homemade-merguez-with-herby-yogurt Recipes

homemade merguez with herby yogurt

I had lunch with Julia Turshen a couple months ago (mostly so I could fangirl out and try to sponge up some curl tips for my moppet) and one of my favorite things she told me was that when she moved from Brooklyn to upstate with her wife her cooking changed because all of a sudden she was doing it everyday. She felt she got better at cooking from her gut, throwing meals together with whatever they had — it’s simply not an option to eat out or order in every night the way she could before so not every meal could be a performance piece. Sometimes it’s just chicken on the grill with a good sauce and salad on the side.


what you'll need

If you’re anything like me — but with a cleaner apartment, I bet — you’re thinking “wait, tell me about the sauce!” because odds are, like the avocado-cucumber salad I spied on the side of her plate a year ago and ran off to tell you about, it’s something crazy simple that you didn’t realize you knew how to make and now you’re 300x more excited to grill chicken and make salad tonight. The good news for us is that Turshen, who previously only hid her cooking talent behind larger-than-life names like Mario Batali, Gwyneth Paltrow, Dana Cowin, Hot Bread Kitchen, Buvette, Fat Radish… seriously, I’m just getting started… finally penned her own book with all the great simple sauces and 400 other things I cannot wait to cook.

grind your spices, if using whole
mix everything
cooking them smashburger-style
like tiny burgers

Our conversation (also, we’re having another one on Thursday!) did not turn to sausage making, but apparently, she does this too. Meat grinders? Casings? No thank you, right? But once she realized that sausage is essentially highly seasoned ground meat, she began forming them into patties and for an ambitious but not-too-ambitious weeknight meal. Her merguez is perfect — sure, I can get it around here from a couple good butchers, but it’s often too spicy for the kids and this is so much better: seasoned exactly to taste and crispy from the pan. You serve it with an herbed yogurt and for us, a tomato-cucumber salad on the side and some pita wedges. You could also make them into little sliders in pitas with a tahini sauce and crunchy greens, falafel-style. And then one day you might be at lunch and will casually drop that you made sausage last night from and it took about 15 minutes because this is us now: people who make amazing things on weekday nights like it is no big deal. Or, at least tonight.

homemade merguez with herby yogurt

Previously

One year ago: Zucchini Rice and Cheese Gratin (now even easier to make)
Two years ago: Cauliflower Slaw
Three years ago: Baked Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
Four years ago: Fig, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah
Five years ago: Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Six years ago: Linguine with Tomato-Almond Pesto
Seven years ago: Cheesecake Marbled Brownies and Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Tzatziki
Eight years ago: Eggs in Tomato Sauce
Nine years ago: Apple and Yogurt Cake

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart
1.5 Years Ago: Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie
2.5 Years Ago: Broccoli Cheddar and Wild Rice Casserole
3.5 Years Ago: Coconut Bread
4.5 Years Ago: Potato Knish, Two Ways

Homemade Merguez with Herby Yogurt

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Time: 15 to 30 minutes
  • Print

This recipe is adapted, just barely, from Julia Turshen’s Small Victories. Merguez is a spicy fresh sausage in North African cuisine, and is also popular throughout the Middle East and Europe. It’s usually made with mutton or beef; we are going to use lamb. Harissa usually gives it its characteristic red color; Turshen calls for 2 tablespoons but because I have kids who would not appreciate it, I used just a little squeeze. You can adjust it to taste as well. Oh, and if you’re feeling extra-ambitious, you can also make your own very delicious harissa. But I was out and used this.

    To serve
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) plain yogurt
  • A small handful finely chopped leafy fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, mint, chives, dill or a mix thereof) plus a few roughly chopped, to serve
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or more to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • A handful shredded red cabbage to serve (optional)
  • Lemon wedges, to serve
  • Sausage
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds or a heaped 1/2 teaspoon ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds or a heaped 1/2 teaspoon ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds or a heaped 1/2 teaspoon ground
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons harissa paste (I just used a small squeeze) or another hot sauce
  • 1 pound (455 grams) ground lamb, at room temperature


Make the herby yogurt: Mix the yogurt, finely chopped herbs and vinegar in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and extra vinegar, if desired. Set aside until needed.

Make the merguez: If using whole spices, toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Grind them in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

Combine lamb, spices, including paprika, harissa, garlic and 1 teaspoon (Turshen called for 1 1/2, which was very salty and we liked it but probably not for everyone) kosher salt and mix to combine. Form into 12 mounds.

[Do ahead: You can keep the mixed meat patties and herbed yogurt in the fridge for up to 3 days.]

Heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Coat with olive oil and once it is very hot, add a few sausage mounds. Once they hit the frying pan, flatten them with the back of your spatula. Cook until brown and crispy underneath, then flip and cook for another minute or two. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining meat.

Serve patties warm with herby yogurt and scattered with extra herbs and shredded cabbage, if desired, plus wedges of lemon to squeeze over.


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70 comments on homemade merguez with herby yogurt

  1. I can get some pretty decent merguez here but this sounds SO good I must do it. Husband will finally be on board with a recipe. Lamb is one of his major food groups (along with beef and duck).

  2. Do you think this would work out with either a mix of beef and lamb or just beef? I’ve got a partner who doesn’t like lamb and unless I can sneak it through until the moment of clarity I’m all out of delicious merguez luck.
    thanks!

  3. Leah

    Food encyclopedia question: What makes this sausage and not a spiced meat patty? I ask because spiced meat, usually a lamb-beef blend, is the way I’ve always made Greek hamburgers (bifteki, which some people also stuff with feta), though I’ve never thought of calling it sausage.

    1. Jen

      This recipe seems to be for spiced meat patties. To make sausage you need to mix the meat somewhat vigorously. You need to mix until it gets kind of sticky and binds to itself. There’s some sort of chemical reaction that goes on that’s analogous to activating the gluten when you kneed bread. I use a stand mixer on low speed for about 60-90 seconds for a 5 lb batch of sausage–if you’re just making one pound, it might bind a little more quickly. The meat needs to be very cold, and it’s important not to over mix or the texture of the cooked meat will be terrible.

  4. Alys Longworth

    Omg, can’t wait to try this. Thank you for this recipe! I can’t see why one couldn’t adapt the flavors in endless ways. I’m thinking about the fabulous Nigel Slater here and how he encourages experimentation. Lamb and beef, pork and beef, change up the spices, add some fresh cilantro, yada yada.

    Fyi, as a curly girl who had too much hairbrush/gum/tangle drama as a curly kid, i can recommend Curly Girl: The Handbook for some ideas about looking after young moppet’s adorable curls in a modern non-traumatic way. (Sorry, the 70s were just not a good time for curls.)

  5. Kate Sprengnether

    I made sausage a few years ago and I was so incredibly impressed with myself! It was just not the kind of thing I ever saw myself doing before that. It was seasoned just how I wanted it and my family loved it. I made a big batch and froze portions and we had delicious sausage dishes all winter that year. I’d forgotten about it, so thank you for the reminder. I’ll give this recipe a try!

  6. We have been making all kinds of simple flavored patties for weeknight meals this summer!! This version looks great!! As is, do you think there is enough fat in the lamb for this to be grilled? Or, does it need some additional fat for it to render nicely on a grill? I am thinking it needs a bit extra?

  7. Elina

    This looks fantastic! I love that it consists of very few ingredients. I wanted to know if these patties could be baked instead of fried, and if so, at what temperature. Thank you!

  8. Sharon

    So, theoretically, if you had a husband who “hates” sausage, but loves spiced meat, and all the flavoring so involved here, what would you call this meal? I would like to call it dinner tomorrow!

    1. sparkgrrl658

      i was just thinking of a way to present this to my partner too, haha. i’m thinking of seeing if i can get some mini pitas at the store or some other not-hamburger-bun type bun and doing “middle eastern burgers.”

  9. akondrashova

    It’s like magic: I’m staring into the freezer wondering what to do with six pounds of ground turkey I bought on sale, and fwoosh, this post appears. Somebody’s having an awesome dinner tonight. :D Thank you!

  10. Maro

    Oh, man. I made this tonight with half beef and half dark turkey. Plenty of harissa and we are happily buzzin with spicey deliciousness. The herby yogurt is perfect.

    So. So. Good.

  11. iblameparis

    This looks absolutely delicious. I love food with a lot of Mediterranean flavours. I have bookmarked this and will give it a try! The only thing is that I am – and have Always been – abit hesitant to cumin, fennel (and liquorice, I might add, thought that is thankfully not in the recipe). Would you suggest maybe fresh garlic instead?

  12. Susan

    As a celiac, I can no longer eat most commercial (or even privately-produced) sausage/chorizo/merguez, my faaaavorite 😰 because of either inherent gluten or likely cross-contamination. This recipe makes me SO HAPPY. And you can bet I’ll have to move up a size or two because I will be making it way too often.

  13. Now I am going to have to track down some harissa.

    Curly hair tips for your moppet from one who was once a curly haired moppet: Always comb wet/damp hair, and don’t ever brush. For those times when a full-on hair washing/bath isn’t necessary/possible, fill a spray bottle with 1/4 gentle conditioner, and then top off with water. Spray and comb with wide tooth comb, then just don’t touch it again. Brush is a curse word.

  14. sparkgrrl658

    on monday i finally got around to making my own chorizo courtesy of the homesick texan. i never thought about making my own “sausage” because i thought, even if you skipped the casings, you had to grind up meat and add various fats. simply seasoning ground meat and letting it hang in the fridge honestly never crossed my mind. but man, it was so good (we used it to make tinga de puerco) and now i know i can make it whenever i want. (chorizo and eggs, here i come.) so this merguez recipe is right on time! tomorrow is grocery shopping day, i have a few things to put on the list :)

  15. Abbie

    I can’t print from your website anymore. It just spools and spools and then sits there in my queue. Do you have any suggestions? Is anyone else having this problem? I use Microsoft Edge.

    1. Lorri

      I suggest copy-and-paste. Select the text you want, and copy – then paste onto a word document. You can select the ingredients & written instructions at the same time. Adjust formatting. Title the doc. Save in computer folder for easy reference ; – )

  16. Stephanie

    Imagine for a moment, if you will, that you were a vegetarian who got really excited over the picture (and because you have never ever heard of merguez until reading this post you didn’t think anything of the title) and you love to make harissa and eat things in patty form with dips.

    You ready? How would you replace the lamb in this recipe? Tofu? Cashews? Chickpeas (like differently-seasoned felafel?) What other flavors would you bump up to make up for the taste of the meat?

    Thanks for playing!!!!

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      I wanted to play! :) And it was a success!! I used some QUORN mince (sure it would work with any kind of meat-less mince), which I first soaked in a bit of olive oil and soy sauce for a bit of fat and flavour. Then continued with Deb’s recipe, i.e. added all the herbs and spices etc., but I also added one egg, some grated cheese and panko breadcrumbs to bind it all together. It’s juicy and red/spicy like the Merguez I know, and so, so good! Give it a try :)

      1. Stephanie

        Thank you, Hannant, I will! I often add some extra oil when I’m cooking Quorn or Gardein (the only wheat-free ones I’ve found), but hadn’t thought to soak and then cook!
        I will make this!

        1. I played some more ;) – and added a few things I came across in my research, namely some mashed up beans (I used part of a can of cannellini) and some crumbled, extra firm tofu (which I had frozen for a bit before crumbling – apparently that changes the texture for the better. It was, once again, delicious, and I felt that the beans and tofu added some extra juiciness!

      2. Meleyna

        I like tiny caviar lentils for meatless “meat”balls. Their nubby texture seems to really mimic ground meat. I buy them cooked and vacuum packed just for this sort of thing. (There’s an excellent recipe over on Sprouted Kitchen.) Their dry texture is perfect!

  17. Jamie

    I actually patty-fied your chicken meatball recipe last night for sandwiches, and loved it, so this will definitely be working its way into our meal plan for next week.

  18. Abby

    I made this with lean ground turkey breast instead of lamb (I know, I know…) and it was really delicious and simple. We had it with chickpeas, roasted eggplant, garlic yogurt, and extra harissa – a perfect dinner and great leftovers today.

  19. Karen Burke

    I just made this for dinner using ground chicken, and sriracha in place of Harissa. It was really delicious. I will absolutely make this again.

  20. 44dinner

    I made these tonight to rave reviews! Tasted the Harissa before putting it in and, wow, it is hot stuff. Glad you gave that hint. I put in a heaping teaspoon and that was plenty. Homemade regular pita and the GF pitta recipe from Great British Bake-off for my daughter. A great meal. Thanks so much for this recipe, Deb!

  21. I thought the sauce resembled tazitiki, but after looking at the ingredients there is no cucumber. So it literally is an herby sauce.
    BTW.. I have your Chocolate WIne cake bookmarked still, I know, I’m so lazy! I gotta make it, definitely before xmas. :-)

  22. I don’t know if it’s because the photos are polished or I haven’t had merguez in a long time but this is now my target meal. I will try it as soon as I gather the ingredients. My tummy thanks you(or will thank you later :)

  23. Denise

    Love the spice jars. I searched Amazon and found a Libbey set, is that the ones you have. I like the sealed lid rather than the screw top type.

  24. sinaasappeljetzt

    These are downright delicious and easy to make! The spices in the merguez and the herbs in the yoghurt are so wonderfully combined – we didn’t bother using a fork and licked our fingers after dinner…
    Some alterations: I didn’t find lamb so we went for beef and it turned out wonderful. Also, instead of frying them in the pan, we brushed the merguez with a little olive oil and grilled them on the barbecue, which was perfect.
    Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

  25. Cheryl

    I made this last night, Deb. It was absolutely beautiful. I have leftovers for lunch today (hours away) and am quietly excited!

    I made some flatbread, some garlicky yoghurt (no herbs living in my snail infested garden) and a big salad and rolled it all up with some leftover hummus as well.

    Yum! x

  26. rachel

    Merguez! You read my mind! I have been craving it like crazy since I had it stuffed in a tortelloni at a restaurant a couple of weeks ago. (Delicious idea! I’m stealing it.) Next time you’re in Boston you’ve got to go to Alden and Harlow. (Pickled sweet corn buttermilk cakes appetizers anyone…?) Oh do you recall where you got your marble mortal and pestle? How do you clean it? I have a craggy granite one that they say explicitly NOT to clean with soap, just warm water. So of course now it smells perpetually of cumin, coriander and the like..which I don’t MIND exactly but I occasionally need to grind something for baking/sweet applications.

  27. Gene

    Your moppet is adorable, as an adult with curls the search has been long and hard but Hairstory products are the end of my rainbow. One cleanser, a couple products (and pure aloe) and my hair is happy. Now to find someone to cut it reliably… Also, love your recipes. We’re on a first name basis with you in my house.

  28. Gerley

    OOOOh the ingredients in grams- I love it! Thank you!

    I made it and loved it. I rolled the meat into quasi sausages which worked well. I served it with marinated, roasted cauliflower and it was a good combination as well. Thanks for another winner.

  29. Megan

    This was great. We used ground pork, and served it with homemade pitas and also some of the herb pesto from the summer squash gratin. So easy and will definitely make again. When I do, I’ll use grapeseed oil to cook them though, because the olive oil didn’t do well at such a high heat.

  30. Elean

    SO good. Filled pitas with these (made recipe as written), cucumbers, and the yogurt sauce. I will be making them again in a couple days. YUM! Thank you for all your delicious (and hard) work.

  31. Carissa R.

    A fabulous way to cook & serve these patties is a trick learned from Bon App a few years ago: Cut open a pita, smear the uncooked sausage mixture inside, close it up and grill the whole thing (preferably on a piece of foil as they tend to get dark pretty quickly). As the BA copy reads, “As the lamb cooks inside the pita, the fat will render into the bread, creating a crunchy, compact, vibrantly flavored meat pie that’s unlike any burger you’ve ever had.” Same accoutrements but with crispy, fatty, slightly charred deliciousness as the main? Yes, please. Directions here: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spiced-lamb-burger-51239660

  32. Anna Serridge

    Made these last week and they were delicious, fast and easy. Adding them to our weeknight dinner cycle! My husband and I added a little extra cayenne for a spicier kick. The recipe made enough for a dinner and lunch the next day.

  33. Rita G.

    I made this and loved it! Used piri piri sauce rather than harissa as I couldn’t find it, and it turned out great. I served it with pita bread, lettuce, shredded carrots and the yougurt sauce (to which I added a bit of garlic).
    I look forward to making this again using other types of meat and cooking it in the oven.

  34. AS

    I’m delurking to recommend the Tangle Teezer comb! As a woman with thick, curly hair, I read about it recently and bought the original one after reading reviews online. There is one for curly hair, but some reviews indicated very little difference. Price-wise, they are the same and they were out of the Thick & Curly one when I was buying, which made the decision for me.

    Trust me, anyone out there with curly hair – you will not regret this. I really wish it had existed when I was a child and my mum used to break the teeth of her combs getting the knots out of my hair! https://www.tangleteezer.com/

    1. sparkgrrl658

      oooh, i might check that out. my hair is neither thick nor curly, but as long as i’ve been on this earth it has tangled like no other. and i’m down to my last few bits of an already-broken-in-half wide tooth comb because i still break teeth combing my hair! i can’t even comb it at all once it’s dry, it’ll just frizz and rip out.

      1. AS

        Ooh, I feel for you. My hair isn’t as thick as it was, which is another reason why I really don’t want to be ripping lots of it out with tangles! :(

        I used a wide tooth comb for detangling before I got the Tangle Teezer. I still use it sometimes, but the TT is much gentler. It somehow manages to be a brush and a comb all in one. I have noticed that my hair doesn’t frizz as much after using it even when dry, probably because it doesn’t seem to create as much static as a regular comb.

  35. Ariel

    I’ve made this twice already. So easy and so damn good. The second time I prepped the yogurt sauce and the meat two days in advance, and it was just as delicious. Now I am the kind of person who casually makes homemade merguez for a weeknight dinner. Thank you!

  36. Meagan

    So, the patties are sitting in my fridge, ready to be made for dinner tonight – but in my sleep deprived state (toddler and 4 month old to blame) I forgot to toast the cumin and fennel seeds. Is it going to be too strong and inconsistent in flavor now? Wondering if i should give the family a heads up or just pretend that’s how they are supposed to taste. Thoughts?

    1. sparkgrrl658

      i left out the fennel (just don’t care for it) but i didn’t toast my cumin seeds and didn’t notice a difference. (tbh i was just too lazy, haha. i planned to use ground cumin but ran out.)

  37. sparkgrrl658

    success! i bought the linked harissa paste from amazon – the tube is actually really big, like a full sized toothpaste tube. (had it in my mind it would be teeny.) never worked with harissa before but it was so good. definitely a spice that sneaks up on you though. you get to taste the flavors, then get the spice.

    i used ground beef and left out the fennel seeds (just used a bit of extra cumin – half ground and half seeds i chop-bashed with a knife). used the full 2T of paste, maybe a little more. bought some mini pitas at the store and did the patties one by one, smashing to the size of the pita. at around 1/4-1/2″ thick, i got five patties from a pound of meat.

    topped with the yogurt (makes the dish imho) before putting the lids on. i used an individual sized cup of yogurt, plus a spoonful each of mayo & sour cream (just wanted it thicker). i used dill, cilantro, mint, and a clove of garlic, grated. made the yogurt and the meat earlier in the day so it could hang out and just so it’d be easy to throw dinner together. i had mine with a cucumber tomato salad, and boyperson got waffle fries :) excited to find more things to do with harissa!

  38. Uklisa

    Can I make these with beef and if so what percentage of fat should they contain? They sound so yummy I can’t wait to give them a try for dinner one night this week! Thank you for inspiring new ideas in my kitchen!