What Is Ras el Hanout?

Ingredient Spotlight

Pin it button big

If you like to cook Moroccan or North African food, or if you're tired of using the same old spice blends over and over again, then one thing you need to add to your spice rack is Ras el Hanout.

Pin it button big

Ras el Hanout is a spice blend common in North African cooking, and features especially heavily in Moroccan cuisine. The name in Arabic means "head of the shop," and literally refers to the best spices the store has to offer.

While it used to be only available at Middle Eastern grocers, specialty and well-stocked grocers now carry this popular spice blend.

What's in Ras el Hanout?

Each shop or company has their own unique secret blend, but a typical Ras el Hanout contains a mixture of:

  • Cardamom
  • Clove
  • Cinnamon
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Mace
  • Nutmeg
  • Peppercorn
  • Turmeric

Some other shops may add more exotic ingredients such as ash berries, chufa, Grains of Paradise, orris root, Monk's pepper, cubebs, or dried rosebud.

How Do I Use Ras el Hanout?

Ras el Hanout is not a spicy spice blend, but it gives pungent, warm flavor. The cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg also add sweet accents. Since it's a blend, it's convenient to use in marinades, as a rub, as a seasoning in many dishes like stews and tajines, and as a condiment since you only have to measure out one thing. Moroccans even believe it has aphrodisiac properties!

Mix Ras el Hanout with softened butter or sour cream to instantly make an interesting topping, or toss it over fresh popcorn for a savory snack. Here are a couple of other recipes for you to try:

(Image credits: Quanthem/Shutterstock; picturepartners/Shutterstock)

12 Comments