Kebapi, also referred to as kebabs, are juicy sausage-like bites of grilled beef, pork, and lamb! This classic Macedonian dish is covered in a tangy, garlicky yogurt sauce, and it’s absolutely perfect for summer eating.
Juicy Grilled Macedonian Kebapi (Kebabs)
Remember these Juicy Steak Kabobs that we made a while back? I LOVE making meals like that during the summer, because they’re perfect for the grill. During the colder months, the oven/broiler will suffice, but nothing beats the smoky flavor and beautiful char marks that only the grill can provide.
What does that have to do with Grilled Macedonian Kebapi? Only everything! How’s that for a dramatic introduction? 😄
In all seriousness, I’m super excited to share this homemade kebapi recipe with you. Kebapi are kind of like kebabs (or kabobs), but there are some differences.
This traditional Macedonian summer meal is prepared with three different kinds of meat: beef, lamb, and pork. Combine all three ground meats and season with paprika, red pepper flakes, and a couple of other spices, and then all you have to do is fire up the grill!
Cook them until browned and crispy on the outside, and enjoy this delicious summertime dinner!
What is Kebapi?
Kebapi is a very popular dish in Southeastern Europe. It’s very much like kebab meat, though it’s also similar to sausage, and looks a little bit like a football-shaped meatball. 🤷♀️
As mentioned above, kebapi is made of grilled ground beef, ground pork, and ground lamb. This feature is one of the main differences between what you traditionally think of as kebabs, and kebapi; the former is usually just one or two meats (traditionally beef and lamb), and the latter has three.
Another difference between the two is that kebabs are traditionally grilled on skewers, but this is not the case with kebapi. They are grilled by themselves, sausage-style, on the grill.
However, both kebabs and kebapi are delicious when served with yogurt sauce, and both meals are perfect for this time of year.
Ready to put these kebapi together? Besides the meat, most of what you’ll need is spices and seasonings. Here’s a full list of what you’ll want to gather up before starting:
- Ground Meat: You’ll need 1 pound of lean ground beef, and 1/2 a pound each of lean ground pork and lean ground lamb (use ground pork if you can’t find ground lamb).
- Onion: I used a grated yellow onion for this recipe.
- Garlic: For flavor, minced.
- Seasoning: Use a mix of finely chopped parsley, paprika, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, salt, and fresh ground black pepper (to taste).
- Baking Soda: This is added to the ground meat to help tenderize it.
- Hot Water: To mix into the meat mixture with the baking soda.
- Wooden Skewers: These would be for serving the kebabs on, but they are optional, and you can also just serve the kebapi as-is on a plate.
- Finely Chopped Onions: For serving, these are also optional, but traditionally, kebapi are served with a side of diced onions.
- For Serving: Combine red pepper flakes and paprika for serving, or mix together a yogurt sauce (details below). These are both optional ideas.
How to Make Kebapi (Beef and Pork Kebabs)
Making kebapi is super similar to making your own meatballs or sausage. First you season the meat, then you form it into the prescribed shape, and lastly, the magic (read: cooking/grilling) happens!
Here’s what you’ll need to do to get this kebapi on the grill and then onto your plate:
- Combine the Ground Meats: In a large mixing bowl combine the beef, pork and lamb; mix the meat with your hands until well incorporated.
- Season the Meat: Add onion, garlic, parsley, paprika, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, and baking soda. Next, stir in the water and, using your hands, mix it all until combined.
- Refrigerate for 1 to 4 Hours: Then, when ready, pull out the meat from the fridge and roll the ground meat mixture into the shape of sausages, about 6-inches long and 1-1/2 -inch in diameter.
- Preheat Grill to Medium-High: When it is fully hot, grill the kebapi for about 10 minutes, turning them to brown and cook all around.
- Serve and Enjoy: Remove the kebapi from the grill and pierce the wooden skewers through them, if you would like to serve them this way. Then transfer the kebapi to a platter and enjoy!
Tips for Success
Super easy, right? I honestly think that grilled kebapi is easier to make than grilled kabobs are, because they don’t have to marinate (or chill) for as long to taste great, and they don’t have to be arranged on a skewer with veggies.
That said, I do have some extra tips that might make this process even simpler:
- How Do I Know if My Kebapi are the Right Size? Measurements can be tricky, so if you’re looking for a little more guidance, I totally understand. I find that it can be very helpful (and more accurate) to use a scale, so each kebapi should weigh about 1.5 to 1.7 ounces before touching the grill. FYI, my kitchen scale is one of the most used small kitchen appliances.
- How Long Do I Cook the Kebapi & How Do I Know When They’re Done? Two good questions. The somewhat unsatisfying answer is that the cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the kebapi, and how fast the grill heats up. However, you will know that they are done when the internal temperature registers at 165˚F. (Meat thermometers are so helpful!)
- Refrigerate the Meat Mixture: This will allow it to firm up a little more (which helps with shaping), and also give the flavors time to settle in. So don’t skip this part!
Kebapi can be served with all your favorite summer side dishes! It’s a very casual meal, and it doesn’t take long to make, so you’ll definitely have time to whip up some sides if you’d like. Here are a couple suggestions on what to make, from yours truly:
- Yogurt Sauce: This is an excellent dip to have on the side! To make it you’ll need: 1 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 cloves garlic (finely minced), 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and salt (to taste). Here’s how you put it together: Combine all of the ingredients in one bowl; whisk until thoroughly incorporated. Taste for salt and adjust.
- Spice Mix: If yogurt dip is not your thing, try out a spicy garnish. I like to combine a tablespoon of paprika with a tablespoon of red pepper flakes in a small plate, and serve with the chopped onions.
- Fresh Vegetables: I like to chop up some cucumbers, tomatoes, and other seasonal veggies to go on the side of this meal. We almost always serve kebapi with this Shopska Salad.
- Pita Bread: Pita bread is also a great side for this meal, and you can even stuff a few loaves with some kebapi and yogurt sauce if you feel like it.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- You can store leftover kebapi in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
- To reheat, bake them on a lined baking tray at 350˚F or so in the oven, until warmed through.
- You can also cook them in a skillet on the stovetop, over low heat, until warmed through.
Can I Freeze Extras?
- Sure! Freeze leftover kebapi in an airtight container for 1 to 2 months.
- Remember to let them thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating again.
For the Kebapi
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- ½ pound lean ground pork
- ½ pound ground lamb, (use ground pork if you can’t find ground lamb)
- 1 small yellow onion, grated
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ cup hot water
- wooden skewers
- onion, finely chopped, for serving (optional)
- red pepper flakes + paprika, for serving, optional
For the Yogurt Sauce (Optional)
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt, to taste
For the Kebapi
- In a large mixing bowl combine the beef, pork and lamb; mix the meat with your hands until well incorporated.
- Add onion, garlic, parsley, paprika, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, and baking soda; stir in water and, using your hands, mix it all until combined.
- Refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours. When ready, pull out the meat from the fridge and roll the ground meat mixture into the shape of sausages, about 6-inches long and 1-1/2 -inch in diameter. Each should weigh about 1.5 to 1.7 ounces.
- Preheat grill to medium-high.
- Grill kebapi for about 10 to 12 minutes, turning them to brown and cook all around. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the kebapi. They are done when internal temperature registers at 165˚F.
- Remove kebapi from grill and pierce the wooden skewers through the kebapi. (This is optional, you can also just serve them as-is on a serving platter.)
- Transfer kebapi to a platter.
- Combine a tablespoon of paprika with a tablespoon of red pepper flakes in a small plate.
- Serve kebapi with the paprika mixture and a side of chopped onions. Alternatively, serve the kebapi with the yogurt sauce.
For the Yogurt Sauce
- While the kebapi are grilling, prepare the yogurt sauce by combining all of the ingredients in one bowl; whisk until thoroughly incorporated. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.
- NET CARBS: 2 g
- WW POINTS INCLUDES THE KEBAPI, only. If using the yogurt sauce, Points go up to 4.
More Easy Grilling Recipes
Ready to add some more easy dinners to your summer grilling list? Try out these ones!