Ethiopian Berberé Red Pepper Paste

Berberé is the official language of Ethiopia, where this intensely spicy sauce is used as a condiment. To reduce the heat, use less or omit the cayenne pepper. You can also use this paste as a rub on meat before grilling.

Makes: 1Hands-on: 25 minutesTotal: 25 minutesDifficulty: Easy

Makes: 1


  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1⁄8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1⁄8 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1⁄2 cups water
  • 1 cup sweet paprika
  • 1⁄2 cup smoky paprika
  • 2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1⁄2 tsp. black pepper


  • Place a dry cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the ginger, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute. They should start to smell nutty.
  • Pour the spices into a blender and add the onion, garlic, salt, and 1⁄4 cup of water. Blend into a paste.
  • Reduce the heat on the skillet to low. Add the paprika, cayenne pepper, and black pepper in the skillet. Toast for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the rest of the water, 1⁄4 cup at a time. Once the water is combined stir in the blended mixture.
  • Stir continuously for 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the paste to a jar and cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for several weeks, as long as there is a film of oil on top of the paste.