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Ras El Hanout: Facts About This Morrocan Spice

This article discusses everything you need to know about Ras El Hanout spice. We will share how to make it and how to use it.

Wooden bowl and scoop filled with ras el hanout space.

What Is Ras El Hanout?

“Ras El Hanout” is a North African spice blend commonly used in Moroccan cuisine.

Translating it directly would result in “head of the shop” or “top of the shop,” which doesn’t convey its true meaning.

Instead of translating it, describing Ras El Hanout as a complex and aromatic spice blend is best.

A versatile seasoning, Ras El Hanout adds depth and complexity to various dishes.

It also embodies Morocco’s rich culinary heritage.

Interesting Fact:

Ras El Hanout’s appeal lies not solely in its taste but also in its craftsmanship. Spice merchants take pride in creating their own unique Ras El Hanout blends to create a harmonious flavor. They meticulously choose premium spices first. Then, they try to achieve the perfect combination for an extraordinary flavor profile.

In Moroccan cooking, Ras El Hanout is a signature seasoning.

People use it to elevate traditional dishes like couscous, tagines, and stews.

Its aromatic and robust character improves the overall taste of recipes.

Of course, it also offers an unmistakable touch of Moroccan flavors.

Beyond traditional usage, it has already gained popularity in international cuisine.

Today, you can find it in contemporary and fusion cuisine.

Chefs and home cooks love its versatility.

They experiment with this spice and put it in marinades, rubs, and soups.

People also add it to desserts to infuse a Moroccan touch.

As a result, this spice blend has become available even outside Morroco.

If you want to buy some, try looking for it in specialty stores and online platforms worldwide.

What is Ras el Hanout made of?

Ras El Hanout ingredients vary.

The blend often contains a combination of finely ground spices, such as cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, and turmeric.

It may also include ingredients like cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and other aromatic spices.

Some variations may include dried flowers, such as rose petals or lavender, which add a subtle floral note to the blend.

What does ras el hanout look like?

Ras El Hanout is typically a reddish-brown to dark brown spice blend.

Due to the diverse array of ingredients, it can have a slightly textured appearance with visible specks of different colors.

It is usually sold as a powder or ground mixture, consisting of various dried spices and herbs.

The exact appearance of this spice can vary depending on the specific blend and the proportions of ingredients used.

What Does Ras El Hanout Taste Like?

Tabletop with a bowl filled with ras el hanout spice.

While recipes may vary, Ras El Hanout typically offers a warm and earthy flavor with delicate hints of sweetness.

Its aromatic blend of spices typically includes cinnamon, cumin, ginger, coriander, and cardamom.

That said, they offer complex but pleasant spiciness and subtle floral undertones.

As the recipe for this spice blend is not set in stone, it isn’t easy to describe what each blend will taste like.

It is highly flexible and can have over a dozen spices. So, you can customize the mix and make it truly your own.

A common misconception about this Morrocan ingredient is that it is extremely hot.

Not all of them have extreme heat.

Instead, in general, Ras El Hanout provides gentle warmth and complexity.

It can enhance the taste of dishes without overwhelming them.

Ras El Hanout is versatile and irresistible.

This spice is a must-have for anyone seeking to delve into the vibrant world of Moroccan cuisine.

How To Make Ras El Hanout

If you do not have the time to go to a spice shop to grab a bottle of this mix, fear not. You can easily make it at home.

Creating your own blend allows for customization based on personal taste preferences. While the specific recipe can vary, here’s a general guide on how to make Ras El Hanout.

1. Gather The Spices

The spices you’ll need to make Ras El Hanout depend on your taste. However, the most common ingredients include the following:

  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Cardamom
  • Turmeric
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Black pepper
  • White pepper
  • Mace
  • Allspice
  • Anise Seed

Creative ingredients you may also add are the following:

  • Dried rose petals
  • Chili
  • Caraway seeds
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Nigella seeds
  • Fenugreek

2. Toast The Spices

Toasting intensifies the essential oils and enhances the flavors.

For the best results, toast the whole spices in a dry skillet over medium heat.

Ensure to stir constantly to prevent burning.

Wait until the spices release their fragrant aroma before taking them off the heat. Once toasted, set aside to cool.

3. Grind The Spices

Freshly ground spices offer optimal flavor.

Once the toasted spices are cool, grind them into a fine powder.

You may need a mortar and pestle, a spice grinder, or a food processor for this step.

4. Blend The Spices

Combine the spices in a bowl. Adjusting the quantities to achieve the desired flavor.

Feel free to experiment and discover the perfect harmony that suits your preferences.

Remember, the beauty of making this spice at home lies in the ability to personalize it.

5. Store Properly

Transfer the blend to an airtight container.

Then, store it in a cool, dry, and dark place. This step ensures the preservation of its freshness and flavors.


For a quick spice blend, you may opt to use store-bought ground spices to start with.

This way, you can skip toasting and grinding the spices. You may directly mix them and enjoy your spice blend immediately.

How To Use It

Ras El Hanout offers versatility in enhancing various recipes.

Here are top ideas on how you can use this spice blend.

1. In Moroccan Dishes

Use this spice mix to season classic recipes like tagines, couscous, and stews. Infuse ingredients with amazing Moroccan flavors by sprinkling this spice during cooking.

2. In Roasted Vegetables

Make a unique roasted vegetable dish using this spice blend.

Combine olive oil, Ras El Hanout, and a pinch of salt.

Drizzle the mixture over your vegetables and roast them until they are tender and golden.

3. In Marinades And Rubs

Make aromatic marinades and rubs.

Mix it with oil, garlic, and lemon juice.

Then, let the flavors meld and marinate chicken, lamb, or fish before grilling or baking.

4. In Rice Dishes

Enrich your plain rice or grains. Add it during cooking to ensure that it will infuse your grains.

You may also sprinkle it atop the cooked grains for flavor and aroma.

5. In Soups And Stews

Bring depth and complexity to your soups and stews by adding this spice to the mix.

It will infuse your dish with its aroma, making ordinary recipes more delectable.

6. In Snacks

Use it to season roasted nuts. Better yet, sprinkle it on popcorn.

Add it to homemade dressings and dips for chips.

Is Ras El Hanout Spicy?

It can be. The Ras El Hanout recipe varies widely. For this reason, you may come across blends that are indeed hot. Note that you can always adjust the heat level based on personal preference. In general, this spice mix offers earthy, warm flavors with subtle heat.

What Is Closest To Ras El Hanout?

The closest alternative you have for Ras El Hanout is garam masala. Curry powder is a close second. Do note that these two cannot really mimic the taste. Still, they will work in a pinch to provide depth to your recipes.

What do you use ras el hanout for?

Here are some common uses for Ras El Hanout: Moroccan tagines, grilled or roasted meats, rice and grain dishes, soups and stews, vegetable preparations, and baked goods.

Is Ras el Hanout the same as Five Spice?

No, Ras El Hanout and five-spice powder are different spice blends with distinct flavor profiles and cultural origins.

What is the difference between Berbere and Ras el Hanout?

These both spices are both spice blends used in distinct regional cuisines, with Berbere being associated with Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine, while Ras El Hanout is commonly used in Moroccan cuisine.

What country is ras el Hanout from?

This spice blend originates from Morocco, a country in North Africa. It is a key ingredient in Moroccan cuisine and is widely used in various traditional dishes in the region.

Where to buy ras el hanout?

When purchasing Ras El Hanout, it is commonly found in pre-packaged containers or bulk spice bins at specialty spice stores or markets.

What does ras el hanout smell like?

The aroma of the spice blend is typically complex and fragrant, with earthy, warm, and slightly sweet notes.


Ras El Hanout is a premium blend of fragrant spices. People use it to make recipes more complex and tasty. It has warm and earthy notes, complemented by subtle hints of sweetness. Contrary to popular belief, it is not always spicy.

This North African spice mix is extremely versatile. You may use it in roasted vegetables, marinades, rice dishes, soups, stews, and snacks. Truly, the possibilities for the use of this spice are endless.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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