Marcus Samuelsson's Berbere Spice

Spice up your life
30 Ratings
100% would make again
Marcus Samuelsson's Berbere Spice
Photo: Rachel Vanni/Tasting Table

For the uninitiated, berbere is a traditional Ethiopian spice blend composed of chiles, garlic, fenugreek and a handful of warm spices, such as allspice and cinnamon. In this recipe from Marcus Samuelsson, the flavors of this blend come together to create a complex seasoning perfect for everything from marinating meat to sprinkling over fruit.

The best part of this spice blend is its versatility. You’ll find Samuelsson at his restaurant Red Rooster sprinkling it over the minced raw beef in an Ethiopian tartare dish unlike anything you’ve ever had. He also uses that same blend on ricotta toast and chunks of sweet pineapple for a unique twist.

To learn more, read “Grin and Berbere It.”

Marcus Samuelsson's Berbere Spice

Recipe adapted from Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster, New York, NY

Yield: ¾ cup

Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus cooling time

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes, plus cooling time


2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

½ teaspoon black peppercorns

6 cardamom pods

4 garlic cloves

3 allspice berries

½ cup dried onion flakes

5 chiles de árbol, stemmed and seeded

3 tablespoons paprika

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg


1. In a small skillet, combine the coriander, fenugreek, black peppercorns, cardamom, garlic and allspice over medium heat. Swirling the skillet, toast until fragrant, 4 minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and allow the seeds to fully cool, then place in a spice grinder or mortar with the dried onion flakes and chiles de árbol, and grind to a fine powder.

3. Transfer the powder to a bowl and whisk in the remaining ingredients until fully incorporated. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

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