Zhug is a spicy green hot sauce from Yemen that's made with chili peppers, fresh green herbs and lots of aromatic seasoning. It's great as a finishing sauce or a condiment.
Zhug Recipe (Yemenite Green Hot Sauce)
The first thing I have to say about zhug is, if you haven't made this hot sauce before, run to the store immediately, buy the ingredients, and make it as quickly as possible.
The second thing I have to say about zhug is -- You need Zhug NOW!
Zhug is basically a hot sauce, but it is oil and herb based with lots of chili peppers and hugely flavorful seasonings. It originated in Yemen, hence the "Yemenite Green Hot Sauce" subtitle, though it is widely popular in Middle Eastern Cooking.
It is also becoming more and more popular in Africa and Europe, though I hope this popularity spreads to the United States because it is MASSIVE on flavor. I've had similar herb-based spicy sauces, but zhug is in a class of it's own.
Ingredients in this Zhug Recipe
- Black peppercorns
- Cumin seeds
- Coriander seeds
- Cardamom seeds
- Serrano peppers
- Chiles de arbol
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
How to Make Zhug - the Recipe Method
Prepare the spices. Grind the peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestal into a coarse powder.
Alternatively, you can start with powdered versions of these ingredients. Add them to a food processor along with the salt.
Pulse until chunky. Add the remaining ingredients except for the olive oil to the food processor and pulse until the ingredients are chunky but combined.
Do not over-process or you’ll lose the desired texture.
Add olive oil. Drizzle in the olive oil and pulse/process until the oil is emulsified and the remaining sauce is thick and chunky.
How to Serve Zhug
I like to enjoy my zhug as a finisher for grilled foods, though it's GREAT as a simple table condiment. Try it on grilled skirt steak or grilled chicken.
Top your sandwiches with this flavorful mix and transform it completely.
It loves to pair with pitas and kababs. Swirl it into hummus for a nice change up. It's so unique, and flatly so awesome.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Use your favorite chili peppers. As mentioned, I used serrano peppers and chiles de arbol for my zhug recipe. However, I've seen recipes using Thai bird chilies, using serrano peppers only, and other chili peppers.
- You can tame the heat. If you're concerned about the overall heat level, try making this with jalapeño peppers and adjust the heat from there with other peppers. I like to use a mix for flavor and heat.
- You can even change the color. There are other variations on this recipe already, such as "brown zhug", which includes tomatoes, as well as "red zhug", which includes hot red chili peppers. Big YES from me to Red Zhug! I'll have to make that soon.
- It goes by other names. You may have had this before, but it was called something else. Zhug also goes by the name of "Shug", "Shoug", "Schug", "Skhug". It seems to be somewhat spelling impaired.
Store your zhug in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep a couple weeks easily.
That's it, my friends! 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.
Zhug Recipe (Yemenite Green Hot Sauce with Chili Peppers, Herbs and Oil)
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon cardamom seeds
- Salt to taste I use about a teaspoon
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro
- 1 cup loosely packed parsley
- 5-6 serrano peppers chopped
- 4-5 dried chiles de arbol coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- Juice from 1 lemon about 2-3 tablespoons
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Grind the peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestal into a coarse powder. Alternatively, you can start with powdered versions of these ingredients. Add them to a food processor along with the salt.
- Add the remaining ingredients except for the olive oil to the food processor and pulse until the ingredients are chunky but combined. Do not overprocess or you’ll lose the desireable texture.
- Drizzle in the olive oil and pulse/process until the oil is emulsified and the remaining sauce is thick and chunky.
- Adjust for salt and use as needed.