Adana Kebab | Turkish Eats

This classic kebab is named after Adana, a city in the Mediterranean region of Turkey with a population of more than 1 million. Adana kebab is one of the staple items in kebab houses all over the country.

It consists of ground lamb mounted on about 3/4 inch wide stainless steel skewers and cooked on a charcoal grill. The skewers shown in the picture above were actually brought from Adana by our friend Bulent Ozekici who was born and raised in the city. After finishing his doctorate at NC State University, Bulent returned to Adana where he joined Cukurova University as a professor of Agricultural Engineering. We were fortunate to inherit his skewers, which we have been enjoying for more than 15 years.

Fortunately, there is nothing complicated about the skewers. Just go to your local machine shop and have them cut the skewers off 1/8 inch thick sheet of stainless steel. The length should be about 2 feet.

The original Adana Kebab is made from ground lamb meat mixed with fat from lamb tail in a proportion of one to five. Since it is virtually impossible to find this fat in America, it is not possible to replicate the taste, however, you can still come pretty close with good quality ground lamb readily available in large grocery stores.


  • 3 lb ground lamb
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt


  1. Finely chop the red pepper by hand or in a food processor.
  2. Mix the ground lamb, chopped red pepper, red pepper flakes and salt in a large bowl. You can increase the amount of hot pepper flakes if you enjoy hot food. 
  3. Use your hands to knead the meat for 5 - 10 minutes occasionally slapping it to the bowl. This is necessary to guarantee that the mixture will stick to the skewers and stay intact during grilling. 
  4. Divide the meat into 6 - 8 portions and mount on the skewers.
  5. Grill the kebabs on a charcoal fire - do not use a gas grill and do not overcook the kebabs. The skewers get hot during grilling and cook the meat from inside. 
  6. Serve with Turkish pita bread or pilaf made from bulgur. Acili ezme (a special salad) and sliced onions mixed with sumak and parsley are also commonly served with Adana kebab. You can drink ayran (yogurt mixed with water and salt) or salgam (turnip juice), which you can find in Turkish grocery stores in America.

© Mehmet Ozturk 2017