Authentic Adana Kebabs: Juicy Grilled Lamb Skewers

Authentic Adana Kebabs Recipe - Delicious Turkish Ground Lamb Skewers

Transport your taste buds to Turkey with these mouthwatering Adana kebabs. Packed with aromatic spices and grilled to perfection, these lamb skewers are a true culinary delight.

Adana kebabs, hailing from the city of Adana in Turkey, are a beloved street food that has gained international fame. While traditional recipes are closely guarded secrets, our version captures the essence of this flavorful dish using readily available ingredients. Get ready to embark on a flavor-packed journey!

The Secret to Perfect Adana Kebabs

The key to achieving authentic Adana kebab flavor lies in two crucial elements: the spice blend and the meat preparation. Our recipe uses a combination of cumin, sumac, and Urfa pepper flakes to create that distinctive Turkish taste. As for the meat, proper salting and kneading are essential for achieving the ideal texture.

Remember, a good Adana kebab is like a sausage on a stick – it should be juicy, flavorful, and have a satisfying bite. Let’s dive into the process of creating these delicious skewers!

Spice Hunting: The Heart of Adana Kebabs

While you might be tempted to substitute ingredients, the unique flavor of Adana kebabs comes from its specific spice blend. Sumac, with its tangy, lemony flavor, is irreplaceable. Urfa pepper flakes add a deep, smoky heat that sets these kebabs apart. Invest in these spices – they’ll elevate your kebabs and many other dishes in your culinary repertoire.

Mastering the Meat Mixture

The secret to juicy, flavorful kebabs lies in the meat preparation. Here’s how to nail it:

  1. Use ground lamb with about 20% fat content for the best flavor and texture.
  2. Add 1.5% salt by weight to help break down the proteins and create a springy texture.
  3. Knead the meat mixture until it becomes sticky and starts to coat the sides of the bowl.
  4. Incorporate ice-cold water to keep the mixture cool and add moisture.

This process ensures your kebabs will be juicy, flavorful, and have that perfect bite-resistant texture.

Grilling Your Adana Kebabs

While traditional Adana kebabs are cooked over hot coals, you can achieve great results on a standard grill. Here are some pro tips:

  • If using wooden skewers, soak them in water to prevent burning.
  • Form the meat into long, flat shapes around the skewers.
  • Grill over high heat, turning occasionally and sprinkling with the spice mixture.
  • Warm your bread directly on top of the kebabs for the last few minutes of cooking.

The result? Perfectly charred, juicy kebabs bursting with flavor!

Serving Your Adana Kebabs

To truly enjoy your Adana kebabs like they do in Turkey, serve them with:

  • Warm lavash or pita bread
  • Sumac-spiced red onions
  • Fresh parsley
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Pickled peppers

Wrap it all up for a handheld feast, or serve it platter-style for a more formal meal. Either way, prepare for a flavor explosion!

Authentic Adana Kebabs (Grilled Lamb Skewers)


For the Kebabs:

  • 500g (about 1 pound 2 ounces) ground lamb
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • 2 tablespoons ground sumac, divided
  • 2 tablespoons ground Urfa pepper flakes, divided
  • 2 tablespoons ice-cold water

For Serving:

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 pieces lavash or pita
  • 1 cup picked fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Pickled sport peppers or pepperoncini


  1. Prepare the kebab mixture: In a large bowl, combine the ground lamb with 7.5 grams (about 2 teaspoons) kosher salt, 1 teaspoon cumin, 2 teaspoons sumac, and 1 tablespoon pepper flakes. Knead by hand or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until the mixture becomes tacky and starts sticking to the sides of the bowl. Add the ice-cold water and continue kneading until fully incorporated. Refrigerate the mixture until well chilled.
  2. Make the spice mixture and prepare the onions: In a small bowl, mix the remaining cumin, sumac, pepper flakes, and 2 teaspoons salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, toss the sliced red onions with the remaining sumac and salt to taste. Set aside.
  3. Form the kebabs: With wet hands, divide the lamb mixture into 12 equal portions. Shape each portion into a long, flat kebab around a skewer.
  4. Prepare the grill: Light a chimney full of charcoal. Once the coals are covered with gray ash, arrange them on one side of the grill. Set the cooking grate in place, cover, and preheat for 5 minutes. For a gas grill, set half the burners to high heat, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grate before cooking.
  5. Grill the kebabs: Place the kebabs directly over the hot side of the grill. Cover and cook, turning occasionally and sprinkling with the spice mixture, until well-charred on both sides and cooked through, about 12 minutes total.
  6. Warm the bread: In the last few minutes of cooking, place the bread directly on top of the kebabs to warm through.
  7. Serve: Arrange the kebabs on a platter with the warm bread, sumac onions, parsley, tomatoes, and pickled peppers. Enjoy your homemade Adana kebabs!
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
517 Calories
19g Fat
57g Carbs
31g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 517
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 81mg 27%
Sodium 964mg 42%
Total Carbohydrate 57g 21%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 31g
Vitamin C 29mg 147%
Calcium 152mg 12%
Iron 6mg 34%
Potassium 747mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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