Chermoula Recipe

This North African sauce is a delicious mix of fresh herb, earthy spices, and acidic preserved lemon.

A dish of chermoula sauce accompanying chicken skewers.

Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Why This Recipe Works

  • The sauce comes together in under two minutes and keeps for up to two days in the refrigerator.
  • Preserved lemon juice gives this sauce its distinctive acidic flavor.

Chermoula is one of those sauces—once you taste it, you'll wonder where it's been your whole life. It's unfortunate that I had never heard of chermoula until recently, when I came across it while putting together a Moroccan-influenced barbecue and looking for a sauce to pair with the chicken brochettes I planned on making.

Since chermoula can be found in many North African countries and has myriad regional variations, I couldn't find a definitive starting point to a recipe. So I approached it with my instincts on Moroccan flavors, then tinkered a bit, eventually coming up with a sauce that I really love.

It starts with cilantro, parsley, and garlic finely chopped in a food processor. Then I added a few ubiquitous Moroccan spices like paprika, cumin, hot pepper, and saffron, giving it a slightly spicy, earthy quality that contrasts with the fresh herbs. Then its defining feature, preserved lemon juice, imparts a strong and unique acidic flavor. A bit of olive oil is the finishing touch.

Chermoula is traditionally paired with grilled fish, but it also worked well with the chicken I slathered it on, and I can imagine it'd be a great change of pace from the chimichurri I most commonly serve with beef. Now that I've discovered the versatility and great flavors of this sauce, it's sure to find many uses going forward.

July 2013

Recipe Details

Chermoula Recipe

Active 10 mins
Total 10 mins
Serves 12 servings
Makes 1 1/2 cups

This North African sauce is a delicious mix of fresh herb, earthy spices, and acidic preserved lemon.


  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves

  • 1/2 cup packed parsley leaves

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1/4 cup preserved lemon juice, or 1/3 cup regular lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon paprika

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed saffron

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • Kosher salt, to taste


  1. Place cilantro, parsley, and garlic in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.

    Finely chopped herbs inside a food processor.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

  2. Add preserved lemon juice, paprika, cumin, cayenne, and saffron and pulse to combine.

    Preserved lemon juice, paprika, cumin, cayenne, and saffron added to a food processor with chopped herbs.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

  3. With motor running, drizzle olive through feed tube. Process until sauce is uniform. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

    The finished chermoula sauce in the food processor.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Special Equipment

Food processor

Read More

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
86 Calories
9g Fat
1g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 86
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 83mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 4mg 19%
Calcium 11mg 1%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 52mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)