Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash

4.58 stars average

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Kousa is stuffed with a savory meat and rice mixture and simmered in a flavorful tomato broth until tender in this flavorful Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash.

Lebanese stuffed kousa squash.

Late summer is one of my favorite times of the year for one very simple reason: the farmers market is finally overflowing with juicy, ripe produce from every color of the rainbow. One of my favorite things to buy is kousa, also known as Lebanese squash, which is a summer squash that you can find right by the zucchini. While I enjoy kousa (or koosa and cousa) many ways, today I’m sharing my Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash recipe which you’re sure to love.


  • Kousa: Arabic for zucchini, it’s a summer squash with a light green rind that is mildly sweet and nutty in flavor.
  • Tomato juice: Slightly sweet and tart flavor that both cooks the squash and creates a delicious sauce.
  • Ground beef: I like to use sirloin, but you could also use ground chuck or even ground lamb.
  • Long grain rice: Soaks up the juice and surrounding flavor as it cooks and adds texture to the filling.
  • Garlic: A staple in my kitchen, it has a sweet, nutty, slightly buttery taste when cooked.
  • Dried mint: Sweet and woodsy, it adds a different depth of flavor than fresh mint would.
  • Lemon juice: Bright, acidic flavor that creates balance to the dish.

How to Make Lebanese stuffed Kousa Squash

Ground beef in a bowl

Start your Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash by creating the stuffing by putting your ground beef in a large bowl.

Freshly grating garlic into bowl

Then add the uncooked rice, and freshly grate half of the garlic cloves with a microplane.

Seasoning rice and beef

Finish with half of the dried mint and season with some kosher salt and black pepper.

Mixing meat mixture by hand

The best way to combine the meat mixture is with your hands, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Cutting off ends of kousa squash

To prepare your squash for stuffing, start by washing and drying them, then cutting off all the tops.

Liz cleaning out kousa squash

Then hollow out the insides by using a zucchini corer, being careful that you don’t puncture the bottom or sides. Alternatively, a nice hack to remove the center of the squash is to use an apple corer.

Stuffing kousa squash

Next take the meat and rice stuffing and push it into the squash, leaving about 1 & 1/2 inches of space at the top for the rice to cook and expand.

Adding tomato juice to large pot

Then in a large pot over medium-high heat, pour in the tomato juice.

Grating garlic into largepot

Then grate in the rest of the garlic.

Adding mint to pot

And add in the rest of the dried mint.

Stuffed kousa in tomato juice in pot

Once tomato juice is boiling, gently add in the stuffed kousa squash as well as the lemon juice.

Extra meat added as meat balls

You can also add any leftover meat stuffing to the pot as little meatballs. Once everything is added to the pot, bring back to a boil before reducing heat and simmering for about 35 minutes.

Cutting Lebanese stuffed kousa squash.

Once rice is fully cooked (the meatballs are a great way to test this), remove from the pot along with some of the tomato sauce. Garnish with fresh herbs (like parsley) or spices, and enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you freeze kousa?

This recipe is freezer friendly, but before freezing you need to fully cook the kousa. The kousa should last for up to three months in the freezer in an air-tight container. To reheat, simply place them in the refrigerator for 24 hours to thaw and then warm them in a pan.

Where do you find kousa squash?

It’s usually available at your local farmers market. I normally find it next to yellow squash and zucchini. You can also find it at some grocery stores.

How do you core a squash without a corer?

You can try a small, thin knife, a grapefruit spoon, or a potato peeler (the long, scoop, skinny kind).

Lebanese stuffed kousa squash

More Lebanese Recipes

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Liz eating Lebanese stuffed kousa squash.

Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash has always been a favorite of mine, and once you give it a try, I hope it’ll become a favorite of yours as well.

Your fork is waiting.

Lebanese stuffed kousa squash 2

Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash

4.58 stars average
In this Traditional Lebanese dish, kousa is stuffed with a savory meat and rice mixture and simmered in a flavorful tomato broth until tender.
PREP: 15 minutes
COOK: 35 minutes
TOTAL: 50 minutes

Recipe Video


  • 8 kousas (small/medium sized)
  • 20 ounces tomato juice (or tomato paste mixed with water)
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • ½ cup uncooked long grain white rice (rinsed)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic (grated)
  • 2 tablespoon dried mint
  • 2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Plain yogurt to serve (optional)


  • To hollow out the kousa, trim off the top and use a zucchini core to slowly remove the inside of the squash. Be careful not to poke through the bottom or the sides. Once the squash is hollowed out, set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine beef, rinsed uncooked rice, salt, and pepper. Add half of the garlic (3 grated cloves) and half of the mint (1 tablespoon) to the meat mixture and combine.
  • Before you start stuffing the squash, place the tomato juice or tomato paste/water mixture in a large pot, and heat on medium high until boiling.
  • While the tomato juice is heating up, begin stuffing the kousa. Be careful to leave about 1 1/2 inch at the top which allows room for them to expand. If you have leftover meat mixture, simply roll them into little meatballs, and add to the tomato broth.
  • When the tomato juice has come to a boil, add the remaining mint (1 tablespoon) and garlic (3 grated cloves) as well as the lemon juice. 
  • If you used tomato paste/water, add salt and pepper to the broth to taste.
  • Gently add in the stuffed kousa. Bring to a boil then turn to low and simmer for 35 minutes. The meatballs are the perfect way to see if the rice is fully cooked.
  • Serve in a bowl with plain yogurt on the side. 

Last Step:

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Serving: 1squashCalories: 429kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 29gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 706mgPotassium: 1742mgFiber: 5gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 1506IUVitamin C: 98mgCalcium: 120mgIron: 5mg
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86 responses to “Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash”

  1. Tom Abbott (Shalhoup] Avatar
    Tom Abbott (Shalhoup]

    Koosa squash is easy to grow..and seeds are available online… for vegetarian version try stuffing wuth combo of chickpeas..partially mashed, bulger and shredded carrots.
    Lamb is my favorite with rice and garlic..the way mom and Sittoo made it…and dont over cook..simmer on ver low for an hour or more..

    1. Tom abbott Avatar
      Tom abbott

      PS..yellow summer squash is closer to koosa than zucchini..try them if you cant get thevreal deal

  2. Trish C. Avatar
    Trish C.

    Hi Liz, my dad talks about his grandmother making stuffed Kusa and how much he loved them. I found your recipe and tried it using zucchini (closest to Kusa that I could find) while making cabbage rolls. It may have cooked closer to an hour and I’m wondering if the squash was overcooked because mine fell apart when removing from pan. The cabbage rolls that were cooked along with the squash still have a good texture/consistency. Can you tell me if that sounds overlooked or maybe give me an idea of how yours turn out AND if the meat balls made with extra meat filling should stay together? Mine did not , even with a plate over the top while cooking. Also, do you make the meat pies called fiteyeh (not sure that’s even close to correct spelling)? They’re ah-ma-zing!!

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Hi Trish, I wouldn’t recommend zucchini for this dish as it’s going to fall apart before the rice is fully cooked. Do you have a place near you that sells kousa? You can often find it year round in Mexican or International grocery stores. Otherwise in Michigan it’s at the farmers markets in the summer. Sadly kousa is more of a summer recipe for that reason. Have you looked through my other Lebanese recipes? I also have a cookbook of my family’s recipes.

      Yes we call the meat pies “sfeehas”!! So good:! https://thelemonbowl.com/lebanese-meat-pies-sfeehas/

      1. Yolz Avatar

        What are you talking about? Zucchini is what u just used for koussa!

    2. Faith Avatar

      I love your recipes. That I was just wondering if you can substitute fresh mint for dried mint? Is the flavor much different. The reason is I grow my own herbs and would rather use my own.

      1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
        Liz DellaCroce

        Fresh mint wouldnt work for this but you can always dry your fresh mint! Just put it in a low 200 degree oven until dried out. :)

      2. Rachel Greene Avatar
        Rachel Greene

        I actually used fresh mint because that’s what I had on hand, and it came out great! Not overpoweringly minty, but it still added a lot of nuanced flavor.

        1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
          Liz DellaCroce

          Oh good I’m so glad to hear it worked with fresh mint!!!

  3. Mike Avatar

    Hi, do you cover the pot when you’re simmering the tomato paste mixture with the zucchinis in the pot?

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Yes I do! :)

  4. Kim Avatar

    Hi, I am making this for my Bible study group! I know they’ll love it. I need to freeze and reheat them! Help! How do I do that? Please help me as I am making them Oct 2,2018 and need to reheat them on October 8, 2018.

    Thank you very much!

    By the way, I have heard vegetarian style stuffing it with tabouleh salad before.

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      I have them in my freezer as well! To reheat simply place in the refrigerator 24 hours before you wish to eat them so they can thaw slowly. Alternatively, leave on counter and they should thaw in 4 hours or so. To reheat, place in a pan and warm. :)

  5. Shelley Avatar

    Liz, if I am unable to find the Kusa squash here in Georgia. How much
    will a plain old Zucchini squash take away from the taste? And thanks
    BTW this sounds scrumptious.

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      I’ve never used zucchini before but I don’t see why not! If you try it will you let me know how it turns out?

      1. Tom abbott Avatar
        Tom abbott

        Simmer aquash..yellow is a better sub

        1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
          Liz DellaCroce

          Good to know!

    2. Kim Avatar

      Go to a Mexican market if you have one. That’s where I get mine in Oklahoma.

      1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
        Liz DellaCroce

        YES! Such a great idea and reminder!

      2. Amandalambard a Avatar
        Amandalambard a

        What place are you going to in Oklahoma?? I’m in oklahoma as well and looking for koosa. I’m over here in Tulsa. I heard Middle East market carries them sometimes on sundays but I haven’t had luck yet

        1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
          Liz DellaCroce

          I’ve never been to Oklahoma I’m afraid!

    3. Momo Avatar

      Yes zucchini is exactly what you use…look it up on youtube..they all call it zucchin

      1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
        Liz DellaCroce

        :) Thanks Momo!

  6. PENNY Avatar

    My mother in law,always mar a dish using the inside of the moods she scooped out and put onions, tomatoes and stirfriedtjose. I believe she broke eggs over top and let those cook. Do you know thus,recipe?

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      No I don’t but that sounds incredible!!!

    2. Tom abbott Avatar
      Tom abbott

      Always had koosa insides with eggs and onions gor breakfadt the dsy after making stuffed koosa.

      Simmer aquash..yellow is a better sub

      1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
        Liz DellaCroce

        Wow that sounds amazing!!!! My mom always talks about koosa with eggs too.

    3. Renee Avatar

      Do you cook the Coosa fully before freezing?

      1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
        Liz DellaCroce

        I typically do yes.

  7. Lisa Avatar

    Where does the 2T of fresh lemon juice go? It’s in the ingredient list but not in the recipe directions. Thanks!

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      So sorry about that – it goes in the tomato juice mixture. I just edited the post!!

  8. Ray Avatar

    Will definitely try this recipe. I spent my summers in Lebanon growing up and my grandmother would make this dish. I’ve always wanted to make it myself but have never been able to find the correct variety of squash, even at our famous State Farmers Market here in Raleigh, NC. However if anyone else is having this problem too, I found the following seeds and will be growing them in our garden: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-7670-magda.aspx

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      I hope you make it and love it Ray! It’s one of my all time favorite dishes!

    2. Beth Wray Avatar
      Beth Wray

      We just subscribed to The Produce Box and they are now offering coos squash!!!!

      1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
        Liz DellaCroce

        Oh perfect!!!

  9. Nola Avatar

    What’s the best way to freeze them?

  10. :) Avatar

    Do you know the vegetarian version of this dish? I used to eat this is a Lebanese restaurant (which is now closed) and they stuffed their squash with a meatless bulgur filling which was quite delicious! They will serve the stuffed squashes with a tomato sauce and the tomato sauce was spiced with cinnamon and other spices. It was very good and I crave for this.

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Hi There – I’m afraid I’ve never eaten the vegetarian version but it sounds delicious. I tried googling to find an option for you but there are a million varieties and I’m not sure which one has the flavors you’re seeking. I would definitely search online though – looks like tons of options!!

      1. :) Avatar

        Oh, thank you for trying to find the vegetarian version for me. That is very nice. At least I know how the squash is hollowed out and stuffed. Thank you again!

        1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
          Liz DellaCroce

          Another idea off the top of my head is to sauté eggplant with cooked bulgur wheat, tomato sauce, cinnamon, salt, pepper. Clarified butter (ghee) doesn’t hurt either. Enjoy!

      2. Tom Abbott (Shalhoup] Avatar
        Tom Abbott (Shalhoup]

        Chickptom annotteas