Moroccan tagine pots are for Moroccans what woks are for Asians. You can’t enter a Moroccan house and not find at least one Moroccan tagine pot. While growing up in Morocco, we had in our house many clay tagine pots of different types and for different uses.
A couple of decades ago, cooking in traditional tagine pots was a big part of Moroccans everyday life. I remember going to my grandparents’ house and sit in the kitchen with my grandmother and aunts, and watch them cook the traditional Moroccan tagine.
Back then, everything was authentic and made from scratch. Moroccan women (who were mostly in charge of the kitchen) would 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 pot would cook for hours on a traditional Moroccan brazier filling gradually the kitchen with a delicious spicy smell. The process could take hours (from going to the local market to get fresh vegetables and meat, to finally serving the tagine), but it was so worth it! If you tried a traditional Moroccan tagine dish, you know what I mean.
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.
Nowadays in Morocco, tagine clay pots are a must on special gatherings, religious celebrations and during chilling days, like Saturdays and Sundays. The deliciousness this clay pot contributes to creating is just incredible. And as love is transmitted in Morocco through food, cooking tagine dishes in tagine clay pots is one great way to prove love and care.
If you go to Morocco, most restaurants will use the tagine pot in their cooking process. It’s a big part of the Moroccan tradition and identity and there is a strong will to transmit that to Morocco visitors.
Finding the Best Tagine Pot
Not all Moroccan tagine pots are equal. If you are not familiar with Moroccan tagines, you might end up purchasing the wrong pot for your family. To make things easier for you, just remember that there are basically 3 types of Moroccan tagine pots.
Tip: For anyone visiting Morocco and planning on acquiring beautiful souvenirs and handicrafts, check my Morocco Shopping Guide where I go through everything you need to know about Moroccan markets and the products and souvenirs that are really worth your money.
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 living room decor.
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 food stay warm and the tagine style embellishes the table dressing. Just make sure the 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 decoration, 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 a very reasonable price.
3. Glazed Tagine Pots for Cooking
This is the best compromise if you want a tagine pot to use for cooking, but with some colors and paintings on it. Glazed tagine pots are also the most common type of tagine pots in Morocco. The glazing helps food not to stick to the bottom of the tagine and makes cleaning easier. With these tagines, the most important thing is to make sure the glazed tagine pot is lead-free like here.
You can also check Little Moroccan Things, a platform we are creating at Moroccan Zest, that focuses on qualitative and affordable Moroccan handicrafts. There will be a few good quality imported tagines, ranging from $30 to $80. To not miss the launch, make sure you join Little Moroccan Things.
Shopping Tagine Pots in Morocco
If you have the chance to travel to Morocco, you will find tagine pots in every medina and souk in the country. The prices will be a little bit lower than online, but sometimes, it can be more expensive. Yes, you read right! Moroccan markets are a little bit tricky and learning about them is crucial for anyone planning on shopping handicrafts and souvenirs in Morocco.
How to Season and Care for Your Tagine Pot
Clay needs special care to be durable. So, once you have your cooking tagine pot, it is important to season it and treat it before the first use. Don’t worry, it is super easy and it takes a few steps. Here is how to season your tagine pot:
- Soak your tagine pot overnight in water (lid and base)
- Drain the water and let your tagine dry for a few hours
- Brush the entire tagine pot with olive oil
- Place your tagine pot in a cold oven and turn the heat up to 140°C (280°F). Leave for a couple of hours
- Turn the heat off and leave your tagine cool completely
- Take your tagine out the oven and brush the interior one last time with olive oil
- You’re done! You can start using your tagine pot
When using your cooking tagine pot, always remember to have it on low or medium heat. This way you take care of it more actively. Besides, slow-cooked meals always taste better, and tagines are no exception!
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 sauce 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.
Your Morocco Ultimate Shopping Guide
Find out the products you should focus on and those to absolutely avoid, from locals perspective!
thank you for the guide
I had no idea shopping in Morocco was that hard! I am lucky I found your guide two days before leaving Morocco. I was able to buy more beautiful things and even get deals. thank you so much!
Just ordered one of the tagines you recommended, can’t wait to use it!
I did know nothing about tagine pots, now I feel like an expert lol. thanks for the detailed tips!
Response from Moroccan Zest
well, happy you liked my post, Camilla 😉 -xx
just made my first tagine
I did a mix one your pees recipes and linsfood recipe. It was sooo delicious, can’t recommend enough!
got mine in Morocco
Just came back from Morocco with a beautiful tagine. I can’t wait to season it, thank you for explaining everything in details