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Shakshuka is a spiced tomato-based breakfast that tastes amazing when served with some whole-grain bread.
It’s easy to make, uses simple ingredients, and is a great dish if you are trying to follow a more Mediterranean style of eating.
What Is Shakshuka
Shakshuka is a Mediterranean breakfast dish that has a spiced tomato base in which you poach eggs. The sauce gets cooked down enough to be on the thicker side, and then eggs are added to the sauce to be “poached.” You serve this with some whole-grain toast for a wonderful and hearty breakfast.
What Does Shakshuka Taste Like?
The spiced tomato sauce with peppers really shines in this dish. However, it has accents of egg and any bread you enjoy it with. Think of it as an exotic version of American eggs with ketchup, only with emphasis on a really yummy ketchup. (And yes, that’s dumbing it way down. I’m just trying to give you an idea of the flavor profile. The spices are much better than ketchup in this dish).
Where Is Shakshuka From?
This hearty breakfast dish is said to have its roots in North Africa. But you can find it in many areas of the Mediterranean.
Is Shakshuka A Breakfast Food?
This is one of those dishes that, while usually eaten for breakfast, is also great for lunch or dinner. In fact, it’s a great dish for when you want to have breakfast for dinner!
Is This Shakshuka Recipe Spicy?
This can vary greatly depending on the recipe or the area where you are eating it. While I did add spice to this, the recipe below is not overwhelmingly spicy. In fact, I almost didn’t catch a hint of spiciness at all until I added salt and pepper. Adding pepper to it when you season it will really bring out the spiciness if you want that.
That being said, you are free to leave out the cayenne pepper if you wish. The dish will taste wonderful without it.
On the other side of this, you can certainly add as much spice as you like to this if you prefer a spicier dish.
How To Eat Shakshuka
Shakshuka is one of those family-style meals that gets served in a shallow dish and gets scooped up with bread or a spoon for eating. Don’t be afraid to dig into this one, even if you get your fingers a little dirty.
What To Serve With Shakshuka
Shakshuka is a dish that was born to be enjoyed with toast or flatbread. Scooping up the tomato and egg with a piece of flatbread is part of the experience.
However, if you want side dishes, you can certainly serve rice or a side salad with this. A simple cucumber salad or some olives would also be fantastic. Even a dollop of plain yogurt would be great here.
Shakshuka Recipe Variations
While you don’t want to stray too far from the original flavor profile, there are some additions or changes you can make to this dish. Try adding:
- Ground cinnamon
- Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
- Fresh cilantro or coriander leaves
- Fresh oregano
- Thyme or rosemary
- Diced tomatoes: Alongside the crushed tomatoes, fresh tomatoes can add texture.
- Spinach or kale
- Jalapeños or green chilies
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Kalamata olives
- Splash of balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Chorizo, merguez, or sausage
- Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- Lemon zest
- Diced avocado
How To Make The Eggs Perfectly For Shakshuka
The trick with this dish is to simmer the sauce first until it gets thick. Once it’s thick, you can create wells in the sauce to pour the raw eggs into. You’ll have to move fast because it’s a hot, bubbling sauce, so the wells don’t stay put. You have to make them and pour the eggs in pretty quickly to get them in there, but it works.
Once the eggs on in the sauce, the best way to cook them is to put a lid over your pan. This will “steam” the eggs, cooking them better than if you leave the lid off.
You can certainly cook this without a lid, but keep an eye on your sauce so it doesn’t dry out too much. If you cook it down too much, it will burn in addition to cooking the eggs. I highly recommend using a lid for fully cooking the eggs. You want the egg whites to cook but the yolks to be runny unless you don’t like runny egg yolks. In that case, cook them until the eggs are totally cooked through.
Can You Make Shakshuka Ahead?
You can make the sauce ahead of time, then simply warm it up when you are ready to cook the eggs. But this is a dish that is best served with freshly cooked eggs. Leftovers are never as good.
What’s The Best Bread For Shakshuka?
I love Shakshuka with whole grain bread. It lends a heartiness that you can’t get from the dish any other way. That said, whatever bread you use, keep in mind that the purpose is to scoop up the Shakshuka as well as to soak up the delicious sauce left behind in your bowl. So choose your bread accordingly.
My preferences are:
- Whole-grain toast
- Whole-grain pita bread
- Whole-grain naan
Ingredients For Shakshuka
Olive oil – Use good quality, extra virgin olive oil.
Red onion – You can use any onion color you want, but red onion has a flavor and sweetness that are perfect for this dish.
Red bell pepper – Dice this fine for the best overall texture. While a measurement for the recipe is given, just use a full, medium red bell pepper. It’s okay if it’s a little more or a little less than the measurement given.
Fresh garlic – Use the biggest garlic cloves you have. You can’t really put too much garlic in this dish.
Ground smoked paprika – You can also use regular paprika in a pinch, but that smokey flavor is ideal for this dish.
Cayenne pepper – This is optional, and you can use as much or as little as you want.
Crushed tomatoes – Look for some without added sugar. If you have San Marzano tomatoes available, I highly recommend them.
Salt and ground black pepper – This dish definitely needs salt and pepper, but the amount you add is up to you.
Fresh parsley – Optional for garnish.
Feta cheese – Optional for garnish.
How To Make Shakshuka
Gather and measure all your ingredients.
Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and red bell peppers and sauté them until the onions become translucent. About 5 minutes.
Stir in the minced garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute until fragrant, then add the ground cumin, paprika, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper.
Pour in the crushed tomatoes and stir. Let it simmer over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Make small wells in the tomato mixture and carefully crack the eggs into each well. I found it easiest to crack each egg into a bowl, then make the well and quickly pour the egg into it before it could close up again.
Cover the skillet and let the eggs cook in the simmering tomato sauce for about 5-7 minutes, or until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny (adjust the cooking time if you prefer firmer yolks).
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and crumbled feta cheese (if using). Serve the Shakshuka hot, directly from the skillet, with crusty bread or pita on the side for dipping and scooping.
Storing This Shakshuka Recipe
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
You can freeze the sauce if you remove the eggs. If packed well, it will freeze for up to 4 months.
Reheat in a skillet on the stove. You can also microwave this in a pinch, but it’s better done on the stovetop. Note that you may have to add a bit of vegetable broth to thin out the sauce a bit to keep it from burning during reheating.
More Mediterranean Recipes
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- 1 Large Skillet
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1½ cup finely chopped onions
- 1 cup diced red bell pepper
- 6 large garlic cloves (pressed or finely minced)
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. ground smoked paprika
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (no sugar added)
- ground black pepper
- 5 large eggs
- feta cheese crumbles
- fresh, chopped parsley
- Gather and measure all your ingredients.
- Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and red bell peppers and sauté them until the onions become translucent. About 5 minutes.
- Stir in the minced garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute until fragrant, then add the ground cumin, paprika, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper.
- Pour in the crushed tomatoes and stir. Let it simmer over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
- Make small wells in the tomato mixture and carefully crack the eggs into each well. I found it easiest to crack each egg into a bowl, then make the well and quickly pour the egg into it before it could close up again.
- Cover the skillet and let the eggs cook in the simmering tomato sauce for about 5-7 minutes, or until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny (adjust the cooking time if you prefer firmer yolks).
- Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and crumbled feta cheese (if using). Serve the Shakshuka hot, directly from the skillet, with crusty bread or pita on the side.