Schug / Zhoug Sauce

Schug is a Middle Eastern spicy cilantro condiment. Make this recipe for zhoug sauce to use on grilled meats or roasted vegetables.

close up of a spoonful of fresh zhoug

For lovers of spicy food, green chiles are an essential pantry staple. They add immense flavor to Middle Eastern, North African, Asian, and Mediterranean condiments.

The regional differences in flavor are really noticeable, and it’s a delicious adventure to taste them side by side.

Try it for yourself! Make a batch of this spicy, zesty cilantro chile paste. Then serve it on a tray with red or green shatta sauce, some Turkish pepper paste, and Moroccan harissa. Compare the flavors, then decide for yourself which one is the spiciest.

Schug

Cuisine: Middle Eastern

This spicy condiment is made with fresh cilantro and parsley, and the spicy heat comes from serrano chiles.

The consistency is thick enough to use as a dip, but you can also thin it out to use as a sauce.
The Middle Eastern hot sauce goes by several other names/spellings as well (see below). Most people know it by the name, zhoug sauce.

detailed map of middle east

Other names/spellings: 
Zhoug, zhug, schug

Pronunciation:
Sh·​oeg (sounds like the”oo” in book)

Course:
Condiment

Preparation:
Food processor or blender

Difficulty: Easy 🥄

Preparation time: 10 minutes

To experience another flavorful, regional condiment, you should make Lebanese garlic sauce, known as toum. The creamy garlic-based spread is fantastic on soft warm slices of khubz!

zhoug sauce in glass jar

Video: making zhoug sauce

Making the hot sauce is beyond quick and easy. Just a few pulses in a food processor and you’ll have a batch ready to use immediately.

To see the recipe in action, watch the video located in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

bowl of schug sauce with spoon with tomatoe sin background

Notes and tips

  1. Add the garlic and spicy chiles first.

You’ll want to crush them as finely as possible before adding the other ingredients. Otherwise, you could end up with large pieces of them in the schug.

On the note of spiciness, if you have difficulty tolerating spicy foods, feel free to use less serrano chiles. Alternatively, you can use a milder chile, such as Anaheim, poblano, or jalapeno.

On the other hand, if you like things really hot, feel free to add more to your liking!

  1. Pour the olive oil in slowly.

Rather than adding the oil at one time, allow it to stream in through the food chute of your food processor. This helps the oil to incorporate evenly into the mixture.

process shots on the making of schug
  1. Avoid over mixing.

Although schug looks similar to pesto and chimichurri, the spicy cilantro sauce is meant to have a chunkier consistency. This way, the fresh herbs won’t become gummy or pasty.

bowl of zhoug spread over platter of cut tomatoes

Storing and serving schug

  • Keep the sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator, and use it up within one week. After that, the fresh herbs will become very mushy, resulting in an unpleasant texture.
  • If you won’t be serving it right away, add a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the zhoug. This helps prevent it from drying out.
platter of cut roma tomatoes with bowl of cilantro dip
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This post, originally published on Silk Road Recipes Jan. 11, 2021, was last updated on Nov. 19, 2021.

close up of a spoonful of fresh zhoug

Zhoug Sauce (Schug)

Schug is a tasty Middle Eastern spicy cilantro condiment. Make this recipe for zhoug sauce to use on grilled meats, vegetables or on bread.
Servings: 10
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 serrano chiles coarsely chopped (See Note 1)
  • 1 1/2 oz cilantro stems removed (about 1 bunch)
  • 1/2 oz flat leaf parsley stems removed (about 1/3 bunch)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions 

  • Place garlic and chiles in bowl of a food processor and pulse or process until finely chopped.
  • Add remaining ingredients and pulse several times to create a coarse, thick paste. I like it slightly chunky in texture, but feel free to puree until a smoother paste develops if preferred.
  • Store in an airtight jar in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
  • Add more or less chiles for preferred spiciness. Serve over grilled meats, spooned over fresh cut tomatoes, hummus or whatever you like for an added kick of flavor.

Video

Notes

  1. Add more or less chiles for preferred heat. This is meant to be spicy!
  2. I add a thin layer of olive oil on top to keep fresh if not using right away.
  3. Makes about ⅔ cup total.
  4. Recipe adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Nutrition

Calories: 29kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 62mg | Potassium: 34mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 418IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: condiments
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image of schug, a spicy cilantro sauce

Kevin

I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for the recipe. Looks greatt. I have made this in the past using a similar recipe (basically same ingredients but different proportions). I like more garlic and peppers and use jalapenos instead of serranos.

    When I first made Zhoug, I didn’t expect to like it so much but it’s addictive! I freeze leftovers in an ice tray and then bag the cubes. I like to thaw out a few cubes to eat as a sort of dip/spread with tortilla chips.