How to Make a Tagine Pot

Bring Your Pots Into The Kitchen and Start Cooking! Learn How to Make a Tagine–a Traditional Moroccan Pot!

How to Make a Tagine Pot

A few years ago a friend of mine had us over for dinner and served one of the most delicious dishes I had ever had. It was a tagine (traditional Moroccan dish named after the ceramic pot it is cooked in) and my mouth waters just thinking of it. Since my husband is an excellent cook, I have often thought about making a tagine for him.* And after flipping through our book In the Potter’s Kitchen, I might just get around to it sooner rather than later.

Today, I am sharing the excerpt from In the Potter’s Kitchen that is inspiring me. Plus a recipe for a Shrimp Tagine that will make your mouth water! – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

*I know, I know. A tagine is a self-serving gift, but I swear he would love it too!

A tagine is a traditional Moroccan pot, much shallower than a bean pot, with a tall conical lid. Traditionally this pot is made from earthenware clay, glazed or unglazed, although it can be made from flameware or micaceous clay as well. Tagines can also be made from stoneware, but in that case they can be used in the oven only. This form is traditionally used to cook meat and vegetables to serve with couscous, but enthusiastic cooks have tried a wide variety of dishes in this style of pot.

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How to Make a Tagine PotAn earthenware tagine is suited for long slow cooking, with no high heat techniques such as sautéing. While modern Moroccan cookbooks frequently suggest cooking vegetables in oil in a tagine as a first step, traditional Moroccan cooks are more likely to layer everything in the cold tagine, allow it to come to a simmer, and add oil or butter towards the end of the cook time, for flavoring. A tagine can be used either on the stovetop or in the oven, although a large tagine may be too tall to be conveniently used in most ovens.

Projects for the studio AND the kitchen!

It’s pretty unusual to have dinner at a potter’s house and leave hungry. Cooking and making pottery go hand in hand, and Sumi von Dassow’s book In the Potter’s Kitchen merges these complementary passions! After an overview of considerations one needs to make when choosing clay for making cookware, each chapter includes an overview of the type of ware being discussed, design considerations, projects for making cookware, and of course, recipes to cook in the cookware, making this book a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

Tom Wirt, who makes flameware tagines, says “The secret to the tagine is that as it simmers on the stovetop, the moisture condenses on the lid and bastes the dish constantly. The shape of the lid is to accommodate the traditional chunk of meat or large vegetable in the center.Vegetables cut in long strips are then stacked around that center and are more braised than steamed in cooking. Relatively little water is used in cooking the dish.”

How to Make a Tagine Pot

Traditional Moroccan tagines often have a hole in the lid near the knob; this hole is not necessary and seems to be purely decorative. According to chef Emily Swantner, “The top of the tagine is a bit removed from the flame, which allows steam to gather at the top of the pot and drip back down on the food, which keeps it from drying out. So, you DON’T want the steam to escape, just the opposite.”

In fact, if the lid has a hole, some cooks stuff the hole with a bit of vegetable.

How to Make a Tagine Pot

Left: Farraday Newsome, Dark Blue Tagine with Oranges, glazed terra cotta.
Right: Earthenware Tagine by Sumi Von Dassow.

How to Make a Tagine PotCuring a Tagine (from

1. Submerge the tagine in water for at least 1 hour. If you can’t submerge it, place it in a clean sink and slowly fill the base of the tagine with water until it stops absorbing it. Place the tagine lid upside down inside the base and fill it as well. Let stand for at least an hour to allow full absorption of water into the clay. An overnight soak is even better. Empty excess water and allow to dry for 5 minutes.

2. Spread olive oil all over the base and lid with your hand. Use 2 tablespoons of olive oil for the base and one tablespoon for the lid.

3. While the tagine is still wet with the oil, place it in the oven and set the temperature at 350°F and leave for 45 minutes. The evaporation of moisture creates a vacuum effect to pull the olive oil into the clay to seal it. Then leave the tagine in the turned off oven to cool down.

Want more tips for making pots for the kitchen? Learn how to make a lightweight Japanese teapot, a square baking dish, and a microwave baker! Tell us about your favorite kitchen pots in the comments below!

**First published in 2014
  • Am I misunderstanding? All these comments are asking about micaceous clay bodies, but the article says they are using a low fire earthenware clay. Please clarify: can I use earthenware or must I be using micaceous clay for stovetop cooking?

    • Hi Am, you can use earthenware, but you’ll need to cook over a very small flame to prevent cracking. Most potters opt to use a micaceous clay body to prevent cracking from thermal expansion. -CAN Staff

      • Thanks for the reply. I suppose that means no to putting a dish directly on an electric burner? What if I build in feet to hold it above the burner. Any thoughts? This would be for my own use as an experiment, I would never sell this to a customer. Thanks!

  • beverly g.

    Hello John:
    I knew that it had to be available somewhere, but had no idea as to how to find it.
    Really appreciate this.
    thanks so much for this info.

  • New Mexico Clay markets micaceous clay, as does Coyote Clay (although Coyote says theirs is not suitable for cooking.) New Mexico Clay also markets the mica in two suitable particle sizes (20C Coarse and 60C Fine), so you could wedge it into your favorite earthenware to make micaceous clay!

    • Micaceous clay, powdered moca and flameware are 3, non-substitutable technologies. Micaceous clay is a naturally formed low fire clay that has chemically incorporated mica. It will withstand gentle srovetop and fire.
      Adding powdered mica does NOT give you the same clay.
      Flameware, as available from Seattle Clay is a high fire formula derived from work done in the 70’s at Alfred University. It has very strict working, glazing and firing requirements. If you treat it like standard high fire clays it will crack or explode in use. Do not sell this without thorough testing in a freezer to flame procedure. And it may not fail until it has gone through some 30 heat cycles.

  • beverly g.

    This is wonderful. Where can I find micaceous [flame ware] clay? I’ve looked at the Axner and Laguna websites, but they don’t list micaceous as a clay body they carry. Any ideas as to where I could purchase micaceous?

    • Most of the true Micaceous clay in the US is now found in the desert SW, and much of it is in sacred and restricted Native American land. There are a few people giving instruction with access to clay. You cannot simply add the ground mica and have the same clay.

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