Moroccan Spices: Top 10 Ingredients for Cooking Moroccan Food

Souks are home to some of the best Moroccan spices. A spice market boasts of a colorful bevy of exotic, flavorful spices that lend the mouth-watering quality to Moroccan food. The Moroccans cook their dishes in the best fresh spices and mixes. Bringing Moroccan food to your kitchen is all about getting the spices right.

 Top 10 Moroccan Spices and Preserves for Cooking Moroccan Food

Top 10 Moroccan Spices and Preserves for Cooking Moroccan Food

The four main Moroccan spices to get you started are ginger, salt, pepper and turmeric. With these you can cook tagines and stews of several varieties.


Ginger is widely used in most Moroccan dishes. Fresh ginger is added to soups like harira and spice mixes.


Turmeric brings the yellow color to Moroccan dishes. Moroccans use the root as a coloring agent to avoid artificial colors.

Moroccan dishes use a mix of spices and preserves. These range from chilies to herbs and seeds.


Paprika is added to almost every Moroccan marinade. Protein like fish and chicken is best complimented with paprika. It is also used as a seasoning for bean based dishes, cooked salads and meat.

Coriander Seeds

Coriander is mostly goes with chili and curry dishes. It is pleasantly sweet and it balances the spiciness of particularly hot dishes.


Cinnamon is a fragrant spice that is used to enhance the aroma of dishes. It is used in Moroccan desserts like Baklava to complement the sweetness. Recipes of B’stilla or pigeon pies and Moroccan cinnamon spiced chicken.


Saffron is not only a strong flavor but is also known for its natural coloring properties. Just a few threads of saffron are enough to flavor a pot of tea or dessert. While saffron is expensive, Moroccan markets sell them at quite a reasonable rate.

Preserved Lemon

Preserved Lemon or lemon peel extract is widely used in desserts, salad dressings and spice marinades in Moroccan dishes. It is a must-have item on a Moroccan kitchen shelf.


Harissa is a thick chili paste. It is made by blending chilies and garlic in olive oil and herbs. Borrowed from Tunisian cuisine, Harissa is a must-have hot sauce.

Butter ghee

Moroccan butter ghee smen, is the same as Asian ghee, but it has a stronger cheesy tinge. Smen is a delicacy known for its distinct flavor.

Spice Mixes

Ras El Hanout is a traditional spice mix made from putting together ground spices. Recipes for this mix involve sesame seeds, nutmeg, star anise and bay leaf apart from the key Moroccan spices. You can make your own mix of spices by putting together a few of your favorites.

Stack up your pantry with Moroccan spices for interesting combinations and versions of Moroccan dishes that you can make in your own kitchen.

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