A traditional Ethiopian spice blend that can be found anywhere throughout the country, despite its many divisions otherwise, Berbere is a sort of spicy, mostly perfect spice blend that tastes good on just about anything. Yes, even pineapple or vanilla ice cream. Peppery and fragrant are often words used to describe this blend, which is so brightly colored it certainly stands out on a spice rack.
Pronounced "burr-bear" this spice blend may also be called Berbere Spice, Berber, Ethiopian Berbere, Ethiopian Cabinet Spice, and Cupboard Mix.
Every Ethiopian family has their own version of this blend, but no matter what the recipe is, it is always a go-to in Ethiopian kitchens. Sometimes called the cupboard mix, this blend seems to have a little bit of everything tossed in. Yet centrally, this blend is all about the heat! Whether it is the cayenne, paprika, chile flakes, or black pepper as the source, you will find that berbere is always a little spicy and has a nice amount of heat. This makes sense, as the word berbere is Ethiopian for "pepper."
There is no solid evidence for what Ethiopian cuisine looked like before the 13th century, but historians believe that this seasoning blend was invented and popularized around 5 BCE. This would have been around the time that Ethiopians had control over the Red Sea Route to the Silk Road, meaning spices from China were accessible in Ethiopia. These spices included black pepper, one of the spicy components of many berbere recipes. As with many other ancient spice blends, there is no one true recipe for Berbere.
We wanted to be able to offer an organic version of Berbere alongside our conventional because this is an exceptionally delicious blend that deserves all the attention it can get! We didn't want to limit that to only our customers of conventional products. We are constantly searching for sources of high-quality organic spices, and when we can recreate some of our more popular conventional blends with our organic inventory, it is absolutely our pleasure to do so.
Our Organic Berbere is hand blended from Organic Cayenne Chile Powder (35,000 SHU), Organic California Paprika, Organic Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Organic Fenugreek, Organic Cloves, Organic Ginger, Organic Turmeric Powder, Organic Ground Cardamom, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Cumin, Sea Salt, Organic Coriander, Organic Korintje Cinnamon, Organic Allspice.
Berbere is robustly flavorful, with a nice kick of heat. It is often described as peppery, savory, and extremely fragrant.
Use this blend as a dry rub for meat, as an ingredient in marinades, or a sprinkle for fruits. It makes an excellent vegetable topper- simply mix with some olive oil and toss the oil mixture on vegetables and roast.
Berbere and pineapple makes for a tasty snack. Slice up some fresh pineapple, drizzle honey on it, and then sprinkle some Berbere on it. Or, if you have dried pineapple, you can dip the pineapple chunks in honey and then dip it in the Berbere.
Pasta and berbere are a perfect match. A few sprinkles of berbere in a quality olive oil will make for a nice sauce for your favorite type of pasta. Pair with a green vegetable like green beans or collard greens and enjoy.
For a simple breakfast, make yourself some toast and spread out a thin layer of ricotta cheese. The salty, creaminess of the cheese can be complemented quite nicely with a pinch or two of berbere sprinkled over it. Combine these two on top of a crispy piece of toast and the flavors will blend nicely, with that crunchy, starchy bread giving into a soft cheese that has a peppery bite from the berbere.
One of our favorite recipes using Berbere is Spinach and Egg Shakshuka.
You will need to use less than you are imagining you will need. Add more as you go but remember that once you've added the spice it can't be taken back out again. This is a blend with a kick, so use a gentle hand!
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*