Ras El Hanout: The Moroccan Spice Blend (Local Recipe)

By: Fatima O.

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If you’ve ever been to Morocco or even cooked Moroccan food, you’re probably familiar with Ras El Hanout. This popular spice mix is used in a variety of dishes and can be enjoyed in different ways.

The secret ingredient to many of my mom’s recipes was Ras El Hanout. The name literally means “head of the shop” in Arabic, and it’s traditionally made with a mix of 30 different spices or more.

While that might seem like a lot, don’t be discouraged! This spice mix is easy to make and worth all the trouble.

This exotic Moroccan mix is made up of a variety of spices, including but not limited to cumin, paprika, and ginger. It has a delicious flavor that’s perfect for adding depth to your cooking!

And now, I will show you how to make an authentic Moroccan Ras El Hanout using ingredients that you can easily find at home.

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What is Ras El Hanout?

Ras El Hanout is a spice mix made and popularly used in Morocco, Tunisian and Algerian cuisines. As I previously mentioned, the name Ras Al Hanout means “Head of the shop” in Arabic.

It’s thought that the name Ras Al Hanout comes from the fact that this spice mix was traditionally made with the best spices that a shop had to offer.

What is Ras El Hanout made of?

Ras El Hanout is a spice blend that is used in Moroccan cuisine. It is made up of a variety of Moroccan spices.

The composition of this unique Moroccan spice blend may vary from one region, seller, or family to another. But Ras El Hanout typically contains a dozen spices, in different proportions.

The common Moroccan spices used in Ras Al Hanout are cumin, cloves, mace, coriander seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, peppercorn, dry turmeric, sweet and hot paprika, and fenugreek.

What is Ras Al Hanout used for?

Ras El Hanout is used to add flavor and depth to many common Moroccan dishes. It can be used in a variety of ways and in all cooking steps.

You can add it to your pot while cooking tagines or couscous, or you can rub it on the meat before cooking, like what we do with Tangia.

Moroccan Rfissa dish is incomplete without Ras Al Hanout

Another great way of using Ras Al Hanout is sprinkling it on food to enjoy the fresh flavor of the spice.

What does it taste like?

The complexity of this Moroccan spice makes it hard for me to describe how exactly Ras El Hanout tastes.

I will try anyway!

Ras El Hanout has a warm and woody taste with a touch of sweetness and spiciness. You can taste each spice in Ras Al Hanout, but they all come together to create a unique and amazing flavor.

The smell on the other hand enhances the taste of Ras Al Hanout even more. It’s very pleasant and inviting. It reminds me of my mother’s kitchen.

Is there a worthwhile substitute for Ras El Hanout?

To be honest, I don’t think there is anything that can come close to Ras El Hanout. It is a very complex spice blend with many different Moroccan flavors. Of course, these spices, individually, are not unique to Morocco. However, the way they come together makes all the difference.

Ras Al Hanout Ingredients

Some variations of Ras Al Hanout contain spices that are native to Morocco and hard to find elsewhere.

That’s why I think that the best way to substitute this exotic blend is to mix together a combination of the individual spices available in your country to get a close or similar flavor profile.

Is Garam Masala the same as Ras El Hanout?

No, Ras El Hanout is not the same as Garam Masala. Ras Al Hanout is a Moroccan spice blend. Garam Masala, on the other hand, is a ‘hot’ Indian spice blend. The two may share some common ingredients but that’s about it.

Garam Masala Spice

Even though they are both spice blends, they have different flavor profiles. Ras El Hanout is typically made with a mix of dozens of different spices or more while Garam Masala is typically made with only a handful of spices.

Where to buy an authentic Ras El Hanout blend?

Ras El Hanout is available in Moroccan specialty stores online. However, the best place to buy 100% authentic Ras El Hanout is Morocco!

If you don’t have the opportunity to travel to Morocco, then you can try looking for Ras Al Hanout in Moroccan markets or spice shops in your country or order it online from a reputable source.

Another great way to get a true blend of this spice is to ask somebody who is traveling to Morocco to buy it for you. But if you are not lucky enough with all these options, stay tuned, I will show you how to make your own version of Ras El Hanout.

How to make Ras El Hanout?

To Make Ras El Hanout, the first step is to gather all of the spices. You probably think that 30 different spices is a lot to gather, and grind. But trust me, it is worth the effort.

If you can’t find some of the spices, don’t worry, there are variations that can contain only 10 or 12 spices but are still delicious.

Some of Ras Al Hanout’s ingredients

Once you have all of the spices you could find, it’s time to start grinding!

My mom likes to use a wooden mortar and pestle for this task, but you can also use a spice grinder. Simply grind all of the spices together until they are a fine powder.

A local spice shop in Morocco

And now comes a very important step in making a good Ras El Hanout which is spice mixing. It may sound easy, but it’s actually a very delicate task.

You need to find the perfect balance between all of the spices so that each one can be tasted, but none of them overpowers the others.

And that’s it! Once you succeed in mixing the spices together, you’ve now made Ras Al Hanout.

I hope you enjoy this spice mix as much as I do! Thanks for reading!

How to store Ras El Hanout?

The best way to store Ras El Hanout is by putting it in an airtight glass container in a cool, dark place for about 3 to 6 months. The longer the better. I usually keep my spices for more than 6 months.

Ras Al Hanout stored in a glass jar

Like any other type of spice, Ras Al Hanout can last up to 3 years if stored properly.

Ras El Hanout Recipe

In this recipe, we will make a simpler version of the Ras Al Hanout blend that contains 18 different spices that are easy to find in your local store or to order online.


I hope you enjoyed reading about Ras Al Hanout and are excited to try making your own unique Moroccan blend at home!

Moroccan Ras Al Hanout

About Fatima O.

Fatima, born and raised along the foothills of the Atlas mountains, in the heartland of the indigenous Amazigh peoples. She loves Moroccan tea and travel. Now, she travels and writes about the beauty of her homeland.

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