Moroccan tagine pots are for Moroccans what woks are for Asian cuisine. You can’t enter a Moroccan house and not find at least one Moroccan tagine pot.
Growing up in Morocco, we had in our house many clay tagine pots of different types, sizes and for different uses. That’s because cooking in traditional tagine pots is part of Moroccans everyday life.
NOTE: If you are new to tagine pots, this guide will show you precisely what to look for when shopping for a Moroccan tagine pot. You will also find other important things to keep in mind to make the best use of your tagine pot as well as how you can protect it from cracking, which is very common but easily avoidable.
What is a tagine pot used for?
Tagine pots are used for cooking the tagines, Morocco’s most popular and loved dishes. Tagine dishes are a stew made of meat (poultry, fish, or red meat), vegetables, and/or caramelized fruits, which slow-cook in a mix of spices and aromatics.
Moroccan women, who are often in charge of cooking, ground the herbs and spices in a traditional copper mortar, mix them together and add them to the fresh meat and legumes in the tagine pot. The tagine pot cooks for hours on a traditional Moroccan brazier filling gradually the kitchen with a delicious spicy smell.
The process takes hours in Morocco, from going to the local market to get fresh vegetables and meat, cleaning and preparing every ingredient (as all ingredients are sold in their rawest state), to finally serving the tagine. But it is so worth it! If you’ve already tasted a traditional tagine dish in Morocco, you know what I mean.
Luckily, you won’t need long hours to make a tagine dish at home. You can shop most ingredients in your local supermarket cleaned and packaged, allowing you to only focus on cooking the tagine. In fact, if you go for a vegan tagine, your dish can cook in less than 40 minutes.
What is the benefit of cooking in a Tagine pot?
The benefit of cooking in a tagine pot is due to its shape and composition (clay), which help concentrate the flavors and infuse every ingredient with delicious aromatics. Because of the slow cooking, the vegetables and meat cooked in a tagine pot will be very flavorful, deeply infused with the herbs and spices. The sauce will have reduced enough and concentrated the flavor. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the delicious after taste of smoke and roasting, due to cooking in the clay tagine.
Finding the Best Tagine Pot
If you want to give Moroccan tagine pots a try (and I highly encourage you to), you need to find the best tagine pot for your needs, as not all Moroccan tagine pots are the same. To make things easier for you, just remember that there are basically 3 types of Moroccan tagine pots.
Tip: If you are visiting Morocco, check my Morocco Shopping Guide where I go through Morocco markets’ rules and dynamics. This guide is so helpful when shopping for handicrafts and souvenirs in Morocco.
1. Tagine Pots for Decoration & Serving Purposes
Tagine pots for decoration and serving are quick to spot. They are shiny with beautiful paintings and bright colors. These tagine pots are perfect for decoration as they bring an interesting exotic touch and pop of color to anyone’s kitchen and table.
Decoration tagine pots can also be used as a serving bowl for paella, chilis, pasta, and salads, for example. I have done that many times and my guests loved the attention. The tagine cover helps the food stay warm, while the tagine style embellishes the table dressing. Just make sure your tagine plate is slightly profound, which is the case with most Moroccan serving tagines.
2. Unglazed Tagine Pots
Unglazed tagine pots are the rawest kind of Moroccan tagine pots. They are made with clay only and have no paintings or colors. Unglazed Moroccan tagine pots are perfect when looking for a perfectly natural cooking utensil. While simmering, the ingredients will be in contact only with clay and will have that natural, delicious smoke flavor.
The raw quality of the unglazed tagine pots makes them also a great rustic decoration piece and a minimalist plate for serving. These tagine pots are a little bit rare online. However, if you look thoroughly, you can still find unglazed tagine pots at reasonable prices.
3. Glazed Tagine Pots for Cooking
Glazed tagine pots are the most common type of tagine pots. The glazing helps food not to stick to the bottom of the tagine and makes cleaning easier. They are the best compromise if you want a tagine pot to use for cooking, but with some colors and paintings on it. The most important thing when shopping for a Glazed tagine pot is to make sure you choose a lead-free tagine pot.
If you are looking for a qualitative and affordable tagine, I also recommend checking our platform Little Moroccan Things, where we feature from time to time high-quality imported tagines ranging from $30 to $80. We mostly work with Moroccan artisans who handcraft each product, so our stock is often limited. But if you join Little Moroccan Things newsletter, you’ll get the updates before anyone else.
Shopping Tagine Pots in Morocco
If you are visiting Morocco, you will find tagine pots in every medina and souk in the country. Just make sure you know Moroccan markets shopping rules, or you will end up paying a premium price. Tagine prices are really cheap in Morocco when you know where to look for them.
How to Season and Use Your Tagine Pot
To take care of your tagine in the long run, it’s important to season it before the first use and follow a few precautions each time you use it. Nothing too complicated believe me! But it’s important to have these things in mind.
To learn more about taking care of your tagine including seasoning it before the first use, check this detailed guide on tagine care.
What To Cook in Your Tagine Pot
Cooking in Moroccan tagine pots is really easy and practical, as you don’t need to sauté, stir, or prepare the ingredients separately. You only have to place the ingredients in the tagine pot, add the spices, and let everything cook covered for a few hours. If you are looking for a great authentic tagine recipe, Azlin’s Moroccan chicken tagine recipe is one of the best out there.
For other easy and delicious Moroccan recipes, check our Moroccan Recipe Cards collection. If you want to be more efficient in the kitchen, you need them NOW, believe me!
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very clear, thank you
thank you I was completely lost. I found a beautiful tagine on amazon thanks to your recommendations. I’ve been cooking a lot lately and my two sons asked for a chicken tagine. wish me luck
just ordered my tagine
can’t wait to receive it. Just one question, should I season my tagine beofre each use?
Response from Moroccanzest
Hi Pauline, luckily no. Seasoning is done ONE time and that is before the first use. After that, you can cook in your tagine directly, no prep needed. Just make sure you always cook on low heat and with a diffuser. -xx
my first tagine and romantic Moroccan date
Thanks to you, I got a beautiful Moroccan tagine pot, cooked your Moroccan chicken tagine and your aphrodisiac orange dessert, and made my husband a romantic Moroccan dinner at home. It was fantastic. I can’t thank you enough
Response from Moroccanzest
aww, thank you! and may I add, you did a good job choosing the right recipes for the occasion 😉
my new tagine
I didn’t know what to do with my new tagine and now I have everything figured out. your site is the only site I always get back to for Moroccan inspiration. thanks for the good tips.
I ordered one of your recommended tagines and seasoned it the way you explained. I soaked it in my sink overnight and in the morning cooked it in the oven. Everything went perfectly. It’s really easy to make and doesn’t take too much time, you don’t have to watch the tagine, just set a timer for the oven. Thanks so much, can’t wait to use it!