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How to make Zhoug! This spicy Middle Eastern Cilantro Sauce has a multitude of uses and gives dishes a huge burst of flavor. An easy recipe that can be made in 5 minutes flat! With a video.
Meet Zhoug! (Pronounced Zoog. ) This spicy, green chili cilantro sauce hails from Yemen, but has become wildly popular in Israel and Middle Eastern cuisine to give dishes a huge burst of flavor. Think of this as a Middle Eastern version of chimichurri sauce or salsa verde.
But, the surprising ingredient that gives Zhoug its incredible uniqueness is quite unexpected. Cardamom!
Here is a simplified version of Zhoug, made with milder chilies, jalapeños vs. hotter bird’s eye or serrano chilies. This version can also be made in a food processor to save time. It literally takes 5 minutes!
How to make Zhoug | 30-sec video
- jalapeno- or feel free to use serrano for spicier!
- garlic cloves
- cilantro- fresh!
- cardamon ( ground or whole seeds, see notes)
- cumin-ground or whole seeds
- kosher salt, more to taste
- olive oil, more to desired consistency
- fresh lemon juice
- chili flakes (Aleppo chili is nice), more to taste (optional)
How to use Zhoug Sauce?
- Spoon Zhoug into tacos, wraps , shawarma pitas or grilled eggplant wraps.
- Lather it in sandwiches and falafels, or spoon it over roasted veggies, tofu, eggs, chicken, fish or use it as a marinade for grilled meats.
- Swirl it into soups for a bright burst of flavor.
- Swirl it into hummus, or labneh.
- Spoon it over Avocado toast, or eggs.
Make Zhoug Yogurt!
Stir Zhoug into yogurt for a flavorful sauce that can be used with fish, meat, in buddha bowls or with these yummy vegan lentil cakes!
Zhoug Yogurt (above) is a great way to mellow the flavor a bit. I love this with this Grilled Chicken! Or Grilled Eggpant!
You’ll find a hundred uses for Zhoug Sauce. I promise! It’s actually quite addicting, and it tastes like nothing else. Make it spicy or keep it mild, totally up to you.
Hope you give this one a try! So much flavor!
More recipes you may enjoy!
Enjoy it and let us know what you think in the comments below!
Authentic Zhoug Sauce Recipe (Zhug)
- Prep Time: 15
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 1 ¼ cup 1x
- Category: Condiment
- Method: Blend
- Cuisine: Yemen
- Diet: Vegan
Zhoug Recipe – a flavorful Middle Eastern Green Chili Sauce that gives meals a burst of flavor. Simple easy recipe that can be made in 5 minutes flat! This version is simple and easy without compromising flavor. Lather it over grilling meats, spoon it into falafels and wraps, liven up soups and stews or my favorite…make Zhoug Yogurt by stirring it into yogurt for a flavorful sauce.
- 1–3 whole jalapenos, sliced ( start with one, if unsure)
- 2 fat garlic cloves
- 1 bunch cilantro, small stems ok (about 1 cup packed tightly)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon ( or whole seeds, please see notes)
- 1 teaspoon cumin- ground or whole seeds
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds– optional but good!
- 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns – optional
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
- 1/3 cup olive oil, more to desired consistency
- 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (Aleppo chili is nice), more to taste (optional)
- Toast any whole seeds in a dry skillet over med-low heat until fragrant. Note: If using cardamom pods– crush the pods and remove the seeds- just toast the seeds. (Video is not accurate here.) Let cool slightly.
- Place the toasted spices and all the remaining ingredients (except the oil) in a food processor and pulse until it’s uniformly chopped. Add oil and lemon juice and pulse into a coarse paste. For a looser version, add a bit more oil.
- Taste for salt and heat, adding more if necessary.
- Add chili flakes if you like.
- Store in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to one week.
Toasted whole spices have the best flavor here! Remove cardamom seeds from the pods- leave the pods out. The video is not right. 😉 TIP: The cardamom is the star here, so make sure you use enough so you can taste it.
Chilies: Jalapeños are not traditional yet produce a very consistent and milder heat. You can swap them out for hotter serrano or other green chilies.
Herbs: Feel free to swap out the cilantro for flat-leaf parsley or even part fresh mint. You can also do a blend of all three!
Make Zhoug Yogurt: mix 1-2 tablespoons of Zhoug with a cup of yogurt, add more to taste. Taste, adjust salt.
- Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
- Calories: 26
- Sugar: 0.2 g
- Sodium: 29.6 mg
- Fat: 2.8 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 0.3 g
- Fiber: 0.1 g
- Protein: 0.1 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
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Arab food is indeed one of the best.
How many whole cardamom seeds should I use?
Hey kelley! Do you mean pods or seeds? Use 1/2 teaspoon whole seeds (removed from the pods).
This recipe was brought from Yemen by the Jews who immigrated to Israel. Shhoog is found only in Israel. I say this because I spent 7 years in Israel. I also have this recipe from there, but it also contains parsley and coriander seeds. It is very good. I will try your recipe to see the difference between them. With respect, Noru.
Let us know what you think Noru!
Thank you for this recipe. Tastes divine!
So happy you enjoyed this!
How long does it keep – in fridge ! And in freezer ?
Hi Cheri! It will last up to a week in the fridge- but I’m not sure I’d freeze? May lose the lovely green color- perhaps add a layer of olive oil or lemon juice over top before freezing. To extend shelf life in the fridge, replace 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice with vinegar.
I watched video, do you actually grind the pods with the seeds??
Hi Varie- so, the video is wrong. Sorry, I update the recipe with some notes!
Which is best in this recipe green or black cardamon? I am also wondering which would be best in your parsnip soup with hazelnuts? Thank you for your lovely recipes.
Hi Paul- both are really nice. Green cardamom tends to be stronger and more intense, with grassy notes, which I like, but black cardamom is more subtle-it has a softer earthier quality to it. I think both would be great in either recipe- if using the green, perhaps go a lightly lighter to start…add more to taste.
Any way to can this recipe?
Want to use the fresh cilantro from the garden!
Hi Tom, We don’t recommend canning as it would cook the cilantro and the result would be different. Freezing works great though! We freeze in 2 ounce canning jars.
Love this condiment! Served it as well as your Tahini sauce with your falafel bowl.
Thanks Gina! Glad you enjoyed!
Goes together quickly. Tastes divine.
Great to hear!
This sauce is to die for. Adds so much flavor to everything, and it is super easy to make.
Glad you enjoyed Lori!