Lebanese Meat Pies (Sfeehas)

Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes

These savory Lebanese meat pies (known as sfeehas) get their irresistible flavor from clarified butter, toasted pine nuts, and fragrant cinnamon.

Hand picking up a Lebanese meat pie.

Meat pies are a very popular dish throughout the world. Whether it’s empanadas in Spain, patties in Jamaica, or pasties in Eastern Europe, it seems so many different cultures have their own version of a savory pie. In my family, we grew up eating sfeehas, also called fatayer. It’s a Middle Eastern meat pie that is filled with either meat and pine nuts, spinach, or cheese (such as feta.) Part of the Levantine cuisine, fatayer is eaten in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. My Lebanese Meat Pies are filled with ground beef and pine nuts, and seasoned with warm spices.

Ingredients

Ingredients for lebanese meat pies
  • Bread dough: If you have a recipe you love, you can easily make your own bread dough. To save time, I usually use store bought pizza dough.
  • Pine nuts: A bit buttery and sweet is flavor, toasting them enhances the taste.
  • Ghee: Also called clarified butter, it has a higher smoke point, making it a favorite for sautéing meats and toasting pine nuts.
  • Ground beef: I typically use a ground sirloin, but you could also use ground lamb for a more traditional taste.
  • Onion: Yellow onion is mild and a bit sweet, making it caramelize quickly.
  • Warm spices: Cinnamon, allspice, and black pepper add wonderful warmth and traditional Lebanese flavor to the meat pies.
  • Lemon juice: The bit of acidity you need to cut through and bring balance to the dish.

How to Make Lebanese Meat Pies

Melting ghee in pan

Start your Lebanese meat pies by dividing the bread dough and setting it aside. Then start making the filling by melting some ghee in a large skillet.

Toasting pine nuts

Add your pine nuts to the pan and toast until evenly browned. Watch them so they don’t burn, and set aside.

Cooking onions

Then in the same pan that still has some clarified butter, add the diced onion with some salt and pepper and cook until they start to soften.

Cooking ground beef with onion

Add the ground beef and break up as it browns, about 8 minutes.

Cooking meat pie filling

Add the cinnamon and allspice, along with some more salt and pepper to taste, and cook until meat is fully browned and onions are soft and caramelized. Turn off the heat, and stir the lemon juice and pine nuts into the meat mixture.

Rolling out dough

Now that the filling is done, take the dough you had set aside and roll it out into discs about 1/8th of an inch thick, and about 3-4 inches wide. If you don’t have a rolling pin, you could also use a tall glass.

Filling dough with meat

Then use either a tablespoon or a cookie dough scoop to put a dollop of the meat filling in the middle of your dough circle.

Folding dough for meat pies

Then fold your sfeehas into triangles by folding each edge up and pinching the corners closed until the edges are sealed.

Sfeehas laid out on a pan

Then lay the meat pies out on a prepared sheet pan, and toss them in the oven at 400 for 15-20 minutes, but dough is golden brown.

Lebanese Meat Pies

When finished, remove from the oven and brush with melted clarified butter, serve with plain yogurt, and enjoy your Lebanese Meat Pies!

Frequently asked questions

Are sfeehas freezer friendly?

Absolutely! In fact, we like to make them in large quantities and store them in the freezer. To reheat, simply bake at 350 until warmed through, about 15-20 minutes. They will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

What can you serve with sfeehas?

We love eating them with a big Syrian salad and hummus. They’re also great with stuffed grape leaves.

How do you make the dough for a meat pie?

We typically buy store-bought pizza dough to save time, otherwise you’ll need to make large batches of bread dough.

Lebanese Meat Pies up close

More Lebanese Dishes

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Liz eating Lebanese meat pies.

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Lebanese Meat Pies

Lebanese Meat Pies (Sfeeha’s)

4.68 stars average
These savory Lebanese meat pies (known as sfeehas) get their irresistible flavor from clarified butter, toasted pine nuts and fragrant cinnamon.
PREP: 45 minutes
COOK: 20 minutes
TOTAL: 1 hour 5 minutes
Pin
Servings36

Ingredients
 

Instructions
 

  • Divide dough into small balls and roll to 1/8 inch thick. The rounds should be 3-4 inches wide. Let dough rest 20-30 minutes.
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a large pot, brown pine nuts in ghee until golden brown being, careful not to burn. Remove nuts from pan, but leave any remaining butter. Add ground meat, onions, salt, pepper, cinnamon and allspice to the pan and cook until meat is browned – about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in toasted pine nuts, yogurt, and lemon juice. Let mixture cool slightly.
  • Place 1 tablespoon of the filling into the center of each round. (A stainless steel scoop is great for this step.)
  • To begin folding the dough into a triangle, bring the bottom third up over the meat then bring another third of the dough to the first fold and pinch together to form a tight seal. Fold the final third over and pinch with the first two thirds of the dough to create a tightly pinched triangle. Repeat until you run out of dough.
  • Place filled triangles on a greased baking sheet (or one lined with a silicone baking sheet) and bake for 15-20 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from oven and lightly brush with melted clarified butter. Serve with plain yogurt.

Nutrition

Calories: 166kcalCarbohydrates: 22.2gProtein: 8.3gFat: 7.9gSaturated Fat: 2.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5.5gCholesterol: 17.3mgSodium: 343.5mgFiber: 0.3g

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123 responses to “Lebanese Meat Pies (Sfeehas)”

  1. Carolyn Miriam Albright Avatar
    Carolyn Miriam Albright

    Hi Liz,
    I would like to make these for Easter. I have questions about the dough.
    – How much dough do you buy to start with?
    – How much dough needs to be portioned out to achieve the individual 3-4 inch circles without the dough being too thick or too thin? For cooking projects like this I use a scale so that each piece is the same and cooks evenly. A weight in ounces or grams would be helpful.
    – Depending upon the size/weight of each, about how many pieces should I expect?

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Hi Carolyn! One pound of dough will give you roughly 16 1-ounce balls of dough which works great for a mostly open faced sfeeha. I hope you love them!

  2. Danni L Eldred Avatar
    Danni L Eldred

    A really nice comfort food recipe. I didn’t have pine nuts on hand so had to skip them (will include next time). Served with carrot slaw. Really enjoy your blog!

  3. Nathan G Avatar
    Nathan G

    Arguably no let me say Sams meatpies in Fall River Mass are the best on the planet I tried some out in san diego that didnt come close you talk about the wt castle slider in lebanon yummm
    Noone ever adds a touch of cider vinegar witch i asked when we were at Sams and the lady that runs that ship looked up at me like how did he figure that out ? So the next time I made them ding ding that was the missing ingredient. Try it out use about two tbls of cider Vin per pound of meat. So good

    1. Suzanne Kinney Avatar
      Suzanne Kinney

      Sam’s in Fall River MA definitely is the best!! I usually get 2 dozen at a time!

  4. Joe Avatar
    Joe

    Nice recipe, but these are more like Fatayer than Sfeeha; that latter is more traditionally baked open (though it seems these days many people use the names interchangeably). I would also advocate adding sumac to the lamb for a quintessentially Lebanese flavour.

  5. Doug Avatar
    Doug

    I haven’t had Sfeehas in literally 35-40 years. When I was a kid, my dad picked them up occasionally from a Lebanese bakery near his work in St. Louis and would bring them home for us to scarf up. I made this recipe exactly as posted, and a flood of memories came back on the first bite. SO good!! Will be making more of these. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  6. Sharon Seed Avatar
    Sharon Seed

    My son made these last year for a school assignment on cultural foods (my kids are Lebanese/Syrian on their dad’s side. I had never had sfeeha before, and they were excellent! He even made the dough from scratch and used ground lamb. My husband said they tasted like what he grew up eating.I would like to make these again for a family dinner on Tuesday. Can they be made ahead and reheated, or can I at least make the filling a day ahead, then assemble and bake them on Tuesday? Thanks in advance!

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      You could definitely make the filling ahead and then assemble and bake them the day of. I hope your family enjoys them!

  7. Bella Avatar
    Bella

    These are not Lebanese foods only,. These are middle Eastern foods! hope you can correct them all

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Yes, I mention so in my post. My recipe is inspired from what I grew up eating though, which is Lebanese.

      1. Katrina Avatar
        Katrina

        Can I skip clarifying the butter?

        1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
          Liz DellaCroce

          You don’t have to clarify it yourself, you can buy ghee from any grocery store!

  8. TONIO MUA Avatar
    TONIO MUA

    I grew up in Brooklyn which had a had a large Arab neighborhood. On Atlantic Ave were several Arab stores and restaurants. One had about 15 vats containing different olive varieties,
    red, black, green. I’d sample them.

    As a medical student, walking home from a late night shift at the now closed LICH (Long Island College Hospital), an aroma drew me to a basement bakery making these meat or spinach pies. Delicious.

    A neighbor across from me was an older Syrian woman. I helped her with her medications. She served me Turkish coffee and fresh figs from her backyard tree.

    Thank you for the recipe and the tip of using store-bought pizza dough!

  9. Larry Michael Avatar
    Larry Michael

    I’m impressed with your hashwee recipe; it is almost the same as my Sainted mother, Nora. Salt, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, kamoun and mint (dryied or fresh)

    Every time I have tried to use someone else’s dough, IT JUST DOESN’T MAKE IT!!!
    Go to Utube and to Suha’s Kitchen; Suha’s meat pies. It’s a great dough! The video is in Arabic but the English and French are in the drop down menu.

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Oh great to know thank you for the tip on the dough!!!!

  10. Vicki Pieranunzi Avatar
    Vicki Pieranunzi

    So, I have made these twice. They are delicious! However, mine end up without the creases. What am I doing wrong? Yours look so nice. Mine….just a triangular pillow!

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      You just need to pinch them up a bit more I think!

      1. Patty Holgate Avatar
        Patty Holgate

        These were so good. I wish I had made them years ago, better late than never. Thanks for the recipe! P.

        1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
          Liz DellaCroce

          So glad you enjoyed!

  11. Victoria Avatar
    Victoria

    So delicious!!! The filling is so flavorful with ground lamb. We had trouble getting the dough to 1/8 inches because it kept springing back. Any tips?

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      I’m not a dough expert – I wish I knew!

    2. Carole Merritt Avatar
      Carole Merritt

      Let the dough rest for a few minutes. If you have a lot of flour on your work surface – dust some of it off so your dough and hold onto the work surface.

      1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
        Liz DellaCroce

        Great tip!

    3. Sabrina Avatar
      Sabrina

      I would love to try to make these for Christmas! I never made meat pies before. What kind of store bread dough do you recommend? I never used/bought bread dough before. Thanks!!

      1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
        Liz DellaCroce

        These are perfect for Christmas!! We use pizza dough. :)

      2. Julia Avatar
        Julia

        We use the Rhodes frozen dinner rolls. They’re already perfectly sized, too, which is a big time saver. Just follow the directions on the bag for prepping (skip oiling the plastic wrap over the dough. The oil makes it not want to stick to itself!) and once they’ve risen enough, you’re ready to go.

        1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
          Liz DellaCroce

          That’s a PERFECT idea!

      3. Jennifer Avatar
        Jennifer

        I haven’t tried your recipe but definitely will! I started making them in 93 after a friend shared them with my mom. The friend used self rising flour, butter, and buttermilk for the dough. I serve them with a yogurt and horseradish sauce. Thanks!

        1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
          Liz DellaCroce

          Oooo that sounds amazing!!! Btw I’m teaching a Lebanese cooking class March 24th!! You should join! https://irielemon.com/events/lebanese-cooking-class-march-2021/

      4. Nancy Avatar
        Nancy

        You should let the dough rest before and after kneading. It’s easier if the dough is not cold. Bring to room temp.
        Hope that helps.

    4. Kelly Ragland Avatar
      Kelly Ragland

      When dough springs back, let it rest 3 or 4 min. Should help.

  12. Jim Avatar
    Jim

    Any tips for making this with gluten free flour?

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Maybe try a gluten free pre-made pizza dough?

Liz Della Croce eating black bean dip

Hi I’m Liz!

Hey there, I’m Liz Della Croce and I’m thrilled to have you here! My aim is to motivate and ignite your passion for cooking amazing meals for your loved ones.