Spicy Shakshuka served on a bamboo tray
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Spicy Shakshuka Recipe

I’ve always been captivated by flavors that take my taste buds on a journey, and that’s precisely what a spicy Shakshuka does. Originating from the Middle East and North Africa, Shakshuka is a vibrant and hearty dish that serves as a staple breakfast or brunch option, beloved for its rich, spicy tomato sauce and poached eggs. The beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity and the warmth it brings to any table.

Making Shakshuka is a comforting process, almost as much as it is to eat. It starts by sautéing onions, peppers, and spices until they meld into an aromatic base. Then tomatoes are added, creating a bubbling red sauce, perfect for cradling the eggs. It’s a recipe that’s open to interpretation, too; some like to add a kick of chili, while others prefer a milder heat, aiming to please a variety of palates.

The name ‘Shakshuka’ itself means ‘mixture’, and that’s exactly what this dish is—a delicious amalgamation of flavors and textures. It’s traditionally served right out of the skillet, and I love to pair it with crusty sourdough bread, perfect for dipping into that spicy sauce and egg yolk. Whether shared with friends or enjoyed in a quiet moment alone, Shakshuka is my go-to comfort food that never fails to satisfy.

spicy shakshuka with poached eggs

What is Shakshuka?

Originating in the Middle East and North Africa, it’s a dish that tells a story of migration, trade, and culinary fusion. It is widely believed that the dish emerged in North Africa, particularly in countries like Tunisia, where the amalgamation of cultures influenced local cuisines. The basic elements of the dish – tomatoes, onions, peppers, and eggs – were brought together in a way that resonated deeply with the Maghrebi food tradition.

Fast forward to today, it’s a global phenomenon, particularly in Israel, where it has been heartily adopted and adapted into the fabric of Israeli cuisine. Its popularity soared as Jewish immigrants from North Africa introduced the dish, making it a staple not just in homes but also in eateries across the country. The joy of dipping bread into its hearty, spiced sauce has captured the hearts of many around the world, turning this once regional delight into a beloved international dish.


When cooking up a vibrant Shakshuka, the perfect blend of spices and fresh ingredients can elevate this dish from good to truly memorable. Here’s what I use to create the magic in my kitchen.

Essential Ingredients for Shakshuka

  • Eggs: The star of the show, typically 2 per person.
  • Tomatoes: I prefer fresh, extra ripe tomatoes but a can of whole peeled tomatoes also works well. 2-3 tomatoes per person depends on the size of the tomatoes.
  • Onion & Garlic: For that essential aromatic foundation, I use 1 large onion and 3 cloves of garlic.
  • Pepper: I love adding 1 large bell pepper for a sweet crunch or Jalapenos for some heat.
  • Spices: A teaspoon of cumin and paprika each add depth and warmth to the dish.
  • Olive Oil: I start with a generous swirl, about 3 tablespoons, to cook the vegetables.
  • Salt & Pepper: Essential for seasoning. I never forget a pinch of each.
ingredients for spicy shakshuka

Optional Add-ins and Variations

  • Cheese: A sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese adds a creamy tang.
  • Greens: A handful of chopped parsley can bring freshness to the dish.
  • Heat: For those who like it spicy, a pinch of cayenne or chopped up chilies can pack a punch.
  • Sweetness: Just a pinch of sugar can balance the acidity of the tomatoes if needed.
  • Protein: Sometimes I throw in some chorizo or tofu for an extra protein boost.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

I’ve laid out an easy process to help you create your own delicious Spicy Shakshuka. Follow these steps, and you’ll end up with a meal packed with flavor that’s just perfect for any time of the day.

Preparing the Vegetables

To start, I finely chop onions, peppers, and garlic. This trio is foundational for building the taste. In a large skillet, I heat some olive oil and sauté these vegetables, stirring occasionally until they’ve softened. It’s a crucial step to infuse the oil with their flavors.

Simmering the Tomato Sauce

Next, I stir in the spices—which include coriander, cumin, and a bit of paprika—to the softened vegetables, and let them cook together for a few seconds.

sautéed onion and garlic with spices

Then, I add the chopped tomatoes and green chiles. I season the mixture with salt and let everything simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens to my liking.

tomatoes and jalapenos

Poaching the Eggs

Once the sauce is rich and bubbling, I gently add the eggs directly into the skillet, spacing them out evenly. I take care to poach the eggs just right, lowering the heat and covering the skillet. The eggs cook slowly in the sauce; I watch for the egg whites to set while keeping the yolks runny, which takes about 5 minutes.

poaching the eggs in the spicy shakshuka

Final Touches and Serving

Finally, I season the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper for taste. Just before serving, I garnish the shakshuka with fresh herbs like green onion and parsley, which adds a pop of color and a fresh dimension to the dish. It’s best served immediately, straight from the pan, with a side of crusty bread for dipping into the sauce and yolks.

Ready spicy shakshuka dish

Accompaniments and Serving Suggestions

When I prepare spicy shakshuka, I always think about what to serve it with to enhance the flavors and make the meal more satisfying. Here’s a list of my go-to accompaniments:

  • Bread: A slice of crusty bread or warm pita bread is perfect for scooping up the delicious sauce. I find that the bread also helps to balance the heat with its mild flavor.

Ideally, choose bread that is:

Crusty breadSturdy enough to soak up the sauce without getting soggy.
PitaSoft and warm, it’s a classic choice for serving with shakshuka.
  • Cheese: I like to crumble some feta cheese on top just before serving. Its creamy, tangy taste pairs wonderfully with the spiciness of the dish.
  • Herbs: Fresh cilantro sprinkled on top adds a lovely fresh flavor and a pop of color. It complements the spices in the shakshuka beautifully.

Serving Suggestions:

  1. Place the hot skillet on the table (be careful—use a trivet!).
  2. Provide a basket of your selected bread, whether it’s crusty or pita.
  3. Have a small bowl of crumbled cheese ready for guests to add to their taste.
  4. Lastly, a little dish of cilantro leaves for garnishing ties everything together.

These sides not only add to the meal’s flavor profile but also turn the shakshuka into a more filling feast. Enjoy!

Dietary Adjustments and Substitutions

When I’m in the kitchen whipping up a batch of my favorite spicy shakshuka, I often consider my friends who may have specific dietary needs. Here’s how I like to adjust the recipe to make it more inclusive:

Egg Whites: For those looking to reduce cholesterol, using only the egg whites is a great option. I’ve found that it doesn’t significantly change the taste or experience of the dish.

Vegan: Making shakshuka vegan is simpler than you might think. I swap out eggs for tofu scramble or chickpeas to maintain that high protein content.

Dairy-Free: Luckily, traditional shakshuka is naturally dairy-free, so no change needed here.

Gluten-Free: As there is no bread in the actual shakshuka, it’s already gluten-free. However, I always check my spices and any accompanying bread for hidden gluten.

Vegetarian: The base recipe for shakshuka is vegetarian, but for an extra protein boost, I add legumes, like lentils or white beans, which complement the spices beautifully.

Here are my go-to substitutions in a snapshot:

Dietary NeedSubstitution
VeganTofu scramble
High ProteinAdd legumes
Egg WhitesUse instead of eggs

By keeping these simple adjustments in mind, I can serve up this delightful dish ensuring everyone at my table enjoys a meal that’s right for them!

Nutritional Information

In this section, I’ll break down the nutritional aspects of a Spicy Shakshuka dish. You’ll find out about the calories and general macronutrient content, as well as the specific health benefits of the ingredients that make Shakshuka more than just a tasty meal.

Calories and Macronutrients

  • Calories: A typical serving of Spicy Shakshuka has roughly 320 to 400 calories.
  • Macronutrients:
    • Protein: Shakshuka is a protein-boosting meal, thanks to the eggs. One serving can provide about 12 to 16 grams of protein.
    • Carbohydrates: The exact number can vary, but it’s usually around 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
    • Fats: The olive oil and eggs contribute to the fat content, totaling about 15 to 25 grams per serving.

Health Benefits of Key Ingredients

  • Eggs: These are a fantastic source of high-quality protein and contain all nine essential amino acids. They support muscle growth and repair, making them a key component of a healthy Shakshuka.
  • Tomatoes: Not only do they give the sauce its iconic flavor and rich consistency, but they’re also a great source of vitamins C and K, potassium, and the antioxidant lycopene. These nutrients are essential for heart health and skin protection.

Tips and Tricks

When making spicy shakshuka, getting the eggs perfectly poached and adjusting the spice to your preference are crucial. I’ll share my personal tricks to mastering these elements of the dish.

Achieving Perfectly Poached Eggs

To ensure perfectly poached eggs with runny yolks, patience is key. I start by creating small wells in the spicy tomato sauce and gently cracking the eggs into each. I cover the pan with a lid to trap the steam, which cooks the eggs evenly. Timing is everything; I usually give it about 4-6 minutes for the whites to set but the yolks to remain runny.

Spice Level Adjustments

Everyone’s spice tolerance varies, so I find it essential to taste as I go when adding heat to my shakshuka. I start with a base of mild spicy flavors and then add more as needed. Incorporating red pepper flakes or a bit of hot sauce can quickly elevate the heat. However, if I’ve gotten a bit heavy-handed, a spoonful of sugar can help balance it out. Remember, it’s easier to add more spice than it is to take it away!

Storage for Leftovers

I really wanted to write what to do with leftover shakshuka, however, within minutes, it usually look like this:

Empty plates after shakshuka is gone

Explore More Egg Recipes

When I’m in the mood for something egg-centric but looking to switch it up from my beloved Spicy Shakshuka, I turn to a variety of other delightful egg recipes. Here are a few of my favorites that always hit the spot:

  • Eggs in Purgatory: Similar to shakshuka, but with a rich, slightly spicy tomato sauce that’s absolutely divine. It’s a hearty meal that’s perfect for brunch or a comforting dinner.
  • Baked Eggs: I love whipping up baked eggs when I’m craving something simple yet satisfying. They can be jazzed up with various ingredients like ham, cheese, and herbs.

Of course, we can’t forget about green shakshuka. Packed with leafy greens like spinach or kale, it’s a fresh take on the traditional red sauce version. Here’s a quick and easy recipe I like to follow:

  1. Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil.
  2. Toss in a handful of greens and let them wilt.
  3. Crack the eggs directly into the pan and bake until just set.

For those who prefer their eggs with a bit more structure, consider these options:

FrittataI usually fill mine with veggies and cheese—great for using up leftovers.
OmeletteMy go-to when I want a quick, protein-packed meal filled with my choice of fillings.

Whether you’re after something saucy, baked, or even leafy, eggs have a way of making a meal feel special without much fuss. Do give these recipes a try; they’re sure to please any egg enthusiast!

Ready spicy shakshuka dish

Spicy Shakshuka Recipe

Spicy shakshuka made with eggs that are cooked easy on top of a simmering mixture of tomatoes, jalapeños, onions, and garlic. What really boost this dish is a little bit of spices and fresh herbs!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Breakfast, Lunch
Cuisine Israeli, Mediterranean
Servings 2 people


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper optional, for extra heat
  • 4 tomatoes sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley chopped, for garnish
  • Bread or pita for serving


  • Heat the oil: In a large skillet or cast-iron pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Sauté the vegetables: Add the chopped onion and cook until it becomes soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the red and green bell peppers and cook for another 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the minced garlic and sauté for another minute, until fragrant.
  • Add the spices: Stir in the ground cumin, paprika, coriander, and cayenne pepper (if using). Cook for about 1 minute to toast the spices.
  • Add the tomatoes: Pour in the sliced tomatoes, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chopped jalapeño peppers. Let the mixture simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until it thickens slightly.
  • Make the wells: Using a spoon, make small wells in the tomato mixture. Crack an egg into each well. Cover the skillet and cook on low heat until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny, about 8-10 minutes. If you prefer your eggs more cooked, leave them a bit longer.
  • Garnish and serve: Remove the skillet from the heat. Sprinkle chopped cilantro or parsley over the top. Serve hot with bread or pita for dipping.

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