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Pork Kofta Kebabs with Tahini Sauce

Pork Kofta Kebabs are SUPER flavorful pork skewers made a ton of fresh herbs and dried spices in the ground pork mixture. These kebabs are not spicy, just full of savory flavor. They are fantastic with the easy creamy tahini sauce. (Not a fan of tahini? Use the garlicky yogurt sauce from my chicken kofta recipe.)

In this recipe, I give you instructions for how to cook pork kofta kebabs in the air fryer, oven, and in a pan!

Stack of ground pork kofta kebabs on a plate.
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What are kofta kebabs?

Kofta kebabs are a traditional Turkish / Middle Eastern dish made with ground meat—typically lamb or beef—seasoned with lots of fresh onion and parsley, and a bunch of dried seasonings. They are like super flavorful elongated meatballs (or tiny meatloaves?) that are cooked on a skewer. They're not spicy, but they have a LOT of flavor. Because of their flavor, they pair well with a creamy sauce, such as a yogurt or tahini sauce. 

My son has a beef and lamb allergy, so I re-make a lot of traditional ground beef recipes using other ground meats. That's how these ground pork kofta were born! 

Plate of pork kofta skewers with dip and garnishes on the side.

Pork kofta kabobs are pretty easy to make. The hardest part is gathering all the spices from the pantry (it's a lot! But sooo worth it because of the amazing flavor!). Once you mix the seasonings with ground pork, it's very easy to form the meat and place it on the skewers. 

Using skewers for kofta kebabs is actually optional, since you can simply form the ground pork mixture into meatballs or patties, if you prefer. Once the kebabs (or meatballs) are formed, choose how you want to cook them. Below you'll find some pros and cons for each cooking method.

Plate of pork kofta kebabs drizzled with tahini sauce.

Which method is best for cooking pork kofta kabobs?

Here are the pros and cons of using the oven, skillet, and air fryer to cook kofta kebabs. To summarize the details below: Most pretty and most work = grill pan. Least pretty but easiest = oven. They taste fantastic no matter how you cook them!

Air fryer: Quick, easy, nice browning all around, extra grease drips off, might need to cook in two batches, 8-10 minutes cook time per batch.

Oven: Easy—cook all kebabs in one batch, less browning all around, this method had the most extra grease drip off but the kebabs hang out in the grease until you remove them, 15-20 minutes cook time.

Grill pan: Beautiful grill marks, 8-10 minutes per batch but needed 2 batches so total time is 20 minutes, extra grease drips off between the grill "grates" but not too much grease comes off, kebabs can sometimes get stuck to the grill grates, need to constantly stand over the oven.

Regular skillet: No grill marks, 8-10 minutes cook time, and might be able to fit all kebabs in 1 skillet depending on the size, extra grease keeps touching the kebabs and not too much grease comes off.

More pork kebab recipes: Pork and Vegetable Kebabs

Ingredients to make pork kofta kebabs

Ingredients

This recipe makes 8 kebabs (4-8 servings, depending on how much meat you like to eat), and extra tahini sauce. If you don't have all the ingredients, DO NOT WORRY! You can skip the oregano, paprika, nutmeg, and cinnamon if you like. I prefer to add the ALL because I love the complex combination of flavors.

For the pork kebabs:

  • 1 lb ground pork (I use 80/20, and a lot of the excess grease drips off the kebabs as they cook, so don't worry about them being too fatty)
  • ½ cup plain breadcrumbs (for a gluten-free version, use gluten-free breadcrumbs or quick-cooking gluten-free oats)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped into quarters or eights
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup parsley, large stems removed
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • optional: ¼ - ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (omit for no spice)

For the tahini sauce:

  • ¼ cup tahini (my favorite is Soom)
  • 3-4 tablespoons water (depending on the thickness of your tahini)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh is best!)
  • ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste

Not a fan of tahini or don't have it on hand? Make a sauce with plain yogurt (Greek or regular), lemon juice, salt, a pinch of cumin, and a pinch of garlic. 

More flavorful kebab recipes: Air Fryer Tandoori Chicken Kebabs

Equipment

  • Skewers (if using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20-30 minutes before cooking as you prep the pork mixture. If you are using a grill pan or skillet and have long skewers, you will to trim your skewers or use short 6 inch skewers so they fit in the pan). Skewers are OPTIONAL because you can always make these into patties and cook them the same way. But skewers just make it more fun!!
  • Small or medium food processor (optional, but very helpful because otherwise you'll have to really finely dice the onion and parsley)
  • Air fryer OR grill pan OR skillet OR baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Large bowl
  • Large plate to place your prepared raw kebabs before cooking
  • Tongs (helpful for flipping the kebabs if using a grill pan or skillet)
  • Meat thermometer

More ground pork recipes to try: Pork Meatloaf

Instructions

If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20-30 minutes. If you need to trim them, use sharp kitchen shears and they will cut easier after soaking. As I said above, the skewers are optional because these can be cooked as a patty or an elongated shape without skewers.

Wooden skewers soaking in water.

If baking kebabs in the oven, preheat the oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small food processor, pulse together the quartered onion and garlic to break them up. Don't want to use a food processor? Finely dice the onion, garlic, and parsley leaves. As teeny tiny as you can get it.

Before and after pictures of onion and garlic in a food processor.

Add the parsley and process until the mixture is a coarse paste. You might need to stop and scrape down a few times.

Food processor with finely minced parsley, onion, and garlic.

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the kebabs. You can start with a fork, but you'll need to get in there with your hands. TIP: before getting your hands dirty, prepare everything you will need so you don't have to wash your hands too many times: skewers, large plate for the prepared kebabs, sheet pan, skillet, etc.

Collage of 2 pictures showing how to mix together ground pork with seasonings.

Divide the pork mixture into 8 equal parts (split in half, then split each half into quarters). Use your hands to form elongated shapes about 1.5 inches wide. Insert a skewer into each kebab, if using skewers. 

Uncooked kofta kebabs on a skewer to show how to assemble them.

Cook the kebabs whichever way sounds best to you! Cook time will vary depending on the thickness of the kebabs.

Air fryer pork kofta

If your air fryer requires preheating, preheat it to 375F.

Place the kebabs on the air fryer basket or tray. Air fry at 375F for 8-10 minutes, or until the center is cooked through to 160F. Excess grease will drip off the kebabs as they cook. Serve with tahini sauce.

Stove-top and grill pan instructions

Preheat a grill pan over medium heat. Carefully spray or brush the pan with vegetable oil, or another high smoke point oil. Place the kebabs on the grill pan and lower the heat to medium-low. Cover with a lid and cook for 2 minutes per side, for about 8-10 minutes total, or until they are heated through to 160F on the inside. Serve warm with tahini sauce.

The same instructions can be followed with a regular skillet or pan without grill grates.

4 pork kofta kebabs cooking in a grill pan.

Oven instructions

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the pork kebabs with at least 1 inch of space between each one. Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through to 160F. Excess grease will drip off the kebabs, so just lift them off the baking sheet and serve with tahini.

What to serve with kofta kebabs

Traditional side dishes for kofta kebabs are rice, fresh veggies like diced tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, pickled veggies, and side salads. I recommend this garlic turmeric rice, tzatziki salad (the creamy dressing is perfect with the seasoned kebabs), pickled garlic scapes or pickled fiddhelead ferns, if they're in season, or this grilled vegetable salad.

Other middle eastern-inspired recipes that would go great with kofta kebabs are golden couscous tabbouleh salad and lentil tabbouleh.

If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!

Plate of ground pork kofta kabobs.
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5 from 1 vote

Pork Kofta Kebabs

These Middle Eastern-inspired ground pork kebabs are easy to make and so incredibly flavorful! The recipe has instructions for the air fryer, oven, and stove-top. Read the notes below the recipe for tips about the skewers, which cooking method to use, and which spices are optional.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Middle Eastern
Servings: 8 kebabs
Author: Kate

Ingredients

For the pork kebabs:
  • 1 lb ground pork - (80/20 or leaner, either way works fine)
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs - (for a gluten-free version, use gluten-free breadcrumbs or quick-cooking gluten-free oats)
  • 1 small yellow onion - chopped into quarters or eights
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup parsley - large stems removed
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • optional: ¼ - ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper - (omit for no spice)
For the tahini sauce:
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 3-4 tablespoons water - (depending on the thickness of your tahini)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon salt - to taste

Special equipment

Instructions

Instructions
  • If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20-30 minutes. If you need to trim them, use sharp kitchen shears after soaking. Skewers are optional.
  • If baking kebabs in the oven, preheat the oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a small food processor, pulse together the quartered onion and garlic to break them up. Add the parsley to the food processor and process until the mixture is a coarse paste. You might need to stop and scrape down a few times.
    Don't want to use a food processor? Finely dice the onion, garlic, and parsley leaves, as tiny as you can dice.
    Food processor with finely minced parsley, onion, and garlic.
  • In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the kebabs. You can start with a fork, but you'll need to get in there with your hands. TIP: before getting your hands dirty, prepare everything you will need so you don't have to wash your hands too many times: skewers, large plate for the prepared kebabs, sheet pan, skillet, etc.
  • Divide the pork mixture into 8 equal parts (split in half, then split each half into quarters). Use your hands to form elongated shapes about 1.5 inches wide. Insert a skewer into each kebab, if using skewers.
    Uncooked kofta kebabs on a skewer to show how to assemble them.
  • Cook the kebabs using one of the cooking options below. Cook time will vary depending on the thickness of the kebabs.
  • Prepare the tahini sauce by carefully mixing all the ingredients together until the sauce is smooth. Adjust the flavor and thinness with salt, lemon juice, and water, if needed.
Stove-top and grill pan instructions
  • Preheat a large grill pan or skillet over medium heat. Carefully spray or brush the pan with vegetable oil. Place the kebabs on the grill pan and lower the heat to medium-low. Cover with a lid and cook for 2 minutes per side, for about 8-10 minutes total, or until they are heated through to 160F on the inside. Serve warm with tahini sauce.
Oven instructions
  • Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the pork kebabs with at least 1 inch of space between each one. Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through to 160F. Excess grease will drip off the kebabs, so just lift them off the baking sheet and serve with tahini.
Air fryer
  • If your air fryer requires preheating, preheat it to 375F. Place the kebabs on the air fryer basket or tray. Air fry at 375F for 8-10 minutes, or until the center is cooked through to 160F. Excess grease will drip off the kebabs as they cook. Serve with tahini sauce.

Notes

Cooking methods: Oven and air-fryer are the least messy. Stove-top on a grill pan makes beautiful grill marks but is a bit messier to clean up.
Skewers: If you don't have skewers, simply form the ground pork mixture into elongated kebab-shaped logs or patties.
Don't like tahini? Make the garlicky yogurt sauce from my chicken kofta recipe.
Spices you can omit, if you're feeling lazy: Cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano, cayenne pepper. I find that they add a nice complex savory flavor, but the kebabs turn out great without them too. 
What to serve with kofta kebabs: Traditional side dishes for kofta kebabs are rice, fresh veggies like diced tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, pickled veggies, and side salads. 
Nutritional facts are estimated per 1 kebab and do not include tahini sauce since I can't control how much you will use. Nutrition will vary based on how lean your ground pork is and how much excess grease drips out.

Nutrition

Calories: 179kcal (9%) | Carbohydrates: 7g (2%) | Protein: 11g (22%) | Fat: 12g (18%) | Saturated Fat: 5g (25%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 41mg (14%) | Sodium: 378mg (16%) | Potassium: 253mg (7%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 1g (1%) | Vitamin A: 890IU (18%) | Vitamin C: 11mg (13%) | Calcium: 45mg (5%) | Iron: 2mg (11%)

The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.

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