Shakshuka (Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Whether you’re looking for a new breakfast idea or are fond of serving breakfast for dinner, shakshuka fits the bill. Instead of calling the dish shakshuka you can also just call it “Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce” because that’s exactly what this straightforward but surprisingly delicious meal is.

Especially popular in Israel, shakshuka is loved around the world for its comforting flavor and simple preparation. Although the sauce is often sopped up with pita bread, it’s thick enough that you can skip the bread and eat it with a spoon (or spread extra sauce over a hunk of grilled meat for a really fantastic meal.)

Most recipes for shakshuka call for canned (or boxed) tomatoes, but you shouldn’t hesitate to use plump, super-ripe fresh tomatoes if you can find them. Tomatoes are the main ingredient in shakshuka and some say that little else, besides eggs and garlic, should be added. However, this version leans in the direction of spicing things up with more flavor and variety. Onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, cumin and paprika make the meal more than just a pot of simmered tomatoes.

The eggs are added at the end and then cooked until just set. The contrasting flavors and textures in your bowl – creamy, soft eggs swimming in thick, spicy sauce – is what shakshuka is all about.

Servings: 4


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 to 3 jalapeno peppers, (depending on how spicy you like it) seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 white or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 28-ounces whole peeled tomatoes in their juice or 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 to 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
  • Optional: crumbled feta cheese
  • Salt to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep skillet. Add peppers and onion and sauté until onion is lightly browned, about five minutes.

Add garlic, cumin and paprika and sauté one minute more.

Add tomatoes. Break them apart with a large spoon or spatula as they cook. Reduce heat slightly and simmer 15-20 minutes (longer if tomatoes are fresh), stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened and most of the liquid is gone. Add salt to taste.

Crack the eggs evenly around the skillet. Place the skillet in the oven and cook until the egg whites are set, 6-8 minutes.

Garnish with parsley (and feta). Serve warm.

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71 thoughts on “Shakshuka (Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce)”

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  1. I winged a version of shakshuka the other day and it’s since become my favorite breakfast. love it! we have some wilting bell peppers in the fridge so I have a feeling I’ll be making your version soon enough!

  2. Sounds good, and simple to make. Will try it for breakfast tomorrow.

  3. My Italian grandmother made these — they were called “Eggs in Purgatory.”

    1. Yes, I was taught this last year by a Neapolitan. Great name for a dish. And you can do it with less ingredients. For one person I use 1 onion, 1 can of tomatoes, and 3 eggs. Delicious. But I might add the feta, for something new.

    2. YES! Eggs in purgatory is how I know these. Also, there is no reason to complicate things by heating your oven up. Just poach them as is. Put a lid on if you want the tops a little firmer.

  4. Hi!
    It’s so nice to see a shakshuka recipe here on my favorite blog!
    Being Israeli, seeing the shakshuka definitely brings stuff back!
    I would say this is an extremely refined version that you put up here! I actually never used an oven! just simmered the tomatoes and bell peppers in the covered skillet until thick!
    In fact, it is a long and ancient tradition (30 years or so), to make shakshuka in a skillet over a fire on the beach:) very very primal event:)
    I have been eating it primally (sans pita) forever and i can testify that it is indeed a very comforting and satiating food.
    Anyway I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed seeing this food in a primal context, made me think of the positive things at home when I’m so far away… Thanks Mark!

    1. Mark, you made me cry in a good endearing way!! I agree, food is a comforting way of sending LOVE to your Heart!! I love the name SHAKSHUKA it means so much vibration to me!! I LOVE the Isreali way!! Literally!! Eggs Purgatory just doesn’t feel right to me although it is in Dante’s original language. I love fresh meat SHAKSHUKA for breakfast!! A better way to start the day rather than Kellog’s!! HA HA I am a person of substance and that is how I choose to eat and live!! Skakshuka says that in a name for me!!!
      Peace and keep on SHAKSHUKING!!!!!

    1. You won’t be disappointed, strangely enough though, it is usually a dinner dish! 🙂

      1. hah that’s interesting but yeah, this dish cooking time is more appropriate for dinner too. (I usually spend 5 mins on average making breakfast =p)

        1. 🙂 I guess it could work as an extra fancy Sunday breakfast… or a brunch kind of thing…
          I usually skip breakfast altogether, eating breakfast usually makes me hungrier later in the day. I guess I’m IF’ing by default hehe.

  5. I don’t think I would be able to skip the pita bread. Scooping up all that sauce with just a spoon doesn’t seem right.

  6. Holy Crap. I was in Israel for 3 months this past spring and we probably had shakshuka every single day. It is pretty primally delicious. Some people like to mix the eggs up in the sauce also. I just enjoy popping the yolk and mixing it in with the rest of the vegetables. You can also add some sausage to this and it is freakin delish.

  7. An Israeli houseguest cooked me this for dinner a few months ago, and I was planning to try my hand at making it up tonight. His version was very Italian-inspired, with lots of garlic and oregano, and big chunks of onions and peppers. It was fantastic.

  8. Hint: for those of you who want an extra thick and creamy sauce, you can try mixing one whole egg into the tomato-pepper mixture as it simmers (right before you’d add in the other eggs), it will thicken up the sauce and will solidify a bit the whole thing so you’ll be able to eat it with a fork!
    (skip that pitaaaa:))

  9. Any thoughts on anti depressants and anxiety? My doc has urged me to take them for the last 2 yeras…
    – I’m gloomy, unmotivated
    – aches, pains (but also low weight)
    – easy distracted
    – always “on edge” and anxious like
    – irritated super easy
    – always worrying and regretting stuff

    would GABA and OR 5-HTP be better? or just bit the bullet and take mirtazapine and lorazapam? the mirtazapine i dont wanna take cause it causes weight gain (whcih admittedly i need….but in an unnatural way it seems “wrong”)

    i need something for sleep and to lift the anxiety and depression

    By the way not paleo…lots of digestive issues…but don’t think i could be paleo since i live in a place and have a wallet unable to get ANYTHING grassfed, etc and if i overdose on fat (cause i need to gain weight, not lose) i tend to get sickish…

    1. I sleep better when I take 5-HTP after dinner. I also have had success with Sedalia Stress Relief by Boiron. It’s a homeopathic, dissolve under the tongue tablet I get at at Sprouts or Sunflower or Whole Foods. It helps me with quite a bit with anxiety.

      I had many digestive problems such as gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, etc. They all went away when I stopped eating grains. I don’t miss them either.

      I wish you luck in your quest and am glad you are trying to find a better way than pharmaceuticals.

      1. Thanks for the reply 🙂
        Does the 5-HTP help with the depression or the anxiety?
        I am:
        – low weight
        – anxious, “on edge” all the time
        – irritate
        – not energetic, lethargic, achy
        – unmotivated
        – sad at times…

        you found grains the MAIN source of digestive troubles? I assume mine might be due to dairy or maybe egg allergies…eliminating stuff is toughie for me when low weight, ugh

        i was wondering about GABA?…

        i’m afraid of the mirtazapine becuz while its awesome for sleep…it does cause some constipation AND weight gain (yes, i need the weight gain…but in that way?..idk).

    2. Hi Jeri – I would give the mirtazapine and lorazepam a shot. If they help, then you can use them temporarily as you work on and learn new ways to decrease the anxiety and gloominess. The weight gain from these meds comes from carb binging. I think if you make wise choices, it won’t be cheating; you’ll be winning the battle.

      1. Hi, thanks for reply…I’m worried though becuz the carb binging is becuz of an excessive high need for sweets and carbs and i have no willpower 🙁 I also hear the drug lowers your metabolism hence the gain…I’m in my 30’s , i don’t wanna screw with my metabolism 🙁

    3. Stay away from the lorazepam. It’s highly addictive and a bitch to withdrawal from.
      Trust me on this one.

        1. Jeri: I empathize with your situation,having been through it, and I understand the impulse to want think that just finding the right thing to take will make the problem get better quickly. It’s normal, but a dead end, as I know from bitter experience.

          Having been through a long slog with withdraw with various pharma “solutions,” the best advice I can give is to suggest that you find a cognitive behavioral therapist and try that route first. You could try acupunture and I would also seek out a trained homeopathic doctor. Perhaps a naturopathic doctor could also help you find a solution.

          Believe me, I wish I had done this before I got caught in the horrible web of psychoactive pharma drugs. The difficulty of the withdrawal process (even from SSRIs)cannot be adequately described. It’s hell. The benzos will definitely wreck your life.

          Getting out from under depression and anxiety is possible, but it takes time, patience,courage and hard work. Unforunately, there really is no easy, quick and painless way through.

        2. thanks honeybee…BUT homeopathic and acupuncture and naturopaths cause major money…I don’t have money. I’m a below-below-below average fincanical situation and can barely pay rent. So I know with my heart that naturopaths and homeopaths and acupuncture would Be AMAZING…but i just cna’t afford it…
          I read “The Depression Cure”, “Unstuck” and “Spent” and “The FOod Mood Solution” and they all resonated with me…the best I can do i pick out pieces that i CAN afford….and otherwise, have a little faith.
          The depression is one thing to deal with. The damn anxiey and low weight is another thing. I’m a ball of lethargy. And i have a TON of digestive troubles (I don’t eat paleo, but don’t see how I could seeing where i live…ii already eat tons of fats)…anyway..i’ll shut up now 🙂

        3. Hey Jeri , I think yoga and meditation would help you more than any drug. The best thing about yoga is that there are huge varieties of asnas to choose from. You can adapt any that works for you. Yoga helps in detoxifiyng the body. Your problems arise mainly due to stress and negativity. Once you conquer that you are surely gonna be on the path of healing. Give it a try. You could be amazed at the results.

        4. It seems that ending it all would be best. With such dependence on assistance – when all that’s really needed is proper diet and movement – you should consider just giving up. The “I’m not okay – you’re not okay” mindset is a difficult one…best to press the [RESET] before you cause more problems for those around you.

    4. We have had similar problems at my house and the solution was twofold:
      1. Stop eating wheat
      2. Take magnesium and zinc supplements.
      Those two things have done us more good than you can imagine. Try it!

      1. Hi, but is it intense depression and intense anxiety (like the kind i described above….cause its not just the regular stuff )….I do take Mg natural calm 🙂
        and i take cod liver oil, multi, vit B, vit C, and vit D..
        was thinking about taking some L-glutamine cause i hear it helps the GI tract .
        I haven’t eaten wheat in years. Gluten free.

    5. Hey there Jeri,

      Sorry if this has already been said. I have to start work in 5 minutes so I haven’t read all of your replies etc.

      I was in a really dire finacial situation with severe depression/anxiety some years back and I found that the thing that kept me afloat until I could afford more help was walking every day, drinking plenty of water, cutting grain except rice (cheap) and meditation. On days when I didnt “Feel” it I still did the walk and the meditiation and viewed it as medicinal. I also did a negativity fast where I immediately cut short any negative thoughts even if they seemed rational.

      It really did help.

      I hope you feel better soon and that your situation also improves.



    6. GABA and Sam-e are both helpful… Under “normal” circumstances (work stress, household concerns, etc), 400 mg Sam-e in the morning and 750 mg GABA at night works great. I’ve varied dosages depending on stress levels and it really helps. My husband says it helps his anxiety, concentration (he has ADHD), and excessive sweating as well.

      As far as digestive troubles, try adding chia seeds to your diet. (They can be ordered from Amazon for a pretty reasonable price.) Aloe vera juice (the natural, unsweetened kind) can also help with issues.

  10. Feta cheese is an awesome addition to a Shakshuka. Marguez sausage is also a classic, but my favorite would have to be spinach, which improves both taste and texture.

  11. This is awesome! I actually gave my husband a recipe for a spicy tomato sauce that he whipped up the other day with real tomatoes, jalapenos, and whatnot. I literally have all the ingredients and could whip this up in 10 minutes, and I never thought to put it together this way. I didn’t even know I had a dinner dilemma, but this solved it.

  12. This is an interesting coincidence – I had seen other similar presentations elsewhere, and they looked interesting to me, but just a bit more work than I want to do for breakfast or brunch.

    Just a few days ago though, I had an inspiration for an easier version of this. My local market sells pre-made gazpacho, (which is made fresh, refrigerated, and has all-natural ingredients), so we poured some into a cast iron skillet, brought it to a simmer, and poached the eggs in it (covered) for about 5 minutes.

    It was not only delicious, it was the ultimate in simplicity.

  13. I do a version of this every day as my breakfast. Super easy and fast. I just use some rotel tomatoes, along with a bit of chopped ham or sausage; heat, add a couple of eggs, cook until done (I like my eggs hard so I flip it). Top with a small dollop of labna.

  14. This looks great, I am going to try it this morning, but…how does 4 eggs serve 4 people? That’s got to be a typo. Who can stop at one egg?

  15. All I had in the kitchen was egg, tomatoes, and garlic, so I thought I’d give shakshuka a try.

    The tomatoes were small, underripe, and watery. I finely diced three and set them to drain on a tilted plate. Meanwhile in a non-stick frying pan I gently fried three chopped cloves of garlic in olive oil with a little black pepper. When the oil was nicely flavoured I added the tomato and left to simmer for 15 minutes. I added salt after about 5 minutes, and stirred occasionally.

    Then I cracked two eggs on the mush, put a plate over the pan to retain the heat, and simmered until done.

    Verdict: delicious.

    Next time: The eggs were done unevenly (they’d do better in an oven with a cast iron skillet, but I have neither.) So I’ll try beating them and making basically an omelet on tomato sauce. Also, the tomatoes were still too watery. Maybe I’ll simmer them longer, although I get impatient. Also, they might taste better if peeled, but I’m too lazy to do it.

    One nice thing is that you don’t have to stand at the stove the whole time. You can just leave it to simmer and do other stuff.

    1. I never peel the tomatoes, but I highly recommend using ripe tomatoes, even overripe! Like right before you’d throw them away-too soft for salad ripe! They definitely make the difference in a shakshuka!
      Ideally I wait till I have 3-4 of these tomatoes (slightly wrinkled,soft spots etc.) this way I don’t waste food by thowing them away AND make great shakshuka! 🙂

  16. Thanks for the recipe!

    Quick question.

    Tomatoes in a cast iron skillet? I thought tha was no no – doesn’t the acid damage the skillet’s (seasoning; i.e. finish)?

    1. Hi Marc, yes the acid can take the seasoning off a cast iron pan, so you need to be careful. My suggestion is to get a Creuset type cast iron pan, it has an enamel coating over the cast iron and does not need seasoning. They are pricey but can be found sometimes at places like Home Goods for less. I highly recommend them! Also I think everyone should ditch their teflon/nonstick pans, those coatings are nasty.

      I hope this is a help.

  17. Made this last night – so simple, so delicious. Chucked a thinly sliced aubergine (egg plant) in there too. This meal is going to be a new regular in our house!

  18. Whoa just had this for a breakfast/lunch at 2 pm… amazing. Did use some jarred tomatoes as the ones at the shop the other day looked a bit questionable, but will try it with fresh ASAP! If it tastes as good I won’t believe that I could make something so flavorful myself.

  19. I’ve been poaching eggs in Pace’s Picante Sauce for several years.

  20. Shakshuka is popular for breakfast throughout the Middle East, especially in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. However, it’s normally eaten in a hot dog bun for a quick “on-the-go” breakfast or with Arabic flat-bread. There is another version in some Arab countries that goes by the wonderful name of “juz-muz”!

  21. Excellent dish recipe
    I live in Greece, we make Shakshuka Greek.
    Your recipe is similar recipe but with cheese and more ..

  22. Great with red peppers, or add in spinach and feta cheese, mushrooms optional

  23. Hey Jeri I think u should try yoga and meditation. Your problem is not medical its spritual. There are many asnas which will heal you naturally. Don’t impurify ur blood using drugs to help u sleep. It ain’t worth it.

  24. I will probably do a Tex-Mex version of this. All jalapenos, substitute Cilantro for Parsley and use Queso Fresca instead of Feta.

  25. I have made this twice, the lazy way, with Ro-tel canned tomatoes and it is wonderful.

  26. Don not cook them until just set, cook until firm and they have the texture of GNOCCHI!

  27. I’m thinking of adding some kielbasa. Does that sound good to anyone else?

  28. Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, there are a lot of comments and I don’t feel like reading all of them.

    In regards to canned tomatoes, if you don’t know this canned tomatoes are just as, if not better than fresh tomatoes. Most tomatoes in grocery stores are artificially ripened while the tomatoes in cans were picked and canned fresh. So unless you can get tomatoes from a farmers market, or until the day comes when you retire and dedicate your life to growing your own tomatoes, you’re best bet is always canned tomato.

  29. Made this with Hot Ro-Tel and fresh tomatoes, topped it with Slap Ya Mama and freshly ground black pepper (along with the parsley and feta of course). Served with bacon and fresh avocado. Incredibly delicious and satisfying, will try adding bacon or sausage directly into the mix in the future.

  30. This looks so good! I’m going to try this for breakfast but since I don’t have a pan that goes from cook top to oven, going to just makes the eggs over easy and place on top of sauteed veggies. Should be quicker as well.