This homemade spice blend for Berbere spice blend is . This version is kid friendly without the kick of heat, but still has all the robust and complex flavors you want.
Berbere spice comes to us from Ethiopia and Eritrea and is one of those beautiful spice blends that is a marriage of heat, aromatics, and so many beautiful flavors. Normally this spice blend is quite hot. Like very, very spicy. But it has so much complex flavor that its so lovely, too. Its a fun combination of hot, zesty, complex, earthy, and aromatic. It is a great one to have in your spice cabinet!
I have been fiddling with my own version of this spice blend for a while, trying to keep its complex flavor profile while also toning down the heat A LOT. I want my kids to experience food from around the world, and African meals are so wonderfully full of flavor that I want them to experience it.
This spice blend is perfect for helping your kids learn complex flavors without them melting off every taste bud they have. And then once they enjoy this, it is easy to slowly ramp up the heat level little by little.
I love making my own spice blends because it’s so easy to tailor them to how you want them. Like when I make my Italian herb seasoning blend I go all in on the herbs, and when I make my own Chinese Five Spice blend, I can make sure that there is just a pop of heat.
Like most spice blends, every cook has their own version of the blend. And oftentimes there can be a lot of ingredients that are native to Ethiopia but are harder to find in the United States. I tried to create a blend that was not only kid friendly but also included easy to find ingredients for most people, and still ring true to the original versions. I tested this quite a lot, and I hope that you like what I have come up with as much as my family does.
Not sure how to introduce different spice blends to your kids? Make sure you read my guide on how to spice food for kids for all the tips and tricks.
How to make homemade Berbere your kids will eat
This recipe is very simple to make! Here is a brief overview of the recipe to give you an idea of how it works. For the full set of directions and measurements, please make sure you scroll down to the recipe card below!
- Collect all the spices you need.
- In a medium sized bowl, measure out all the ingredients and stir together well to incorporate.
- Use a funnel to carefully transfer your spice blend to a jar with an air tight lid.
- Label your spice mix.
Store your homemade spice blend in a glass jar with airtight lid in a cool, dry place for up to one year. It will be best within 6 months, but it is perfectly fine to use past that, the spice blend will just slowly lose its flavor and become bland as time goes on.
How to make this spice blend more intense
The great thing about making your own spice blend is that you can make it as subdued or intense as you like.
- You can make the flavor more intense by getting whole spices, toasting them, and then grinding them down before blending.
- If you are ready for more heat, you can swap out the cayenne pepper for red chili
How to use this to spice blend
Berbere is traditionally used to season different stews (called “wats”), but it is also great when used as a rub on chicken or lamb. Use it in Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew or try it in Ethiopian Chickpeas for a delicious side dish. It is amazing on anything tomato-based, too!
How to make this kid friendly
This recipe is already kid friendly since we toned down the heat a lot, but here are some pointers for helping your kids be more interested in trying it:
- Pull out all the individual ingredients and explore them with your child. What colors do you see? What do they smell like – are they subtle or intense?
- Have your child help you measure out each ingredient in the bottom of a wide bowl, placing each ingredient in its own little pile. Ask your child why do they think we are using small amounts of some and larger amounts of others? What colors do they see now?
- Have your child help you mix the spice together and place it in the storage container.
- Ask your child to help you create a spice label for the jar.
- When it is time to use the spice, have your child help you
Read more about how to explore the sense of taste with your kids.
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Kid Friendly Berbere Spice Mix
- 2 Tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon ground mustard
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- Gather all the ingredients you need.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, measure out all the ingredients.
- Using a rubber spatula or spoon, mix together all the ingredients until well incorporated.
- Use a funnel to carefully transfer the spice blend to a glass jar with an air tight lid.
- Label the spice jar.