Schug in a pottery bowl, on a wooden plate with a spoon and garnished with cilantro.

This sauce—also spelled zhug, zhoug, s’chug, and shough—is a spicy green condiment first created by Yemeni Jews that made its way across the Middle East—and eventually to Charleston. Michael Shemtov of Charleston’s Butcher & Bee turned me on to it served as a dollop on top of hummus. It’s been fascinating to my taste buds and imagination ever since. It has so many jalapeños in it that at first, I couldn’t figure out how it could ever work. But it does!–Carrie Morey

Schug FAQS

Does schug have to be spicy hot?

While it’s sometimes known as Middle Eastern hot sauce, schug is more than that. There’s also so much flavor from the herbs, garlic, lemon, and cumin that you don’t need it to be blasting hot. If you like heat, leave all the seeds in your jalapeños. If you want to focus on elements other than the burn, discard all the visible white ribs and seeds before tossing the peppers in the food processor.

What’s the best way to store schug?

In an airtight container, in the refrigerator, schug will last up to 5 days. If you’ve got a lot leftover, you can do that little ice cube trick to freeze them–pop a spoonful into the cavities of the tray and freeze. Once frozen, you can transfer them into a freezer bag and leave them in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Schug in a pottery bowl, on a wooden plate with a spoon and garnished with cilantro.


5 / 4 votes
Make up a batch of this spicy, garlicky, herby sauce and keep it in your fridge to add as an accouterment to baked beans, tortilla soup, nachos, steak, fish, grilled veggies, potatoes, fried eggs, even mixed into a vinaigrette or mayonnaise.
David Leite
Servings28 servings | 3 ½ cups
Calories59 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Total Time25 minutes


  • 10 (14 oz) jalapeño peppers, 8 with seeds and ribs removed and 2 with seeds and ribs intact for extra heat
  • 10 cloves (2 oz) garlic
  • 2 cups (2 oz) fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 2 cups (2 oz) fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon, about 2 teaspoons zest and 2 tablespoons juice, preferably organic
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 to 1 cup olive oil


  • In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine jalapeños and garlic and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  • Add cilantro and parsley and pulse until a thick paste forms, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add cumin, coriander, cardamom, lemon zest and juice, and salt. Pulse to combine.
  • With the food processor running, pour in about 1/2 cup of the olive oil and blend well. Taste and season with salt.
  • Slowly drizzle in remaining 1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil to form a pesto-like sauce. The schug will keep for a couple of weeks in a sealed jar in the fridge and can also be frozen.
Hot Little Suppers

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Hot Little Suppers

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 59 kcalCarbohydrates: 2 gProtein: 1 gFat: 6 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gSodium: 18 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Carrie Morey. Photo © 2021 Angie Mosier. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I was immediately drawn to this schug recipe. I’ve played with many variations of pesto and chimichurris over the years. Herbs, garlic, acid, and olive oil are always welcome on my plate and can really elevate a dish to new heights. The twist here is with the addition of jalapeños–the heat gives a new dimension to the sauce, and I’m really looking forward to pairing it with different foods–the first pairing for me will be eggs in the morning. Going to get fancy later and pair it with some wagyu steak for dinner.

I really like this fresh green-tasting condiment; it’s vibrant with just the right amount of heat. It is redolent of summer and quite pleasing to the eye. I served this with grilled chicken and plan to top grilled salmon with it tomorrow night but the possibilities are endless!

It could be mixed into a vinaigrette-based potato salad, used as a topping for roasted vegetables, or mixed into a pasta salad. The sauce is pleasing to the eye as well.

I have been addicted to Trader Joe’s zhoug for a while now; there’s almost nothing I won’t slather it on. From grilled seafood, chicken, and steak, to a hummus topping, to a sandwich spread, to a scrambled egg accompaniment, to dolloping it on tacos, there’s almost nothing it doesn’t improve.

But THIS schug (zhoug) is way better than Trader Joe’s. It’s so zingy, bright, and intensely flavored. It’s very cilantro forward so if you’re one of those super-taster cilantro haters you might not be into it, but I’ll be happy to eat your portion because I love it!

Yowza. This schug recipe was a leap of faith given the ten jalapeños, and I figured I could find a way to doctor it if it came out too intense. Let me say now, I WOULD NOT CHANGE A THING. I dunked some focaccia in it to taste and I could not stop dunking. 

I love pesto of any kind, and I can’t wait to try this schug on burgers, grilled swordfish, or a crudite platter. I can only imagine the culinary history behind this recipe, and how many families have shared it at the table. This schug will be on regular repeat.

This schug is such a versatile and delicious condiment, you’ll want to put it on everything. In a taco, over roast potatoes, over baked potatoes, over roast vegetables, alongside kebabs, over grits, over pasta…you get the idea. Don’t let the number of jalapeños deter you. With most of them seeded, this sauce is spicy, but not exceedingly so.

The herbs, lemon, and ground spices balance out the peppers perfectly to make a complex, bright flavor that you can whip up in minutes. One note on the ingredients–the recipe calls for cilantro leaves. Don’t waste time meticulously separating leaves from stems. Cilantro stems are tender and flavorful, so just include them with the leaves.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    My local Gyros Restaurant offers this as an option to add on or bring home as a condiment. I love it with the gyros! I spread it on the flat bread before adding all the ingredients. I’m so glad to have my own recipe for this so that I don’t have to keep paying extra for it and experiment with it on other foods.

    1. Excellent, Jan! As you experiment with it, please let us know what else you use it for.

  2. 5 stars
    Toast a sandwich roll. Put a handful of baby arugula on the bottom. Pile on your favorite tuna salad. Slather the top with schug. Stuff your mouth, this is divine.