Know Your Spices: Dukkah

Dukkah is a unique Egyptian blend of coarsely ground spices, nuts, and seeds. The bold, savory mixture can be used as a dip for bread, a crust for meat, and so much more.

Dukkah spice in a white bowl on a wood cutting board

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

Dukkah is an Egyptian blend of coarsely ground spices, nuts, and seeds that is entirely unique. It’s savory, sweet, nutty, and zesty all at the same time and can liven up a variety of dishes.

Combine it with a bit of good olive oil and you have the ultimate condiment to dunk crusty bread or warm pita into.

The once hard-to-find mixture is now becoming more and more popular in the United States — so much so that Trader Joe’s now even sells their own version!

Here’s everything you need to know about this magical Egyptian mix and how to enjoy it in your own kitchen.

Dukkah

What it is: A blend of whole spices, nuts, seeds, and salt pounded in a mortar and pestle to achieve a coarse, crunchy texture

Flavor: Deeply savory and pleasantly salty

How to use: Combine it with olive oil and use it as a crunchy dip for bread, as a crust for chicken or fish, or sprinkled on top of salads, soups, hummus, and roasted vegetables

Dukkah spice blend

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

What is Dukkah?

Dukkah, pronounced DOO-kah, originates in Egypt. The name comes from the Egyptian Arabic word for “to pound” or “to crush”, which is how the blend is made.

A mixture of whole spices, nuts, seeds, and salt are pounded in a mortar and pestle to achieve a coarse, crunchy texture. Today, a food processor is more commonly used to achieve the same results.

The exact list of ingredients can vary greatly depending on the recipe because traditionally, dukkah is made at home rather than bought pre-mixed. However, cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, and sesame seeds are almost always featured, as well as one or two types of nuts like peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, or pistachios.

Varieties of Dukkah

Whether you make dukkah yourself or buy it, no two recipes or jars are the same. Warm spices like cumin, coriander, and fennel are in most blends, along with sesame seeds and salt. Peanuts are commonly used in Egypt because they are cheap and readily available, but hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, and even cashews can make an appearance.

You’ll also sometimes find other herbs and spices like cayenne, caraway seeds, and dried mint added.

Dukkah in a bowl

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

What Does Dukkah Taste Like?

Dukkah is wonderfully aromatic and tastes deeply savory and pleasantly salty, with toasty and sweet notes coming from the nuts. Part of dukkah’s charm is also its unique texture, which brings a nice crunch to dishes.

Where to Buy

You can buy dukkah at some Middle Eastern grocery stores and specialty spice shops. Dukkah continues to gain popularity in the United States and is steadily becoming available at larger retailers, such as Trader Joe’s and Target, both of which currently sell their own blend.

How to Store

Store dukkah like you would dry spices: In an airtight container in a cool, dark place such as a pantry or spice cabinet.

The deep fragrance and flavor of dukkah does diminish over time, as well as the nuts have the potential to go rancid if not stored properly, which is why it is more traditionally made at home in small batches rather than bought as a mix. However, if stored properly, it will stay fresh for two to three weeks.

How to Make Your Own Dukkah

There are many great recipes for making dukkah at home, each of which have slightly different ingredients and proportions.

For a basic version, pulse 1/2 cup of nuts, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, and a generous pinch of kosher salt in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Some recipes call for toasting the nuts, seeds, and spices in a dry skillet over medium heat on the stovetop before blending, while others leave them raw. Toasting helps draw out their flavors and make an even more fragrant mix.

If you’re looking for an exact recipe, try this one:

How to Use Dukkah

The most traditional way to enjoy dukkah is to combine it with olive oil and use it as a crunchy dip for bread. However, that is really just the start. Dukkah can be used as a crust for chicken or fish, like in this Grilled Dukkah-Crusted Chicken with Lemon Hummus.

You can also sprinkle dukkah on top of salads, soups, hummus, and roasted vegetables, or stirred into plain Greek yogurt for a quick dip.