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If you’re considering adding a tagine, a North African cooking vessel, to your cookware collection, the choices can be overwhelming. In addition to traditional unglazed and glazed clay tagines that are handmade by artisans in North Africa, you’ll find a wide selection of modern tagines crafted in other materials such as ceramic flameware, enameled cast iron, stainless steel, and coated aluminum.
There are pros and cons to using each of these various kinds of tagines. Some people prefer cooking in unglazed clay because it’s most authentic and imparts an earthy essence to dishes like Moroccan chicken. As Moroccan food expert Nada Kiffa of A La Marocaine says, “We care mostly about the flavor, and the flavor comes from the pot itself, the unglazed clay.”
However, slow cooking over low heat with fragile clay pottery is not for everyone, so she understands why cooks might choose another option. This is where less traditional tagine pots have an advantage. Most modern tagines can handle much higher heat, making them a comfortable choice for cooks who either don’t want to worry about ceramics cracking from thermal shock or who aren’t quite ready to make the leap into clay pot cooking.
No matter your own cooking style or needs, our top picks for the best tagines will help you decide on the perfect one for you.
Best Overall: Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Moroccan Tagine
Can be used on any heat source
Oven and broiler safe up to 500 degrees
Requires no pre-seasoning
Won’t impart unique flavor that unglazed clay does
Le Creuset cookware is some of the very best out there, and its beautiful enameled cast iron tagines with colorful ceramic tops won’t disappoint. But beyond Le Creuset’s quality craftsmanship and the tagine’s modern, striking appearance are function and versatility that any serious home cook will appreciate. It’s these features, as well as Le Creuset’s reputation, that have earned this particular tagine our top pick.
The cast iron tagine base can be used on any type of stove—a big plus if you have induction or glass—and its enameled interior is nonstick and can withstand high heats required for browning, searing, broiling, and roasting. This offers distinct advantages over traditional tagines, which must be used with relatively low heat. It also makes it more versatile, so you may find yourself preparing far more than just Moroccan tagine recipes with it. We also love that the tagine requires no pre-seasoning and is easy to clean. The smaller 2.5-quart size should be adequate for a family of four and with proper care should last a lifetime.
Le Creuset’s enameled cast iron cookware is also a top choice of Nargisse Benkabbou, author of the cookbook Casablanca: My Moroccan Food (view at Amazon). Nargisse encourages people new to Moroccan cooking to get started with whatever cookware they have at home. But, she says, “I usually recommend using enameled cast iron,” adding that Le Creuset’s Dutch oven (view at Amazon) can double as a tagine, albeit without the conical top.
Best Budget: Uno Casa 3.6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Moroccan Tagine
Excellent quality and design
Durable and versatile
Includes oven mitts and recipe e-book
No size or color options
Uno Casa delivers a quality, budget-friendly tagine for home cooks who want the durability, versatility, and attractive modern styling of an enameled cast iron tagine without the hefty price tag often associated with them. We find Uno Casa’s tagines to be generously sized, well-made, and an affordable second choice to our front-runner. The bold red ceramic tops feature a traditional conical design, essential for returning condensed steam back to the food and helping meats and veggies braise to tender perfection.
As with other cast iron tagines, you won’t be limited to stewing and braising Moroccan tagines over low heat. When not preparing a stew, you can use the base alone for pan- or stir-frying, browning or searing meats, cooking eggs, and more. It’s safe to use on whatever cooktop you own, and it can be placed in an oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. As an extra plus, Uno Casa includes double oven mitts and a Moroccan recipe e-book for cooking inspiration.
Best Unglazed: Casablanca Market Moroccan Cooking Tagine
Quality artisanal craftsmanship
Sturdy design should last for years with proper care
No size or style options
Can’t be used on all stoves
Casablanca Market’s unglazed tagine is ideal for cooks who want to use traditional, artisanal cookware to create authentic Moroccan dishes at home. We like that this particular tagine is especially strong and sturdy, making it a good choice for those who are new to clay pot cooking as well as those who want clay cookware durable enough to pass the test of time. We’re also drawn to its simple rustic styling with a slightly domed top and subtle etching.
You’ll need to season this tagine before cooking with it the first time, which we consider part of the charm and pleasure of owning clay cookware. Then, with proper care and repeated use, the unglazed clay should naturally become stronger and less porous, and impart more flavor to the food. Casablanca Market’s tagine can be used on the stovetop or in the oven up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. On the stove, of course, you should plan to use a diffuser.
Nada Kiffa of A La Marocaine prefers unglazed clay tagines, which require more careful handling than modern materials. She offers the following tips to extend the life of a traditional tagine.
- Be sure to season an unglazed clay tagine before first use, and again if it’s sat unused for a year or longer. “This is an important step for strengthening a clay tagine and helping it to be less porous,” Nada says, adding that seasoning is also a good idea for glazed ceramic tagine.
- Avoid thermal shock by not subjecting the tagine to extreme or rapid changes in temperature. For example, you shouldn’t place a hot tagine on a cold granite counter, and you shouldn’t place a cold tagine in a preheated oven.
- Don’t use strong soap products to clean an unglazed clay tagine. Part of the appeal of clay cookware is its ability to retain seasoning with time, so try to use only water and baking soda for after-meal scrubbing. “For burnt on bits, an overnight soak in water, scraping with a spoon, and good old-fashioned elbow grease should do the trick,” Nada says.
Best Glazed: Clay Coyote Flameware Tagine
Clay Coyote Flameware is lead-, cadmium- and nickel-free
Microwave and dishwasher safe
No size choices
Clay Coyote is a pottery gallery and studio that makes its own line of handmade, wheel-thrown flameware, including a gorgeous handcrafted ceramic tagine that’s as much a work of art as it is a piece of cookware. Beautiful artisanal craftsmanship plus the durability of flameware make it our top pick for a glazed tagine.
Because its flameware base is stronger and more versatile than traditional glazed Moroccan ceramics, the Clay Coyote tagine can withstand high direct heat without cracking or breaking. It’s safe to use without a diffuser on electric or gas burners, over charcoal, or in the oven. It can also be used in the microwave (yes, really!) and dishwasher, and the manufacturer says it's lead-, cadmium-, and nickel-free and safe for people with metal allergies.
Best Large Capacity: Cooking Tagines Moroccan Extra Large Glazed Tagine
Authentic imported Moroccan cookware
Easy to clean
Not suitable for every type of cooktop
Requires a heat diffuser
This extra-large glazed tagine is a great choice if you regularly cook for four to six people and want to prepare tagines the traditional way—by slow-cooking in handmade Moroccan cookware over low heat. The tagine is labeled lead-free, an important prerequisite for any glazed ceramic cookware that you select, particularly if imported from North Africa.
Its extra-large base can hold generous servings of chicken, meat, veggies, or fish, but we also like the lid’s traditional straight-sided conical design and simple painted decoration. It’s an attractive, authentic piece of Moroccan pottery nice enough to display as a décor piece when not in use, yet not so ornate or fragile that you need to be afraid to put it to work. It will look right at home on the stove simmering away next to other dishes that you might be preparing. As with other imported ceramic Moroccan tagines, pre-seasoning is recommended, and you’ll want a diffuser to avoid direct heat making contact with the tagine’s bottom. Unfortunately, it’s not recommended for use on stoves other than gas or electric.
Best Ceramic: Emile Henry 3.7-Quart Flame Tagine
No need to worry about thermal shock
Weighs less than cast iron
Requires less oil
Not as versatile as enameled cast iron
Emile Henry’s Flame® Ceramic Tagine may sport a modern look and be much stronger than a typical Moroccan ceramic tagine, but the French cookware manufacturer still recommends that it be used in the same manner as a traditional ceramic tagine—by long, slow simmering over low heat. That’s a recommendation we love, as Moroccan cooks know that slow cooking renders the best flavor.
Nonetheless, Emile Henry’s patented Flame® Ceramic technology allows its cookware to be subjected to much higher heat, so go ahead and brown your meat or sauté onions or veggies. You can even use less oil because the glaze is highly resistant. Even better, this ceramic tagine is not at risk of thermal shock, which means you can prep a meal and put it in the fridge, and then later transfer the cold tagine to the hot stove or oven without fear of cracking it. We also like that it can be used without a diffuser on most cooktop surfaces, and that it’s dishwasher safe or easy to clean by hand.
Best Metal: Cooks Standard Multi-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Tagine
High-quality, multi-ply construction
Includes both a conical top and tempered glass lid
Compatible with all types of stoves
Oven safe to 500 degrees
Not available in a smaller size
Snug-fitting lid may cause spillovers
This Cooks Standard Multi-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Tagine is our favorite metal tagine. Paired with the ceramic conical tagine lid, it functions like a traditional tagine for preparing Moroccan and other North African dishes. However, Cooks Standard also includes a bonus tempered glass lid so that the tagine base can be used for conventional cooking or oven roasting, too. This is perfect for cooks who want a high-quality tagine but hesitate to invest in single-function cookware.
The tagine base is made of 18/10 stainless steel with an aluminum core for even heat distribution. Its metal construction makes it safe to use on all heat sources including glass, ceramic, and induction stovetops. No diffuser is necessary, and the stainless steel will clean up beautifully by hand or in the dishwasher. We like that the base has stainless steel handles for ease of transport, but a base without handles is also available. The tagine lid fits quite tightly to the base, so it may need to be propped open to avoid spillovers.
Le Creuset’s enameled cast iron tagine (view at Amazon) is our top pick because it’s a durable, versatile piece of cookware that can be used for much more than braising traditional Moroccan stews. However, purists who want the most authentic tagine cooking experience and who aren’t afraid of traditional clay pot cooking might prefer a Moroccan Unglazed Tagine (view at Amazon), which imparts a subtle earthy essence to anything cooked in it.
What to Look for in a Tagine
When trying to decide which tagine is right for you, you’ll want to consider factors such as design, material, and size. And then, of course, there’s the matter of whether or not a tagine lid should have a hole. Let’s start with design.
Whether you like rustic or artisanal cookware or bright and shiny showpieces, these are some common design points to look for.
- The Top: While some modern tagines feature uniquely shaped, eye-catching tops, you may want to stick with a more traditionally shaped one. The best tagines have distinctive conical or domed tops that return condensed steam to the pot, continually basting the food with its own cooking liquids. A modern or artistic interpretation of a tagine lid might not offer the same benefit.
- The Fit: The lid should fit neatly to the base and nestle inside the tagine’s rim, but not so snugly as to prevent steam escaping. This is where the presence or absence of a hole in the lid may make a difference.
- The Hole: Some Moroccan clay or ceramic tagine lids have a hole while others do not. It’s logical to wonder if the hole is even necessary. Some experts claim the hole is an aesthetic choice made by the potter and serves no purpose; others say that it functions as a steam vent in a tagine with a lid that fits tightly to the base. We don't think a hole is critical and shouldn’t be a deciding factor; if you do get some bubbling over, a toothpick or tip of a spoon can be used to prop open the lid just enough to allow steam to escape.
- The Base: In addition, you’ll want to look at the base of the tagine. Is it heavy and solid, so that it retains heat and allows for simmering and braising over low heat? Does it sit flat and is the interior smooth? Is it too deep (or not deep enough) to your liking? Extra deep bases make it a little more difficult to eat from the dish communally by hand as is done in Morocco, but you might like the extra room they provide.
The character of the tagine and the way it handles heat is largely determined by the material used to make it. Here are some special considerations for each type.
- Unglazed Clay: Each clay tagine from Morocco is handmade, so don’t be alarmed by minor cosmetic imperfections, asymmetry in its design, or if the top doesn’t fit as precisely to the base as you’d expect. Do, however, pay attention to the tagine’s thickness and heft (thicker, heavier tagines tend to be more durable) and be on the lookout for cracks, chips, or holes in the clay. You will need to season this type of tagine before its first use, and it’s not uncommon for unglazed clay to initially be quite porous. This means that you may need to top off cooking liquids for the first several uses, until the clay has strengthened naturally from repeated cooking. You will also need a diffuser (view at Amazon), particularly for an electric cooktop, since the bottom of a clay tagine shouldn’t make direct contact with its heat source.
- Lead-Free Glazed Tagines: Be sure you’re selecting a cooking tagine and not a serving tagine; the latter tends to be more ornately painted or decorated and is not intended to be used as cookware. Glazed cooking tagines should be inspected for chips and cracks, particularly in the base’s interior where such imperfections can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Additionally, use due diligence to ensure you’re selecting a tagine that’s been fired with lead-free glaze. Even if a label or sticker indicates that an imported Moroccan glazed tagine is lead-free, you’d be wise to use a lead testing kit (view at Amazon) to confirm the tagine is indeed lead-free before cooking in it. Seasoning is also recommended to help strengthen a glazed ceramic tagine, and again a diffuser is probably necessary.
- Flameware: Flameware is ceramic cookware that’s specially manufactured to be resistant to thermal shock and mechanical shock, and that comes at a higher price. It has some advantages over traditional glazed ceramics, and those are the features you should check for and compare. What heat sources are safe to use? Do you need a diffuser? Can it go from fridge to oven? How should it be washed? As with other ceramics, make sure the glaze is free of imperfections or cracks. Emile Henry and Clay Coyote are two brands to consider.
- Metal Tagines: Metal tagines in Morocco tend to be made of cheap aluminum or stainless steel; they offer lightweight convenience but definitely not authenticity in terms of final flavor and texture of the food. Your selection of metal tagines in the West, however, is much better. Look for either a quality stainless steel tagine with an aluminum core and aluminum clad bottom or a strong aluminum tagine with a nonstick coating. In both cases, choose thicker, heavier cookware as it will behave more like a traditional tagine.
- Enameled Cast Iron: Price is a big factor here. Top-of-the-line enameled cast iron tagines should be regarded as an investment and therefore should offer advantages such as oven-safe durability, the ability to withstand high temperatures, and the versatility to be used for searing, roasting, and more. If opting for a budget-friendly enameled cast iron tagine, be sure to compare its specs to those of a high-end brand like Le Creuset or Staub.
Size and Weight
Tagines come in different sizes that range from 1 to 2 servings up to 6 to 8. Be aware that larger tagines are quite heavy when the lid is in place; this might be an issue if you have trouble handling hefty cookware. When selecting a tagine, consider your family’s size as well as what you’re likely to prepare in it. Some ingredients can be stacked without issue and will still cook beautifully, but even the largest tagine might not hold an adequate mix of meat or poultry and veggies for a larger family (so you may need multiple). Also, be aware that most tagines are quite heavy when the lid is in place. Keep weight in mind if you have trouble lifting and handling hefty cookware.
What is a tagine?
The word tagine has two meanings. It refers to a two-piece North African cooking vessel consisting of a wide, shallow base and conical or domed top, and it also refers to the aromatic or spiced stew that’s prepared inside. The unique shape of the tagine pot’s lid helps condense steam and return the liquids to the simmering dish. This helps preserve flavor while tenderizing even inexpensive cuts of meat to a buttery, falling-off-the-bone consistency.
Traditional Moroccan tagines are hand-spun by potters; the finished clay product might be left in its natural unglazed state, or it might be glazed and even painted for a decorative touch. Which to use is a matter of personal preference. The most ornately decorated tagines, however, are usually not safe for cooking and instead should be reserved for serving.
What lamb is best for tagine?
Lamb shanks or other inexpensive stewing cuts of meat on the bone are fine to use in most tagine recipes that include vegetables. Due to long, slow braising in the tagine, these cuts will lose their toughness and become tender enough to break apart easily by fork or hand. If a cook is short on time but still wants to prepare a tagine, lamb chops will cook much more quickly but they’re not a traditional choice.
In classic Moroccan dishes where meat features prominently—lamb tagine with prunes is an example—premium tender cuts from the leg or shoulder are ideal. Two- to three-inch sized pieces should work well for most tagine recipes. In some cases, such as when preparing the Moroccan specialty dish mrouzia, neck meat might be preferred.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Christine Benlafquih has been writing about and cooking Moroccan food for nearly 30 years. She’s the former Moroccan food expert for The Spruce Eats; the owner of Taste of Casablanca, a culinary activity business that offers food tours, cooking classes, and cultural experiences to tourists in Casablanca, Morocco; and the founding editor at Taste of Maroc, a website dedicated to Moroccan food, culture, and travel. When cooking for her family of eight, she typically use two medium or two large tagines, depending on the particular recipe being prepared.