Berbere Spice Beef

What is Berbere Spice?

Berbere is a spice blend most often associated with Ethiopian cuisine, though it is popular throughout the Horn of Africa. While the exact components in berbere can vary, most versions start with a combination of chili peppers and spices such as ginger, mace, cinnamon, and cloves. The word berbere means "hot" in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. While it certainly earns this name, what might surprise you is the complexity the other spices bring to the mix. The initial heat soon gives way to a tanginess, and even a subtle sweetness on the finish. This rich flavor profile makes berbere incredibly versatile. Keep reading for our usage suggestions and some of our favorite berbere spice recipes!

How to Use Berbere

In Ethiopia, berbere is frequently used to season wats, which are slow-cooked stews containing lentils or meat (more on that in a moment). However, we encourage you to experiment! Sprinkle a little of our Berbere Spice Blend on your vegetables when roasting or sauteeing. Add a dash to your soup or your favorite sauce recipe, to kick things up to another level. You can also add a little oil to form a paste, which makes it easy to evenly coat your favorite beef, chicken, or fish dish. If you're looking for more specific ideas, we've taken the liberty of collecting some great berbere spice recipes from around the internet for you.

Ethiopian meatballs from a ducks oven

Ethiopian Meatballs and Couscous

From: A Duck's Oven

This Ethiopian-inspired take on classic pasta with meatballs is a surprisingly easy way to spice up your weeknights!

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Berbere Chicken with Ethiopian Lentils

From: Feasting at Home

This traditional Ethiopian berbere chicken recipe can also be easily adapted into a vegetarian version using tofu.

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Ethiopian-Inspired Berbere Chicken Curry

From: Get Inspired Everyday

This curried spin on berbere chicken will take your tastebuds on a delicious trip around the world!

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Misir Wat (Ethiopian Spiced Red Lentils)

From: The Daring Gourmet

This vegetarian dish is loaded with protein and fiber to keep you full, and tastes so good you won't believe how low in calories it is!

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Berbere Crusted Salmon

From: Sweet & Sorrel

Sure, salmon is a good source of protein and healthy fats, but it's not the most exciting thing to eat. This recipe changes that, with a spicy berbere assist.

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Berbere Spice Chicken Wings

From: Tasty

Tired of the same old hot sauce? This berbere chicken wing recipe will take your tailgate game to a whole new level.

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Awaze Dipping Sauce

From: Ethiopian Dish

This versatile sauce is often used as a marinade, but it can also be enjoyed as a dip for vegetables, or even as a sandwich spread.

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Berbere-Spiced Red Lentil Hummus

From: Fat Free Vegan

Layered into your favorite sandwich or wrap, or served as a dip for pita and veggies, this recipe will save you from humdrum hummus.

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Sega Wat (Spicy Ethiopian Beef Stew)

From: The Daring Gourmet

This traditional beef stew is a staple of Ethiopian cuisine, and a showcase for berbere spice.

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Spicy Popcorn with Berbere

From: Just A Pinch

Grab a bowl of this before hitting the couch with a favorite flick, and you'll think your taste buds are starring in their own action movie!

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*photos used with permission from the recipe owners