I've tried cooking a basic shakshuka a few times, and always come up against the same problem of the tomatoes burning to the bottom of the pan before the eggs are fully cooked.

The basic recipe I follow is:

  • Fry onions until translucent
  • Add spices and fry for another minute or so
  • Add chopped tomatoes (from a can, because I'm lazy) and stir everything together
  • Make small hollows in the mixture and break an egg into each
  • Stand back and wait for eggs to cook
  • Scrape burned mixture off the bottom of the pan while serving

I say the problem is the tomatoes burning to the bottom of the pan, but obviously it's actually the whole mixture, I just suspect that the problem is something to do with the tomatoes burning and sticking.

I'm cooking the whole mixture on a gas hob on the lowest heat possible (though there are smaller hobs I can try if that's the issue) using a Tefal non-stick pan (which at least makes cleaning a little easier).

Am I not adding enough oil to start with? Is the temperature too high? Is my choice of pan not suitable? Should I be stirring carefully around the eggs while they're cooking?

  • 3
    Burning almost always means the heat is too high for too long.
    – moscafj
    Mar 26, 2020 at 12:32
  • 1
    @moscafj That's what I figured, but I can't turn the heat down anymore, and I can't reduce the cooking time as the eggs take that long to cook. I'm wondering if anyone else has had this issue cooking that particular dish
    – Dark Hippo
    Mar 26, 2020 at 12:33
  • It sounds like your pan is too old and lost it's non-stick properties. Or the pans temp is not even at all.
    – eps
    Mar 26, 2020 at 21:20
  • How long are you cooking it after adding the eggs?
    – Sneftel
    Mar 26, 2020 at 21:49
  • @Sneftel Until the eggs are cooked. I'm actually not timing it, just until the whites become solid
    – Dark Hippo
    Mar 27, 2020 at 8:47

2 Answers 2


I have a few suggestions:

  1. Use room temperature eggs so they cook faster. Egg white cooks at 150°F (65°C), room temperature is usually about 70°F and refrigerator temp 45°F. That difference is close to 50% more cooking time
  2. Add a bit of water. Maybe your mix is too thick, if there isn't enough water in the mix it's more likely to burn, this dish depends on having enough moisture
  3. Make your dents deep, get the egg as close to the pan as you can. Also, make the dents big enough that your eggs spread about a bit, more surface area means the egg cooks faster
  4. Use smaller eggs so they cook faster
  5. Keep the heat up more. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but if your pan is too cool you will lose a lot of heat at the top due to evaporation, the top will be cool but the bottom hot. Try a medium heat, but pay attention to 2.
  6. You could cover the pan, I don't like this because you want the dish to lose moisture, but you could try it. If your canned tomatoes are very thick you may actually have too little water, so you could try keeping the heat low and covering it
  7. Bake it instead once you put the eggs on, this will give an even heat on the top. It's not a traditional way to make it but if if you are results driven it may work for you
  • Awesome, thank you, I'll give some of those a go. Unfortunately, I can't really bake it because of the type of pan I'm using, but now that you mention it, I do normally do quite shallow dents for the eggs, so I'll try and make them deeper and wider.
    – Dark Hippo
    Mar 26, 2020 at 16:18
  • Sorry, took me ages to get around to accepting, but adding more liquid to the pan helped a lot :)
    – Dark Hippo
    May 4, 2020 at 7:07
  • Awesome, glad it came out for you @DarkHippo.
    – GdD
    May 4, 2020 at 7:13

Finish it in the oven. 180°C 8 - 12 mins.
Pull it out slightly early, as the eggs will continue to cook for a minute or two from the residual heat.

Alternatively, invest in a simmer ring [$£€ 3 - 5 on eBay] & slide that in place before you add the eggs. That will definitely drop the temperature, possibly even too far, so you may have to compensate by increasing the gas a tad.

You could experiment with putting the lid on, which will contain the top heat & cook the eggs quicker, but I'm guessing you don't want the condensation dripping back into the eggs when you lift the lid.

  • Loosely laying foil over it is a good way to add some heat while avoiding most of the condensation issues.
    – eps
    Mar 26, 2020 at 21:22
  • Although I do really like this suggestion, all of my current pans have rubberised handles, and I'm not entirely sure they're oven proof (next investment, some decent pans)
    – Dark Hippo
    May 4, 2020 at 7:07

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