Tagine Pot: How to Cook in A Tagine Step By Step

Last Updated on May 10, 2024 by Safaa (founder of moroccanzest)
tagine pot

Tagine Pot: How to Cook in A Tagine Step By Step

How to use a tagine pot, how to cook with a tagine, and most importantly, what is a tagine? are probably the questions I get asked the most about Moroccan cooking and cooking in tagine pots the traditional way.

While tagine cooking helps make highly savory dishes, using a tagine pot safely requires a few steps to get the most out of it and protect it from breaking or cracking. So, is it easy to cook with a tagine pot, and is it worth it?

The answer is yes! And I highly encourage you to do so. I learned tagine-making from my late Moroccan grandmother. I watched her make tagine dishes from scratch, mixing the chermoula – sauce – with a brass mortar and slow-cooking the dish for hours. Tagines were served almost daily, and the meals were perfectly balanced and delicious, comforting the body and soul. 

Now, I use my tagine pot at least twice a week. You might think cooking in them is time-consuming or complicated, but I promise you it’s the opposite. Once you start cooking in a tagine pot, there will be no coming back. 

These clay pots are magical. They help you create amazing tastes and flavors your family and friends will adore! They are also one of the healthiest cookware, especially if you use clay tagines made with clay only. Cooking in clay is healthy, and as tagine dishes are cooked on low to medium heat, you will be sure that your dish has kept most of its nutrients.

I will include in this article some basics you need to know to use your tagine pot and protect it from cracking. These basics are important to follow to keep your tagine pot for years.

I will also include the steps to get you started with your first tagine dish. The recipe below is for the traditional Moroccan meatballs tagine. It is one of the easiest tagine recipes you can make, perfect for beginners. It is easy and quick (it can be done in 30 minutes) and full of flavors! I’m sure you will love it!

tagine pot cooking

Types of Tagine Pots

It is important to know that not all tagine pots available in the market are made for cooking. Many are only for serving purposes, meaning you can’t use them on the stove.

It can get a little tricky here as many sellers claim their serving tagine pots are compatible with cooking, too, but that’s not the case. If unsure, ask your seller again, especially if your tagine pot is heavily and beautifully decorated.

The general rule of thumb is if a tagine pot is pretty basic or has tiny embellishments, it’s more likely to be a cooking tagine. Otherwise, you need to double-check.

how to use Moroccan tagine pot

tagine cooking

More straightforward tagine pots are mostly made for cooking and serving.

If you don’t have a tagine pot yet and are looking for one, here are the tagine pots I use on rotation every week. They are large (13 inches), the largest size you can get for traditional Moroccan tagine pots. You can use them to cook for two people, six people, or more. They are also lead-free and traditionally made in Morocco using only natural ingredients.

Seasoning a Tagine Pot

Seasoning tagine pots, called curing a tagine pot, is an important step in tagine preparation. Unfortunately, many overlook this step, resulting in fragile tagine pots that can easily crack and break.

Seasoning a tagine pot involves preparing its base and lid for future use by sealing and strengthening its structure. This is done once, before the first use, through simple steps, including soaking the tagine pot, brushing it with oil, and cooking it in a low-heated oven for a couple of hours.

Seasoning is essential, and most cooking tagine pots are sold unseasoned. If you haven’t seasoned your tagine pot yet, check my tagine pot seasoning and cure guide.

Using a Heat Diffuser with your Tagine

Another important thing to remember is that clay tagines are sensitive to heat. So always use your tagine pot on low-to-medium heat. If you stick to low temperatures, you can do it without a heat diffuser. I would, however, still recommend using a heat diffuser as it gives extra security and protects your tagine pot from cracking.  

This $20 stainless steel heat diffuser is the one I’ve been using for years, but you can get any comparable heat diffuser.

Using tagines on Gas or Electric Stoves

If you use your tagine pot on a heat diffuser on low-to-medium heat, you can perfectly use it on your gas or electric stove.

use tagine pot on gas stove

When cooking in your tagine pot, check regularly to ensure the ingredients don’t stick to the bottom. That’s why heat diffusers are very handy when using your tagine with a heat diffuser, the sauce won’t evaporate quickly, and your tagine experience will be much more relaxed.

Tagine Friendly Recipes

This is a very important point. I often get emails from people asking me why their tagine dish cracked or broke during cooking. This is common and, luckily, easy to avoid. As mentioned above, tagine pots are very sensitive to sudden changes in heat. This means that you should keep that in mind when cooking your dish. For example, if you need to add water to your tagine dish while cooking to avoid the ingredients burning, you should add warm water and not tap water as it can be cold and can cause a sudden change in temperature.

Unfortunately, many recipes online do not take this into account. That’s why I’d recommend focusing on traditional Moroccan recipes for cooking in a clay tagine pot

tagine cooking steps

Cooking With A Tagine Step by Step

Here are the main steps to cook your first delicious meatballs tagine:

STEP 1: Prepare the Base Layer

how to use a tagine pot step 1

The first step is to place a layer of onions (either cut into cubes or rings). Then add garlic and cooking oil and lightly cook everything for a few minutes. You can use a small to medium-sized tagine pot with one small onion, one medium garlic clove, and 3 tbsp olive oil.

STEP 2: Add The Crushed Tomatoes and Spices

how to use a tagine pot step 2

In a separate pan, heat one small can of crushed tomatoes.

Once the onions become slightly transparent, add the crushed tomatoes and the following spice mix: 1 tsp paprika powder, 1/2 tsp pepper powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, and salt.

Mix well, cover, and let cook on slow heat for 15 to 20 minutes checking occasionally that nothing sticks at the bottom of your tagine pot.

STEP 3: Add The Meatballs to The Cooking Sauce

how to use a tagine pot step 3

In a large bowl: mix by hand 1 pound ground meat and the following spice and herb mix:  1 tbsp minced coriander, 1 tbsp minced parsley, 1 tsp paprika powder, 1/2 tsp pepper powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, and salt. Form small meatballs. Gently add the meatballs to the sauce cooking in your tagine, and use a spoon to cover each one with the sauce.

how to cook in a tagine pot

Cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until your meatballs are cooked to your taste.

STEP 4 (OPTIONAL): Crack a Couple of Eggs On Top of Your Tagine

Once everything is cooked to your taste, crack one or two eggs on top of the meatballs and cook for a couple more minutes. Decorate with fresh coriander and parsley.

Serve hot with fresh bread.


How to clean my tagine

June 25, 2020

thank you, I followed your recommendations, got the tagine cookbook you mentioned, and made my first tagine recipe. It was INCREDIBLE! thank you! now, how can I clean my tagine? can I use soap?

maria louise

Response from Moroccanzest

Hi Maria, so glad your first tagine recipe was a success! now for cleaning, just soak your tagine in water for a few minutes and use your regular soap, water, and a scrub brush. cheers to your next tagine recipes! -xx

Help request

July 22, 2021

I downloaded the book you suggested on my iPhone and cannot find it. Anyone assistance on how I can find this would be appreciated.


Response from Moroccanzest

Hi Lorraine, someone from the team just sent you an email with the download link. Once downloaded to your iPhone, the ebook will be in your ”download” folder. let me know if you need more help -xx


May 11, 2021

thank you, I made the meatballs tagine, my husband and two toddlers LOVED it! Thank you so much

Jennifer marshall

oven use

April 19, 2021

Can I cook my tajine meatballs in the oven? Or is a tajine only used for stove top recipes?


Response from Moroccanzest

Hi, usually meatball tagines are cooked on the stove, but you can use your tagine in the oven. just make sure the tagine is seasoned and the oven is on a low temperature – below 300F. I would also place it in the oven before turning the heat on to avoid a thermal choc which can break your tagine -xx

awesome recipe

January 13, 2021

thank you we just tried the meatball tagine recipe, everyone LOVED IT


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Safaa, founder of moroccanzest

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. Learn more about me here.