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. Cooking in traditional tagine pots was very common and 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 often were in charge of cooking) 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, and it was so worth it! If you’ve already tasted 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 vacation days, like Saturdays and Sundays. The deliciousness this clay pot contributes to creating is just incredible. Besides, as love is often expressed in Morocco through food, cooking in tagine clay pots is Moroccan people’s way to show they care about you.
That’s why in Morocco, most restaurants will use the tagine pot in their cooking process. It’s a big part of Moroccan tradition and heartiness and there is a strong will to transmit that to Morocco visitors.
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: 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 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.
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
Clay is very sensitive and needs special care to be durable. This can be done through two main things: Tagine seasoning before the very first use, and a few precautions to take during and after each use.
Seasoning is done only once before you start cooking in your tagine. The objective is to seal the tagine using heat and olive oil. It takes between 7 to 24 hours but you won’t be doing anything most of the time. Although it might seem intimidating, it’s really easy.
The second part of caring is to always use your tagine on low heat, using a diffuser and to be very gentle with it. That’s it. If you already have your unglazed tagine pot, check the exact steps for seasoning and 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 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.
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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!
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.
thanks so so so much
just made my first tagine dish and I couldn’t believe how delicious it was. the clay pot really makes a difference. thanks so much, I am so grateful I found your blog. will definitely try other recipes.
Response from Moroccan Zest
aww, thanks Jaclin!
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!
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