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Easy Lahmacun Smash Tacos

Apr 25, 2024 | 1 comment

Everything you love about lahmacun, in a jazzy new form. I’m talking beautifully spiced beef (or lamb) pressed into a mini tortilla, pan-fried for a couple of minutes, topped with a smoky red pepper sauce and herby salad. Easy, speedy, and a super fun twist on the smash taco trend.

Smash lahmacun taco with red pepper sauce and herby salad on top.

If you loved my viral smash dumpling tacos and the original smash burger tacos, this is the next one you’ll want to try.

Lahmacun, a Middle-Eastern classic is, essentially, a spiced meat mixture (usually with beef or lamb, spices like paprika and chilli, along with tomatoes, red bell peppers and parsley), pressed into a thin layer on top of a flatbread-esque dough and baked until crispy. It’s DELICIOUS and also felt perfect to adapt into a smash taco because it’s so similar to how it’s traditionally enjoyed anyway.

This is by no means a traditional lahmacun recipe! This is my twist using similar flavors and a different technique. But it’s quick, it’s easy, and PACKED with deliciousness.

I’m serving the tacos with a fiery, smoky red pepper dipping sauce and a fresh herby, lemony salad to cut through the meat and oh my goodness. These are very easy to eat and even easier to make. I’ll be dipping everything in that sauce, it’s truly so lovely (and uses a slightly divisive ingredient as the base but you’ll just have to trust me on this).


Ingredients for lahmacun smash tacos laid out and labelled.
  • Ground lamb (or beef). Choose between the two here (or use half and half). Try to use lean meat if you can – anything too fatty can make the pan quite greasy.
  • Roasted red peppers. For ease, I use jarred roasted red peppers and they work perfectly. You can, of course, roast your own if you like, it’ll just take a lot longer to prep.
  • Harissa paste. This is my little shortcut ingredient to maximum flavor. It’s a North African chili paste that uses ingredients often present in lahmacun (chili, paprika, cumin) and brings a tonne of flavor to anything, I always have some on hand. If you can’t find it, use more tomato paste and add 1 teaspoon of chili or red pepper flakes.
  • Tomato paste.
  • Herbs. You’ll need flat-leaf parsley for the lahmacun mixture itself, and I like to top the tacos with a flat-leaf parsley and mint salad.
  • Spices. I (stupidly) forgot to put these in the photo above, but spices are involved here. You’ll need ground cumin, cinnamon and allspice.

And for the sauce, you’ll need roasted red peppers, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and cottage cheese. If you don’t like cottage cheese, use thick Greek yogurt, sour cream, or cream cheese instead. But I urge you to try the cottage cheese – I was NEVER a fan until I realized you can blitz it into a gorgeously creamy consistency that’s a whole lot lighter than any other creamy base for sauces or dips. It works beautifully here, I promise.

How to make them

Mix all your ingredients for the lahmacun topping. Make sure you’re mixing everything through the meat really well so the flavor is well dispersed. Add all your sauce ingredients to a blender or food processor and blitz until super smooth and creamy.

Scoop up a heaped spoonful of the filling, and spread it onto a thin layer on each of your tortillas. You can spread it right to the edges as the meat will likely shrink when you cook it (as you can see here!)

Cook your taco, meat side down, for 4 minutes in a hot pan (you can do a couple at a time, depending on the size of your pan). Flip the tacos and cook for another minute on the other side, just to crisp up the tortilla.

PRO TIP: Make sure your pan is nice and hot and you’re really pressing down on the tortilla, to ‘smash’ the meat into the pan. This will 1) help the meat cook faster and create the charred crust we’re after and 2) ensure your meat sticks to your tortilla.

Drizzle your tacos with the smoky red pepper sauce, then pile on the herby za’atar salad. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, then enjoy with more sauce on the side for dipping.

Got a question?

Why does my meat not stick to the tortilla?

Make sure your pan is nice and hot before you add your taco, and you really need to press the tortilla into the pan while it’s cooking. This way, the meat cooks quickly and kind of ‘seals’ itself to the tortilla while it cooks. But if your meat doesn’t stick, please don’t worry! It’s still going to taste the same.

My pan is quite greasy – is this normal?

Just make sure you’re using lean beef or lamb – otherwise you can end up with a greasy puddle. If there is a lot of grease though, just drain some away as you flip the tortilla to crisp up.

Could I use different ground meat?

Yes! Beef or lamb is most associated with lahmacun, but you could use ground turkey or chicken, or a plant-based alternative.

Could I use a different sauce?

You can use whatever you’d like. Whipped feta, spicy harissa whipped feta, sundried tomato feta dip, smoky baba ghanoush or even tzatziki would be lovely, as would a tomato-based salsa.

Watch how to make them

Like this recipe? Here are more easy ideas to try

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below.

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Smash lahmacun taco with red pepper sauce and herby salad on top.

Lahmacun Smash Tacos with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

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  • Author: Kate Phillips
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Low Calorie


Everything you love about lahmacun, in a jazzy new form. I’m talking beautifully spiced beef (or lamb) pressed into a mini tortilla, pan-fried for a couple of minutes, topped with a smoky red pepper sauce and herby salad. Easy, speedy, and a super fun twist on the smash taco trend.


Units Scale

For the tacos –

  • 1lb/500g ground lean lamb or beef
  • 1 roasted red pepper (from a jar), chopped finely
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 mini tortillas
  • Za’atar or dukkah, to serve
  • Lemon juice, to serve

For the fiery red pepper sauce –

  • 3 roasted red peppers (from a jar)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10oz/300g cottage cheese (or Greek yogurt or cream cheese)


  1. Make your red pepper sauce. Add all your sauce ingredients to the bowl of a food processor, or a blender. Blitz into a super smooth, creamy sauce. This should only take a minute or two. Set aside for now.
  2. Mix the lahmacun topping. Add the ground lamb or beef, chopped red pepper, garlic cloves, harissa paste, chopped parsley, cinnamon, allspice, ground cumin, tomato paste and salt to a mixing bowl. Use a spoon or spatula to mix the ingredients well, ensuring all the ingredients are well-dispersed through the meat.
  3. Top the tacos. Scoop up a heaped spoonful of the lahmacun mixture, and spread it into a thin layer on your mini tortilla, going right up to the edges (the meat will shrink a bit when it cooks). Repeat with the rest of the mixture and the tortillas.
  4. Cook the tacos. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Place a tortilla, meat side down, onto your pan, and press down firmly with a fish slice (or similar). You want to really ‘smash’ the taco into the pan so that the meat cooks quickly and it ‘seals’ itself to the tortilla. Depending on the size of your pan, you can cook a few tacos at the same time. Cook for four minutes, then flip them and cook for a further minute on the other side.
  5. Garnish and serve. Drizzle a tablespoon or so of the red pepper sauce on top of the meat on each taco, then divide the chopped herbs between them. Scatter over your za’atar, then finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Enjoy with more of the smoky sauce on the side.


INGREDIENT NOTES: Use lean lamb or beef if you can, otherwise your pan may end up quite greasy. If this happens, just drain some of the grease as you flip the tacos over. Harissa paste is a spicy, North African chili paste that contains a lot of the ingredients usually present in lahmacun, so I use it as a bit of a shortcut to flavor here. Harissa differs by brand in terms of spice, so I recommend tasting yours first and if it’s super spicy, reduce the quantity you add. If you can’t find it, use more tomato paste and add 1 teaspoon of chili flakes or red pepper flakes.

MAKE AHEAD: The smoky red pepper sauce will keep well for 5 days in the fridge. You can mix the lahmacun topping a couple of days ahead of time, then just top the tortillas and cook when you’re ready. Or, top the tortillas and store them in the fridge overnight (make sure you separate each tortilla with a piece of parchment paper so that they don’t stick or go soggy).

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: fakeaways
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: mediterranean


  • Serving Size: 3 tacos
  • Calories: 402
  • Sugar: 7.8g
  • Sodium: 1457mg
  • Fat: 9g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 4.3g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 38.7g
  • Fiber: 2.1g
  • Protein: 41.4g
  • Cholesterol: 84mg


I’m Kate, the creator behind Dished. I love creating flavour packed, simple (ish) recipes for you, designed for every day and special occasions.





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1 Comment

  1. Mimi Rippee

    I’ve been wanting to make lahmacun for a while now. Thanks for the delicious reminder! It looks so good.


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