitute an equal amount of ground lamb for the beef. You can also use this spiced ground beef mixture as a filling for soft or hard-shell tacos.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This spiced beef on whole-wheat flatbread was a hit. All in all it looked good, tasted great, and will be a keeper. Loved the spice blend. Don't be afraid of the cayenne.
I actually made the meat for this ahead of time to eat later in the week and I so looked forward to Wednesday dinner! This smelled like a beef version of chorizo from my favorite Mexican restaurant and was so refreshing with the cucumber and other garnishes. I couldn’t wait to eat this!
I doubled the recipe to allow for leftovers. The meat would also be great in a pita or tortilla for a hand-held version. Great hot weather dinner that came together fast.
Looking for an easy weekday meal? You'll love how this spiced beef on whole-wheat flatbread comes together in no time flat. Warm, spicy, and a very delicious dinner. This is a super easy recipe.
There isn't much cooking time, so get all of your ingredients prepped before browning the meat. Once the onion was grated and the garlic minced, I measured out the spices, salt, and parsley into a small bowl. I chose ground chuck with an 85/15% fat ratio. While you wait for the flatbreads to warm, use a vegetable peeler to create long ribbons from your cucumber. Go ahead and chop up your cilantro now, too.
I served the flatbread with tzatziki, (overkill maybe, I know, but I love it so!). I added a few ribbons of cucumber, cilantro, and a squeeze of lemon. Served it with a side salad of chickpeas, feta, and arugula.
We liked the texture of the meat and most of us liked the flavor. The spicing for me was fine and the squeeze of lemon brings the dish together. I think this works well for a unique weeknight dinner. I'd make this spiced beef on whole-wheat flatbread again but I'd probably adjust the spicing to match my family's taste and use a little less cayenne and more cumin or paprika. We all loved this for dinner although I think it would also make a great lunch.
We used a full-fat Greek yogurt to offset the spiciness of the meat. We all found the cucumber refreshing but the long sheets were cumbersome to eat. I'll likely shred the cucumber next time to make it easier.
I did have to use a couple tablespoons of water to prevent the tomato paste from scorching when cooking. I think if I'd used a fattier ground beef (I used 85%) this may not have been necessary.
Love, love, love this recipe! The flavor of the meat from the spices is superb. Don’t let the amount of cayenne pepper scare you away. Although it’s a lot of cayenne for so small an amount of meat, with the cumin and paprika and cinnamon, it works, and works beautifully. I was saying, “This is amazing!” with every bite.
The yogurt, cucumber, cilantro, and purple onion were fabulous on top. A squeeze of Meyer lemon—nirvana.
We always have 1-pound packages of very good ground beef in the freezer. I'm going to have to convert this recipe so that I will be able to make this in 1-pound potions. When we get up to see the butcher whose ground beef we like, I'll ask him to put some into 6-ounce packages for us. Then we can have a little, or a lot. One thing is for sure—we need more spiced beef on whole-wheat flatbread.
As a lover of Mediterranean food, I was delighted to try this recipe. And while I love lamb, the cost-effectiveness of ground beef made this recipe particularly appealing. The easily accessible ingredients also makes it a winner in my book for someone who's interested in finding a quick but delicious meal during the weekday.
The only part of the ingredients list that was a bit confusing to me was the amount of ground beef necessary. As someone who is used to purchasing meat in half or full pound intervals, 6 ounces was a little tricky to navigate. I went with a pound of ground beef which also meant that I adjusted the other ingredients to match the increased amount of meat I used. With that being said, a pack of flatbread came with 5 pieces and I had plenty of spiced meat to generously fill all 5 flatbreads, creating 5 servings.
Also, I normally don't grate onions during cooking so I found the grated onions to be a bit too watery without any seemingly solid pieces of onion. I decided to mince the onion instead. However, the spiced meat had a very dry consistency and I wonder if it was because of my choice to mince rather than grate that left it too dry.
As mentioned previously, because I used more ground beef than the recipe directed, I also chose to adjust the rest of the ingredients added to the meat by doubling the amount. However, being a part of a household that doesn't typically eat super spicy foods, I did choose to keep the amount of cayenne pepper as the recipe directed. I would generally advise for people to add their cayenne pepper relative to their love of spiciness.
A thought about the flatbreads as well - I love having soft, doughy, and chewy flatbread so found the 8 minutes to create a really dry and crisp flatbread. For those who love it crisp, heat it for the full 8 minutes and for those who like it a bit soft, I'd recommend only 2 to 3 minutes in the oven, just enough to warm the flatbread.
While the spiced meat had a great flavor to it (the cinnamon really added a layer of flavor) the garnishes and additional toppings of yogurt, cucumber, and red onion really provided a tasty complement. Don't leave those seemingly small additions out!
Originally published April 19, 2021