Kubba Haleb

Kubba Haleb

Kubba Haleb makes the best after school snack, no? At least my 10 year old (and current) self would think so. Crispy fried rice on the outside, fluffy rice on the inside, and a lightly spiced meat within – that is Kubba Haleb in a nutshell (or rice shell!). It’s the Iraqi version of Arancini.

Nana’s house was a common stop after school. Man, did I hit the jackpot if this was the snack in store for us that day. I remember just standing by the stove waiting for Nana to hand me a fresh kubba. Just heavenly. LOL, as my cousin Michael recently said…Nana was “the reason I was such a chubby kid.” They are just too good to say no to.

The Deets

The spiced ground meat filling is a common filling we use in Iraqi cooking. You may have seen it before in our potato chop or borek recipes. It is very quick to make and can be used interchangeably in those recipes. So if you are really in the mood, you can make all three! Maybe eat some, save some in the freezer – your future self will thank you.

The rice used here is basmati, which adds an additional flavor to the kubba. Turmeric is used in this recipe, which gives the rice a beautiful golden color.

Once the rice is cooked, it’s put through a meat grinder or potato ricer to break it down a little, but still maintain some texture. The meat filling is then enclosed in the rice and then fried to crispy perfection. Just imagine taking a bite out of one.

Kubba, Kibbeh…Potato, Potahto

There are so many different types of kubba or as some say kibbeh. It is the Middle Eastern form of dumplings and has so many varieties and fillings, just like in many other cultures. We hope to feature some more (including some plant-based options) on Three Teas Kitchen soon, stay tuned. But here is Kubba Haleb for now, to wet your palate!



Let’s Engage

If you make Kubba Haleb, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! And of course, tag us on Instagram at ThreeTeasKitchen! We love seeing what you’re cooking up!

Kubba Haleb

Crispy fried rice on the outside, fluffy rice on the inside, and a lightly spiced meat within – that is Kubba Haleb in a nutshell (or rice shell!).
Course Appetizer, Mezze, Snack
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 35 pieces


Meat Filling

  • 2 lbs (or 4 cups) ground meat (80% meat, 20% fat)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup curly parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp bahar *
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Rice Shell

  • 4 cups basmati rice
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp salt
  • water

For Frying

  • vegetable oil


Rice Shell

  • Soak rice in room temperature water for about 30 minutes.
  • After rice has soaked, you will notice that the water is cloudy. This is excess starch. Drain off that water. Rinse the rice a few times in a colander until the water is no longer cloudy and now runs clear.
  • Place rice, salt and turmeric in a pot and cover with water until just above the rice. Briefly stir to mix all the ingredients.
  • Cover pot with a lid and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook the rice for about 25 minutes until rice is cooked and water is fully absorbed.
  • Remove the pot from the stove and allow rice to cool.

Meat Filling

  • While the rice cools, make the meat filling.
  • Heat oil in a skillet. Add onion and cook until translucent. 
  • Add meat, bahar/all spice, and salt to skillet. Cook meat until browned.
  • Once meat is cooked place in a bowl. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then mix in the parsley.  


  • Place rice through a meat grinder or potato ricer.
  • With wet hands (best to have a small bowl of water by you to dip your hand in when forming each kubba, as to prevent rice from sticking to your hands) take about a golf ball size of rice and flatten to a disk that is about the size of your palm. **
  • Make a well shape in the middle of the disk (the dough should now resemble a shallow bowl) and place about 2 tsp of the meat mixture in the center.
  • While shaping like a football (or like a torpedo), bring edges of rice mixture over the meat filling to enclose.


  • Fill a pot with vegetable oil, enough to fully cover the kubba when frying. Heat oil until thermometer reads about 325-350F. Another way to check if the oil is hot enough is place a small piece of the rice dough and drop it in the pan it should sizzle immediately and float to the top. Place 2 -3 kubbas in the oil and fry for about 2.5 minuets until golden brown.***
  • Enjoy shortly after frying or re-heating in the oven!****


 Three Teas Tips:
*Bahar is a spice mixture, the recipe is linked here. It is used often in Middle Eastern cooking, so I recommend blending up some on your own. But, if in a pinch you can use allspice or check out your local Middle Eastern grocer, they may have their own bahar available to buy. 
**For video tutorial on how to shape check out our Instagram highlights at @ThreeTeasKitchen
***Fry just one at first to ensure proper temperature of oil.
****We recommend storing the fried kubba haleb in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for future use. It is best stored with parchment paper between rows or in an airtight container. To reheat, cook in 350F oven for about 10-15 minuets.
Keyword baharat, basmati rice, ground meat, kubba, parsley, rice, turmeric

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