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Soft-cooked eggs swimming in a zesty, robust tomato sauce, Eggs in Purgatory (also called “Italian shakshuka”) is a healthy one-pan meal that you’ll be happy to gobble for a lazy weekend brunch or an outstanding, unexpected weeknight dinner.

Shakshuka Eggs in Purgatory

Why You’ll Love This Italian Shakshuka Recipe

  • Rustic Yet Indulgent. Eggs in purgatory is rustic and has an earnestness that speaks to me every time I enjoy it. The robust sauce mingles with the creamy egg yolks, making this healthy meal feel lush and indulgent.
  • Easier Than It Seems (I Promise!). If cooking eggs fills you with trepidation because you can never get them just right, eggs in purgatory is a game-changer. Because you’re not cooking the eggs on the direct heat of the skillet, they’re much less likely to overcook. Instead, the sauce (and oven) gently heat them until they reach runny-yolk-perfection.
  • Breakfast or Dinner: You Decide. Since eggs in purgatory takes just 30 minutes to throw together, we eat it just as often for dinner as we do for brunch. As with Spinach Quiche and French Omelettes, it’s become a breakfast-for-dinner staple in our house.
  • Healthy and Budget-Friendly. Like this Chickpea Hash, Italian shakshuka is a nutritious, highly satisfying meatless main that’s budget-friendly too. I’ve seen countless versions of eggs in purgatory on brunch menus everywhere from New York City to San Francisco, but it’s so easy and affordable to make at home (like Sweet Potato Hash), there’s really no need to eat them out at a swanky restaurant.
easy eggs in purgatory recipe with bread

5 Star Review

“Made it for my family for breakfast they loved it!”

— Teresa —

What Is Eggs in Purgatory?

Like many breakfast dishes (an Oven Pancake comes to mind), eggs in purgatory goes by many names and boasts many adaptations, with its closest relative being shakshuka.

  • Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern and North African dish that, like eggs in purgatory, features eggs poached in a thick, robust tomato sauce.
  • Like eggs in purgatory, shakshuka is traditionally served at breakfast but works well for any meal of the day.
  • Both dishes are served right from the skillet, with the tomato and eggs smeared over or dipped with torn pieces of pita, toast, or baguette.

The main difference between shakshuka and eggs in purgatory is the spices and herbs.

  • Skakshuka features Middle Eastern spices, such as cumin and sweet paprika.
  • Eggs in purgatory does not include these spices and uses Italian herbs, such as oregano and basil. It is often referred to as “Italian shakshuka.”
italian eggs in purgatory recipe

How to Make Eggs in Purgatory

The Ingredients

  • Tomato Pasta Sauce. A serious shortcut.
  • Chickpeas. While chickpeas aren’t 100% traditional for eggs in purgatory, I now can’t imagine the recipe without them (they’re also my favorite add-on to this Italian Chopped Salad). They add a pleasant texture, work well with Italian flavors, and add a boost of protein for a tiny price tag.
  • Eggs. While I love a good Egg White Frittata, I also can’t say no to a perfectly poached egg with a beautiful runny yolk. So delish!
  • Baby Spinach. I’m always looking for ways to add some green to every dish. I love the added nutrition and color a bit of spinach gives this dish. It’s packed with iron, vitamin K, folate, and calcium.

Market Swap

Kale or chard are great alternatives to baby spinach in this dish if it’s what you prefer or have on hand.

  • Garlic and Onion. I’m always amazed how much a little sautéed fresh garlic and onion can jazz up a jar of store-bought tomato pasta sauce.
  • Parmesan Cheese. Adds just the right about of salty, cheesy flavor and richness.

Substitution Tip!

A little crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese would be a lovely addition to this easy eggs in purgatory recipe. Or, try eggs in purgatory with ricotta dolloped into the sauce before baking.

  • Red Pepper Flakes. Is eggs in purgatory spicy? It’s up to you! Feel free to adjust the amount to suit your personal taste preferences. Or just use black pepper for a milder version.
  • Fresh Basil. Along with the Parm, basil really brings the Italian flavor to eggs in Purgatory.
  • Baguette. Make sure to have a few slices of your favorite crusty bread on hand to soak up every last drop of the tasty sauce. (This Rosemary Olive Oil Bread or No Knead Focaccia would be scrumptious, or try pita bread or Homemade Naan.)

The Directions

eggs in purgatory recipe with tomato sauce and chickpeas
  1. Prepare. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Make the sauce.
baked eggs in eggs in purgatory recipe
  1. Add the Egg. Make four indentations in the sauce and crack an egg into each.
recipe for baked eggs in purgatory
  1. Bake. Sprinkle with cheese and then bake until the eggs are set and the sauce is bubbly. Garnish with basil and serve. ENJOY!

Recipe Variations

  • Switch Up the Beans. For an extra-creamy twist on eggs in purgatory with beans, swap the chickpeas for cannellini or Great Northern beans.
  • Try Different Herbs. This savory egg dish also pairs nicely with fresh parsley, oregano, or even fresh cilantro.
  • Veg Out. Give your eggs in Purgatory a boost of nutrients (and fiber!) by cooking green or red bell pepper, sliced mushrooms, or diced zucchini with the onions.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate extra tomato and chickpea sauce for up to 3 days. Top with a fresh egg prior to serving.
  • To Reheat. Warm the leftover sauce in a skillet on the stovetop until simmering. Add freshly cracked eggs and bake as directed.
  • To Freeze. I don’t recommend freezing raw or poached eggs. However, the sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months for later use.

Meal Prep Tip

Make the sauce ahead and store it in your fridge or freezer. Then bake as directed using fresh eggs and Parmesan when you’re ready to enjoy.

the best eggs in purgatory recipe

What to Serve with Eggs in Purgatory

  • Skillet. This one has been my favorite for years (this is another excellent and budget-friendly option) when making eggs in purgatory 
  • Cutting Board. Always helpful when chopping a lot of ingredients.
  • Sharp Knife. Among the most important tools to have in your kitchen arsenal.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Start With a High-Quality Sauce. This simple eggs in purgatory recipe uses good-quality store-bought pasta sauce for the tomato base, which is both delicious and a major timesaver. Because the tomato sauce is such a prominent part of this recipe, it’s important to choose a high-quality option (I like DeLallo or Rao’s).
  • Crack the Eggs Into a Small Bowl. If you’re a pro-egg-cracker, you can skip this! But if you often find yourself fishing for little bits of egg shells in your mixing bowl or breaking yolks, it’s a good idea to crack the eggs into a small bowl one at a time just in case, then pour them into the indentations in the sauce. It’s far easier to retrieve egg shells from a small bowl than from hot tomato sauce.
  • Serve It Fresh From the Oven. The best way to serve this simple dish is straight from the oven while it’s still bubbling and warm.
eggs in purgatory recipe with bread for serving

Eggs in Purgatory

4.79 from 28 votes
This easy eggs in purgatory recipe with chickpeas, spinach, and a semi-homemade tomato sauce is an Italian version of shakshuka. Brunch or dinner!

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 25 minutes

Servings: 2 –3 servings


  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 can reduced-sodium chickpeas (15 ounces), rinsed and drained
  • 1 jar good-quality tomato pasta sauce (24 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • fresh basil chopped
  • Baguette slices for serving


  • Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the chickpeas, tomato sauce, oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and let cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the spinach a few handfuls at a time, letting it wilt. 
  • With the back of a spoon, make 4 indentations in the sauce. Crack one egg inside of each, then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the whole dish.
  • Carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh basil. Serve hot with baguette slices.


  • TO STORE: This dish is best enjoyed right away, but you could refrigerate extra tomato and chickpea sauce for up to 3 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Warm the leftover sauce in a skillet on the stovetop until simmering. Add freshly cracked eggs and bake as directed.
  • TO FREEZE: The sauce can also be frozen for up to 3 months for later use. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before warming.


Serving: 1(of 3), without baguetteCalories: 341kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 23gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 259mgPotassium: 654mgFiber: 8gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 5006IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 357mgIron: 5mg

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Origin of Eggs in Purgatory?

Eggs in purgatory originated in the Naples region of Italy. Known as uova in purgatorio in Italy, has been around for generations. (If you love Italian food, be sure to check my full collection of Italian recipes!)

Why is it Called Eggs in Purgatory?

As it turns out, like so many ancient dishes that are spread over many cultures, why it’s called “eggs in purgatory” is unknown. The most interesting explanation I found is that the name originates from the Catholic faith, with the baked eggs representing “souls” and the tomato sauce surrounding them representing “purgatory,” the big idea being that the souls are suspended between heaven and hell.

Are Eggs in Purgatory the Same as Shakshuka?

Across cultures, variations of eggs in purgatory exist. Shakshuka is similar, but features Middle Eastern spices and ingredients, such as cumin and peppers.

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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4.79 from 28 votes (13 ratings without comment)

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  1. I have a thing for Italian food, and I LOVE finding different uses for pasta sauce! My favorite is Dave’s Organic Red Heirloom, which would be literal perfection in this. Thanks for the recipe! :)

        1. I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!

  2. This looks so yummy! Do you have to bake this dish in the oven? or you think it could finish cooking on the stove top? We don’t have an oven right now..

    1. Hi Stephanie! I’ve never made this any other way besides baking it in the oven, but I think that would work fine! Once the eggs are cracked into the sauce, I’d cover the pan to help the eggs cook, then let the sauce simmer gently, until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

  3. Made this for dinner last night.  It came out great  in a cast iron frying pan.  Big hit with hub who had leftovers for lunch today.5 stars

    1. Woohoo! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks so much for reporting back!

  4. This was easy to make and came out so delicious! The ingredients work well with my college budget too ?5 stars

  5. Love the recipe, I also like the Bolivian recipe where first sausages are fried, then a sauce is added, made with tomatoes, onion,parsley in olive oil and a non hot pepper that is called Panca, on this sauce the eggs are poached, served with parsley and a baguette.5 stars

  6. I just made this in a cast iron skillet this morning, it was easy to put in the oven and bake. I will definitely make this dish again. Maybe even switch it up and try an Alfredo sauce.5 stars

  7. This meal… eggs in purgatory has been an Ash Wednesday tradition in my family for many, many, many years. As a matter of fact I can’t wait to get home from work and enjoy my dinner.5 stars

  8. Hi…thank you for sharing this dish. I was looking for ways to add variety to it and the chickpeas sound delicious. Also, I would like to add a little bit of what I know about the dish’s origin. This dish was made during the Lental season when Catholics abstained from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays. Eggs were inexpensive and a good source of protein. They also stretched the menu to feed large families. My family has made the dish for generations.5 stars

  9. Made it for my family for breakfast they loved it! Definitely making it again while tomatoes are in season.5 stars

  10. This was SO delicious!! The only reason why I gave it 4 stars is because I think the recipe can be improved if you toast the chickpeas first, set them aside, and add them for some crunch at the end. That’s what I did and it was amazing.4 stars

  11. I’ve made shashuka with both middleastern and Italian spice spice both outstanding. Also had green shashuka in London and made at home. Delish.5 stars

  12. This has become my favorite light dinner with a green salad and some lavash! Even my husband likes it!5 stars

  13. This has become a dinner staple in my house! My husband and I absolutely love it. We just tried swapping out the chickpeas for white beans (cannellini beans), and it turned out very well!5 stars

    1. Hi Lauren! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review and feedback on the swap!