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Best Easy Shakshuka Eggs Recipe in Spicy Tomato Sauce

Ever made a shakshuka eggs recipe? This traditional shakshuka recipe is basically a thick, well flavored tomato sauce in which the eggs are poached. Make runny eggs or more hard cooked, but just make sure to get out a large skillet or cast iron pan and make this easy recipe!

shakshuka eggs in skillet with blue napkin

My love affair with Shakshuka began on Thanksgiving. 

Amidst the chaos of cooking for the big day, my son decided to cook his favorite dish of eggs for everyone. 

Not that there were too many of us around, but I am always a bit stressed until the big meal is ready. 

And as many of you might know, Thanksgiving does involve a bit of cooking. 

Breakfast with Alex usually means starting about 11 AM. 

It means removing everything on the counter to make room for everything HE wants to put on the counter and to put it gently…Alex is a messy cook, though he is a great entertainer. 

The music is always going and he is so busy talking when he is cooking, that nothing is put away, thrown away or wiped, until long after the meal is eaten; which works well, except on Thanksgiving.

 Not that Alex isn’t a great cleaner upper. He is a very good cleaner upper, but well, Alex works on Alex speed and that usually isn’t fast enough for me.  

Prep it. Cook it. Eat it. Clean it. 

Doesn’t always work that way with Al around. But like I said, he does clean up very well and happily; unlike his sister who is always rushing to get somewhere and is a bit of a boss woman when she is ready to go. She knows it!

 Thinking back, I must say that taking the time out on Thanksgiving, even with the chaos of the day was very special. And comforting. And fun. 

Even Manservant came in from smoking the turkey. And damn, those eggs Alex made were good. Really good. So good that I now keep them in my repertoire. 

shakshuka eggs in skillet

So good, that the friend that was over keeps asking for the recipe. 

 As if he had one. I’m not even sure of where he came up with this because I never made them for him. 

He called them Eggs in Purgatory.

Purgatory wouldn’t be a bad place to be, if you could eat these eggs.

What is the difference between Eggs in Pugatory and Shakshuka?

Eggs in Purgatory are eaten in Italy. They are basically the same as shakshuka except for the seasonings.

Think oregano instead of cumin. Red pepper flakes instead of harissa.

Parmigiano istead of feta.

Shakshuka eggs come from Tunisia. Home of harissa and spicy things. 

They are believed to have made their way north to Italy where they became eggs from purgatory. 

What is a traditional shakshuka eggs recipe?

This traditional Israeli dish is pretty standard, but just like any common recipe, every cook has their own version.

Shakshuka is a vegetarian dish where the eggs are poached in a thick tomato mixture.

One can add anything from cheese to more veggies or even sausage to create their own versions of shakshuka.

These eggs probably started as a Jewish dish. 

Rumor has it that a dish of leftover stewed tomatoes made for Friday night Shabbos, was repurposed by adding eggs to create another meal.

shakshuka eggs in skillet on tablecloth

Feel free to vary the recipe. Add some different peppers. Add some chili, some smoked paprika, some cheese. Some cumin, some yogurt.

 Whatever you have around. Make them yours like Alex made them mine!

What does a traditional Shakshuka eggs recipe taste like?

This healthy egg dish is earthy and soothing and totally comforting. 

Shakshuka is essentially a thick tomato sauce in which eggs are poached.

Add a piece of toast or pita-spread it with tomatoes and dip it in the runny yolks and you won’t come up for air. 

You just eat. Quietly. Savoring every bite. 

Then with a deep satisfied breath you slowly lift your head and ask if there’s more toast. Or pita.

And perhaps-just perhaps- have a swig of beer, and then dive back in again. 

The mix of eggs and tomatoes and toast-well-who would have thought that this would create such a warm and sultry entree. 

Certainly this would impress any girl person who so happened to need breakfast in the morning.   

Hmmm. Now that’s something Alex may know about.

shakshuka eggs in skillet

 These eggs would suffice for brunch, lunch, dinner and even I suppose, breakfast. 

I’m not even a fan of sunny side up egg yolks, but Manservant sure is. 

He believes most everything tastes better with a fried egg on top. But I love these eggs. 

They are best prepared after a very late night out on the town and eaten while wearing only boxers.

Or so I imagine,

 And though I have no idea what was in Alex’s recipe, I can guarantee that mine taste great, too. 

But as far as I’m concerned, everything tastes better when Alex is cooking. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Shakshuka, a staple in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine, has gained popularity worldwide for its vibrant flavors and versatility. 

Origins of Shakshuka

The roots of shakshuka can be traced back to North Africa, where it is believed to have originated. 

The word “shakshuka” itself is derived from a Hebrew and Arabic word meaning “a mixture” or “all mixed up.” 

Yes, it means the same in both languages.

It was Hernan Cortes who brought tomatoes from Mexico to the Old World in 1519.

Over time, the dish made its way from Naples to the Middle East, becoming a beloved part of Israeli and Arab cuisines.

shakshuka with dog in background

The Basics: Main Ingredients and Traditional Components

A classic shakshuka eggs recipe typically calls for the following main ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Red peppers (red bell pepper or chili peppers)
  • Canned tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes and tomato paste)
  • Garlic cloves
  • Red pepper flakes or chili powder, or Harissa
  • Eggs (both whites and yolks)
  • Spices like cayenne pepper and black pepper, coriander, marjoram, oregano
  • Salt
  • Optional additions: Feta cheese, green bell peppers, hot sauce, cilantro, Italian parsley, smoked paprika, cumin

Getting Started: Easy Steps for a Traditional Shakshuka Recipe

  1. Preparation:
    • Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
    • Add diced red peppers, onions and garlic cloves, and cook until they soften.
  2. Creating the Base:
    • Stir in canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, breaking them apart with the back of a spoon.
    • Add tomato paste for richer flavor and depth.
  3. Infusing Flavor:
    • Season with red pepper flakes, harissa, marjoram, black pepper, and a little salt.
    • Allow the mixture to simmer on low heat, developing a spicy thick sauce.
  4. Eggs in the Spotlight:
    • Carefully crack fresh eggs into the tomato base. I also added a dollop of ricotta cheese or you could sprinkle with feta cheese, too.
    • For those who prefer a healthier option, use egg whites instead of whole eggs.
  5. Cooking to Perfection:
    • Cover the skillet and let the eggs poach in the spicy tomato sauce until the whites are set but the yolks remain runny.
    • However if you don’t like runny yolks cook them longer!
  6. Final Touch:
    • Sprinkle with fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley.
    • Serve with crusty bread, pita bread, or even garlic bread to soak up the flavorful sauce.

Variations of Shakshuka:

Shakshuka has evolved into various regional versions, each reflecting the unique tastes of its locale.

 In Tel Aviv, for instance, you might find a green shakshuka featuring green bell peppers and a spiced green sauce. 

North African variations may include hot peppers, artichoke hearts kale or even black olives, for an extra kick.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Value: A Perfect Breakfast Choice or a Great Dinner

Shakshuka isn’t just a tasty dish; it’s also a nutrient-packed option for any time of day. 

High in protein and rich in vitamins from the tomatoes and peppers, this dish is a wholesome choice, perfect for a hearty breakfast, a weekend brunch or a imple supper.

Its adaptability and simplicity make it a go-to meal.

what to serve with shakshuka

Cooking Tips and Tricks: Mastering the Perfect Shakshuka

  • Use a deep skillet or a cast-iron pan for even heat distribution.
  • Experiment with the heat level by adjusting the amount of chili peppers or hot sauce.
  • Store any leftover shakshuka in an airtight container; it often tastes even better the next day.
  • Don’t be afraid to alter the spices or veggies. Shakshuka is a great way to mix it up your way!
  • What to Serve with Shakshuka: Feta Cheese, Olives, Roasted Peppers, Bread or Pita, Olive Oil, Hot Sauce, Fruit, Za’atar, Potatoes

This easy shakshuka recipe is not just a dish; it’s a journey through the culinary traditions of the Middle East and North Africa. 

Whether you’re enjoying it as a breakfast recipe or for brunch, or dinner, this versatile simple shakshuka eggs recipe is a celebration of flavors that reminds me of our trip to Israel. where we ate it with a donkey as company!

donkey at farm

This simple dish with it runny yolks was served to us at an organic farm, where we had amazing views of the Golan Heights.

We easily could have spent all day there, just relaxing on the deck overlooking the olive trees.

olive trees golan heights

This is a place I would go back to in a heartbeat, and plan on it one day.

But in the meantime, I’ll have to suffice and eat my shakshuka on my deck overlooking the Rockies!

 So, the next time you crave a simple, yet extraordinary dish, give shakshuka eggs a try and savor the magic of this authentic Middle Eastern treat.

This is an updated post from 2014.

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Shakshuka Eggs in Purgatory

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star No reviews
  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Total Time: 30 Minutes
  • Yield: 2 - 4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern


Shakshuka eggs are eggs poached in a thick tomato sauce. Earthy and comforting, and perfect for breakfast, brunch or supper, these hearty eggs are a simple treat!


Units Scale

2 T olive oil

1 chopped onion

2 minced cloves of garlic

1/2 chopped red pepper

2 t harissa chili paste, sriracha or optional

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

1/2 c tomato sauce

1/2 t marjoram or more to taste

4 room temperature eggs

6 T ricotta or goats cheese or feta cheese sprinkled on top

Salt and Fresh Pepper


Heat olive oil in medium to large skillet over medium heat.

Add the onions, garlic and pepper. Cook for 5 -8 minutes to allow the veggies to soften. Add the chili paste and marjoram and tomatoes.

Let  mixture simmmer gently on medium-low heat for 5 – 10 minutes, so flavors meld and the mixture thickens.

Make 4 impressions in the tomato sauce and crack an egg and add a dollop of goat cheese, ricotta or feta in each. Cook about 8 to 10 minutes until the egg whites have set. At this point you could cover the skillet with a lid and the eggs will cook faster.

When eggs are set, remove from heat and let the skillet set for a few minutes so the eggs can settle. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with cilantro or parsley.


Please see tips above for additional or different seasonings and vegetables.



Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star


Monday 13th of February 2017

This shakshuka sounds amazing!!

Karen Harris

Wednesday 2nd of April 2014

I don't know how I missed this post Abbe. Love me some shakshuka. I was introduced to it by a dear friend in London. I kind of fiddled with her recipe until I came up with a Mexican version that my family loves. I'll have to try Alex's recipe. It sounds fab.

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)

Saturday 29th of March 2014

well Shoot! I just got back from the store buying for dinner and tomorrow's breakfast. Or else I would have gotten ingredients to make this. I'll have to pin it for next weekend. My son cooks just like Alex. It's an event, with every dish dirtied, and countertops full.

Nazneen Hamilton

Thursday 27th of March 2014

That looks wonderful! I haven't made shakshuka as such but we have an Indian version my mum used to make and I make that on occasion. There is something about tomato sauce and eggs, mmmm. I missed seeing you today! xx


Thursday 27th of March 2014

I have never heard of shakshuka...but had similar dish before...looks delicious Abbe...I want mine with the egg yolk running...Thanks for the recipe, hope you are enjoying your week :D