Middle Eastern Meze Recipes
The meze-style spread—small plates, dips, and salads meant to be shared as an appetizer course or light meal—is common throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East and one of our favorite ways to eat.
Bread is the heart of a meze meal. Homemade pita is easy, and much better than most of what you can buy. It’s great grilled with za’atar, a spice blend of wild thyme, tangy sumac, and toasted sesame seeds ubiquitous in the Middle East.
Dips are one of the main types of meze. Everyone is familiar with hummus. The creamy chickpea puree is a staple in the Middle East. We’ve got you covered with a recipe for a classic hummus, as well as versions topped with whole chickpeas and fried mushrooms. Other classic dips include baba ghannouj—made from mashed grilled eggplant—and labaneh—a tart yogurtlike cheese.
For hot meze, kebabs rule. Kafta kebabs are made of ground meat. Our Lebanese kafta are made of ground chuck and studded with sun-dried tomatoes and aleppo peppers. Our Persian ground meat and onion kebabs are similar, made with ground lamb and sirloin. Kebabs are also often made with chunks of meat, as in our pork or chicken kebabs.
Vegetables feature heavily in meze. No table is complete without tabbouleh—finely chopped fresh parsley and mint bathed in fruity extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, Also try fried artichokes and turnips marinated in yogurt.
Check out these dishes and more in our collection of Middle Eastern meze recipes!
No Middle Eastern meal is complete without fresh, fluffy pita.
Hummus with Tahini
This velvety dip is a classic—we like it garnished with pickles and served with plenty of toasted pita chips.
Penny De Los Santos
Mashed Eggplant Dip (Baba Ghannouj)
Across the Levant, eggplants are grilled and mashed to make baba ghannouj, a silky, delicious dip for flatbreads and vegetables.
Thick, tart, and creamy, this yogurt-like cheese, is perfect eaten with olive oil, pita bread, and za'atar.
Charred Eggplant with Chile Sauce & Tahini
Charring young eggplant over an open flame lends a smoky flavor to this dish from the Galilee.
Artichokes with Lemon Za'atar Dipping Sauce
Za'atar is a mixture of sesame seeds, dried thyme, and spices ubiquitous in the Arab world. Here it's used to make a lemony dip for simmered artichokes.
Jennifer May/Clarkson Potter
Yogurt and Cucumber Dip (Mast-o Khiar)
Topped with rose petals and golden raisins, this simple dip is an elegant mezze.
Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice (Dolma)
This recipe for stuffed grape leaves uses both lemon juice and zest to enhance the flavor of the stuffing.
Grilled Pita Bread with Za'atar
This chewy flatbread topped with za'atar, a spice blend of wild thyme, tangy sumac, and toasted sesame seeds, can be either grilled outdoors or oven-baked and finished in a grill pan.
Emirati Grilled Prawns (Rubyan Meshwi)
At Abu Dhabi's Al Arish restaurant, jumbo prawns are basted in a spicy-sweet ketchup-based sauce before they are grilled.
Galilean-Style Hummus (Hummus Maushaushe)
Generous spice, a good dose of olive oil, and chickpeas piled high are the hallmarks of this Galilean-style hummus.
Herb Meatballs in Tomato-Plum Sauce (Kufteh)
These tender meatballs are simmered in a sweet-tart tomato and dried plum sauce.
Spiced Chicken and Tomato Kebabs (Jujeh Kabab)
A marinade of orange, cumin, and saffron flavors these juicy chicken and tomato kebabs.
Finely chopped fresh parsley and mint are bathed in fruity extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice in this classic Middle Eastern appetizer.
Man'oushé bil Za'atar (Flatbread with Za'atar)
Za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mix of wild thyme, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds, tops chewy flatbread in this iconic Lebanese snack.
Fried Artichoke Hearts with Taratur Sauce
We found this recipe—a flavorful local favorite, in which tender artichoke bottoms are fried and served with an intense, tahini-based sauce—at al-Az, a casual but well-known restaurant in Damascus.
Roasted Eggplant with Goat Cheese Tahini and Pine Nuts
These one-bite hors d'oeuvres are inspired by the ingredients of a classic Middle Eastern baba ganoush; they can be served either cool or hot out of the oven.
White Chocolate Baba Ghannouj
The famously smoky Middle Eastern eggplant puree reaches new heights of smoothness with the inclusion of white chocolate, which compliments the nutty flavor of tahini and the delicate spice of fresh garlic and paprika.
Any way you make it, there is nothing like falafel's first bite: the crisp-fried exterior giving way to a creamy center of seasoned mashed beans, garlic, and parsley.
Persian Ground Meat and Onion Kebabs
These kebabs are made of ground lamb and beef and seasoned with turmeric, paprika, and saffron.
Pork Kebabs with Cucumber-Mint Yogurt Sauce
Redolent of oregano and cinnamon, these pork kebabs owe their tenderness to a red wine marinade.
Turnips with Yogurt and Tomatoes
Marinating turnips in salted yogurt draws out their excess moisture.
This refreshing salad is made of cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onion.
Flatbread with Lamb and Tomatoes (Lahmacun)
Bake these Turkish spiced lamb and tomato flatbreads on a heated pizza stone in the oven so that the crust and topping cook evenly.
Salata Adas (Garlicky Lentil Salad)
This light, Lebanese lentil salad is flavored with lemon juice, cumin, allspice, and parsley.
Lebanese Beef Kebabs (Kafta)
Sun-dried tomatoes and Aleppo peppers stud these Lebanese kebabs.
Cipollini Onion Hummus
Gently browned cipollini onions add an unexpected hint of caramel sweetness to this hummus, deepening its earthy flavors.
Persian Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
This refreshing yogurt dipping sauce is a perfect counterbalance to savory dishes.
Lamb and Bulgur Wheat Croquettes (Kibbeh)
These spiced croquettes are a classic Middle Eastern snack.
Tahini Dip (Techina)
Brightened with lemon and garlic, tahini becomes a bright, creamy dip—try it with warm pita, or sliced vegetables.
Hummus with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms
A tangle of fried mushrooms provides textural contrast and a savory boost to this silky hummus.
Eggplant and Yogurt Dip (Borani-e Bademjan)
Garnished with walnuts and garlic chips, this creamy dip makes a great appetizer.