Shakshouka or Shakshuka (pronounced 'shack-shoe-Kah' ) is a one-skillet dish of poached eggs nestled in a herb-infused, spicy, and simmering sauce of tomatoes, bell pepper, onions, and garlic. It is a staple Israeli vegetarian breakfast but works equally well as lunch or dinner.


The literal meaning of the word Shakshouka is "all mixed up" in Arabic. According to a group of food historians, it supposedly originated in Yemen, while others claim it has an Ottoman origin. However, as per the Israelis, the dish came from northeast African cultures and more specifically, from the Lybian-Tunisian region.

Necessity as we know is the mother of invention, leading to many beautiful creations, shakshouka happens to be one. It is believed that it was born out of the financial difficulties faced by North African immigrants. This hearty dish of poached eggs with vegetables served with bread presented was delicious and affordable, making it a favorite of every household.

Whatever might be the origin, today, it is one of the most sought after vegetarian foods. Prepared with healthy ingredients, this simple and hearty comfort food has captured the imagination of food lovers across the world.


I have often seen people confusing Shakshouka with another famous Turkish scrambled egg dish Menemen. It is also confused with the Mexican Huevos Rancheros and the Italian Eggs in the Purgatory. So how are they different or similar?

All these dishes fit into the basic template of eggs, tomatoes, and onions. The differences are noticed in the cooking and serving techniques.


Compared to the African roots of Shakshouka, the Menemen is a Turkish dish. Both share similar ingredients but the use of onions in Menemen is controversial. While the eggs are poached in Shakshouka, in Menemen, the eggs are cracked and mixed with the simmering sauce giving it the impression of scrambled eggs.


Shakshouka is made by poaching eggs in a hearty tomato sauce with peppers, onion, garlic, and seasonings. The dish is enjoyed with crusty bread. So, you basically have Shakshouka at the bottom with bread on top. Huevos rancheros, or ranch-style eggs, in a layman's term is inverted Shakshouka. It is made with fried or poached eggs served over tortillas with a tomato-chili sauce. Often traditional Mexican items such as black beans, salsa, and steamed rice are added to it.


The Eggs in purgatory or Uova in Purgatorio is the Italian closest cousin of Shakshouka. It is a one-skillet dish of eggs cooked in a piquant marinara sauce. While the Shakshouka features heady spices like turmeric and cumin, the Italian version is all about garlic, basil, or rosemary.


Shakshouka is a one-skillet recipe which means you make the sauce and then create space in the simmering sauce to gently crack the eggs into the pan directly, sounds simple! right? I am in awe of this dish because it looks really impressive for the amount of work you put in and the frugal ingredients. 



Although it sounds like a complicated dish, it is actually incredibly easy to make Shakshouka. Here is what you need:

  • olive oil
  • onion
  • red bell pepper
  • garlic
  • tomatoes
  • spices: paprika, cumin, salt and pepper, italian herb mix
  • 4-6 large eggs
  • optional for topping: fresh parsley, feta, dried chili flakes


With these basic ingredients you can create the most magical dish ever. Now let’s talk about how to make it.

Chop, Chop, Chop! - The first and most important step is to finely chop the onions and bell peppers and mince the garlic.

Make the sauce - Heat oil in a skillet. Saute the chopped onions first and then add minced garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant. Net up add the chopped bell pepper and cook until softened. Finally add the tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, and salt to the skillet and bring to a simmer.

Crack the Eggs - Create space in the simmering sauce and crack the eggs into the space. Don’t worry if it does not turn out perfect and the eggs get a little messy. If you are a stickler for accuracy, here are some tips:

  • You can crack the eggs separately in a small bowl and carefully slide it into the spaces created in the sauce.
  • You can separate the white and the yolk, first add the white into the space and then slide in the yolk.

Cook - Cover and simmer for a few more minutes until the eggs are cooked to your liking. If you like to keep the eggs runny, there is no need to cover and cook but if you prefer firmer yolks, then cover the skillet and cook.

Season and Garnish - Adjust seasonings and garnish with parsley or toppings of your choice.


  1. You can also add meat to this recipe. It is best to use ground beef or ground lamb. If using meat, cook it first in a bit of extra virgin olive oil until fully browned, then add it to the other ingredients of the sauce and allow it to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Once the meat is cooked through, proceed to add the eggs.
  2. Add some kalamata olives to add pungency to the dish.
  3. Add some feta cheese before serving.
  4. Once I added spinach and coconut milk to the sauce before breaking in the eggs and it turned out really good. If you are feeling a little adventurous, try it!
  5. Add cilantro and red chili flakes for garnish.


Can I reheat Shakshouka?

Yes, you can reheat shakshouka but it is recommended to heat shakshouka on the stove, and not in the microwave because it contains eggs.

Is Shakshouka gluten-free?

The shakshuka itself is gluten-free. Traditionally it is served with crusty bread, for a gluten-free option, omit the bread or substitute with gluten-free bread.

How can I know that my shakshouka is done?

Shakshouka is done when the egg whites are an opaque white and the yolks have risen a bit but are still soft.

What kinds of cheese can be added to shakshouka?

White cheeses like feta, mozzarella, ricotta, soft, or hard goat cheese can be added to shakshouka.


Traditionally, shakshouka is made in a cast-iron skillet which is served on the breakfast table right away. You are just supposed to dip your bread in the skillet directly and eat. If you do not prefer to eat that way, spoon out your portion in a separate dish, and enjoy. If you are preparing just one portion (for one person), you can use a mini (6 inches) skillet, that way the essence of the dish will be preserved.

Shakshouka can be served with warm pita bread, challah, or naan. It also goes well with hummus, grits, roasted potatoes, herb salad, cucumber salad, or Greek salad.


Shakshouka is not the kind of dish that would have leftovers. The leftovers don't taste that great either since soft eggs will continue to cook if you reheat them.

However, if you do have leftovers store in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days if in tight-lid glass containers. Warm it up over medium heat, before serving.



Yield: 4
Author: The GradChef
Prep time: 5 MCook time: 10 MTotal time: 15 M
The favorite Israeli breakfast of poached eggs in a piquant tomato sauce that doubles up as brunch or dinner with some warm crusty bread.


  • 4-6 eggs
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 4 plum tomatoes chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp mixed Italian herbs
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp crushed peppercorn
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Put a large skillet over medium-high heat and heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent.
  2. Add the minced garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant.
  3. Add the chopped bell pepper and cook until softened.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, and salt to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Continue until the tomatoes are mushy and the sauce reduces.
  5. Now create space in the simmering sauce and crack the eggs gently into space.
  6. Cover and simmer for a few more minutes, checking regularly, until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
  7. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top.
  8. Garnish with minced parsley and serve.


  • If you like to keep the eggs runny, there is no need to cover and cook but if you are like me and prefer firmer yolks, then cover the skillet and cook.
  • This is a pretty basic recipe, feel free to add jalapenos, chilies or chili flake to suit your taste.
  • You can sprinkle some feta cheese on top before serving.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
breakfast Dinner eggs healthy Lunch mediterranean tomatoes easy vegetarian
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