Whether it’s Kababs, Kabobs, Kebabs, or even foods like Satay or Brochettes, most cultures have some concept of Meat on a Stick over a fire. Probably because it’s one of the simplest ways to grill some meat and probably goes back to the beginning of humanity when early man gathered around a fire with a fresh kill and what better way to eat it than stick chunks on a stick and put it over a fire?
Trader Joe’s has had a few products that have been what you might consider real Middle Eastern cuisine. I generally like that they take on new and interesting ideas and expand into unfamiliar territory for most Americans. Remember Trader Joe’s is only in the USA and while there is a lot of diverse cultures, mainstream grocery stores simply don’t sell a lot of Middle Eastern foods.
I’ve had my fair share of traditional Middle Eastern styled Kebabs. Both in restaurants and at someone’s home. They were always grilled and it’s the basis for a larger meal with sauces and side dishes and some type of flat bread like a pita to serve them in.
First, let me say there are a million variations on making Kebabs, but I think what Trader Joe’s is trying to replicate is the Persian (Iranian) version called Kabab koobideh. Traditionally made with a mix of beef and lamb, although not always. Sometimes 100% beef and sometimes 100%. It depends on where you are from. Trader Joe’s version is 100% ground beef. You would traditionally serve them with grilled tomatoes and peppers and some rice. Some people might eat them with a pita and a sauce.
When you pull these out of the bag, they look like rectangular hamburgers, and that’s because that’s basically what they are. When these are made by hand, the ground meats are mixed with herbs and spices and then formed onto long metal skewers and grilled over coals, and served hot. It’s pretty basic food, but it’s one of those things that are more about technique and quality of ingredients since the ingredient list is pretty simple
You can see what they looked like (below) after I cooked them. I opted for the Microwave because I was in a rush for lunch. Like I said before, rectangular hamburgers for all you Americans. You can see some herbs and other goodness flecked within the Kebabs giving them a decent amount of flavor. I ate these plain for this review so I could taste them directly without the influence of a sauce or other flavors. Maybe that’s a mistake and they are like hamburgers. Sometimes you can barely taste the meat for all the condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayo, cheese, onions, etc). But from the few times I have had authentic Kebabs, these were a pale imitation of the real deal.
What is my Rating on Trader Joe’s Middle Eastern style Kebabs
I am torn on this and I am sure a lot of readers will be too. I am happy that Trader Joe’s is bringing something like these Kebabs to market, we have so little real Middle Eastern foods to choose from at Trader Joe’s and they can be so very good. But at the end of the day, these were just meh for me. They tasted like a good hamburger that some had doctored up with some garlic powder and herbs. Your kids will love them. If you are Persian, I hear these are very authentic and many people appreciate what Trader Joe’s has done. I am going to rate these 7 Bells!
How to Make Trader Joe’s Kebabs
My 2 cents on this is that just putting them in the microwave will probably be the worst way to make them, but since they are pre-cooked, by far the fastest. The best way would be to throw them on the grill to get some grilled flavors but again, they are pre-cooked so cooking time should be short so as not to dry them out. Here is what Trader Joe’s recommends:
HEAT FROM FROZEN
CONVENTIONAL OVEN: Preheat oven to 350°E. Place kebabs
on a baking tray. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until kebabs are
GRILL: Preheat grill to medium- low approximately 200-250 °F)*
Place kebabs on grill over direct heat Flip every 5 minutes to prevent
burning for a total of 20 minutes or until Kebabs are heated through.
AIR FRYER: Place kebabs in a single layer in air fryer basket.
Heat at 350°F. for 5 to 6 minutes or until kebabs are heated through.
MICROWAVE (1200 watt): Microwave heat times may vary!
depending on oven wattage. Cover individual kebabs with a damp
paper towel, and heat on high for I minute or until kebabs are
What are the Ingredients of Trader Joe’s Kebabs?
INGREDIENTS: GROUND BEEF, ONIONS, EGGS
(EGGS, CITRIC ACID [TO MAINTAIN COLOR]), BREAD-
CRUMBS (UNBLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR, SUGAR, SALT,
YEAST), PARSLEY, SALT, PAPRIKA, GARLIC POWDER,
SEASONING (ALLSPICE, BLACK PEPPER, CORIANDER,
(LOVES, CUMIN, NUTMEG, SPICES), BLACK PEPPER.
CONTAINS EGG, WHEAT.