Social Media

Zhoug! (Spicy Cilantro Sauce) Recipe

Embrace a burst of flavors with this spicy cilantro sauce known as Zhoug! Originating from Yemen, Zhoug is a versatile condiment that can ramp up your dishes with its unique mix of freshness from cilantro, heat from jalapenos, and fragrant warmth from cardamom and cumin.

Zhoug! (Spicy Cilantro Sauce) Recipe
Image 1
Image 2
Image 3
Image 5

Photos of Zhoug! (Spicy Cilantro Sauce) Recipe

Image 1
Image 2
Image 3
Image 4

While most ingredients are quite common, cardamom might not be readily available in every pantry. It's a warm, aromatic spice often used in Middle Eastern cuisine. You can usually find it in the spice aisle of a supermarket or a specialty food store.

Ingredients for Zhoug! Spicy Cilantro Sauce

Garlic: Known for its strong aroma and flavor, this is an essential ingredient in Zhoug sauce.

Cilantro: Provides a fresh, citrusy flavor.

Jalapenos: Gives the sauce its spicy kick. Adjust the amount according to your taste.

Sea Salt: Enhances the flavor of the other ingredients.

Cardamom: Gives a sweet, spicy flavor to the sauce.

Cumin: Adds a warm, earthy flavor.

Red pepper flakes: Adds extra heat to the sauce. Adjust the amount according to your taste.

Olive oil: Binds all the ingredients together and adds a rich, smooth texture.

One reader, Janette Hallman says:

star icon star icon star icon star icon star icon

This zhoug sauce recipe is a game-changer! The blend of cilantro, jalapeños, and spices creates a burst of flavor that's perfect for adding a kick to any dish. It's so versatile and easy to make. I love how it adds a zesty touch to my meals. Highly recommended!

Janette Hallman

Techniques for Preparing Zhoug Sauce

How to prepare the zhoug sauce: This involves gathering all the necessary ingredients and equipment, and following the step-by-step instructions provided in the recipe.

How to adjust the spiciness of the zhoug sauce: This involves tasting the sauce and adding additional jalapeño seeds or red pepper flakes to increase the spiciness, if desired.

How To Make Zhoug (Spicy Cilantro Sauce)

Fresh, herbal, and spicy, this zhoug recipe is for those who want to add spice to their dish. It consist of fresh herbs and chilis processed together.

Preparation: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes



  • 4cloves garlicmedium, roughly chopped
  • 2cupsfresh cilantropacked, about 2 bunches, mostly leaves
  • 4mediumjalapeñosseeds removed but reserved
  • 1tspfine sea salt
  • 1tspcardamomground
  • ¾tspcuminground
  • ½tspred pepper flakesmore to taste
  • ¾cupextra-virgin olive oil


  1. Place the garlic in your food processor and process until the garlic is broken into tiny pieces.

  2. Add the cilantro, jalapeño (keep the seeds in case you want to make the sauce more spicy after tasting), salt, cardamom, cumin and red pepper flakes. Process until the mixture is all mixed together and very finely chopped.

  3. While running the food processor, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Scrape down the sides and blend until the sauce is mostly smooth.

  4. Adjust to taste. For a spicier sauce, add the jalapeño seeds or additional red pepper flakes and blend again.

  5. Transfer to an air-tight container and chill.

Recipe Notes


If the sauce is too bitter, you can add more salt or give the flavors some time to mellow. This sauce’s flavor transforms with time, so if it’s too spicy or you just don’t love it right off the bat, let it chill in the fridge and try it again in an hour.



  • Calories: 1189.55kcal
  • Fat: 130.35g
  • Saturated Fat: 17.98g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 94.83g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 13.78g
  • Carbohydrates: 8.89g
  • Fiber: 2.84g
  • Sugar: 2.32g
  • Protein: 1.99g
  • Sodium: 494.79mg
  • Calcium: 59.49mg
  • Potassium: 330.57mg
  • Iron: 2.54mg
  • Vitamin A: 115.35µg
  • Vitamin C: 63.57mg

Key Technique for Perfecting Zhoug Sauce

When making the zhoug! spicy cilantro sauce, it's important to add the olive oil slowly while the food processor is running. This method, known as emulsification, helps to evenly distribute the oil throughout the sauce, resulting in a smoother and more cohesive texture. If the oil is added too quickly, it can separate from the other ingredients and create a less desirable consistency. Also, remember to scrape down the sides of the food processor periodically to ensure all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Time-Saving Tips for Making Spicy Cilantro Sauce

Prep ahead: Chop and measure all ingredients in advance to streamline the cooking process.

One-pot wonders: Opt for recipes that require minimal pots and pans to reduce cleanup time.

Efficient multitasking: Utilize downtime, such as waiting for water to boil, to complete other prep tasks.

Substitute Ingredients For Zhoug! (Spicy Cilantro Sauce) Recipe

  • garlic - Substitute with shallots: Shallots have a mild, sweet flavor that can provide a similar aromatic quality to the dish.

  • fresh cilantro - Substitute with fresh parsley: Parsley can provide a similar fresh and herbaceous flavor to the dish.

  • jalapenos - Substitute with serrano peppers: Serrano peppers have a similar heat level and flavor profile to jalapenos.

  • fine sea salt - Substitute with kosher salt: Both salts have a similar texture and can be used interchangeably.

  • cardamom - Substitute with cinnamon: Cinnamon can provide a warm and slightly sweet flavor similar to cardamom.

  • cumin - Substitute with coriander: Coriander has a similar earthy and citrusy flavor to cumin.

  • red pepper flakes - Substitute with cayenne pepper: Cayenne pepper can provide a similar level of heat and spiciness to the dish.

  • extra-virgin olive oil - Substitute with avocado oil: Avocado oil has a mild flavor and high smoke point, making it a suitable substitute for olive oil in this recipe.

Presentation Ideas for Zhoug Sauce

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the zhoug sauce, consider using a small, delicate spoon to carefully drizzle the vibrant green sauce onto the plate. Precision and attention to detail are key in showcasing the sauce's vibrant color and texture.

  2. Incorporate fresh herbs: Garnish the zhoug sauce with a few sprigs of fresh cilantro to add a pop of color and a touch of freshness to the presentation. This not only enhances the visual appeal but also provides a hint of the sauce's key ingredient.

  3. Utilize contrasting textures: Consider serving the zhoug sauce alongside a crunchy element, such as toasted pita chips or crispy lavash, to create a textural contrast that elevates the overall dining experience.

  4. Emphasize the sauce's vibrant color: Present the zhoug sauce in a small, shallow dish to showcase its brilliant green hue. The contrast between the vibrant sauce and the serving vessel will captivate the eyes of the discerning culinary professionals.

  5. Incorporate artistic drizzling: Use the zhoug sauce to create elegant, artistic drizzles on the plate, adding a touch of sophistication to the presentation. The visual appeal of the carefully crafted drizzles will demonstrate precision and artistry.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Zhoug

  • Food processor: A food processor is a versatile kitchen appliance that can be used for chopping, blending, pureeing, and mixing ingredients. It is ideal for making sauces, dips, and spreads like zhoug.
  • Knife: A sharp knife is essential for cutting and preparing ingredients such as garlic, cilantro, and jalapenos for the zhoug sauce.
  • Cutting board: A cutting board provides a stable surface for chopping and preparing ingredients, ensuring safety and cleanliness in the kitchen.
  • Measuring spoons: Measuring spoons are necessary for accurately portioning out the salt, cardamom, cumin, and red pepper flakes in the zhoug sauce recipe.
  • Liquid measuring cup: A liquid measuring cup is useful for accurately measuring and pouring the olive oil into the food processor while making the zhoug sauce.
  • Air-tight container: An air-tight container is needed for storing the zhoug sauce in the refrigerator, keeping it fresh and flavorful.

Storing and Freezing Homemade Zhoug

  • To store, transfer the zhoug sauce to an airtight container or jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. The olive oil may solidify in the fridge, so let the sauce sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.

  • For longer storage, freeze the zhoug sauce in ice cube trays or small freezer-safe containers for up to 6 months. This allows you to easily portion out the sauce as needed.

  • When ready to use frozen zhoug, thaw the desired amount in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for a few hours.

  • Once thawed, give the sauce a good stir to reincorporate any separated oil before using.

  • To maintain the vibrant green color and fresh flavor of the zhoug sauce, make sure to use it within the recommended storage times and always keep it refrigerated or frozen when not in use.

Reheating Leftover Zhoug Sauce

  • To reheat leftover zhoug sauce, start by removing it from the refrigerator and letting it come to room temperature for about 15-20 minutes. This will help the sauce to reheat more evenly and prevent it from separating.

  • Once the sauce has come to room temperature, transfer it to a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel or a microwave-safe lid to prevent splatters and to help retain moisture.

  • Microwave the sauce in 30-second intervals, stirring well between each interval, until it is heated through. Be careful not to overheat the sauce, as this can cause the olive oil to separate and the flavors to become muted.

  • Alternatively, you can reheat the sauce on the stovetop. Transfer the sauce to a small saucepan and heat it over low heat, stirring frequently, until it is warmed through. Be sure to keep the heat low to prevent the sauce from burning or separating.

  • If the sauce seems too thick after reheating, you can thin it out by stirring in a small amount of warm water or additional olive oil until it reaches your desired consistency.

  • Taste the reheated sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed. If the flavors seem dull, you can brighten them up by stirring in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a pinch of salt.

  • Serve the reheated zhoug sauce immediately, drizzled over your favorite dishes like grilled meats, roasted vegetables, or as a dip for bread or crackers. Enjoy the bold, spicy flavors of this Middle Eastern condiment!

Interesting Fact About Zhoug Sauce

Zhoug is a popular Middle Eastern condiment that is traditionally served with grilled meats, falafel, or as a dip for bread. It originated in Yemen and is known for its vibrant green color and spicy flavor. It's a versatile sauce that can add a kick to a variety of dishes, making it a favorite among those who enjoy bold flavors.

Is Making Zhoug at Home Cost-Effective?

This spicy cilantro sauce recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The main ingredients, such as garlic, cilantro, and jalapenos, are affordable and readily available. The addition of olive oil may slightly increase the cost, but it's a versatile ingredient for various dishes. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people would be around $8-$10. Overall, this flavorful sauce can elevate a wide range of dishes, making it a worthwhile investment. I would rate this recipe a solid 9 for its affordability and versatility.

Is This Spicy Cilantro Sauce Healthy?

The zhoug recipe is a healthy and flavorful sauce that packs a punch of nutrients. Here's why:

  • Cilantro is rich in antioxidants, vitamins (A, C, K), and minerals (potassium, calcium, iron). It aids digestion, detoxifies the body, and boosts immunity.
  • Garlic contains allicin, a compound with potent medicinal properties. It reduces inflammation, improves heart health, and has antimicrobial effects.
  • Jalapeños are low in calories and high in vitamins (C, B6, A) and minerals (potassium, copper). They boost metabolism and have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Olive oil is a healthy fat that reduces inflammation, improves heart health, and aids brain function.
  • The spices (cumin, cardamom, red pepper flakes) have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and may improve digestion.

While the recipe is already healthy, here are some suggestions to make it even more nutritious:

  • Use fresh, organic ingredients to maximize nutrient content and minimize pesticide exposure.
  • Experiment with other leafy greens like parsley, kale, or spinach to boost the nutrient profile.
  • Add a squeeze of lemon juice for extra vitamin C and brightness.
  • Reduce the olive oil slightly (to about ½ cup) to lower the calorie density, if desired.
  • Try using other healthy oils like avocado or coconut for a different flavor profile and added health benefits.

Editor's Opinion on This Zhoug Recipe

This zhoug sauce recipe is a vibrant and flavorful addition to any dish. The combination of fresh cilantro, spicy jalapeños, and aromatic spices creates a harmonious blend of heat and herbaceousness. The use of extra-virgin olive oil adds a luxurious richness to the sauce. The recipe's simplicity and versatility make it a perfect condiment to elevate grilled meats, roasted vegetables, or even as a dip for crusty bread. It's a must-try for those who appreciate bold and zesty flavors.

Enhance Your Zhoug! (Spicy Cilantro Sauce) Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Roasted Root Vegetables: Try serving the zhoug sauce with a side of roasted root vegetables for a delicious and flavorful combination.
Grilled Chicken Skewers: Pair the zhoug sauce with some grilled chicken skewers for a spicy and herbaceous twist on a classic dish.
Mango Avocado Salad: Create a refreshing mango avocado salad to serve alongside the zhoug sauce for a perfect balance of heat and freshness.
Coconut Rice: Serve the zhoug sauce with a side of coconut rice for a creamy and aromatic accompaniment to the spicy cilantro sauce.

Similar Recipes to Zhoug Sauce

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken: This dish is a flavorful and aromatic stir-fry that combines tender chicken with fresh Thai basil and spicy chili peppers.
Mango Salsa: This refreshing salsa is a perfect combination of sweet and spicy, with juicy mango, tangy lime, and a kick of jalapeno.
Creamy Mushroom Risotto: Indulge in this creamy and comforting risotto, made with tender Arborio rice, flavorful mushrooms, and a touch of Parmesan cheese.

Appetizers and Desserts That Complement Zhoug Sauce

Stuffed Mushrooms: Delight your taste buds with these savory stuffed mushrooms, filled with a flavorful mixture of herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs. The perfect bite-sized appetizer to kick off any meal.
Bruschetta: Indulge in the classic Italian flavors of bruschetta, featuring crispy bread topped with a vibrant mixture of tomatoes, basil, garlic, and balsamic glaze. A refreshing and satisfying start to any dining experience.
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and velvety chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. The perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth!
Berry Parfait: Layered with fresh berries, creamy yogurt, and crunchy granola, this berry parfait is a delightful combination of textures and flavors. A light and refreshing dessert option for any occasion.

Why trust this Zhoug! (Spicy Cilantro Sauce) Recipe:

This zhoug sauce recipe is a must-try for any spicy food enthusiast. With fresh cilantro, fiery jalapenos, and aromatic spices like cardamom and cumin, it promises an explosion of flavor. The addition of garlic and olive oil ensures a rich and luscious texture. Trust the vibrant colors and bold flavors of this zhoug to elevate your dishes.

Share your thoughts on the Zhoug! (Spicy Cilantro Sauce) Recipe in the Recipe Sharing forum section and let us know how it turned out for you!
What can I use zhoug sauce for?
Zhoug sauce is incredibly versatile and can be used as a condiment for grilled meats, fish, or vegetables. It can also be used as a marinade, a dipping sauce, or mixed into soups and stews to add a burst of flavor.
How long can I store zhoug sauce?
Zhoug sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 weeks. Make sure to give it a good stir before using it, as the oil may separate during storage.
Can I adjust the spiciness of the zhoug sauce?
Absolutely! You can adjust the spiciness of the zhoug sauce by adding more jalapeño seeds or red pepper flakes to suit your taste preferences. Start with a small amount and gradually add more until you reach your desired level of heat.
Is zhoug sauce gluten-free?
Yes, zhoug sauce is naturally gluten-free as it is made from fresh herbs, spices, and olive oil. It's a great option for those following a gluten-free diet.
Can I freeze zhoug sauce?
Yes, you can freeze zhoug sauce for up to 3 months. Store it in an airtight container or ice cube trays for easy portioning. Just make sure to thaw it in the refrigerator before using it.

Was this page helpful?

Chat Bubble Icon Share your own special recipe
Submit Your Own Recipe

Have your own special recipe to share? Submit Your Recipe Today!