Berbere [Ethiopian Spice Blend]

Berbere ingredients in pan before toasting

This began during the pandemic when restaurants were closed and we were seriously wanting some of the Ethopian dishes we love. We started the usual web searches and compared dozens of results to look for the similarities and differences. As we zeroed in on the ratios we very thankfully discovered we had all of the needed ingredients in our pantry already (or at least close enough with the peppers we had). The bulk of this will match recipes from various places, though one from SAVEUR is probably the closest, but there are still various differences based on our ratios and what spices we had on-hand. Many of the basic ingredients come from Penzey’s.


This is our take on a traditional spice blend commonly used in Ethiopian dishes such as Doro Wat or Misir Wat, but can be used or added to many others, even as a topping for dishes from other cuisines such as hummus or popcorn.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Course: Spice Mix
Cuisine: Ethiopian
Keyword: spices
Cost: 10


  • Spice Grinder [You can also use a mortar and pestle or molcajete]
  • Skillet


Toasted items

  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp. whole allspice
  • 4 white cardamom pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 5 dried chiles: Dundicut
  • 5 dried chiles: Tien Tsin

Non-toasted items

  • 3 tbl Hot ground indian chile powder
  • 1/8 cup dried onion flakes

Pre-ground items

  • 1 tbsp. half-sharp hungarian paprika
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon


Toasting Step

  • In a wide shallow pan, slowly toast all of the items in the Toasted Items ingredient section. I have mistakenly added some of the non-toasted items when I got in a hurry and the final result is still just fine, but will take much longer as the bulk could cause less surface contact from the items you most want toasted.

Grinding Step

  • Using whatever device you have handy, grind all of the items in the Toasted and Non-toasted lists until fine. You might have to do the grinding in batches and can take quite a while to get to a good small consistency. For small batches of grinding I'm happy to pull out the molcajete, but for this spice blend I usually break out an Oxo 12 oz. Burr Coffee Grinder (that has NEVER seen coffee), particularly since I will often make a double or triple batch.

Final mix and store

  • Mix all of the now-ground items with the pre-ground items. We use reusable plastic or glass containers with well sealing lids which let us just add all items and roll/shake until well mixed as well as providing good storage for months.