The $3 Trader Joe’s Product I Can’t Stop Sprinkling on Everything

It is so easy to fall in love with dukkah.

October  7, 2019
Photo by Bobbi Lin

In the last few months, I’ve formed a somewhat obsessive relationship with a condiment.

I discovered my first jar of dukkah two years ago, on the spice shelves of my local Trader Joe’s—and decided to take it home. The next morning, chancing upon it as I grabbed some salt from the pantry, I sprinkled it onto my assembled avocado toast. The result was revelatory.

Over the next few weeks, I used it to give homemade hummus a textural upgrade, and to dress up a roasted tomato soup. I even sprinkled it onto warm buttered toast for an on-the-run breakfast.

Soon enough, I was finding uses for it no matter the meal or time of day. It was so easy to fall in love with.

But, like everything I get too attached to at Trader Joe’s (RIP, Frozen Phyllo Cigars; so long, Beet and Garlic Dip), dukkah was ripped off its shelves.

And then, just as suddenly as it left, it returned this summer. Ever since, dukkah has turned into a Cheshire cat, appearing and evaporating on a whim. So I’ve learned to be prepared and stock up when I catch a glimpse.

Trader Joe’s isn’t the only place you can find this crunchy savory spice blend, of course. You will find versions of dukkah in most Middle Eastern grocery stores—if you’re lucky enough to live near one—stocked alongside, say, za’atar and sumac. There's also the option of flexing that mortar and pestle and making it yourself.

Dukkah, which in Arabic means “to crush”, is Egyptian in origin, and quite unique in its complex blend of spices, toasted nuts, and seeds. If I were forced to compare, it has the versatility of za’atar, but dare I say, more depth and complexity.

One of the first recipes for dukkah that was published outside of Egypt can be found in Claudia Roden’s 1968 classic, A Book of Middle Eastern Food, but recipes vary from cook to cook. Coarsely ground toasted nuts (usually hazelnuts or pistachios) are a mainstay, as are sesame, cumin, and coriander seeds. But beyond that, it’s kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure of seasonings: some throw in dried orange or coconut; Ottolenghi’s version from his book Jerusalem makes a case for sunflower seeds. I personally rather like both the texture of the Trader Joe’s version, along with the sharp bite that comes from fennel seeds and anise.

Photo by Amazon

Uses for dukkah also vary. In Egypt, a friend tells me, it’s often consumed plain, and by the handful. That’s where dukkah’s versatility lies: it can be a pantry spice and a condiment (as well as a street snack). On the table, it’s the perfect dip. As a pantry ingredient, the textural crunch of nuts and seeds makes it the most flavorful crust for fish or chicken. One of my favorite uses for it is as seasoning on salmon; it gives it a beautiful crust without the frying.

In fact, if there’s anything that this condiment doesn’t immediately enrich, I have yet to find it. So, here’s an incomplete list of the uses for dukkah that I love the most:

Dukkah playing nicely with a roasted tomato soup. Photo by Ella Quittner
  1. Encrust a wheel of soft goat cheese with dukkah for a surprise addition to your cheese board.
  2. Combine it with extra-virgin olive oil as a dipping mix for pita or khobz.
  3. I recently tried Chef Eden Grinshpan’s harissa-roasted carrots with dukkah and it was delicious. But you can add dukkah for a twist to any basic roasted veggie recipe.
  4. Sprinkle it generously on hot buttered toast, or avocado toast (I also add a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper to widen the spice spectrum).
  5. Use it to give any puree or dip heaps of character, or serve it alongside radishes and cucumbers as a pre-dinner snack.
  6. Top it over deviled eggs.
  7. Add it to a breakfast bowl of yoghurt and berries for a salt-sweet medley.
  8. Use it as crust for fish. I like to dress my salmon in a mixture of honey and mustard. I then press the filets into a plate of dukkah, drizzle the whole thing with olive oil, and pop it in the oven till I see a crunchy, crispy crust. This is my go-to for tricking guests into thinking the dish is far fancier than it really is, and that I spent far more time in the kitchen than I actually did.
  9. Add it as a crunchy topping to salads like this kale and quinoa pilaf or this harissa carrot salad.
  10. While writing this, I discovered that Zooba, a popular Egyptian chain known for its dukkah-crusted french fries, has just set up shop in Manhattan. Now that’s a terrific idea I could get behind.

What are your favorite ways to use dukkah? Tell us in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Karen T
    Karen T
  • judy
  • Eric Kim
    Eric Kim
  • Arati Menon
    Arati Menon
Arati Menon

Written by: Arati Menon

Arati grew up hanging off the petticoat-tails of three generations of Indian matriarchs who used food to speak their language of love—and she finds herself instinctually following suit. Life has taken her all across the world, but she carries with her a menagerie of inherited home and kitchen objects that serve as her anchor. Formerly at GQ and Architectural Digest, she's now based in Brooklyn.


Karen T. January 9, 2020
It seems to me , at least in Seattle, the Dukkah has been gone for months now.....
Arati M. January 9, 2020
That’s too bad! Do you have a Middle Eastern supermarket/specialty foods store near you, perhaps? Or you could try making it at home (Full disclosure: I haven’t yet, but have every intention of changing that...).
Karen T. January 9, 2020
I specifically liked their combo/ratios of ingredients. There are many others to choose from here-
judy October 9, 2019
Like the Dukkah, too. TJs has all kinds of great products that are amazing. I have been frustrated with TJs for years. I get attached to an item, fall in love with it, cannot get enough. It becomes a part of my food life. And then it is gone. It has been going on for years. My favorite was a Thai flavor won ton type soup. In the freezer section. Great base to add chicken and veggies too. Miss it very much. Another are their tamales. Delicious. Still around after years. I hope they are around for years to come...
Arati M. October 9, 2019
Yes, this is the story of my life - get attached to a TJ's item, and have it torn away from me. Although, I'll admit, this spurs me on to just making some dukkah myself. (PS: That won ton soup sounds amazing.)
Eric K. October 7, 2019
Can't wait to crust a piece of fish with this!