Esther Clarke's sausage sarnies with sticky ras el hanout onions

Esther Clarke, author of the Modern Spice Rack, gives this classic sandwich combination a spicy modern twist with the addition of jammy ras el hanout onions

Serves 4

Preparation time 30 minutes

Cooking time 10 minutes

Of the unspoken sandwich league hierarchy, we all secretly know that the sausage sarnie comes out on top. It's a combination of meat, bread and butter known to harpoon hangovers, fuel herculean hikes and evoke a deep and soothing nostalgia inside us.

The anatomy of a sausage is incredibly varied. For some, thick, white doorstop bread is essential; others will argue a slick of mustard is non-negotiable. For many, it is not a sausage sandwich without a heap of caramelised onions spilling out the sides. 

For recipe writer and food stylist, Esther Clarke, this recipe lets go of the sausage sandwich rulebook with the addition of spiced ras el hanout onions to elevate the beloved sando for the better.  

It's a recipe that epitomises everything that her debut book, The Modern Spice Rack, is about – the idea that spices don't have to be stringently paired with a particular cuisine and can be used generously and imaginatively to elevate even the simplest of meals. 

Ras el hanout is a versatile spice mix commonly used in Moroccan, Tunisian and Algerian cooking, that can really pack a punch. With a blend ranging from the earthiness of cumin to the sweetness of cinnamon, cardamom and fennel, it works well with red meat. Here, it’s cooked slowly with onions and paired with fat pork sausages, giving this classic combination a spicy modern twist.


  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 red or brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp ras el hanout
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
  • 8 pork sausages
  • Sea salt

To serve

  • 8 thick slices of white bread or 4 large crusty baps
  • Butter
  • Mustard


  1. Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan over a low–medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook for 20 minutes, or until softened, golden and sticky. Add the ras el hanout, fennel, chilli and sugar and cook for a further 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding a little more salt if you feel it needs it.
  2. Fry the sausages in a large frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat for 10–12 minutes until cooked through and golden brown, then remove from the pan and halve them lengthways.
  3. To serve, spread the bread or baps with the butter and mustard, then top with the sausages and sticky onions and sandwich together. Alternatively, serve the ras el hanout onions at a barbecue with sausages and burgers.

Extra ideas

  • Try roasting red onion wedges with the ras el hanout and serving them on flatbreads topped with tahini sauce or hummus.
  • Melt some butter and ras el hanout together, then swirl it through plain yoghurt with a pinch of salt for an easy dip.
  • Use ras el hanout to marinate meat and fish before grilling.

This recipe is from the 'The Modern Spice Rack' by Esther Clarke and Rachel Walker, available to buy here