This DIY recipe for Ras El Hanout, which translates to 'top shelf', is so good! It's a classic Moroccan spice blend that's flavorful, versatile, and used often in Moroccan cuisine.
This post may contain affiliate links; this means if you purchase an item linked, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Click here to learn more about my disclosure policy.
Ras el Hanout is a popular spice blend used across North Africa and in many authentic Moroccan recipes to add flavor to a variety of different dishes.
It's a warm, pungent mix, pulling flavors of sweeter spices cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, while also incorporating savory Moroccan spices like paprika, coriander, and cumin.
You will notice variations in this spice, as every family, restaurant and spice merchant has their own blend. The best part about making it from scratch is that you get to control the prominent flavors.
It's a great blend to have on hand to use in tagines (like this vegetable tagine with ras el hanout), on lamb chops, steak, chicken, or even on a plate of roasted vegetables (like this roasted pepper salad with ras el hanout).
It makes a wonderful addition to your spice cabinet and will make cooking with Moroccan inspiration a breeze.
Many of the spices I use for my Ras el Hanout recipe were already in my spice cabinet, making this a super easy recipe to make in a matter of minutes.
Here are the spices I use to make ras el hanout:
- black pepper
See recipe card for exact quantities.
Making Ras el Hanout is pretty simple; start by gathering your spices.
In general, using whole spices will result in a fresher, more flavorful end result. Because of this I encourage you to use as many whole spices as you can/have on hand.
Once your spices are ground, it's as easy as mixing them together until a consistent blend is formed.
From there you can store your blend in an airtight jar in your spice cabinet for up to 6 months (depending on how fresh your spices are).
Where to Use Ras el Hanout
As mentioned above, there are a variety of different uses for this Moroccan spice blend. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Tagines - most Moroccan tagines will have their own specific spice blend depending on who you ask, but in general Ras el Hanout is the perfect catch all blend for tagines.
- Meat - this blend is to die for on red meat (especially lamb), chicken and even goes well with fish
- Veggies - this stuff has a way of bringing new depth to veggies and is really fun to sprinkle over some peppers, onions, and potatoes with olive oil before roasting
Recipes That Use Ras el Hanout
Here are some of my favorite recipes that use Ras el Hanout:
- Vegetable Tagine - when a recipe uses ras el hanout and a tagine, you know it's going to be good!
- Roasted Eggplant - this recipe uses a blend of paprika and cumin, but would be delicious with ras el hanout instead!
- Whole Roasted Chicken - as mentioned above, this spice blend goes wonderfully with meat, and would be delicious rubbed all over this whole chicken.
- Zaalouk - this traditional Moroccan eggplant dip would develop even more depth of flavor with this spice blend added.
- Moroccan Lentil Salad - this lentil salad is another example of how well savory dishes work with ras el hanout, the warm spices play off of the tomato sauce and savory zucchini.
- Lamb Chops - lamb and ras el hanout are a match made in heaven. Sprinkle a few teaspoons over your lamb before grilling and taste the Moroccan flavors. More recipes with this combo coming soon!
I can't stress enough the fact that the spices in Ras el Hanout will vary depending on who you ask. Because of the fluidity in this spice blend, there are surely hundreds of different variations of the recipe.
Here are some ways you might see them vary:
- Cardamom - some Moroccans will swear it's not Ras el Hanout if you didn't use cardamom... my family disagrees. If you love cardamom, feel free to add it in!
- Play around with quantities - if you want one specific spice to reign supreme over the others, you can always increase the quantity. The same goes for any spices you want to tone down! Just add less quantity.
- Spicy vs. mild - if you're into the spice (like my family), feel free to amp up the cayenne or leave it out entirely if you prefer a milder blend.
As mentioned above, my favorite way to grind whole spices is using a mortar and pestle. Not only is it super fun to feel the spices breaking down and smell that fresh spice smell, the texture is pretty tough to beat.
That said, a coffee grinder or whatever grinder you have on hand at home will work great too! Just make sure you clean it out before and after using so your steak doesn't taste like coffee (and your coffee doesn't end up tasting spicy!)
Store your Ras el Hanout in an air tight jar in your spice cabinet. Keeps up to 6 months if your spices are fresh.