5 African Sauces You Would Love

Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.
- Advertisement -

Like every other thing about African cuisine, sauces come in varieties, and in this article, we’ll be talking about different African sauces you should try when visiting, or even prepare at home, so let’s get right into it.

A sauce is a liquid, cream, or semi-solid food that is served on top of or used to prepare other dishes. Most sauces aren’t meant to be eaten on their own; they’re used to add taste, moisture, and visual appeal to a dish. “Sauce” is a French term that is derived from the Latin word salsa, which means salted.

They may be prepared and served cold, like mayonnaise, prepared cold but served lukewarm like pesto, cooked and served warm like bechamel, or cooked and served cold like apple sauce.

5 African Sauces You Would Love

1. Shitto Sauce

shitto sauce African sauce
Image from Eat Well Abi

Shitto Sauce is a Ghanaian hot chili condiment that is prepared in a variety of ways according to regional and village cuisines. In Ga, a Ghanaian language is spoken in Accra, Ghana’s capital, the word for pepper is shitto. It complements both fish and meat and can be served as a side dish to almost any cuisine. It is also eaten with steamed white rice, fried plantains, green vegetables, eba and waakye (a dish made from rice and beans)

Some suggestions for Amazon links to”Organic Creamy Vodka Pasta Sauce”.

Organic Creamy Vodka Pasta Sauce

Project Overview Docs Banner in Light Green Blue Vibrant Professional Style 1

While each Ghanaian local language has its own word for pepper, shittor din (black pepper), often known as ‘shitto,’ is a widespread name for the fiery black pepper sauce found throughout West Africa. It’s also good for marinating, as well as dressings dips, spreads, and toppings.

Even the most basic dishes can be spiced up with Shito Pepper Sauce. This spicy African sauce has a strong and smokey taste with a huge kick of chili, delivering a rich and intense African flavor with plenty of depth and complexity; it’s not for the faint of heart.

Shito sauce consists primarily of fish or vegetable oil, ginger, dried fish, prawns, crustaceans, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, and spices. These ingredients are usually blended and cooked in vegetable or corn oil for a little over an hour to create the sauce.
This African sauce can be prepared at home or can be bought in canned forms in supermarkets, and grocery stores. A bottle of homemade shitto sauce when preserved right can last up to 3 months.
This African sauce has been likened to sambal belacha, a Malaysian condiment because they both have a strong smoky flavor from the inclusion of ground smoked fish or prawns and a thick texture. Depending on how much chili you use, shitto sauce can be gritty and full of body or smooth, medium, or extremely hot.
This African sauce is one hell of a side dish. Here’s a quick and easy recipe to prepare your homemade shitto sauce;
Click to see Shitto Sauce Recipe

2. What’s Piri Piri Sauce?

Peri-Peri-Sauce African sauce
Image from Chili Pepper Madness

Piri piri, often known as peri peri, is a hot sauce that originated in either Angola or Mozambique. The sauce has been present for a long time, dating back to the 15th century, when Portuguese settlers in Angola and Mozambique blended bird’s eye chili peppers with red wine vinegar, paprika, garlic, and other European imports.

This African sauce is traditionally made with sweet pimento peppers as well as spicy chiles, and often contains garlic as well as onions, occasionally some herbs, and usually a splash of lemon, vinegar, or whiskey, too.

Although it is often served with toasted bread or rice, this African sauce goes well with almost anything – meat, fish, or vegetables. Splash, dash, dip or simply cook with it to add flavor and zest to any meal. It has the perfect taste that hits all the right notes, it is garlicky, spicy, lemony, tangy, and utterly addictive. You can buy a bottle of the original peri-peri sauce and use it as a fast marinade for grilled chicken or wings if you want to try it first.

To make this sauce at home, you simply have to blend chili peppers, cloves garlic, smoked paprika, cilantro, basil, vegetable, lemon, and some salt to taste. When blended to a smooth paste, drain off excess liquid from the paste and refrigerate. This homemade peri peri lasts for 3 months if preserved properly.

Want to make this African sauce at home? Here’s a quick and easy recipe:


  • 1 pound red chilies chopped – African Bird’s Eye peppers are traditional, but you can sub with red peppers available to you, including bell peppers
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika you can sub in other chili powders
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon (lemon juice)
  • Salt to taste


As stated earlier, add all ingredients to a food processor or blender. The process to form a smooth sauce to your preferred consistency. You can strain out some of the excess liquid if you’d like, or just use it as-is.

3. African Pepper Sauce

African pepper sauce African sauce
Image from African Bites

The West African pepper sauce is a hot and spicy sauce prepared with habaneros, tomatoes, ginger, and strong onion and garlic notes. This African sauce is highly addicting, and you’ll be delighted to add it to your list of must-have condiments! It is very versatile and can be eaten with almost any dish.

This African sauce can be used as condiments for rice, noodle, pasta, dipping for fries, yams, boiled eggs, drizzled over veggies, meat or tofu, and a lot more.

Here is a delicious peppery recipe:


  • Red bell peppers
  • Onions, tomatoes
  • Habanero peppers


  •  Remove the stem and seeds, and chop four red bell peppers and a couple of habanero peppers (depending on your spice tolerance).
  • Add a couple of tomatoes and half an onion.
  • Blend together with ¼ cup of water.
  • Parboil the blended mixture on low heat for about 20-30 minutes.

You’re all done, your African pepper sauce is ready!

4. Chermoula

chermoula African sauce
Image from static.onecms

Chermoula or charmoula is a marinade and relish used in Algerian, Libyan, Moroccan, and Tunisian cooking. It is traditionally used to flavor fish or seafood, but it can be used on other meats or vegetables.

Originating from Morocco, this African sauce is a pungent herbal sauce traditionally served with grilled fish, but also goes well with all sorts of dishes including roasted cauliflower, roasted winter squash, or chicken. This African sauce is a perfect blend of spices like coriander and cumin along with fresh chilies, giving it a rich herby and spicy taste. Olive oil turns the combo into a paste.

The regional variety consists of dried dark raisin purée mixed with onions cooked in olive oil and spices such as cloves, cumin, chili, black pepper, and cinnamon.

Here is a quick and easy recipe to make this African sauce:


  • 3/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4–1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup (packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • 1 cup (packed) parsley leaves with tender stems
  • 1/2 cup (packed) mint leaves


  • Toast coriander and cumin seeds in a dry small skillet, tossing occasionally, until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool, then lightly crush with a heavy skillet.
  • Purée toasted seeds, garlic, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, paprika, salt, and red pepper flakes in a blender until spices are ground and the mixture is very smooth.
  • Add cilantro, parsley, and mint; process until well combined but slightly textured.

This African sauce can be prepared 3 days ahead and chilled in an airtight container.

5. Harissa

harissa African sauce
Image from The Mediterranean Dish

This African sauce is a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste, the main ingredients of which are roasted red peppers, Baklouti peppers, spices, and herbs such as garlic paste, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, cumin, and olive oil to carry the oil-soluble flavors. Rose harissa, made with rose petals, is also made.

It has a more complex flavor than just chili; it has a hot kick that’s complemented by garlic and lemon. It can be blow-your-head-off hot but it takes its time and tends to be earthier than fresh chili or flakes.

It can be made at home or purchased as a branded product in various grocery stores. Here is a simple recipe to prepare this African sauce at home:


  • Red chilies
  • Garlic, oil,
  • Acid (Vinegar & lemon juice)
  • Caraway seeds
  • Spices.


  • Remove the stems and seeds from your chilies after rehydrating them in boiling water (This applies if you’re using dried chilis). Meanwhile, toast your cumin and coriander seeds whole and ground them in a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, combine the ingredients in a food processor later.
  • After that, mix in the smoked paprika, salt, and garlic, before adding the lemon juice and vinegar and blending into a paste.
  • Blend all of the ingredients together in a food processor until they form a smooth mixture. To get a creamy, smooth sauce, add olive oil near the end. If you don’t want to use oil, omit it or replace it with water for a comparable result.

Your Harissa sauce is ready. This African sauce can be served with burgers, roasted vegetables, salad dressings, pasta, chicken wings, sandwiches. You can also

  • Whisk this African sauce into yogurt to make a hot-and-cold sauce for grilled meats, like lamb chops.
  • Mix it into store-bought hummus or make your own, like this one with carrots.
  •  The spice paste becomes an instant rub for luxe cuts of meat like a crown roast of pork or a leg of lamb or more humble chicken legs.

6. Maafe (Peanut Soup)

Maafe African sauce
Image from Nates Food

This African sauce is a stew that is a staple food in Western Africa. It originates from the Mandinka and Bambara people of Mali. The proper name for it in the Mandinka language is domodah or tigadegena in Bamanankan.

It is called a couple of names across countries in Africa, they include; Mafé, Mahfe, Maffé, Maffe, Sauce d’Arachide, Tigadèguèna, Tigadegena, Sauce Z’ara.

This African sauce is so creamy with a combination of peanut butter richness, tangy tomato, aromatics, and spices.

Variations of this African sauce can be found in the cuisines of countries across West and Central Africa. It tastes a lot like groundnut soup but maybe thicker inconsistency. Maafe is a dish made with groundnuts, particularly peanut butter/paste, and tomatoes. It can be made with lamb, beef, chicken, or without meat. Peanut paste is sometimes used as an ingredient. In Ghana, groundnut stew is often accompanied by fufu.

This African sauce has its ancient roots in dishes made with native groundnuts before the peanut arrived from the New World in the 16th century. Maafe can trace its origins to the Mandinka and Bambara people of Mali.

There are a variety of ways to prepare this African sauce depending on your preferred consistency. Some varieties are thick and served over rice, fufu, or millet couscous, while others are thinner and nearly soup-like, the consistency varying greatly depending on where in Western Africa you are.

Click to view the Maafe recipe

7. Moambe Chicken Sauce

Moambe chicken African sauce
Image from Pinterest

Moambe chicken is a savory chicken dish popular in Central Africa and considered the national dish of Angola, Gabon, and Congo. The dish itself is made by combining chicken, spices, and palm butter to create a stew-like consistency. A number of local or regional variations exist across the Congo and Central Africa; the dish is also known outside the continent.

This African sauce is prepared by cooking chicken in moambe (palm butter) and spinach, then seasoning with spices like peri-peri or red pepper. It is often served with sweet potatoes, brown onions, hard-boiled eggs, rice, or manioc (cassava) paste can be served alongside this African sauce. Duck or seafood is sometimes used as a substitute for chicken.


  • 1 3-4 lb (1.4-2 kg) chicken, quartered (or chicken pieces)
  • 6 tablespoons (88ml) organic red palm oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 6 oz (170g) can of tomato paste
  • 14.5oz (411g) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 in (2.5mm) ginger root, grated
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup (237ml) water
  • salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
  • ½ cup (125g) natural peanut butter


  • Dry chicken pieces well with paper towels
  • Heat heavy Dutch oven with palm oil on high until shimmering, almost smoking
  • Sear chicken in batches until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per side, remove and set-aside
  • Turn heat to medium-low and sauté onions until golden brown, add garlic stirring constantly and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds
  • Add tomato paste, continuing to stir, cooking until paste darkens slightly, about 3 minutes
  • Mix in diced tomatoes, ginger, red pepper flakes, water, and salt. Return chicken to Dutch oven
  • Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Pull off about 1-2 cups (250-500ml) of sauce and mix thoroughly with peanut butter. Return mixture to Dutch oven and simmer uncovered for 10 more minutes, until chicken pieces reach 165F (74C)
  • Serve with rice and fufu or fried plantains

Your Moambe chicken African sauce is ready, enjoy!


8. Nigerian Vegetable Sauce

Nigerian vegetable African sauce
Image from biscuitsandladles

This is a rich and healthy sauce made from a mixture of different salad vegetables and is a very nutritious alternative to the regular everyday tomato stew prepared in the country. One thing that makes this African sauce a crowd favorite is how many nutrients and vitamins it contains. Also, the vegetables used to prepare this African sauce are simple everyday vegetables around you.

The sauce is versatile and can be eaten with rice, yam, potatoes, almost any dish of choice.

Here is a quick and easy recipe:


  • 1 Whole Chicken 2 cooking spoons vegetable oil
  • 5 Spring onions
  • 8 fresh plum tomatoes
  • 8 medium Carrots
  • 1 small cabbage
  • 3 medium Irish potatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper (optional)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 3 big stock cubes
  • 1 tablespoon thyme


  • Wash and cut the vegetables: plum tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, and bell pepper as shown. Set these aside.
  • Peel the Irish potatoes, wash and cut them into small pieces. Blend into a thick paste and set aside. This will be used as a thickener for the Vegetable Sauce.


  • Wash and cut the whole chicken into pieces. Place in a pot, add chopped spring onions, stock cubes, and thyme. Add water to cover the contents of the pot and start cooking.
  • When done, add salt to taste and top up the water to the same level as the contents if necessary.
  • Once it boils, add the chopped tomatoes and the vegetable oil. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Add the carrots and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Now, add the potato puree, chopped bell peppers, and cabbage. Stir, cover, and allow to cook for 5 minutes on high heat. Add salt to taste and the sauce is ready to be served.

Another variation of the Nigerian vegetable sauce is the use of mainly leafy vegetables such as pumpkin leaves. See the image below.

Vegetable sauce African sauce
Image from Chow HUb

What Is the Hottest Sauce in Africa?

The hottest sauce commonly found in Africa is shito, a spicy chili pepper sauce originating from Ghana.With a Scoville rating around 40,000-80,000 units, shito is significantly spicier than a jalapeño. So the next time you’re looking to add some African-inspired heat to your meal, try out the fiery flavors of Ghanaian shito sauce!

What Sauce Is South Africa Known For?

South Africa is well-known for its flavorful and tangy chili sauces. Peri-peri sauce, also known as piri piri, is a popular condiment. Made from the African bird’s eye chili, known as the peri-peri, The unique peri-peri sauce beautifully represents the diversity of flavors in South African dishes.

Functions of Sauces in Culinary Work

In most dishes, sauces serve multiple purposes. A sauce that adds a contrasting flavor, for example, can also add texture and visual appeal to the dish.

  • Adds texture

Many sauces contain a garnish that gives the meal more texture. A sauce made with tomatoes and mushrooms complements the chicken Chasseur. A silky sauce complements a meal with a particular texture, such as a pan-fried soft-shelled crab.

  • Enhances the appearance of a dish

Sauces can enhance the appearance of food, sometimes as a coating that is poured or brushed over it to give an otherwise dull item a more appealing appearance. Various culinary items are coated with the chaud-froid sauce, which is created with cream or mayonnaise and gelatine.

  • Adds contrast

 Sauces are sometimes used to give a flavor contrast to another dish. The same may be said for apple sauce and fresh roast pork. Broadly speaking, A sauce can be defined as any condiment or mixture of foods that serve to contrast with or complement another cuisine. In this same sense, if serve together, a peanut butter and jelly mixture would be a sauce for a slice of bread.

  • Add Sharpness and Tanginess

A remoulade sauce served with shrimp is an example of a piquant sauce. Some sauces are used to impart tanginess or sharpness to a dull dish.

  • Adds flavor

 A sauce with a flavor that complements a certain dish brings out the essence of that dish. A tarragon-flavored sauce brings out the delicate sweetness of the chicken. A spicy sauce created with green peppercorns complements the beef’s rich flavor, deepening and enriching the entire flavor.

  • Adds eye appeal

 A sauce can give gloss and sheen to a dish, making it look more appealing. A light coating of jus lié on a sautéed medallion of lamb gives a glossy sheen on the lamb, making the entire meal more appealing. The addition of a red pepper coulis beneath a grilled salmon steak adds visual interest to the dish by providing color.

In Africa, sauces are enjoyed in several ways eg; by combining a sauce with plantain, rice, matoke, yam, potatoes, spaghetti, beans, etc.

Now you know the top African sauces, which will you be trying out? Check out more amazing articles and recipes here on the African Food Network.


Share this post:
Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.

Must Try Recipes

You'll also love