Skip to Content

Niter Kibbeh – Ethiopian Spiced Ghee

Sharing is caring!

This is a simplified yet equally as tasty niter kibbeh recipe.

To make traditional niter kibbeh, you start with unsalted butter and then slowly simmer with the spices and herbs for about an hour.

As the butter simmers it separates and the solids are skimmed off to make a spiced clarified butter. I find it easier to start with ghee which is what I have done here. This popular spiced butter is added to Ethiopian stews but it is also delicious brushed onto grilled chicken, fish and vegetables for grilling or frying.

Niter kibbeh

This niter kibbeh is delicious and will keep, covered in the fridge for up to three months.

How to use niter kibbeh… 

You will find a good selection of Ethiopian recipes on my blog that call for niter kibbeh. It is usually added at the end of cooking though it can also be added at the beginning. 

This spiced ghee adds amazing flavour. 

Is there a substitute for niter kibbeh?

Not really but you could just use ghee. The niter kibbeh adds a subtle flavour of spice so I highly recommend making some.

You can also purchase niter kebbeh online and at specialist Ethiopian grocers. 

Step by step…

Ingredients for niter kibbeh

It’s always a good idea to get all of your ingredients together before cooking.

Roasting spices

Roast the whole spices over medium high heat until fragrant and warm to the touch.

Melting ghee with spices

Stir the spices for about 30 seconds and then immediately add the ghee to melt in the pan.

Simmer ingredients

Bring the ghee to a simmer and then add the remaining ingredients.

How long does the ghee need to simmer to make niter kibbeh?

Good question! I usually just simmer the ghee over a medium heat with the spices for about 30 minutes. 

I have seen a few super keen chefs infuse the spices in the ghee for up to an hour. It does strengthen the flavour.

If I were making a special Ethiopian dinner, I would cook my niter kibbeh for about an hour but for a shorter time if just cooking for family. 

Simmering niter kibbeh

Stir the ingredients into the ghee and simmer over medium heat or 30 to 60 minutes.

Simmering ghee

Be sure not to burn the onion and garlic. Just simmer over a medium heat and watch it carefully.

Straining niter kibbeh

Strain through a fine sieve lined with a cheese cloth.

Hot niter kibbeh

The spiced ghee will be clear. Place it in the fridge to use as needed.

Niter kibbeh

The niter kibbeh will harden in the fridge.


Yield: 250ml

Niter Kibbeh - Ethiopian Spiced Ghee

Niter kibbeh
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 10 green cardamom pods, seeds only
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 450g (1 lb) ghee
  • 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 1.2 tsp ground turmeric


  1. Place the cardamom seeds, cloves and cinnamon stick in a large skillet and roast over medium high heat until warm to the touch and fragrant but not yet smoking. This should only take about a minute.
  2. Add the ghee and bring it to a simmer in the pan with the whold spices and then add the remaining ingredients.
  3. Simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour and then strain through a fine sieve. Your niter kibbeh can be stored in the fridge for about 6 months and can also be frozen for much longer.

Did you like this recipe?

Please join me on Facebook where I share all my latest recipes and videos. Just click that Facebook icon on the left and let's get to know each other!

I hope you enjoy using this niter kibbeh recipe in your Ethiopian dishes. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 


Sunday 10th of July 2022

Interestingly enough, my son-in-law in Manchester wrote me about your BBQ book, a couple of days after I had ordered it... nice book and now that I am back home, I plan to use it extensively this season. As to your Niter Kibbeh recipe, I must ask for clarification on the quantity of ground turmeric... is it actually 1.2 teaspoons or 1-2 teaspoons. I cannot get "exotic" ingredients in my small farming community, so make a lot of my own stuff. I wish to make the Niter Kibbeh, so that I might make Awaze, to go in my Ethiopian Spiced Black Lentils. I am excited to get moving on this, so look forward to hearing back or even being directed to another source. I have been cooking for over 60 years (not professionally) and never have seen a reference to 1.2 teaspoons.

Thank you very much,

-Richard Rowe Jacksonville, Illinois USA

Caroline Toombs

Monday 11th of July 2022

Thanks for your message. Use 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric. Kind regards Dan

Skip to Recipe

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!