Discover the Magic of Shakshuka: North African–Style Poached Eggs in a Spicy Tomato Sauce


Today, let’s dive into the delightful world of Shakshuka, a North African–Style dish that’s all about poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce. Whether you’re craving a hearty breakfast, a cozy lunch, or a comforting dinner, Shakshuka is a versatile and mouth-watering choice.

What is Shakshuka?

Shakshuka, a staple in North African and Middle Eastern cuisine, is a one-pan wonder that combines poached eggs with a fiery and flavorful tomato sauce. It’s a simple yet satisfying dish that’s perfect for any meal of the day.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Simple Ingredients: Made with pantry staples.
  • Versatile: Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Customizable: Easy to tweak to your taste preferences.
  • One-Pan Meal: Minimal cleanup required.

Why Shakshuka Works

  • Flavor Depth: Charring peppers and onions add a unique taste.
  • Consistent Quality: Canned whole tomatoes offer better flavor and consistency than fresh or diced ones.
  • Perfect Eggs: The technique of spooning the tomato mixture over egg whites ensures perfectly cooked eggs with runny yolks.
Shakshuka (North African–Style Poached Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce) by Serious Eats

Cook Time: 35 mins | Active Time: 25 mins | Serves: 4 to 6


  • 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons of either sweet Hungarian paprika or smoked Spanish paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds, which can be either whole or ground
  • One 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 small hot chili pepper (options include jalapeño, serrano, or Fresno), with the stems, seeds, and ribs removed, then thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 6 large eggs
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • A generous handful of minced herbs, such as cilantro, parsley, or a combination of both
  • Optional for serving: sliced oil-cured black olives, crumbled feta cheese, or artichoke hearts
  • Crusty bread for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Prepare the Vegetables: Heat olive oil in a skillet, add onion, red pepper, and chile. Cook until they are charred and softened.
  2. Spice it Up: Add sliced garlic, paprika, and cumin, cooking until fragrant.
  3. Tomatoes Time: Add canned whole peeled tomatoes, and simmer.
  4. Egg-cellent Addition: Make wells in the sauce and crack eggs into them. Cook until the whites are set but yolks are still runny.
  5. Serve It Hot: Garnish with cilantro or parsley, and optional toppings. Serve with crusty bread.

Customizing Your Shakshuka

  • Peppers: Choose from sweet to hot varieties to control the heat.
  • Spices: Start with paprika and cumin, then experiment with others like coriander or turmeric.
  • Tomatoes: Use canned whole peeled tomatoes for the best texture and flavor.
  • Eggs: Cook the eggs to your preferred consistency.
  • Serving: Pair with bread like pita, ciabatta, or a baguette.

Special Equipment

  • A deep skillet with a lid or a 3-quart straight-sided lidded sauté pan is recommended.

Tips and Tricks

  • Charring Vegetables: Don’t stir too often; let them char for added flavor.
  • Spice Blooming: Cook spices in oil to enhance their flavors.
  • Tomato Texture: Crush the tomatoes by hand for a chunkier sauce.
  • Egg Cooking: Spoon sauce over egg whites for even cooking.

Health Benefits, History, and Cultural Significance of Shakshuka

Shakshuka, a vibrant and flavorful dish of poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce, is not only a culinary delight but also rich in history and culture. Let’s delve into its health benefits, origins, and cultural significance.

Health Benefits of Shakshuka

  1. Nutrient-Rich: Shakshuka is packed with vitamins and minerals, thanks to its fresh vegetable ingredients like tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
  2. High in Protein: Eggs, the central ingredient, are an excellent source of high-quality protein.
  3. Heart-Healthy: The use of olive oil, a staple in Mediterranean diets, is known for its heart-healthy fats.
  4. Low-Calorie and Filling: Being primarily vegetable-based, Shakshuka is low in calories yet quite filling, making it an excellent choice for those watching their weight.
  5. Antioxidant-Rich: Tomatoes provide antioxidants like lycopene, known for reducing inflammation and protecting against various diseases.

History and Origin

  1. Etymology: The word “Shakshuka” likely originates from Arabic, meaning “a mixture,” or the Berber word “chakchouka,” meaning a vegetable ragout.
  2. Geographical Roots: While its exact origins are debated, Shakshuka is believed to have originated in North Africa, possibly in Tunisia, Libya, or Algeria.
  3. Migration and Evolution: The dish spread to the Middle East, particularly Israel, where it was embraced by Jewish communities, especially those from North Africa.
  4. Global Spread: In recent years, Shakshuka has gained international popularity, often featured in brunch menus and recognized as a comfort food around the world.

Cultural Significance

  1. A Symbol of Simplicity and Nourishment: Traditionally, Shakshuka is seen as a simple, humble dish, often made with ingredients that are readily available or leftovers.
  2. Versatility in Preparation: Reflecting the diverse cultures of the regions where it’s popular, there are many variations of Shakshuka. Some use spicy sausages like merguez, others incorporate artichokes or potatoes.
  3. A Social Dish: In many cultures, Shakshuka is more than just a meal; it’s a dish meant for sharing, often eaten straight from the pan, fostering a sense of community and togetherness.
  4. Brunch Phenomenon: In the West, Shakshuka has become a brunch staple, a testament to its cross-cultural appeal and adaptability.
  5. Dietary Flexibility: Its vegetarian nature makes Shakshuka a favored dish among various dietary preferences, aligning well with vegetarian and health-conscious trends.

In summary, Shakshuka is not just a dish; it’s a fusion of history, culture, and nutrition. Its simple ingredients, packed with flavor and health benefits, tell a story of migration and culinary fusion, making it a beloved dish across the globe.


Shakshuka, a humble dish with North African roots, has gained popularity worldwide for its simplicity and depth of flavor. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a cooking newbie, this dish is sure to impress. Remember, Shakshuka is all about mixing and matching, so feel free to get creative!

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