Finding the Best Moroccan Tagine Pot: What to Consider?
Tagine pots (also called tajines or tangines) are essential cookware in Moroccan cuisine. Every Moroccan kitchen has a collection of beautifully displayed Moroccan tagines. Growing up in Morocco, we had in our kitchen at least five Moroccan tagine pots of different sizes, glazed and unglazed, and for different uses and occasions.
Now and even if I live thousands of miles away from Morocco, I probably cook in my tagine pots 2 or 3 times a week. Believe me, once you start cooking in a tagine pot, you will be amazed at the deliciousness you will create, whether you are a beginner or an expert cook.
If you are looking to find the best tagine pot for your kitchen, this guide will show you precisely what to look for and where to look, whether it’s online or in Morocco if you are visiting the country.
Is Buying a Tagine Pot Worth it?
The benefit of buying and cooking in a tagine pot comes from the shape – the cone top – and composition – natural clay – of the tagine pot. Both help condensate the aromatics and slow-cook the ingredients, infusing them with delicious flavors. Because of the slow cooking, the vegetables and meat cooked in a tagine pot will be very fragrant, and deeply infused with herbs and spices flavors. Cooking in natural clay also adds more richness to the flavors and allows the sauce to caramelize, strengthening the flavors even more.
How Much Does a Tagine Cost?
A traditional tagine pot handmade in Morocco and 100% natural will cost from $60 to $120 in the US, depending on the size, type, and decorations.
If you are in Morocco then you will probably find a tagine pot for less than $15 in the medina market. It’s a big price difference compared to pricing in the US and other countries, but it’s totally understandable. A handmade clay tagine pot is really heavy and naturally costs more to ship from Morocco than to make. Tagine pots are also very prone to breaking in transit as they are made out of clay, and sellers have to take this into account when pricing their tagine pots as with any other fragile item.
Still, tagine pots are worth every penny if not more. They will really help you achieve delicious and healthy recipes in one hour or less. If you’ve already tasted a tagine dish, you know exactly what I mean.
Where to Buy a Tagine Pot?
I recommend buying your tagine pot from a seller that gives information about the materials used to make the tagine pot and whether the tagine pot was handmade or not. In fact, not all tagine pots available in the market are worth your money, and some of them can even be non-safe. I’ve been approached many times by sellers who manufacture their tagine pots in factories and give no information about the origin or composition of their tagine pots. The composition of your tagine pot is key. Your food should be in contact with clay only and I honestly prefer tagine pots that are made in Morocco as I’m more comfortable with the artisanal way these tagine pots were made.
If you are in Morocco, you can buy your tagine pot in most medinas and souks of Morocco. If you don’t know how to navigate Moroccan souks and medinas, this Moroccan shopping guide can be helpful.
What is the Best Size of Tagine to Buy?
My go-to tagine size recommendation is 12 inches, as this size will feed comfortably 3 to 4 people. Even if you are serving for just yourself or one guest, it can be useful as it will allow you to have leftovers which are always a bonus, right?
Tagines bigger than 12 inches are pretty rare, and if your gathering involves more than 4 people, I would recommend either buying additional tagine pots or serving your tagine dish with a few side dishes to give more options. This is what is typically done in Morocco, a tagine is always always served with many side dishes and salads so that guests can eat comfortably and have more options.
The Difference Between Glazed, Unglazed, and Serving Tagine Pots
Glazed and unglazed tagines are different types of tagines that offer different uses and options. So, depending on what you are planning to do with your tagine (cooking vs. serving only), it’s important to pick the right tagine type for you.
1. Serving Tagines
Serving tagines are tagine pots that are used only for serving. They cannot be in touch with a heat source. You can either use them to serve your tagine dish – if your regular tagine pot does not fit your table theme for example – or to serve other dishes like pasta, paellas, salads, couscous, etc.
Serving tagine pots are quick to spot. They are shiny with beautiful paintings and bright colors.
What is also very common to do in Morocco is the use of many colorful small tagines to serve side dishes, dips, and sauces. If you’ve been to Morocco, you’ve probably seen these mini tagine pots in every restaurant, cafe, or bar you’ve been in. They are essential in Moroccan table dressing. Here is a set of four colorful small tagines for your dips and side dishes.
2. Glazed Tagine pots
Glazed tagine pots are the most common type of tagine pots. They are used for both cooking and for serving. They are shiny and sometimes have decorations in black. They are the best compromise if you want a tagine pot to use for cooking, but also that looks good on a table. The glazing helps food not to stick to the bottom of the tagine and makes cleaning easier. There are many glazed tagines to choose from in the market and usually, the bigger and more decorated the tagine is, the pricier it will be.
The most important thing to check is that your tagine is lead-free, as many beautifully-looking glazed tagines contain lead, which is toxic, and many sellers don’t disclose this information.
This 12.2-inch glazed tagine pot is handmade in Morocco and is a great choice. It is large, lead-free, and with beautiful Berber decorations with meanings.
3. 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. Though these tagine pots are easily available in Morocco, it’s a little bit hard to find them online and they tend to be more expensive.
Unglazed tagine pots are more sensitive than glazed tagine pots as they can crack easily. That’s why seasoning an unglazed tagine pot is mandatory before the first use. Here is a large 13-inch unglazed tagine pot to consider, handmade with clay only.
Tagine Seasoning and Caring for Your Tagine Pot
If there is one key thing to remember about using your tagine pot and protecting it in the long run, is that tagine pots don’t like sudden changes in temperatures. That means that you should always cook your tagine on low to medium heat and that you should never never add cold water to your tagine when it’s hot.
Unfortunately, not all tagine recipes online respect these rules. As an example, many online recipes will ask you to add water to your tagine without specifying that water should be added either warm or hot. Adding cold water is in fact very risky as it increases the chances for your tagine to crack. That’s why I recommend this great tagine recipe book to anyone who is new to cooking in a tagine pot. In addition to having the classic – and delicious! – Moroccan tagine recipes, this downloadable recipe book details the steps to make each recipe, explaining what to do, and what not to do to avoid cracking your tagine pot. It’s a bestseller for a reason!
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 Moroccanzest
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
From design and decor to food and travel, moroccanzest is the space where I share what I loved growing up in Morocco, and more. It’s your destination for everything beautiful, artistic, and made the Moroccan way with love.
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