These savory Lebanese meat pies (known as sfeehas) get their irresistible flavor from clarified butter, toasted pine nuts and fragrant cinnamon.
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.
What is a sfeeha?
In my family, we grew up eating sfeehas also know as fatayer. Fatayer is 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.
What’s in the filling?
The filling is made of ground beef or lamb sauteed in clarified butter and seasoned with cinnamon and allspice. We also love adding toasted pine nuts but that is optional.
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.
To serve, we like to dip with plain yogurt but that is optional. While nontraditional, my cousin also likes to dip them in A-1 sauce which now I’m hooked on as well!
No forks required.
Lebanese Meat Pies (Sfeeha’s)
- bread dough (store bought or homemade)
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee)
- 1 pound ground sirloin or lamb
- 2 medium onions (diced)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ cup plain yogurt (optional)
- 1 juice of lemon
- melted clarified butter
- 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 butter until golden brown being careful not to let burn. Remove from 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.
Check out more of my Lebanese Recipes by viewing my Pinterest board!
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!
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
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.
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!!
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!
You could definitely make the filling ahead and then assemble and bake them the day of. I hope your family enjoys them!
These are not Lebanese foods only,. These are middle Eastern foods! hope you can correct them all
Yes, I mention so in my post. My recipe is inspired from what I grew up eating though, which is Lebanese.
Can I skip clarifying the butter?
You don’t have to clarify it yourself, you can buy ghee from any grocery store!
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!
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.
Oh great to know thank you for the tip on the dough!!!!
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!
You just need to pinch them up a bit more I think!
These were so good. I wish I had made them years ago, better late than never. Thanks for the recipe! P.
So glad you enjoyed!
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?
I’m not a dough expert – I wish I knew!
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.
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!!
These are perfect for Christmas!! We use pizza dough. :)
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.
That’s a PERFECT idea!
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!
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/
When dough springs back, let it rest 3 or 4 min. Should help.
Any tips for making this with gluten free flour?
Maybe try a gluten free pre-made pizza dough?