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Best Stuffed Onion Recipe with Ground Beef and Rice

4.4 from 15 votes
Einav Hakoun – @einavhakounfood
Delicious Middle Eastern stuffed onions with ground beef cooked to perfection.
Prep Time :15 minutes
Cook Time :1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time :2 hours
Servings: 8



Rice seasoning:



  • Peel the onions and make a lengthwise cut into the center of each onion, stopping at the middle. Boil them for about 25 minutes. Remove them and transfer to ice-cold water and then drain using a colander. Save the water used to boil the onions for the dish.
  • While the onions are cooking, heat a medium size pot with 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the rice and a pinch of salt, and saute briefly. Add a cup of boiling water and simmer over low heat for 6-7 minutes until the water is absorbed. The rice should be half-cooked.
  • Heat a wide pot with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the finely chopped onion and pine nuts, and saute until golden brown. Add the beef and cook until it changes color. Add the partially cooked rice, beef, raisins, and spices, stir well, and turn off the heat. Add the chopped herbs and mix.
  • Gently separate the layers of the boiled onions. Fill each onion layer with a spoonful of the rice and beef mixture, ensuring that the mixture doesn’t spill out. Arrange the stuffed onions tightly in the pot to prevent them from falling apart during cooking. Pour the sauce over the stuffed onions, making sure they are fully covered. Place a moistened parchment paper on top, cover with a lid, and cook for about 35 minutes (preheat your oven to 355F/180C after 25 minutes).
  • Turn off the heat, remove the parchment paper and lid and bake for another 35 minutes on turbo mode until the top is golden brown.


stuffed onion recipe with ground beef
Credit: Einav Hakoun

Can you substitute the ground beef with another type of meat?

Yes, you can substitute ground beef with other types of ground meat such as lamb, turkey, chicken, or even a meatless option like crumbled tofu or tempeh for a vegetarian version. Each substitution will impart its unique flavor profile to the dish, so adjust seasonings accordingly to complement the chosen meat. Ground lamb will provide a rich, slightly gamey flavor, while turkey or chicken will offer a lighter taste. For a vegetarian twist, crumbled tofu or tempeh can mimic the texture and absorb the flavors of the spices and seasonings used in the recipe, creating a satisfying alternative.

How to prevent the stuffed onions from falling apart

To prevent the stuffed onions from falling apart during cooking, it’s crucial to handle them gently and ensure they are tightly packed in the cooking pot. After boiling and cooling the onions, carefully separate and fill each layer with the rice and beef mixture, pressing gently to compact the stuffing. Arrange the stuffed onions tightly in the pot to support each other. When cooking, pour the sauce over them to keep them moist and cover with parchment paper and a lid to retain steam and heat. This method helps maintain the structure of the onions and ensures they cook evenly without falling apart.

Are there any vegetarian alternatives for this stuffed onion recipe with ground beef?

You can replace the meat with cooked lentils, mushrooms, or a mix of vegetables, like eggplant and zucchini. Plant-based meat substitutes or crumbled tofu seasoned with your favorite spices are also great options.

What can I use as a substitute for pine nuts?

If you have a pine nut allergy, you can substitute them with various alternatives such as chopped almonds, walnuts, cashews, or sunflower seeds. These substitutes will provide a similar crunch and texture to the dish while offering their distinct flavors. Choose according to your preference and dietary needs, ensuring they blend well with the overall flavor profile of the stuffed onions with ground beef. Adjust quantities as needed to achieve the desired taste and texture.

Can I freeze these stuffed onions for later use?

After preparing and cooling the stuffed onions, place them in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. Ensure they’re tightly sealed to prevent freezer burn. When ready to enjoy, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the oven or microwave.

Can I prepare this stuffed onions with ground beef ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the stuffed onions ahead of time and bake them later. After stuffing the onions and arranging them in the pot with the sauce, cover tightly and refrigerate. When ready to bake, preheat your oven and proceed with the baking instructions as directed in the recipe. This allows you to prepare the dish in advance, saving time on the day of serving while still ensuring a freshly baked and delicious result.

How long should I boil the onions to ensure they are soft enough to stuff?

Boil the onions for about 25 minutes until they are tender enough to easily separate into layers for stuffing. Check them periodically with a fork or knife to ensure they are soft but still hold their shape. Once boiled, transfer them to ice-cold water to stop the cooking process and make them easier to handle. This method ensures the onions are adequately softened for stuffing while maintaining their structural integrity during the preparation of the dish.

Tips for making the stuffing more flavorful

Season Liberally: Don’t skimp on seasoning. Use a generous amount of salt, black pepper, and other preferred spices, like paprika, cumin, or coriander, to add depth to the mixture.

Aromatics: Sauté finely chopped garlic and onions in olive oil before adding the meat and rice. This aromatic base will infuse the stuffing with rich, savory flavors.

Fresh Herbs: Fresh herbs like parsley, mint, or cilantro can make a significant difference. Chop them finely and mix them into the stuffing for a burst of freshness.

Citrus Zest: Add zest from lemons or oranges to brighten the flavors and provide a subtle citrusy note.

Quality Broth: If using broth, opt for high-quality broth or stock, as it can elevate the stuffing’s overall taste.

Cooking Liquid: Utilize the water leftover from boiling the onions as part of the cooking liquid for added flavor continuity.

stuffed onions with ground beef recipe
Credit: Einav Hakoun

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