Zhug (Yemeni Hot Sauce)


This is one of those condiments that have become ubiquitous in our home, so much so that friends will notice when it’s not out on the dinner table and open the fridge in search of it. My husband and I are definitely fans of all things spicy, and after becoming acquainted with zhug during travel abroad, it tends to be our go-to hot sauce for many foods. The beauty of zhug is that it’s not just spicy – because it genuinely is, but the combination of spices and herbs in it make it super complex and flavourful in a way that most western style hot sauces aren’t.

This will make a substantial amount of zhug (I usually keep ours in a repurposed jam jar in the fridge), but it will keep in your refrigerator for several weeks. When serving I’ll typically add a little extra olive oil as well. I’ve even brought zhug to barbecues, where people used it as a topping for their hot dogs or mixed it into potato salad – you’ll definitely find many uses for this delicious sauce.


Yemeni hot sauce
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Yemeni
Keyword: hot sauce, skhug, spicy, yemeni, zhoug, zhug
Author: The Elegant Economist


  • Food Processor
  • Spice / Coffee Grinder -or- Mortar and Pestle


  • 20 individual whole cardamom seeds
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seed
  • 2 whole jalapeño peppers
  • 2 whole serrano peppers
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • juice of one lemon
  • cup olive oil
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 2 bunches cilantro
  • ½ tsp aleppo pepper, dried crushed optional
  • salt to taste


  • In a small pan over medium heat, warm cardamom, peppercorns, coriander, and cumin until fragrant. Set aside to cool, then grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
  • In the bowl of your food processor, place your peppers, garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and oil, then blend.
  • Once blended, add your herbs one bunch at a time. Once fully blended, add the Aleppo pepper and salt (to taste) – using a spatula to mix. Store in your refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.



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