Chermoula sauce is a versatile North African condiment of fresh herbs, oil and spices used as a marinade or sauce for meats, seafood, vegetables and more.
You may not be familiar with "chermoula", but if you've had traditional herb and oil based marinade-sauces like chimichurri, zhug, salsa verde, even pesto, you've had something quite similar.
Chermoula is a North African condiment typically used as a marinade for a variety of seafood, but truly it is so much more versatile. It is considered a Moroccan sauce.
You can use it for marinating steak or chicken, or finishing grilled vegetables. Consider it as a finisher as well for grilled or roasted meats, like thick cuts of steak or roasted whole chicken.
In reality, many different parts of the world have incredibly similar recipes that are only different because of the need to use local ingredients.
If you compare different herb sauces from other countries side by side, you'll find incredible similarities, as they are, at their core, a mixture of oil, fresh local herbs, and local seasonings.
Of course those seasonings, as well as ratios, will vary from region to region, but lucky for us, they usually turn out DELICIOUS!
Let's talk about how to make chermoula, shall we?
- Fresh Herbs. Use both chopped cilantro and parsley.
- Peppers. I'm using serrano peppers today. You can sub in red pepper flakes.
- Garlic Cloves.
- Lemon Juice. Preserved lemons are popularly used.
- Seasonings. Cayenne powder, paprika, cumin, salt, and optional saffron threads. Ground coriander is good, too.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The higher quality, the better. You can use other oils, like canola oil.
How to Make Chermoula - The Recipe Method
Prep the Food Processor or Blender, or a Bowl. Simply add all of the ingredients to a food processor or blender. Here I've added the main ingredients, minus the oil, to a bowl.
For Chunkier Chermoula. Add the oil and hand mix the chermoula until well combined.
For Smoother Chermoula. Add the oil and pulse the mixture several times to achieve your desired consistency. You can also use a pestle and mortar. You may need to scrape down the sides of the processor to get everything down.
For an Even Smoother Chermoula. Add the ingredients to a blender or food processor except for the oil. Pulse to combine. Then, with the processor running, drizzle the olive oil until the sauce smooths out to your liking. You can easily add more oil as desired to thin it out for a drizzling sauce.
Here is a smoother "green chermoula", which focuses more on the herbs and less on the spices. This green sauce is very popular as well.
Boom, done! Your delicious chermoula sauce is ready to go. Serve it up as desired!
Recipe Tips and Notes
- The Chili Peppers. For this recipe, I've included the fiery serrano pepper for a bit of zing and kick, but if you're able to obtain local African chili peppers, please use those instead. Think African Bird's Eye, Fatalii, Congo, though truly, it is best to incorporate your best quality local peppers to your heat and flavor preference.
- Storing Chermoula. Spoon it into containers and top it with a bit of olive oil. Cap it so it is airtight, then keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Can You Freeze Chermoula? You can freeze your Chermoula in plastic baggies. Or spoon it into ice cube trays, freeze it, then remove the frozen Chermoula "cubes" and store those in plastic baggies or freezable containers. They will last 3 months this way, or longer.
Try it on this Peri Peri Chicken Legs recipe, or this Grilled Harissa Chicken Legs Recipe.
Serving Ideas for Chermoula
- Marinade. Using your freshly made chermoula to marinate chicken is a great way to use it. Chicken and chermoula is a classic combination. You can marinate any cut of chicken, bone in or boneless, overnight to add extra flavor and moisture. After preparing the chicken, spoon on a bit more chermoula as a finishing sauce and you're good to go. It's delicious!
- Use it as a Finishing Sauce. Chermoula sauce is great for any roasted vegetables or meats or grilled meats, chicken and pork on particular, but also lamb and veggies. Add a spoon over a grilled steak. Amazing. Try it on this Ancho Crusted Porterhouse or this Grilled London Broil Steak.
- As a Dip. Chermoula works great as a dipper for pitas or other chips.
I hope you enjoy it, my friends. Enjoy! Let me know how it turns out for you. It's gluten free. -- Mike H.
If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you'll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don't forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I'll be sure to share! Thanks! -- Mike H.
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1 serrano pepper chopped (optional, for spicy)
- 1 shallot chopped
- 6 cloves garlic (or more, as desired)
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon cayenne powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Salt to taste
- 8 saffron threads (optional)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (Use up to 1 cup as desired - you can also use other oils, such as canola oil)
- Add all of the ingredients except for the olive oil to a food processor and process until everything is finely chopped and begins to combine.
- For Chunky Chermoula. Simply mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, or pulse in a blender or food processor until well combined.
- For Smoother Chermoula. Add all of the ingredients except the oil to a blender or food processor, then process until until well combined. Scrape down the sides, then begin to process again. Drizzle in the oil slowly as you process or pulse the mixture until all of the oil is incorporated and the mixture is smooth to your desired consistency.
- Use immediately
NOTE: This post was updated on 4/18/22 to include new information and photos. It was originally published on 4/30/18.
Damien C. says
Another great one. Big hit in the house tonight. Wow.
Mike Hultquist says
Great to hear, Damien! Glad you enjoyed it! I appreciate it.
I knew the Chermoula name, but never have tasted it before! Very nice! I used it to marinate (and as a finishing sauce of) some barbecue grilled pork belly slices: awesome, thank you, Sir!
Just a detail: the page you quoted about your Pan Seared New York Strip Steak With Garlic Bourbon Butter sadly doesn't seem to exist anymore- this one recipe seems hot, though.
Mike Hultquist says
Thanks, Jérémie. Yes, so good! We really love this recipe. Yes, thanks for the heads up on the link! Oops!
If I may allow myself to complete: saffron, in my opinion, isn't optional but obligatory, it gives an unequaled splendor to this sauce. For me, a Chimichurri's lover, its Moroccan cousin just really stirred my house... thanks to you, Dear Mike!
Mike Hultquist says
Absolutely, Jérémie! Thanks for completing! I love with saffron as well. Excellent!
Dave Kirk says
Mike, this is a great recipe. But why do you say it will only last a few days in the refrigerator. Given the amount of lemon juice and oil, shouldn’t it last much longer?
Mike Hultquist says
Thanks, Dave. I appreciate it. It could last longer, but it will lose freshness, and there are issues associated with garlic in oil (botulism) if left out too long. This is one best used right away.
The best way to make it. I have tried it a few different ways and this is my preference. It is very fresh and brings much to a dish.
Antonio Caballero says
Personalmente no procesaría los ingredientes, deben estar picados pero no muy grandes y nunca debe tener esa apariencia de pasta...seguro que esta buenisima pero no es el propósito de la chermoula. Prueba a no ptoesarla y a marinar pescado tipo dorada y hacerla en una parrilla con el pescado marinado en chermoula y rellleno por dentro,ya veras que plato.
Felicidades por tu blog, tienes maravillosas recetas verdaderamente rabiosas y sabrosas. Enhorabuena
Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says
Antonia, you can process it as much or as little as you like. It is the personal preference of the cook.