Zhug (Yemenite Hot Sauce With Cilantro and Parsley) Recipe

Zhug is a fresh, bright Middle Eastern hot sauce akin to chimichurri, chermoula, and salsa verde.

J. Kenji López-Alt

Why It Works

  • Pounding the herbs and aromatics with a mortar and pestle draws out intense flavor from them.
  • Drizzling in olive oil while pounding creates an emulsion that ensures the sauce won't taste greasy or bland.

This Yemenite sauce is fresh and bright from herbs, while also having an intensely spicy kick to it. It's the ideal accompaniment for falafel or sabich sandwiches, but it also goes great with a variety of grilled vegetables, fish, meat, and eggs. And it should last a few weeks in the fridge (though I've never had a jar linger long enough to actually find out).

Recipe Facts



Active: 10 mins
Total: 10 mins
Serves: 8 servings
Makes: 1 cup

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  • 1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seed

  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 green cardamom pods, small internal seeds only, toasted (optional)

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, roughly chopped

  • 4 to 6 fresh Thai bird chiles, red or green (to taste), roughly chopped; or 4 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed, seeded, and torn into fine pieces

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 2 ounces fresh parsley and cilantro leaves and fine stems (about 2 loosely packed cups of mixed herbs)

  • 1/2 cup (120ml) extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Combine coriander seed, cumin, black pepper, and cardamom seeds (if using) in a mortar and pestle and grind into a powder using a firm, circular motion. Add garlic, chiles, and salt and pound into a rough paste. Add cilantro and parsley one small handful at a time and continue pounding into a rough paste. (By the time you're done, there should be no pieces of chiles or herbs larger than 1/8 inch remaining.) Pounding constantly, slowly drizzle in olive oil to form an emulsion. Season to taste with more salt. Zhug can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Special Equipment

Mortar and pestle

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
130 Calories
14g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 130
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 162mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 10mg 52%
Calcium 20mg 2%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 66mg 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.)