Kibbeh Sinayee (Lamb Diamonds!)

It’s been said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

I say diamonds are a girl’s (and boy’s) best friend when they’re made out of meat!

I think I was really missing my family last week, ’cause I dug into some Lebanese family favorites. I had cravings for tahini dressing… and turned my spinach into Simple Lemon Spinach… and I transformed ground lamb in Kibbeh Sinayee, a.k.a. baked lebanese meatloaf, a.k.a., Lamb Diamonds.

This recipe has multi-steps and is potentially on the fussier side of things – but the little bit of extra time required pays off big time in taste. Basically, you make a sort of lamb paté and a crumbled lamb filling, then you layer them in a pan and bake. Authentic kibbeh uses cracked wheat as a binder. It makes the meatloaf portion tender to the bite and adds a slight nutty flavor. I replaced the cracked wheat with riced (defrosted frozen) cauliflower, and it worked just great!

This kibbeh tastes awesome hot out of the oven or at room temperature. And like other homemade goodies, the flavors improve it if sits in the fridge for a day or two. I might have eaten some directly from the fridge with my hands at snack time. Maybe.

kibbeh_592 2

Kibbeh Sinayee (Lamb Diamonds!)

Serves 4-6 | Prep 40 min | Cook 40 | Whole30 compliant

  • 1/2 head fresh cauliflower

  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

  • 1 pound ground lamb

  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint leaves

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/2 tablespoon cooking fat (ghee, coconut oil, lard, etc.)

  • 1 medium onion, finely diced

  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 pound ground lamb


Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch round or square pan with a little cooking fat.


Prep the cauliflower: Place cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it’s the size of rice. Be careful! You don’t want it to mash. Place the riced cauliflower in a large mixing bowl and set aside.


Make the base: In the bowl of the food processor, place the onion, lamb, allspice, cumin, mint, salt, and black pepper. Process on high until it starts to become paté-like, scraping down the bowl occasionally to make sure everything is incorporated. Inhale the earthy mint and cumin smells.


Add the lamb mixture to the bowl with the cauliflower, wet your hands, and mix well until the cauliflower is distributed evenly in the lamb paté. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.


Make the filling: Heat the cooking fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat, about 2-3 minutes. Sauté the onion, pine nuts, cumin, salt, and black pepper until the onion is soft, and the pine nuts are beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.


Crumble the ground lamb into the pan, breaking up the chunks with a wooden spoon and sautéeing until it’s no longer pink. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the meat filling to come to room temperature.


Place half the lamb paté base in the bottom of the pan. Wet your hands and smooth the kibbeh until it’s an even layer. Spoon all of the lamb/pine nut filling on top of the kibbeh base; spread evenly. Place the remaining paté on top of the lamb filling, wet your hands, and smooth the kibbeh over the filling to make a pie.


Hold a sharp knife under cold running water, then use it to make diamond patterns on the top of the kibbeh sinayee. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until browned and firm. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing and eating.

NOTE: It tastes even better on Day 2. If you want to let it mature in the fridge overniight, just cover the pan with foil and re-heat in a 300F oven for 15-20 minutes when you’re ready to eat it.

Tastes Great With…

To make this into a feast, serve it with any of these other Middle Eastern recipes:

simple_lemon_spinach-1Simple Lemon Spinach

tahinidressingLettuce, tomato, and cucumber drizzled with tahini dressing




rice_processOven-Roasted Cauliflower Rice

onionsalad-e1320604774883Lebanese Onion & Parsley Salad

Those Diamond Cuts

Sorry for the raw meat photo, but I thought you might like to see a diamond pattern example.



Print this recipe
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  • Maggie says:

    a few things unrelated to this post:

    1. i miss our deep eddy days.
    2. i STILL have your key from smudge-sitting forever and a day ago.
    3. i was at a friend's place the other day and looked at her computer and lo and behold it was YOUR blog! i said, "hey! that's my friend mel!" and she said, "hey! that's where i get a bunch of awesome recipes!" and i smiled. 🙂

  • Lydia says:

    You had me at "lamb pate."

    GOD, I love pate.

  • PW says:

    This looks delicious– you are always such an inspiration for fun good clean eating. I wonder if this could be made into individual pies for picnics! I might have to try it this weekend! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    MAGGIE! I really miss our bootcamp days, too. Was just thinking about it yesterday, actually. MAN! That was so much fun and such an inspiring, uplifting group of people. Big hugs to you, pretty lady.

    Lydia –> My family ate raw kibbeh a lot when I was growing up. You make it kinda like steak tartare only it's lamb with mint and cracked wheat… then spread it on homemade pita and drizzle with olive oil. OMG. SO good. But now I mostly eat it baked. And no bread. sigh

    PW –> I think it would work GREAT in little pies… you could use a large muffin tin and follow the same layering technique. If you try it, let me know how it comes out. And if I beat you to it, I'll update the blog post.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm a new-comer to your blog and I'm loving it!! Keep it up! On another note, I don't really care for lamb…would this work with ground beef or turkey?? What are your thoughts??—Thanks. Erin

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hi, Erin! Glad you like the blog! YES, this will work with beef, turkey, or a blend. BUT take out the mint. The cinnamon and allspice will taste great with beef/turkey, but in my experience, mint only works with beef in Thai food. If you're a mint fan, ignore my advice. Enjoy! And let me know how you like it!

  • Emily says:

    This looks deviously delicious. I can't wait to try it, my family is in for a Sunday treat! Maybe I could even bring it to Easter dinner since my guy doesn't eat pork (worse still, my brother's sister is a vegetarian!). Thank you, this is inspired.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Emily –> I have another lamb recipe to share soon: lamb shanks. That could be nice for Easter, too. Shoot me an email and I'll send it to you, if you want. The blog post isn't ready yet, but I'm glad to share the recipe.

  • Natalie says:

    Awesome work on the kibbeh!!! I am lebanese and its one of my favorite dishes and i love how you transformed it, ill have to let my mom know back home since its one of her specialties and she cant have bulgur anymore(due to health problems) and since its originally made with that she will be excited to try this, I am almost 100% paleo and transformed recipies like this are encouraging!!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Natalie –> I'm gradually working my way through family recipes and favorite cookbooks to revamp traditional foods. Glad to know it's helping you, too!

  • Food Renegade says:

    This looks amazing! Thanks for sharing. I love me some lamb!


  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Kristen! Hi! The best thing about this dish? It really gets better with age. Make it and forget about it for day or so, then dig in. AWESOME! Finding in the fridge is like learning someone else made you a delicious meal.

  • Mary says:

    I had a little cooking fest with your recipies this weekend — delicious!

    I made this recipe, the beet salad and your homemade mayo! It has been good eating this week.

    Isn't it so funny that through the internet, your recipies from your home in Texas are being made in my kitchen in Denver? Blogs do build a little community of their own.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Mary –> How fun! Thanks for letting me know… I love feeling like we're friends swapping kitchen stories. Happy cooking and eating!

  • Abe says:

    I made this tonight. My 4 year old and I ate almost the whole thing! It was sooooo good. I made one mistake of trying to make this afterwork, so I didnt get to eat until 7:30 PM. This is definitely a Saturday/Sunday afternoon dish. Thanks for sharing it!

  • Mel says:

    Abe –> If it’s kid-approved, you know it has to be good 🙂 And yes, it’s a little time-consuming… but it also tastes better if it sits for a few days, so it’s definitely the kind of thing you can make in advance, then re-heat.

  • Stefanie says:

    I just made this for dinner and i used almond meal instead of the cauliflower, it gave it that bulghur taste. It is delish!! Thanks.

  • sarena says:

    This looks AWESOME but I gave up all nuts. I wonder if it would work without, thoughts?

  • sarena says:

    Or what I could replace the pine nuts with! Thanks.

    • Mel says:

      Hey, Sarena! It will be fine if you just leave the nuts out. The ground meat and onions will taste great sans nuts, and you’ll still get the nice texture mix between the “pate” and the ground meat. Enjoy!

  • Emilie says:

    Made this the other day–it was delish!! Planning to make the fouscous for our CF bbq this weekend. Can’t wait!

    • Mel says:

      Awesome! I’m glad you liked it! This was one of my favorite dishes as a kid, so I’m really happy to have figured out how to get it back in my life… and to be able to share it!

  • Harmony says:

    hi – just found your blog from Everyday Paleo and was so excited to see this kibbeh recipe! I love love love kibbeh and now that I’m eating paleo I was thinking how much I miss it. Good to know I can sub the cauliflower for the burghul and also as someone else said the almond flour works too. I can’t wait for you to modify more of your Lebanese foods. I love Arabic food, and my boyfriend is Lebanese, so the more of my favorites that can become paleo, the better! Maybe you’re working on a ma’amoul recipe???
    Thanks and I look forward to exploring your blog.

    • Mel says:

      Glad you’re excited about the kibbeh recipe! I’m definitely working on more favorites, but I’m not convinced there’s a way to paleo-ize ma’amoul that won’t ruin the experiece! Ma’amoul might have to be one of those “once a year treats.” 🙂

  • Amanda says:

    I have grown up eating all of the wonderful Lebanese foods. My husband turned me on to eating Paleo and I’ve had to leave much of it by the wayside. When I saw this post I got incredibly excited!! I never thought to try cauliflour!! Thank you so much for this!

    • Mel says:

      Hey, Amanda! I’m glad you found me! My plan for the next few months is to work my way through other family recipes, so there should be more Lebanese/Middle Eastern food soon. I just got back from a trip to Paris and Prague and got some great ideas for stuff in the Moroccan restaurants in Paris. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • Rafedah Carella says:

    Wow! I am Jordanian born and fed! I love my new paleo lifestyle but these are the things I miss! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have to say, your paleo tabouleh and koubeh recipes seem more authentic than most of the other “traditional” recipes I’ve seen on the internet or in restaurants! I will be making both this weekend! Thanks again!

    • Mel says:

      Hi, Rafedah! Glad you found me and my paleoized Middle Eastern recipes. There are more on the way!

      Thank you so much for your sweet words about the recipes. Have fun cooking this weekend! Hope you enjoy them!

  • jess jk says:

    My husband’s family is Lebanese and every gathering requires a huge tray of kibbeh neyeh, you know, the raw kind. Do you think the cauliflower would work in that? We make the baked kind at home all the time for the kids, so I know I have this recipe PINNED forever!

  • Janet says:

    I have to say I was skeptical when this baby came out of the oven. Mine did not have that nice brown top but instead looked a little like dead-gray. I knew to look beyond that. Tasty Tasty.

    I actually wish for more of the pate part and am thinking it might be interesting to bake it on its own. What do you think?

    And boy are you right! The day after…super tasty. This is a definite go to keeper!

    P.S. did anyone else get a little grossed out when the fat of the lamb separated when raw? That just didn’t want to come of my hands!

  • Margo says:

    My friend Nadwa made me “American Kibbeh” once – 90/10 fresh ground beef with bulgar wheat, basil, onion, parsley, garlic, jalapeños, and a scotch bonnet pepper. I didn’t even know it was raw until she told me – I thought it was a bean paste! But now I am addicted, and well – I hated the thought of giving it up. I make it and enjoy it with pita, but can’t really do that. I thought I could get by with serving it with lettuce cups or something but I needed a good idea for the replacement to the wheat. I hope the cauliflower works!

  • Abdallah Bacha says:

    Hi, thank you for sharing the recipe!

    My only question is, do you think it would work with Almond flour instead of cauliflower? I kinda like the crunchy texture of Kibbeh and I’m afraid that cauliflower could take over it. What do you think?


  • Andrew says:

    Could the meat components be mixed the night before and placed into the pan, and then the whole thing baked the next day? Or would that change the texture?

    • The meat “dough” can be made 1 day in advance then cooked—or you can cook the whole shebang during your Cookup and re-heat just before eating. This actually tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge.

  • Lisa says:

    We made this last night, and it was super yummy. Can’t wait for leftovers tonight. I made it in a square metal/nonstick pan. By the end of the cook time, the meat had separated from the sides of the pan, and there was a pool of liquid all around it. I assumed this was fat and poured it off. Should I have saved it, and maybe poured some of it back on top?

  • Brooke says:

    Hi Mel! I wanted to thank you for teaching me how to cook and how to improvise in the kitchen! You’ve made paleo a sustainable and FUN part of my life! I started Whole30 in 2015 for health issues, and your recipes have kept me going. Thanks for all of the encouragement and work you put into this! I love your blog and I can’t tell enough people about you! Keep it up! 🙂

    • This comment made my day! Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and say hello; very thoughtful of you! Congratulations to you for changing up your eating habits. It’s not easy, and YOU did all the work… I just gave you some delicious ideas 🙂 I’m really happy my recipes have been helpful and that you’re having some fun in the kitchen. YAY, you.

  • Jim Brennan says:

    Winner winner Kibbeh dinner!