Satsebeli Recipe: Spicy Georgian Tomato Sauce

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by Maggie Turansky

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While I will not hide that tkemali is definitely my favourite, if I’m looking for a great sauce to accompany a juicy mtsvadi or some roasted potatoes while at a restaurant in Georgia, I may just order a side of satsebeli.

This spicy tomato sauce is a favourite in Georgia and is commonly eaten atop barbecued meats and potatoes. In fact, you will be hard-pressed not to find it on any restaurant menu or adorning the shelves of any corner shop.

But what if you’re not in Georgia or you simply want to go for a homemade version of this classic Caucasian condiment? Well, that’s what this recipe is for!

This sauce is incredibly easy to make and it is sure to quickly become one of your favourites. Sort of like a looser, more flavourful ketchup, satsebeli can make pretty much anything better. And it is so easy to make (so long as you can get your hands on some adjika — or make it at home!) that you may just be whipping up a batch on the regular.

Georgian Satsebeli Sauce
Georgian Satsebeli Sauce

How to Make Satsebeli

What we need to start with is sauteeing an onion. I recommend dicing your onion as small as possible to avoid large chunks of onion in your finished sauce.

I’ve seen some satsebeli recipes that call for pureeing the onion in a blender, but I really don’t think that is necessary. Just chop it small and then you don’t have to get out (and clean) another appliance.

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, heat about a tablespoon of neutral oil until it’s just shimmering. Add the onion along with a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very softened and turning translucent but not browned, about five to ten minutes.

Then, add in your adjika (a good amount in order to really get the delicious flavour) and some blue fenugreek and ground coriander seed.

Cooking the onion and spices
Cooking the onion and spices

This isn’t a typical step of making satsebeli, however, I find that blooming the spices in oil before adding the tomato paste gives it a more robust flavour. Also, the spices are oil-soluble so their flavours come out better when given the chance to bloom in the oil before anyway.

Once the adjika and spice mixture is very fragrant (after about 2 minutes), add your minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so.

Then, add in your tomato paste, stir it until it’s well combined with all of your onions, garlic, adjika and spices and cook it until the colour darkens slightly and it begins to look a bit jammy, another 2 minutes. This is an important step to get the tinny flavour out of the tomato paste and also to add yet another level of complexity onto the satsebeli.

Once your tomato paste reaches the desired stage, slowly pour in some water. I start with about 500ml but add it very slowly in order to reach your desired consistency.

Stirring the sauce after adding in water
Stirring the sauce after adding in water

Satsebeli isn’t typically a thick sauce so it should be fairly runny, The water also helps to dilute the very strong flavour from the tomato paste. Make sure to taste along the way while adding in the water to ensure that you’re getting the desired flavour, as well.

As soon as you’re at your desired consistency, let the sauce come up to a simmer and allow it to bubble away for about ten minutes. This will let the flavours mellow out a bit and become more homogenous. Then, turn off the heat and slowly stir in a good amount of chopped fresh cilantro!

Adding cilantro to your sauce
Adding cilantro to your sauce

Now, all you need to do is serve your satsebeli atop whatever it is your heart desires! You can also wait for it to come to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container and refrigerating.

Georgian Satsebeli Sauce

Satsebeli: Spicy Georgian Tomato Sauce

This Georgian tomato sauce is a favourite condiment with everything from grilled meat to potatoes. Easy to make and packing a lot of classic Georgian flavours, it's sure to become one of your favourites, as well.
5 from 3 votes
Servings 10
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes



  • Over medium-low heat in a large saucepan, heat a tablespoon of neutral oil until it begins to shimmer. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is softened and translucent, about 5-10 minutes.
  • Increase the heat to medium and add adjika, blue fenugreek and coriander. Cook until very fragrant and darkened in colour slightly, about 2 more minutes.
    Cooking the onion and spices
  • Add garlic and cook just until very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and cook until it darkens in colour and becomes a bit sticky, about 2 minutes.
    Adding the tomato paste
  • Slowly stream in about 500ml (2 cups) of water, adding a bit at a time until your desired consistency is met. Add more water, as needed, to both dilute the sauce or to get your desired consistency. Satsebeli is usually relatively loose, so add up to a litre of water if needed.
    Stirring the satsebeli after adding in water
  • Bring the sauce up to a gentle simmer and allow to bubble for about ten minutes, just until all of the flavours have melded together and have mellowed. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro. Serve immediately atop grilled meat or potatoes or allow to cool to room temperature, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
    Adding cilantro to your satsebeli sauce



Calories: 13kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Sodium: 81mg | Potassium: 85mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 165IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.

Tried this recipe or have questions?Click here to leave a comment!

And that is all there is to making this delicious satsebeli! You’re sure to love it atop everything from barbecued meats to potatoes. This is a classic Georgian condiment that is sure to quickly become one of your favourites.

Do you want to make satsebeli? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!

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Maggie is the creator behind No Frills Kitchen. She is a world traveller, home cook and recipe developer who loves to experiment with new cuisines and techniques at every chance she gets. No stranger to improvising and making do with the equipment and ingredients she has available, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others. Read More

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