Turkish Koftes in Tomato Sauce

If you´ve ever been to Turkey, you know how Turks love their köfte – the hand-made grilled patties from minced meat.
You can find them just about everywhere. From small street food vendours to fast food chain restaurants, they´re easily available for everyone to enjoy. Also the fanciest restaurants in Turkey take pride in serving their versions of Köfte to the gourmet eaters. Depending on the region, they come in so many variations, sizes and shapes but one thing is always common: all of them are healthy and packed with flavour.

The recipe I am sharing is a crowd pleaser. The healthy baked meatballs are made using two types of red meat which makes them exceptionally delicious. Dipping them in the pepper and tomato sauce makes them super moist. You can serve these as mezze, party food or main course with Turkish rice and salad on side.

What meat to use?
You can use lamb or beef mince. Or a mixture of both tastes even better. 

What goes in the meatballs?
As mentioned above, Köfte can be prepared in many different ways. Each region, even each cook, have their own recipe of making them.
I keep the meatballs fairly mild and add more seasonings to the sauce. But whatever seasoning you decide for, don’t skip the breadcrumbs and the grated onion. They serve two purposes here. First, they help with the binding and prevent the meatballs from crumbling. Secondly, they keep the meatballs moist and juicy. Also, a through mixing of minced meat with rest of the ingredients is very important for a smooth texture.

How to shape Köfte?
You can make ovals, round balls or even flat patties. Make sure to keep a bowl of water on the side to wet the hands while shaping the köfte. It helps the meat from sticking to hands and shape nice, smooth, crack-free meatballs.

How to cook Köfte?
Grill, bake or cook in pan. I prefer baking in the oven!
You can cook them directly in the sauce as well but I prefer making both separately and then combining as per need. It allows me bake more than required and freeze some to use later. 

What to serve with?
These meatballs are amazing served with Turkish pilaf, salad and a yoghurt dip. 

Try the recipe, and let me know how it turns out. You can also follow the step-by-step directions in the Insta highlights. Then share your thoughts and photos on my Facebook page or Insta using the hashtag #chefonrhine. 

Turkish Kofte in Tomato Sauce

Made with only a few ingredients, these healthy oven baked Turkish meatballs are tender and juicy. The red tomato and pepper sauce keeps them moist and extra delicious.
Servings 6


  • 250 g ground beef
  • 250 g ground lamb
  • 1 medium onion very finely chopped or grated
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4+1/4 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin powder optional
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp garlic minced
  • 400 g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp pul biber / Turkish red pepper flakes optional, for spicy version


  • Preheat oven to 230 C.
  • Take minced meat in a large bowl and combine together with the grated onion, breadcrumbs and 3/4 cup parsley. Season with salt and pepper and knead for good 3 minutes with your hand.
  • Add milk and mix well.
  • Make small meatballs and arrange them on a baking tray.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 10 min.
  • In a pan, saute the minced garlic and cubed paprika in olive oil.
  • Add in the canned tomatoes and the water.
  • Season with the salt and cumin.
  • Cook on medium high and allow the water to reduce.
  • Add sugar, black pepper and pul biber.
  • Transfer the meatballs into the sauce and cook for another 3-4 min.
  • Add parsley and stir.


  • You can use only beef or only lamb mince.
  • Canned tomatoes can be replaced with fresh tomato puree. The cooking time will increase according to how watery the sauce is.
  • Avoid overbaking the meatballs to retain the moisture.
  • The meatballs and sauce can be made in a big batch and frozen.
  • The shape of kofte can be made round or oval or flat. Whatever your heart desires!

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4 years ago

Can’t wait to make these! What would you recommend, kneading the mixture with hand vs. using a food processor to combine ingredients? I’ve heard you are not suppose to work the meat too much as it makes the texture tough. Thoughts?

3 years ago

It look mouthwatering. I will soon give them a try

3 years ago

What is in the yoghurt dip and the orange dip? 🙂

3 years ago

What is the yoghurt dip made of? 🙂