Chermoula – The Most Delicious Sauce You’ve Never Tasted – Recipe

Chermoula sauce (served on a vegetable tagine and couscous)

I hereby nominate chermoula as the “it” sauce for 2010. (I’m pretty sure last year it was chimichurri, and of course we all remember the pesto riots of 1986, and aioli threatening to flood Central Park in 2001.)

Chermoula is typically used as a marinade for fish in its North African home territory, but it can also be used as a stuffing or sauce. I served it with a simple harissa-spiked tagine of butternut squash and potatoes with chickpeas, over fluffy couscous.

If you look around the web, you’ll see there are any number of variations of chermoula. Some use only cilantro while others include parsley. Some use preserved lemon, while others prefer just the fresh juice. I got a little crazy and added smoked paprika instead of plain, and a bit of fresh ginger (some recipes call for dried, most none at all). You should feel free to adapt it to your mood and what you have on hand.

Chermoula is one of these great sauces that require you to do nothing more than put all the ingredients in a mini-food processor and buzz them until you reach the desired consistency, which should be still a little rough, not fully pureed. Five minutes of work. It will taste even better if you make it an hour or so in advance to let the flavors develop.

Of course if you want to be more traditional, you can go at your chermoula in a mortar and pestle. (The standard move in this case is to claim that the result is incomparably better than anything made with a motor – it might even be true.)

Chermoula Sauce
Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten-Free
Yields about 3/4 cup
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: none!

  • 1 bunch of cilantro, leaves and tender stems only, well washed
  • 1 handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin power
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • big pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon or 1/2 of a preserved lemon, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mini-food processor, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle. Process until a thick, moderately rough sauce is formed.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Thursday, March 18th, 2010 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes, Sauces and Condiments, Vegan or Modifiable.

26 Responses to “Chermoula – The Most Delicious Sauce You’ve Never Tasted – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    March 18, 2010 at 7:50 am #

    Looking forward to trying this!

  2. Reply
    michelle moscatel
    March 18, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    how do you make vegetarian tangine thanks Michelle

  3. Reply
    March 18, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    I’d never heard of this before but it looks and sounds great. I’ll have to try it. Thanks!

  4. Reply
    March 18, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    The moment this blog loaded, the first word that came out of my mouth is “Wow!”. Well I guess, you know already why I did say that. It really looks brilliantly delicious.

  5. Reply
    March 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    Sounds good! I am also addicted to smoked paprika, it is amazing! 🙂

  6. Reply
    March 19, 2010 at 3:02 am #

    this looks pretty similar to Indian coriander chutney!

  7. Reply
    March 19, 2010 at 3:27 am #

    I have to say, it’s quite true that if you grind your spices or paste in mortar & pestle, it tastes somehow a lot better than using a food processor. Till this day, my mom still grinds her spices with it. However sometimes she does uses food processor when she is pressed for time.

  8. Reply
    March 19, 2010 at 4:51 am #

    Love that stuff, could eat it with a spoon!

  9. Reply
    March 19, 2010 at 5:39 am #

    Must love a recipe that’s simple to make yet looks so vibrant and delicious. Can’t wait to try!

  10. Reply
    March 19, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    It has my vote for a top sauce indeed! You had me at fresh chopped cilantro!

    Bonne appetite!

  11. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    March 19, 2010 at 7:14 am #

    Hey Esha – I could see why you would think that based on reading the ingredients, but the actual taste is totally different. More of a Mediterranean flavor instead of the pure herbal taste of coriander chutney. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

  12. Reply
    March 19, 2010 at 11:33 am #

    I really like what you did to kick up an otherwise so-so sauce, Michael. The smoked paprika, the ginger and the chile flakes in particular. I could slather this on my mailbox and it would taste good!

  13. Reply
    March 23, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    This sauce sounds fascinating. I wish I could immediately taste it from the screen, but I guess I’ll have to make it for myself 8).

  14. Reply
    March 30, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    Oooh! I am so glad you wrote about this!

  15. Reply
    April 6, 2010 at 6:28 am #

    The sauce looks fantastic, can’t wait to try!!!!

  16. Reply
    April 11, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Yes, how do you make the tagine?!

  17. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    April 18, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    Basically I just braised the vegetables and pre-cooked chickpeas with harissa and preserved lemon… next time I make something like that I'll write out a recipe.


  18. Reply
    August 22, 2010 at 4:30 am #

    Tried this for the first time today,and so followed the recipe precisely.
    Sauce of the year?
    But worth doing again?-probably.

  19. Reply
    August 25, 2010 at 8:56 pm #


    I made this tonight, and you’re right, I’ve never tried this sauce before so I have nothing to compare it with. What exactly does it taste like? What’s the most dominant flavour (e.g. cumin, parsely etc).

    Also, does it taste better the following day?


  20. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    August 27, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    Hey AZ – I'd say that all of the flavors should come through in balance. In particular, I want to be able to taste that metallic twang of the saffron in the mix with all of the herbaceous flavors.

  21. Reply
    June 26, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    Love the sauce, but want to make the veggies to go with it. I’m trying to follow your post above, but not sure how to interpret what you wrote. Did you braise the veggies and cook the chickpeas separately? Or throw the pre-cooked chick peas in with the raw veggies and lemon? How did you make your harissa?

  22. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    June 26, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    Hey Wendy – honestly, it has been so long I don't remember exactly how I made that tagine, but you could do something like this: link to and use the chermoula instead of the yogurt sauce.

  23. Reply
    July 4, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    I love this tossed with roasted root vegetables! And, hailing from the South, I sometimes toss with luscious sweet potato only! It’s hard to come for air….; )

  24. Reply
    March 7, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    chermoula? i think, i wanna try this recipe now. i see the photo are very interested
    thank you for your share

  25. Reply
    December 22, 2014 at 2:46 am #

    I was wondering if it was possible to pre make this sauce to use 2/3 days later? I would like to use It over Christmas but would not be able to prepare it at that time.

    • Reply
      December 22, 2014 at 6:55 am #

      That should be ok; just put it in a container and maybe cover it with a thin layer of oil and then plastic wrap to minimize oxidation so the color stays nice. Store in the refrigerator of course.

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