If you’re looking for a quick, easy dinner that’s big on flavor then you’ve come to the right place! These chicken koftas are seasoned with cumin, paprika and coriander as well as fresh herbs, garlic and onion. They’re then seared until golden brown and served with creamy salted yogurt and a bright, lemony cucumber herb salad. You’re definitely going to want to add this recipe to your dinner rotation!
When I want to make a weeknight meal that’s fast and flavorful these Chicken Koftas with Yogurt and Herb Salad are my go-to. The koftas (aka spiced meatballs) can even be assembled in the morning (or day before) and cooked in the evening just before serving.
These meatballs are layered with flavor from fragrant, smokey spices to fresh mint, dill and parsley. This recipe is a complete meal all on it’s own but you could also add; warm pita bread, Marinated Feta, Homemade Hummus or Zhoug (Spicy Green Hot Sauce)!
If you enjoy this recipe you’re also sure love: Za’atar Chicken and Hummus Bowls.
To make chicken koftas you’ll need: ground chicken (white or dark meat is fine) smoked paprika, ground coriander and cumin, garlic, red onion, cucumber, mint, dill, parsley, lemon and plain yogurt.
Check out the recipe notes at the bottom of the recipe card for all my substitution recommendations.
Step 1. Assemble the Koftas
Mix together the ground chicken, onion, garlic, herbs and spices then scoop the meatballs into individual portions. I recommend using a cookie scoop for this task, it makes it super quick and easy!
Step 2. Cook the Koftas
Cook the koftas in a hot cast iron pan until golden brown and cooked through.
Step 3. Make the Sauce and Salad
The salted yogurt comes together in about 2 seconds. Simply season the yogurt lightly with salt and mix together thoroughly. Voila! Toss the salad ingredients with lemon juice and olive oil then season with salt and pepper.
Step 4. Assemble and Serve
To serve, dollop the yogurt onto a platter or individual plates then use the back of a spoon to spread it around. Place the koftas on top of the yogurt then pile the salad right on top of the koftas. Serve right away!
FAQs and Expert Tips
Koftas (or keftas) are a spiced meatball popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. They can be grilled on skewers, fried or baked. They are most often made with beef or lamb but for this version were going to use ground chicken.
My favorite method for testing meatball doneness is to just break one open and see if it’s cooked inside. If you prefer to use a thermometer look for a temperature of 160F, or higher.
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Chicken Koftas with Yogurt and Herb Salad (Middle Eastern Meatballs)
- 2 lb ground chicken or turkey
- 2 cloves garlic grated or minced
- ½ red onion minced
- ¼ c chopped fresh herbs parsley, mint or dill
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 c torn mixed leafy herbs (such as mint, parsley, and/or dill)
- 1 large English cucumber thinly sliced
- ½ lemon
- ¼ c olive oil
- 2 c plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp salt
- In a bowl mix together the ground chicken, herbs, spices, garlic, onion, and salt. Use a spoon or a small ice cream scoop to portion individual meatballs. Use your hands to gently form them into small oval meatballs. They don't need to be perfect so don't overwork them.
- Place a cast-iron pan over medium heat and pour in 2-3 tbsp olive oil. Add the koftas to the pan, be careful not to overcrowd them. Depending on the size of your pan you will need to cook them in 2 batches. After about 3-5 minutes flip them over and cook them on the second side. Once they are golden brown on both sides and cooked through pull them from the pan, and place them on a clean plate. Repeat this process with the rest of the koftas until they are all cooked.
- To prepare the salad: Toss the fresh herbs, sliced cucumber, lemon, and olive oil until evenly coated. Season with salt and set aside.
- Next, season the greek yogurt with a pinch of salt.
- To assemble: dollop the yogurt onto a large plate or platter and spread it around with the back of a spoon. Place the koftas on top of the yogurt. Garnish with the herb salad, season the with freshly cracked pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy immediately!
- Ground Chicken: I highly recommend using dark meat (thighs) for these chicken koftas. It’s so much moister and more flavorful than chicken breast. You can also use lamb or beef!
- Spices: I use smoked paprika, ground coriander and cumin. You can play around with this combo a bit or substitute other spices if you’re out of one. Turmeric would be a great addition as would a bit of cinnamon or chili powder. Even a general curry powder blend would work as it contains many of the same spices.
- Herbs: My favorite herbs to use for this recipes are mint, dill and parsley. You can use all three or just 1-2. Cilantro or chives would be nice in there as well.
- Yogurt: Adding just a little bit of salt to yogurt intensifies the flavor! Use a thick, whole milk Greek style yogurt.
- My favorite method for testing meatball doneness is to just break one open and see if it’s cooked inside. If you prefer to use a thermometer look for a temperature of 160F, or higher.
- Leftovers will stay fresh covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat the meatballs in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes. Serve with salad and yogurt.