Authentic Nitir Kibbeh

Authentic Nitir Kibbeh

If you have tried to make Ethiopian food, it didn’t come out like your friend’s house or the restaurant’s, you are probably missing the 2 key ingredient for most for the dishes, Nitir Kibbeh ( cultured, aged and clarified butter) and Berbere. In this post I will show you an easy, step by step nitir kibbeh recipe. Don’t let the aging process discourage you, it will probably take you about an hours and some change to make authentic Nittir Kibbeh, like I always say whats worth having is worth working for. 🙂

Here is what I found out during my research on why the store bought butter wont work even if it goes through the same aging process.

  1. The butter needs all the nutrients and get cultured, which help on the flavor and aging process. (Ethiopian butter is made from yogurt not just pasteurized cream) . I have tried cultured butter from a store here in US but it didn’t come out right either, its probably the length of time that the butter was cultured
  2. The farmers in Ethiopia feed (Tosign) thyme to the cows that are for milking, so I infused the butter with thyme while aging and it was a success. ( US thyme is not same as Ethiopian) see notes.

Be sure to use quality cream, trust me you will taste the difference. I purchased a local, organic, homogenized whipping cream from a store nearby and it worked wonderfully. I wouldn’t recommend ultra-pasteurized cream as the high heat destroys the cream’s flavor. If you can get your hand on, use raw cream , but I know it is hard to get and expensive.

lets get to the recipe, feel free to comment should you have any questions and see notes.

Nitir Kibbeh

Cultured, Aged and clarified with herbs and spices
Cook Time 1 hr 20 mins
24 d
Course butter, spice
Cuisine Eritrean, Ethiopian


  • 4 pint Pasteurized organic heavy cream not ultra pasteurized
  • 1 cup Cultured butter milk
  • 1 tbsp Ethiopian thyme (tosign)
  • 1/4 cup Kosseret dried leafs (lippa abysinica) hard to find but look at notes
  • 1 tbsp Cardamom ground ( Ethiopian black cardamom) can be Indian black cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 16-18 cups Cold water



  • Mix cream and butter milk (I used my stand mixer bowl) clay pot or glass would work too, avoid using plastic containers.
  • Let it sit covered at room temp for 72 hrs, until it is as thick and test like yogurt

Making butter

  • Add about 2 cups of cold water, then whisk using stand mixer, hand mixer or butter churner until the butter is separated form the butter milk.
  • Strain the butter milk (may use it for bread, make cottege cheese (ayibe) or drink as is)
  • Add 4 cups of cold water in the bowl with the butter then rinse out the butter milk from the butter until the water runs clear. (stir it to get as much butter milk out as possible from butter) repeat as needed.


  • Pour the butter into a container with lid (preferably pre smoked with woyra (olive tree wood) see notes, press the butter with spoon so there is no gap, sprinkle tosign (thyme) on top, let it sit in room temp. for a week. Then stir, you will find some water at the bottom, get rid of the water then stir every 4-5 day for 3 weeks total. Make sure there is no mold.

Pre clarifying (manegor)

  • After aging is completed, pour the butter into a pot and add 6-8 cups of water, boil for about a minute, let it cook and keep it in the fridge over night.
  • The next day the butter will solidify on top, punch a whole with wooden spoon around the edge of the pot (whole on the butter) and get rid of the water (it is going to look like thin milk)


  • Add Turmeric, Kosseret and Korerima into the pot with butter, then start clarifying
  • Start with medium temp. for the first 7-10 minutes, then reduce to medium low once you see the bubbles start to reduce, stir often and make sure the spices are not burnt. Clarify until all the bubbles are gone and you are left with clear butter with the herbs in bottom.
  • Let it cool, then using a cheesecloth or a strainer, strain the butter into your desired container. Enjoy!


  • Can be stored at room temp for 3-5 months and in the fridge/freezer for up to a year.
  • When you make your next nitir kibbeh you may mix it with the old to expedite the aging process ( to about a week) for 4 pint of fresh butter use 1/2 cup of old butter as a starter.
  • Smoking your contain with woyra with give it that classic smoked flavor
  • Visit my amazon store for all the ingredients, except for the Kosseret ( lippa abysinica) visit Ethiopian store near you or you can use the pre prepared nittir kibbeh spice mix, which includes kosseret. 
Keyword Eritreanfood, ethiopiannitirkibbeh, nitirkibbeh

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