Aside from serving this flavorful, rich, and herbaceous chermoula relish with fish, meat, and veggies, you can mix it with mayonnaise for dressing, yogurt for a dip, or avocado toast with a few sprinkles. It’s so versatile!

Chermoula, also known as Charmoula, is a marinade and relish popular in North African cuisine.

My version is reddish brown in color with lots of green. I use a combination of preserved lemon, parsley, cilantro, and smoked paprika. As someone who has the “soapy” gene for cilantro, I am continually amazed at how enjoyable it is in this sauce. Even if you’re a cilantro hater like me, you’ll love chermoula.

It comes together in just a few pulses in a blender or food processor and keeps well in the fridge. I’ve used it in everything from a fish marinade to a baked brie topping, love how it enhances otherwise simple dishes.

What is Chermoula?

The name chermoula comes from the Arabic word chermel, which is a verb describing rubbing or marinating a food with a spice mixture.

Originally from Morocco, chermoula is used throughout North Africa. Depending on the spices used, it can be brown, green, red, or yellow. It varies from chef to chef and from family to family.

The ingredient mix includes fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley, dried spices, garlic, an acid like lemon juice or preserved lemon, or vinegar and oil.

For condiments, you can use ras el hanout, a spice mix commonly used in Moroccan cuisine, or individual spices like cinnamon, ground chilies, cumin, and paprika. Onion is also sometimes used.

Swaps, Substitutions and Variations

If there’s one sauce where playing around with spice combinations is acceptable, this is it! Chermoula tastes drastically different depending on which and how much of each spice or herb you use.

The look will also be different, with a pepper-heavy sauce appearing red, a turmeric-laden sauce appearing yellow, and a spicy chermoula appearing brown. Load up on the fresh herbs and the sauce will be greener.

If you use the chermoula to marinate food that you cook at a high temperature, you can choose a neutral oil with a higher smoke point than olive oil. If you want to add some spiciness, add harissa, a North African pepper paste.

For an easy way to play with or customize this recipe, you can make the base recipe and enjoy it as is, or add one or more of the additional ingredients listed below:

  • 1 teaspoon harissa paste (this makes a flavorful marinade)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup onion, roughly chopped

Preserved lemons versus fresh

Preserved lemons give Chermoula a unique flavor profile – mildly tart with an intensely deep lemon flavor. The taste is similar to squeezing a lemon peel, strong in citrus flavor without being as acidic as its fresh counterpart.

They’re worth trying and make a wonderful addition to stews, baked cheese on the crust, salad dressings or salsa. Preserved lemons are durable, inexpensive, and keep well in the refrigerator after opening. They are available in specialty stores, health food stores, online and at various ethnic markets. For this recipe, you use all of the preserved lemon, yes, zest and all.

If you can’t find canned lemons locally, you can use fresh lemon juice and zest instead.

How to make chermoula

Traditionally, chermoula is made by pounding the ingredients with a mortar and pestle, but today many chefs use blenders or food processors to quickly complete the process. Use every kitchen utensil at your disposal and the sauce will be delicious.

Used for Chermoula

While chermoula is traditionally used as a marinade or relish for fish and seafood, there are no limits to its functionality in the kitchen. Its fresh taste and strong herbal flavor go well with rich dishes like cheese and steak.

  • Serve with meat
  • Spoon it over roasted vegetables
  • Mix with mayonnaise for dressing
  • Mix it with yogurt for a dip
  • Top avocado toast with some of this
  • Add to sandwiches, especially grilled ones, as a spread
  • Stir 1 scoop into cooked cereal, soup or stew

How to store this sauce

Chermoula keeps well in the fridge thanks to the preservative properties of oil and citrus fruits. It will keep for at least a week in a tightly sealed container. To freeze chermoula, portion into small containers or use an ice cube tray. It keeps well in the fridge for several months.

More vibrant sauce recipes

  • Mint chimichurri
  • Pesto with ramp and parsley
  • Cilantro pesto
  • Tomatillo Salsa Verde


preparation time
10 mins

total time
10 mins

8 servings

1 1/2 cups

This sauce results in a fluffy, reddish sauce. If you want the greens to be more pronounced, bag the herbs when you measure out 2 cups at a time. This will make the sauce a bit more herbaceous and more like paste. It’s definitely delicious and you can’t go wrong.


  • 2 cups Parsely leaves unwrapped

  • 2 cups coriander leavesunpackaged

  • 6 Middle cloves garlicpeeled and chopped

  • 1 preserved lemonSeeds removed and halved (or 1/4 cup lemon juice plus 1 teaspoon lemon zest)

  • 1/4 Cup olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon Salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or Aleppo Chili Flakes


  1. Place ingredients in blender or food processor:

    Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor.

  2. To puree or process the sauce:

    Blend or process briefly until all ingredients are combined but small bits of herb are still visible.

    If using a high powder blender, blend on low speed for 15 seconds or 30 seconds in a standard blender.

    If using a food processor, process the ingredients for 10 to 15 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides, then pulse for another five seconds.

nutritional information (per serving)
73 calories
7g Fat
3g carbohydrates
1g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!