berbere spiced ribs

berbere spiced ribs

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Berbere (Amharic: በርበሬ berberēTigrinya: በርበረ berbere) is a spice mixture, whose ingredients usually include chili peppersgarlicginger, dried basilkorarimarue, white and black pepper and fenugreek.[1][2] It is a key ingredient in the cuisines of Ethiopia and EritreaBerberé (or Berbere) is an Ethiopian spice mixture that is the flavoring foundation of Ethiopian cuisine, a basic ingredient in Dabo KoloDoro Wat, and many other dishes.

Berberé is made from a cupboard-full of herbs and spices, fresh-ground, pan-roasted, and then packed into jars for storage. Among Ethiopian cooks there are many variations of which spices and what amounts. (In the recipe below, ingredients marked “optional” seem to be the least common.) Basic berberé is made by combining roughly equal amounts of allspice, cardamom, cloves, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper, and salt with a much larger amount of hot red (cayenne) pepper. The combination of fenugreek and red pepper is essential to berberé; while one or two of the other ingredients may be left out, the fenugreek and red pepper are must-haves. Milder berberé can be made by substituting paprika for some or most of the red pepper. Berberé is sometimes made as a dry spice mix, and is sometimes made with oil or water to form a paste.

Source:  Congo Cookbook
berbere spiced ribs

berbere spiced ribs

Yield: Feeds about 4-7 folks


  • 3 Tbl. berbere spice mixture
  • ½ tsp. hot paprika
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ to 2 lb ribs
  • 1 cup BBQ Sauce (your favorite store purchased)


  • In a small bowl, mix together the berbere, paprika salt and pepper.  Rub on both sides of the ribs.
  • Wrap ribs in foil or paper (brown grocery store bag) and refrigerate for about 6 hours. Remove and let them come to rest at room temperature for about 30-45 minutes.
  • Slather on top your favorite BBQ sauce and grill at a medium low temperature until done.  
  • The individual ribs will pull away from the bone without much effort.
  • Let rest about 10 minutes and serve with more BBQ sauce if you like.


My cookbook, Ally's Kitchen~ A Passport for Adventurous Palates, has my recipe for berbere in it! If you don't have it, you can buy on Amazon. Or you can use a substitute spice mixture like Harissa or Ras el Hanut.

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berbere spiced ribs


  1. I am cooking for someone from the Congo and at some point I will try this. I have done one of ur recipes before and it was dead on but needed more salt and as an American I never use salt when cooking even when using fresh vegetables but usr was about 2.5 off. Everyone’s taste is different but as a white American I don’t want my food to be perceived as a typical Americans. I am serious about cooking so plz help any dish to be authentic and let me know what I need to do different. Thx

    • Dear Anonymous Friend…thank you for trying my recipe. This is my interpretation of the spice mixture ‘Berbere’ and it’s always pleased folks. Yes, salt is a personal palate preference, so taste taste taste and make your food please your palate and those who you are cooking for! What can you do to be different? That’s a big question! Maybe just using different spice mixtures like this berbere. You might want to check out my cookbook where I give you recipes for making your own versions of spice mixtures like harissa, ras el hanut, dukkah. So glad you are serious about cooking and love it! I’m sure you’re just amazing! Many thank yous! ~ally

  2. Hi, I have never in my life used berbere.. however married someone who is half ethiopian and his mum keeps sending us jars and jars of the stuff and i have no idea what to do with it lol this is a good start will try this weekend. thanks

    • Oh you are so lucky! Berbere is such a versatile aromatic spice mixture! Try putting a little in olive oil for a dipping sauce, season meat and veggies and more! ???

  3. How much bbq sauce?

    • Hey, luv! I used a about one cup…of course, it’s totally up to you and your palate as to how much you want to slater on! Thanks for asking!! Now come back soon! xo ~ally

  4. Our Book Club recently read Cutting for Stone and I’ve been wanting to try some Ethiopian food to go along with the theme of the book. This recipe looks perfect and the ribs look delish! Thanks for sharing it.

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