A sheekh kabab is formed from spiced lamb mince, wrapped around a skewer, then grilled.–Shamil Thakrar

How to make your own ground lamb

To create our mince [Editor’s Note: or ground meat] for this recipe we blend a mixture of 80% lean lamb leg and 20% fresh lamb suet to give the best balance of fat for optimum succulence. If you can manage this at home, we strongly recommend it. If you’re unable to buy lamb suet and your lamb mince is quite lean, processed cheese slices are a secret trick that will add a welcome richness. For the most succulent kababs, finely chop the cheese, mix with your lamb mince and then pass through the fine setting of a hand mincer.

Three lamb sheekh kebab skewers on a plate with sliced red onion, lime wedges, and chopped mint leaves.

Lamb Sheekh Kebab

5 / 2 votes
Lamb sheekh kebab are basically ground lamb skewers with warming spices and flavors. Short on effort and long on flavor.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories397 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes


  • Metal or pre-soaked


  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 15 whole fresh cilantro stalks
  • 2 to 3 small green chile peppers
  • 1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 pound 2 ounces ground lamb (20% fat)
  • 2 processed cheese slices, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated garlic, mashed with a fork
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger, mashed with a fork
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons garam masala

To serve

  • Fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Red onion slices
  • Lime wedges


  • Warm a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the coriander and cumin seeds and toast until fragrant, shaking the pan regularly, about 2 minutes. Tip them out onto a plate and let them cool, then use a pestle and mortar or spice grinder to crush them to a fine powder.
  • Using a blender or mini food processor, briefly blitz the cilantro stalks, green chiles, and red onion to a coarse paste (don’t make it too finely mashed).
  • If you have a grinder, pass the lamb (with the cheese, if using) through it for especially juicy kebabs.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the lamb and salt and mix well to ensure they are thoroughly combined. Add the coriander, chile and onion mix, along with the crushed toasted seeds, garlic and ginger pastes, black pepper, and garam masala.
  • Mix vigorously on medium-low speed until you see tiny white strands forming in the meat, 2 to 3 minutes. Alternatively, if you’d like an arm workout, you can mix using a wooden spoon.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. (If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them now.)

    ☞ TESTER TIP: To check your meat for seasoning, before shaping the meatballs, fry a small spoonful of the mixture in a skillet until cooked through and then taste. Adjust the seasoning in the mixture accordingly.

  • Portion the kebab mixture into 10 balls, each weighing 2 ounces (57 g). Push a skewer through the center of each, then, with wet hands, press the mixture into a thin sausage shape around the skewer. The prepared kababs can be covered and stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Preheat a grill to medium-high.
  • Grill the kebabs, turning regularly, until nicely browned and cooked through but still soft and tender inside, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Let the kebabs rest for 2 minutes, then arrange on plates and garnish with chopped mint and red onion. Serve at once, with lime wedges.

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 397 kcalCarbohydrates: 7 gProtein: 22 gFat: 31 gSaturated Fat: 13 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2 gMonounsaturated Fat: 13 gCholesterol: 93 mgSodium: 1031 mgPotassium: 412 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 1 gVitamin A: 522 IUVitamin C: 8 mgCalcium: 61 mgIron: 3 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2019 Shamil Thakrar. Photo © 2019 Haarala Hamilton. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I CANNOT emphasize enough how delicious these lamb sheekh kebabs are…I can’t imagine if any more flavor could be packed into these little skewers. These produced the best kebabs I’ve ever made at home, and better than many I’ve had at restaurants. I was concerned that all that mixing would produce incredibly tough results, but they instead produced soft and tender kebabs that slid right off the skewer. Will absolutely be making these next summer. I served mine with a pomegranate and mint raita from Meera Sodha’s “Made in India.”

This is not the time to be a martyr and mix it by hand: GET OUT THE STAND MIXER! I keep pre-soaked skewers in the freezer now (thanks to the great advice of fellow tester, Linda Pacchiano) and had no difficulties with them on the grill.

This evoked memories of great kebabs in good Indian restaurants and I am so glad I have found this recipe for lamb sheekh kebabs. I’d been trying to recreate the flavors as I don’t have many great Punjabi/Pakistani restaurants where I live, and I was having trouble finding the correct mixture of spices to ratio of lamb.

It can be done indoors on a griddle (as I did as it was raining) as well as outdoors. It was very easy to have delicious dinner ready in less than an hour. Served with rice, green salad, red onion slices and minted yogurt and a quick-pickled red cabbage it was a real treat. I definitely will be making it again and I can’t wait for summer so I can do it on the grill! Quick note: make sure your garam marsala is fresh.

I’ve been making my variation of a lamb kofta for quite a while, which I serve on a flatbread with a yogurt sauce and a harissa mayo sauce. This recipe caught my eye as an interesting alternative, because a kofta is generally pan fried, so a skewer version seemed like fun to try. Plus, the spices are certainly great with lamb.

Now, not everyone likes lamb, and I think it’s because they probably had a poorly prepared leg of lamb sometime in their youth. These lamb sheekh kebabs are something very different, and they don’t disappoint, so I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. The earthy gaminess of the lamb is subdued by the spices, onion and gentle heat of the peppers that are woven into each fiber of the kebab via the mixing process. I did omit the cheese.  I felt my lamb was quite fatty enough, plus I wanted to compare it with my kofta. I used one rather large serrano pepper, and could have increased it to two without making the heat level too high.

I cooked this on my outdoor griddle, and they were ready in about 5 minutes, and turning them frequently is key to a juicy kebab. I took them off when they reached 135°F on my digital thermometer, and let them rest about 5 minutes before tucking in. I served the kebabs on a bed of lentil and rice, along with thinly sliced red onions, fresh mint, pieces of lime, as well as some homemade hummus and tzatziki. My better half told me that she would happily be served this again, so I’ve added it to our lamb repertoire. Next time I’ll serve it on a flatbread, with the rice and lentils on the side, as this could be hand held!

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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