Make Ahead

Lamb Merguez

March 13, 2010
3 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Serves 1 lb. of bulk merguez sausage, or a coil to feed four
Author Notes

I took a charcuterie class a few months back, and have been obsessed with making sausages ever since. I've pored over Ruhlman's Charcuterie, Fergus Henderson's Nose to Tail Eating, and a zillion blogs to feed my obsession. Of all the sausages I've made, the merguez is the one I reach for first. It's quick to cook and pairs with so many side dishes. The secret to great merguez is in the harissa. There are many recipes on the web, and many varieties on the shelf. I'm partial to the harissa at Whole Foods - full of hot chilis and not too tomato-y, but that's my taste. Only use the very freshest ground lamb. Grind your own if you can. I use a KA meat grinding attachment and sausage stuffer. Some report good results with the food processor. - MrsWheelbarrow —MrsWheelbarrow

Test Kitchen Notes

Leave it to MrsWheelbarrow, one of the masterminds behind Charcutepalooza, to remind us how simple making your own sausage can be -- you don't even need to fuss with casings. And this one is so good: perfectly spiced and perfumed with MrsW's custom spice blend (we halved it and had plenty) and ready to join poached eggs and toast or get stuffed in a pita with tzatziki and fresh veggies. Since harissa brands can vary, we recommend starting with the minimum amount of cayenne and salt and searing off a patty to taste test (lucky you!). - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Spice Mixture - will make plenty
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed, dry toasted
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed, dry toasted
  • 1 tablespoon anise seed, or fennel seed, in a pinch, dry toasted
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon, I like Ceylon
  • 1/2-1 teaspoons cayenne, depending on your harissa
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • Sausage
  • 1 pound fresh ground lamb shoulder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced fine
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon spice mix
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoons Salt, to taste
  • iced water, as needed
  1. Combine the spice mix ingredients and grind fine using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. The extra can be stored in a glass jar.
  2. Using a mixer, combine all the sausage ingredients. Add the ice water, a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is well combined. If you have ground the meat yourself, you probably won't need much ice water.
  3. Form a little patty and cook it off, taste and adjust the seasoning as you see fit.
  4. Cover and chill this mixture overnight if you can. This will help the flavors develop. If overnight is impossible, chill at least an hour.
  5. Dip your hands in ice water as you form the sausage patties. Chill the patties again if you are not going to cook them right away. Grill the merguez coils for 10-12 minutes, total, turning once.
  6. I make large coils to serve four. They make a spectacular dinner party offering with lentils du puy, crusty bread, and a green salad with figs and marcona almonds.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • ibbeachnana
  • BoulderGalinTokyo
  • Melissaiscooking
  • Franca
  • Burnt Offerings
    Burnt Offerings
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99 Reviews

Megha January 3, 2014
This recipe is awesome! It is so simple and always a hit with everyone at the table. It is part of my regular rotation now, my favorite way to eat it is on top of a huge greek salad :D
Ceege September 15, 2013
What is "spice mix". Is it the same as "all spice"?
MrsWheelbarrow September 15, 2013
the spice mixture is at the top of the recipe
AnnaBell August 15, 2013
I screwed these up and they were still delicious. I spaced out and put in all the spice mixture instead of just one tablespoon. I also used some homemade, extra spicy harissa, so they were REALLY zippy. I served them with greek yogurt to tame the heat, and they were good enough that I went back for seconds. These will definitely go in the regular rotation.
ibbeachnana July 13, 2013
Just after I ground the lamb I found that I didn't have enough coriander or cumin seeds, but I have new tins of ground cumin and coriander, can anyone recommend an amount of each ground spice for the spice blend?
ibbeachnana July 12, 2013
Making this again tomorrow!
Mr F. July 3, 2013
this reads real delicious.. perhaps into sheeps casings also?
BoulderGalinTokyo February 6, 2013
Looking forward to trying these. Does the fat content in the ground lamb matter in the outcome?
MrsWheelbarrow February 6, 2013
I use lamb shoulder, which is about twenty percent fat.
Melissaiscooking November 27, 2012
This was just fantastic! Just the right amount of spice. I was able to get all the spices in the bulk section at Whole Foods for quite a bargain. My husband, my son, and I all loved it. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.
MrsWheelbarrow November 27, 2012
Thrilled you liked it, Melissa! Thank you for letting me know.
Franca October 30, 2012
We had this on Saturday and with a minor modification to the spice mix, this was delicious. I have an intense dislike to cumin therefore, I replaced it with ral el hanout & paprika.
Franca October 30, 2012
We had this on Saturday day night. With minor modifications this was the best thing on the table. I have an intense dislike for cumin therefore replaced it with ras el hanout & paprika. Magnificent!
MrsWheelbarrow October 30, 2012
I adore ras al hanout - what a great substitution - will have to give it a try
LizCo77 October 7, 2012
I just had this for breakfast and it truly is unbelievably good. Friday night I made the Harissa from TasteFood (awesome), let that sit overnight per the directions. Then Saturday made the Merguez from MrsWheelbarrow, let that sit overnight again, per the directions. This morning (Sunday), I put it all together here, and it totally blew our minds! Thank you so very much for this contribution!
MrsWheelbarrow October 7, 2012
You're so welcome. I'm so glad you all liked it. Just this morning, at the farmer's market, I saw someone had lamb shoulder for sale - and was reminded that it's time for Merguez.
greatm31 May 16, 2012
I made this a few months ago, and it was AMAZING. I had leftover spice mix, and I wanted to use it for something new, so I made a little lamb+tomato+white bean stew and seasoned it heavily with the mix. DOUBLE AMAZING. The spices go so well with lamb and tomato flavors, it's so aromatic and complex. Thanks for the awesome recipe!
MrsWheelbarrow May 17, 2012
What a great idea! So glad you enjoyed the recipe.
Burnt O. July 5, 2011
This is coming up as entered in "Your Best Almond Macaroon" contest. Really???
bella S. July 5, 2011
Yeah, I saw that, too. Meant to say something, but got sidetracked.
bella S. July 5, 2011
This was really wonderful! I am so looking forward to having the Merguez again tonight. You really do need to let it sit for a day to let the flavors infuse. We made a sample patty the day that we ground the lamb and mixed everything together. I thought that I would need to up the seasoning when we were going to cook the sausage for dinner. The next day we cooked another sample, and we found that we did not need to add anything else. On recommendations here, I did go to Whole Foods to buy the harissa. I did not know have anything to compare it to, because I never had harissa to try on its own. They had 2 different brands at the Whole Foods that I went to. I bought Shiloh's Harissa. Is that the brand you folks liked?
MrsWheelbarrow July 5, 2011
In DC, WF has a harissa from CAVA, a local company. I prefer a fresh harissa, as opposed to what is available in a can on in a tube.
Nadia H. July 5, 2011
Glad you like the idea of sundried tomatoes. Please let me know how it comes out. - I'm curious - have you used the spice mix for other dishes?
MrsWheelbarrow July 5, 2011
No, I haven't. But that's another great idea! :)
Nadia H. July 3, 2011
For years and years, I have been craving merguez like the ones my Tunisian grandmother made. But I never made them. The merguez recipe in Ommok Sannafa (the Tunisian equivalent of The Joy of Cooking) uses only garlic, fennel seeds, harissa and paprika and just didn’t convince me. But this recipe is a different story! Realizing that I had run out of tomato paste, I improvised with 2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes packed in oil from my own garden, which I chopped finely and ground with the other ingredients in the food processor. Unlike me, who grew up with spicy foods, my eaters here don’t like it too spicy, so I went easy on the cayenne, just a pinch. Also, I only had the very basic harissa, the type sold in small tin cans, of which I used 2 teaspoons. It did not matter, the test patty was fabulous. Boy, do I look forward to dinner tonight. Thank you MrsWheelbarrow!
ChefJune July 3, 2011
I've saved this recipe. How awesome to know this is the "real deal" before purchasing all the ingredients and going to the trouble of making it. We love Merguez, and I'll be trying this soon.
MrsWheelbarrow July 4, 2011
I love your swap of sundried tomatoes and just might do the same thing here!
clbeth June 23, 2011
Took me a couple days to get all the ingredients but it was sooo worth it. This recipe is off the hook! I had a hard time stopping myself from eating it all after I made the first sample patty, okay I did make a second one. But I saved the rest to make the Moroccan Merguez Ragout with Poached Eggs and had one of the best breakfasts of my life. Thank you MrsWheelbarrow for introducing me to merguez!
MrsWheelbarrow June 23, 2011
You're so welcome! Those eggs are so amazing!! Agreed! Glad you are a convert to merguez!
Kitchen B. June 19, 2011
Just made this - swapped muhammara (a red pepper dip - see for the harissa, added 3 tablespoons of finely chopped coriander leaves, and a touch more aleppo pepper than the recipe called for and omitted the tomato paste. The 'test patty' was STUNNING - tender and tasty.

Thank you for helping me out of the 'sausages-are-difficult-to-make' boat. Though I feel as though I need to go further and learn to case!
MrsWheelbarrow June 19, 2011
So glad you got over your fears and gave the Merguez a whirl. What did you serve the sausages with? Next up casing, right? Check out my May 15 Charcutepalooza post for tips and tricks. I'm delighted you enjoyed the recipe mostly because I so enjoy all of yours!
Kitchen B. June 23, 2011
With soft white bread.....especially for my husband/father's day brekkie. I plan on serving a batch of the other parties this weekend with a yogurt coriander chutney and some flatbread,,
annemax June 23, 2011
Will you share your recipe for the yogurt coriander chutney? Sounds delicious!
Kitchen B. June 23, 2011
Thanks Annemax, the coriander chutney is already on food52, see; BTW the herb paste is great rubbed into mangoes, sweetcorn etc (sans yogurt). See
annemax June 23, 2011
Thanks it looks great! Am going to try it for grilled lamb.
creamtea May 22, 2011
I made this for a luncheon yesterday and it was a big hit. Seasoned with Aleppo pepper instead of cayennne. Cooked it up as small patties to serve layered over a baby lettuce salad with grainy mustard vinaigrette and a room-temp lentil salad. One guest couldn't stop eating them! Fortunately there are 2 left over for a midnight nibble--don't tell.
MrsWheelbarrow May 22, 2011
So glad you liked them!
Burnt O. May 14, 2011
So glad to get a chance to try these at the potluck today - they are better than advertised!! Can't wait to make them for the meeting I'm catering. Thanks for bringing them, and it was delightful to meet you and the rest of the Food52 DC gang. What a great group of people!