Eggs in Purgatory (Italian Shakshuka)

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A few weeks ago a friend made a delicious middle eastern Shakshuka. When I went to make it, I realized I had more Italian ingredients at the ready and ended up making what is called Eggs in Purgatory.

Eggs in Purgatory (Italian)

What is Eggs in Purgatory?

Eggs in purgatory is fried eggs (baked or stove top) nestled in Italian tomato sauce, made a little spicy with red chili flakes, typically served with crusty bread. I made this version stove top and the eggs were perfect.

Shakshuka, a North African dish, on the other hand is typically a sauce of tomatoes, onions, red bell peppers with spices like cumin, coriander, and cumin.

Both dishes are delicious.

Eggs in Purgatory in Frying Pan

Tomato Sauce for Eggs in Purgatory

There is no need to use fresh tomatoes. I prefer a sauce made with a can of San Marzano tomatoes, seasoned with basil, garlic, onion and red pepper flakes. For extra spiciness, I’ll throw in some la bomba sauce from Trader Joe’s (calabrian peppers). The sauce was done in twenty minutes. I also used some fermented chili salt I purchased at the farmer’s market from Ouchander’s.

Fast Tomato Sauce

Pastured Eggs Preferred

If you can, use pastured eggs. I buy my eggs from Hidden Hollow Farms at the Nolensville Farmer’s Market (where I have a vendor stand). I believe pastured eggs are the ethical and healthier choice, aside from so fresh and delicious.

Eggs in Purgatory is an uncomplicated breakfast/lunch or dinner. It’s not a dish we often think of, but is becoming a little more popular in restaurants.

Eggs in Purgatory

Oven or Stovetop

You could go either way. If you want to put your dish in the oven, bake at 375 F degrees for about 7 minutes. I prefer stovetop. Once you place a lid on the eggs, the tops will steam and cook perfectly.

Eggs in Purgatory

How to Make Ahead

Make the sauce the night before. It takes about 20 minutes, and once refrigerated gains more flavor. Heat up and then eggs your eggs. Breakfast or brunch is then ready in udner ten minutes.

Eggs in Purgatory - Runny Egg

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Eggs in Purgatory in Frying Pan
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Eggs in Purgatory

Eggs cooked in tomato sauce for a breakfast, brunch or dinner.
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot see notes
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or chopped hot red chili pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 large can Italian plum tomatoes chopped w juice (I used San Marzano from Fresh Market)
  • Sea salt
  • Grilled or oven browned slices of bread
  • 8 extra large eggs


  • Saute shallot and garlic in olive oil. Add pepper flakes and parsley.
  • Squeeze tomatoes with your hand or chop and put all of this in the pan. Simmer until the juices evaporate and you have a thick chunky sauce
  • Add eggs. Make sure you break eggs into small dish, one at a time and then slip into the sauce. You don't want to add a broken egg to this dish.
  • For stovetop, put lid on and cook about five minutes. The lid will aid in steaming the tops of the eggs.
  • For oven bake, bake at 375 degrees F. and bake for about 7 minutes, until all egg white is cooked.
  • Optionally: Grill thick slices of bread in cast iron pan on top of stove that has a little swipe of olive oil or bake in oven to brown.
  • Serve immediately.


Shallots (replace with minced garlic clove and 4 tablespoons of small diced onion).

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