Homemade Berbere Paste

Make soups and stews with authentic Ethiopian flavors using this homemade berbere paste recipe! Berbere paste can also be substituted 1:1 by volume in recipes that call for ground berbere blend.

Course basics, condiments
Cuisine dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, paleo, refined sugar-free, soy-free, vegan, vegetarian
Keyword berbere paste, homemade berbere
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Total Yield 1 cup
Calories Per Serving 32 kcal
Author Yup, it's Vegan


  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil divided
  • 1/2 medium red onion minced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced or grated
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger minced or grated
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Whole spices:

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 8 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nigella seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ajwain seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom seeds (removed from the husk)

Ground spices:

  • 1/4 cup New Mexico chile powder
  • 2 tbsp granulated onion (or 2 tsp onion powder)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


  • 1/2 oz fresh basil (optional) (about 8 leaves)
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Before starting to cook, measure out all of your spices into two groups: the whole spices and the ground spices (divided in the ingredients above). This will ensure that everything goes smoothly.

  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil along with the onion, garlic, ginger, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened and beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

  3. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil along with all of the whole spices. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the spices are beginning to become fragrant and toasted, about 2 minutes.

  4. Add the ground spices and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 60 seconds more or until the spices are aromatic and starting to stick. Immediately remove from the heat and transfer to a blender or food processor. Add the water and the basil if using, and blend until a smooth paste is formed.

  5. Once cooled, your berbere paste can be stored for 1 to 2 weeks in the fridge; it also freezes well. Use it in Ethiopian recipes, 1:1 for ground berbere. Or stir a tablespoon or two into legume or vegetable dishes to give them some flair.

Recipe Notes

BERBERE AROMA: I recommend ventilating your kitchen while cooking this; the smell can linger for a little while otherwise.

NEW MEXICO CHILE POWDER: If you cannot find NM chile powder, you can also: (1) grind whole New Mexico chiles into powder yourself, if available. Or (2) substitute 3 tbsp of paprika plus 1 tbsp of hot paprika, ancho chili powder, or cayenne. (All tested and yielded similar results).

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Berbere Paste
Amount Per Serving (2 tablespoons)
Calories 32 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 5%
Total Carbohydrates 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.