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How to Make Schug (Skug, Zhug, Zhoug) Sauce

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Adapted from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons

Schug (pronounced skoog, sometimes spelled Skug, Zhug, Zhoug) is a Middle Eastern (often used in Yemeni/Israeli cooking) blend of herbs, chilies, and toasted spices: there’s cumin and coriander as well as hot chilies. Because the chilies are seeded, the sauce is not impossibly spicy—it’s, in fact, bright with lemon, and it has a bit of texture thanks to the mass of chilies, garlic, and herbs. Once you make schug once, you will want to put it on everything.

Note: You’ll see in the video I only used 1 chili — it was all I had on hand that day! — and I didn’t add lemon zest…I forgot. All of this is to say the recipe is very forgiving. As long as you include some toasted spices and something that provides a little heat, and as long as you get the balance of lemon to olive oil right, you’ll be good to go. 


  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup (or less! see notes above) seeded and roughly chopped fresh hot green chilies, such as serrano (2 to 4)
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems
  • 2 cups lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves and stems (rough stems removed)
  • zest from one lemon
  • juice from one lemon, about 3 tablespoons
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. In a small skillet, toast the cumin and coriander seeds until they smell fragrant and have turned a shade darker in color. Transfer to a spice grinder or crush with a mortar and pestle.
  2. Put the chilies and garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times until they are fairly fine. Add the cilantro, parsley, lemon zest, reserved toasted spiced, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and a few twists of black pepper. Pulse until all is finely chopped into a rough purée. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Stop the processor before the sauce is completely blended and smooth—you want some texture. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with another 1/2 teaspoon salt (I always do), and pepper and lemon to taste.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern