Savor the Aroma of Authentic Niter Kibbeh with our Recipe

It is said that the secret to any great dish is in the seasoning, and for Ethiopian cuisine, spiced clarified butter, also known as Niter Kibbeh, is an essential element that adds a delicious depth of flavor. This rich and aromatic butter is infused with spices and herbs that are unique to Ethiopian cooking, giving it a distinct and authentic taste.

As an Israeli chef with a passion for international cuisine, I have always been fascinated by the bold flavors and intricate techniques of Ethiopian food. And since discovering this traditional recipe for spiced butter, I have been eager to share it with food enthusiasts around the world.

In this article, I will guide you through the process of creating your own Niter Kibbeh at home, using a range of classic spices such as cardamom, gingerroot, and fenugreek seeds. With just a few simple steps, you can elevate any dish with the warm and fragrant notes of Ethiopian spiced butter.

So come along on this culinary journey with me as we explore the wonders of Ethiopian cuisine and discover how to make this deliciously indulgent and versatile ingredient from scratch.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Ethiopian Spiced Butter (Niter Kibbeh)
Ethiopian Spiced Butter (Niter Kibbeh)

Have you ever tasted the rich, complex flavors of Ethiopian cuisine? Or perhaps you’re already a fan and want to explore more of its unique dishes? Either way, let me introduce you to the wonder that is Ethiopian Spiced Butter, also known as Niter Kibbeh.

This spiced clarified butter is commonly used in many Ethiopian dishes and adds a depth of flavor that is hard to replicate with any other ingredient. The combination of herbs and spices like basil, oregano, cumin, and fenugreek creates a symphony in your mouth that will leave you begging for more.

Not only does this recipe add complexity to dishes, but it’s also incredibly versatile. Use it as a base for sautéing vegetables or meat, or even spread it on bread for an indulgent treat. The possibilities are endless.

And if you’re worried about the butter content, fear not! This recipe uses unsalted butter which can be used in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Plus, with the added health benefits of the herbs and spices used in this recipe, you’ll feel good about using it in your meals.

So whether you’re looking to expand your culinary horizons or just add some extra pizzazz to your cooking routine, give this Ethiopian Spiced Butter a try. Your taste buds will thank you.

Ingredient List

 Aromatic and flavorful: Ethiopian spiced butter, also known as Niter Kibbeh!
Aromatic and flavorful: Ethiopian spiced butter, also known as Niter Kibbeh!

Ingredients for Ethiopian Spiced Butter (Niter Kibbeh) Recipe
Spices and herbs

  • 1 tablespoon basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5-6 cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, crushed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 inches of fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced


  • 1 small onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Other ingredients

  • 1 pound unsalted butter

Note: Make sure to use unsalted butter as salted butter can alter the taste of the spiced butter.

The Recipe How-To

 This spiced butter is a game-changer in cooking.
This spiced butter is a game-changer in cooking.

Now for the focal point of this article – the recipe itself. Don’t be intimidated by the spices and herbs in this Ethiopian Spiced Butter recipe, because making it is surprisingly easy. Follow the steps below carefully, and soon you’ll have a fragrant and flavorful butter that will take your dishes to a whole new level.


  • 1 lb unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh gingerroot
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 cardamom pod (or 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cumin


  1. Melt the butter over low heat in a large pot.
  2. Once the butter has melted, add the onion, garlic, gingerroot, fenugreek seeds, and cardamom pod.
  3. Add dried oregano, turmeric, nutmeg, and cumin; stir well.
  4. Simmer on low heat for about an hour or until the solids have separated from the oil and settled on the bottom.
  5. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof container, discarding any solids.
  6. Allow the butter to cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container.

And there you have it – your own homemade Niter Kibbeh, Ethiopian spiced clarified butter! This recipe is incredibly versatile and can be used in many Ethiopian dishes, such as stews, sautéed vegetables or meat dishes like ‘doro wat’. The butter’s unique flavor profile will make any meal extra special!

Substitutions and Variations

 Say goodbye to plain butter and hello to a world of spices!
Say goodbye to plain butter and hello to a world of spices!

Creating a unique twist on any recipe is always exciting, and the Ethiopian Spiced Butter recipe is no exception. Here are some substitutions and variations that you can try to give your Niter Kibbeh a distinct flavor:

– For a vegan version of the recipe, use coconut or vegetable oil instead of unsalted butter. This will still give a rich taste and ensure that the flavors from other spices blend well.

– If you want to increase the heat in your Ethiopian Spiced Butter, add some chili flakes or cayenne pepper to the mixture while cooking.

– There are plenty of other herbs and spices you can substitute or add to make the Niter Kibbeh more aromatic. Coriander, thyme, rosemary, sage, and bay leaves all work well with this recipe.

– You can add some sweetness to the spiced butter by putting some cinnamon sticks or brown sugar while cooking. This will give a warm, sweet flavor contrast that will enhance its taste.

– In Ethiopia, this butter is traditionally made with ghee, which is essentially clarified butter. To make ghee, carefully melt unsalted butter over low heat until clarified before adding spices such as Bishop seeds (Nigella Sativa) or black cumin.

The possibilities in creating your own variation on this authentic Niter Kibbeh are immense. Experimenting with different herbs and spices can be fun and rewarding as it will yield various delightful flavor profiles. Yet remember that taste is subjective and seasoning should be adjusted according to personal preference. Make sure to note any changes you made along with any adjustments needed so you’ll get consistent results in the future recipes you create.

Serving and Pairing

 Bring Ethiopia's vibrant and delicious flavors to your kitchen with just a few simple ingredients.
Bring Ethiopia’s vibrant and delicious flavors to your kitchen with just a few simple ingredients.

One of the great things about Ethiopian Spiced Butter (Niter Kibbeh) is its versatility in the kitchen. It’s an essential ingredient in many Ethiopian dishes, but it can also be used as a flavorful spread for bread or a dip for vegetables.

Asides from its use as an ingredient, it can be paired with certain foods to enhance their flavor. Here are some of my favorite ways to serve and pair Ethiopian Spiced Butter (Niter Kibbeh):

– A dollop of Niter Kibbeh on top of grilled steak or roasted chicken will take your dish to the next level. It’s also delicious when used as a marinade for meats before cooking.

– Spread Niter Kibbeh onto warm, crusty bread for an addictive flavor experience that’s perfect for appetizers or snacks.

– Stir Niter Kibbeh into hot cooked rice or quinoa for a unique take on grains. You could also add some diced vegetables like onions or peppers to make a complete side dish.

– Drizzle Niter Kibbeh over roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots or cauliflower. The butter’s spices and herbs elevate the sweet and savory flavors of these vegetables.

– Whip up some scrambled eggs with Niter Kibbeh and chopped fresh herbs like basil leaves or dried oregano for a breakfast that will get your day off to a flavorful start.

There are so many ways to serve and pair Ethiopian Spiced Butter (Niter Kibbeh), whether you want something simple or more complex. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations to find what works best for you!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Give your dishes a unique twist and complexity with this homemade spiced butter.
Give your dishes a unique twist and complexity with this homemade spiced butter.

One of the best things about Ethiopian Spiced Butter, or Niter Kibbeh, is that it can be made ahead of time and stored for several weeks or even months. In fact, many Ethiopian families make large batches of this spiced clarified butter to keep on hand for cooking and seasoning their food.

To make ahead, simply follow the recipe instructions and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The flavor will actually deepen over time as the spices infuse into the butter, so it’s recommended to let it sit for at least a few days before using.

When you’re ready to use the spiced butter, simply spoon out what you need and melt it in a pan over low heat. If you prefer a smoother texture, you can strain out the spices using cheesecloth or a coffee filter.

If you have any leftover Ethiopian Spiced Butter (which is unlikely), store it in the same manner in the fridge or even freeze it for longer shelf life. Simply thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Reheating this spiced clarified butter is also easy – simply heat it up slowly over low heat until it melts and becomes liquid again. However, be sure not to heat it up too quickly or at high heat as this may cause additional water to separate from the butter.

Overall, making and storing Ethiopian Spiced Butter is a great way to add authentic flavor to your recipes without any extra effort. It keeps well and tastes delicious every time!

Tips for Perfect Results

 The spices in this butter lend a gentle heat, a balancing sweetness, and a subtle earthiness to your dishes.
The spices in this butter lend a gentle heat, a balancing sweetness, and a subtle earthiness to your dishes.

When it comes to making authentic Niter Kibbeh, there are a few tips and tricks that can help take your spiced clarified butter to the next level. From ingredient selection to cooking techniques, every detail plays a role in creating the perfect Ethiopian-spiced butter.

Firstly, using high-quality unsalted butter is critical. Opt for fresh, cultured butter from a reputable manufacturer for best results. Cheap or low-quality butter will lack the full flavor required for an authentic niter kibbeh recipe.

Secondly, when it comes to the spices and herbs, don’t skimp out on quality. Freshly ground cumin and coriander will give your kibbeh ethiopian spiced butter a deeper and richer flavor profile. When blending the bishop seeds, black cumin and cardamom pods together, make sure they are fully combined before adding them to the pot.

In addition, don’t be afraid to use more garlic and ginger than specified in the recipe if you’re looking for a bolder flavor profile. The garlic ginger infusion is a critical step in making an authentic niter kibbeh recipe, so don’t overlook it as a minor detail.

When cooking the ingredients for your spiced clarified butter, keep an eye on the temperature of the pot. Cooking on low heat ensures that all herbs and spices are infused without burning them or causing any discomforting odor. Be patient; this is not a dish that should be rushed.

Lastly, be sure to strain your spiced clarified butter through cheesecloth or another fine meshed sieve into an airtight container such as a glass jar with lid. This helps ensure no unwanted bits or pieces end up in your finished product.

By following these tips and using high-quality ingredients, you’ll be on your way to making delicious authentic niter kibbeh – perfect for any Ethiopian cuisine craving or anytime you need spiced butter!


As we come closer to the end of our recipe article, it’s time to address a few frequently asked questions about making Ethiopian Spiced Butter, also known as Niter Kibbeh. You may be wondering about some ingredients or cooking techniques, or the best ways to store and use your Niter Kibbeh butter. By reading this section, you’ll gain a better understanding of how versatile and delicious this spiced clarified butter can be, and how to overcome any obstacles that might come your way while following the recipe. So let’s explore some of these FAQs together, shall we?

Is niter kibbeh the same as ghee?

It’s important to note that there is a distinction between niter kibbeh and ghee. While ghee is plain and lacks any additional flavors, niter kibbeh, which is considered Ethiopia’s signature dish, is a spiced and flavored version of clarified butter.

What is Ethiopian butter made of?

To create niter kibbeh, a type of Ethiopian clarified butter, unsalted butter is slowly cooked with a blend of spices and aromatics. The process is comparable to making Indian ghee but with unique additions such as red onion, garlic, ginger, fenugreek seeds, korarima (black cardamom seeds), turmeric, cumin, oregano, and thyme.

What do you use niter kibbeh for?

Experience the taste of Ethiopia with some amazing dishes that feature the flavorful niter kibbeh, including Slow-Cooked Spicy Chicken with Hard-Boiled Eggs (Doro Wat), Sizzling Spiced Beef (Siga Tibs), Beef Tartare (Kitfo), and much more. These recipes have been adapted from the book “Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa” (2019) by Yohanis Gebreyesus with Jeff Koehler.

What is niter kibbeh made of?

Niter Kibbeh, also known as Nit’ir Qibe, is a crucial element in Ethiopian cooking. It’s created by clearing up butter after mixing it with aromatic spices and herbs to enhance its flavor.

Bottom Line

: In conclusion, the Ethiopian Spiced Butter recipe (Niter Kibbeh) is a must-try for any food enthusiast. This delicious and flavorful clarified butter is versatile and can be used in various recipes to add an exotic twist to your dishes. Whether you are a beginner or experienced cook, following these detailed instructions, tips and recommendations will guarantee you perfect results every single time.

So, what are you waiting for? Venture into the world of Ethiopian cuisine and make yourself a jar of authentic Niter Kibbeh today! With this recipe, you are not only getting a taste of Ethiopia, but you are also embracing its rich cultural heritage. Impress your family and friends with your new culinary skills, and take your taste buds on an unforgettable journey.

Finally, don’t forget to experiment with different spices and herbs to create your unique spin on this traditional recipe. The possibilities are endless with Niter Kibbeh; let your creativity flow. With its amazing flavors and aromas, this spiced clarified butter will have you coming back for more. Trust me; once you try it, you’ll fall in love with it!

Ethiopian Spiced Butter (Niter Kibbeh)

Ethiopian Spiced Butter (Niter Kibbeh) Recipe

This spicy flavorful clarified butter is a staple in Ethiopian cuisine. It's used for sauteing and adding flavor to dishes. This recipe is based on one posted on the Immaculate Bites blog.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine African
Servings 1 cups
Calories 2686.1 kcal


  • 1 lb unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom pod, crushed lightly with the side of a knife blade
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 -2 tablespoon gingerroot, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 5 -6 basil leaves


  • Place butter in a medium sauce-pan over low heat and melt.
  • Simmer until the surface is completely coated with foam. Take care not to let it brown.
  • While simmering, skim off the foam as it rises to the surface until completely clear.
  • Add all the remaining ingredients. Continue cooking on low heat for about 15- 20 minutes. Pass it through a cheese cloth or sieve . It is now ready to be used . It can be stored in a tightly covered container for about a month in the fridge.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 576gCalories: 2686.1kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 6.5gFat: 295.7gSaturated Fat: 186.8gCholesterol: 780.9mgSodium: 52mgFiber: 3.2gSugar: 3.1g
Keyword < 30 Mins, African, Ethiopian
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recommended Recipes Just For You

None found