I Tried Adding Butter & Salt to Ugali

27 May 2023|Kenyan Recipes

Butter makes everything better they say. Well, well, well; after years of resisting the urge because it wouldn’t sit right with my ancestors, I finally caved in. Am I proud of myself? No, but will I do it again? Probably, Let’s find out.

Ugali is traditionally and authentically cooked with just water and maize flour, which is literally a one-ingredient dish, unless you wanna count in water then it is a two-ingredient meal. 

The reason for adding butter and salt to my ugali was for science and research purposes, or at least that is what I convinced myself; in order to gather the strength to do this abomination. This was the equivalent of an Italian breaking spaghetti pasta into halves. We all obviously know that the drive was curiosity. I imagined the result would be a disaster and a monstrosity, so I just whipped up a small portion for “the science”.

Normally, I have been frowning upon the add-ons people add to ugali and especially, some weird methodologies e.g. using a hand mixer to combine ugali instead of fire and a cooking stick. I mean that feels illegal even. Most of them feel so confident and proud so I imagined maybe I should try before judging. Same way as the fact that I don’t have opinions on Hawaiian pizza. Some of you hate pineapple pizza without even ever trying it once, Try something out then you can have your opinions later….that is what I exactly did here. Let’s get into this!


  •  1 Cup Maize Meal
  •  1.5 Cup Water
  •  1Tsp Butter
  •  A Pinch of Salt


  •  A pair of tongs(not necessary if you using a saucepan)
  •  A wooden special flat cooking stick(mwiko)


  1. First, bring water to a boil while covered to contain evaporation losses
  2. At the boil, add your salt and butter and stir in till evenly distributed before going on with your flour. If you using salted butter then be mindful of salt addition
  3. Add half portion of your flour, let the mixture bubble then finish off with the remaining portion
  4. Stir to combine and start pounding while combining, cook till hard and stiff with a popcorn-like aroma take off heat and serve

For a detailed Ugali Cooking guide click here

Nutritional Information

  •  Calories: 543 k.cal

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 15.9g 20% Saturated Fat 7.9g 40% Cholesterol 31mg 10% Sodium 125mg 5% Total Carbohydrate 93.8g 34% Dietary Fiber 8.9g 32% Total Sugars 0.8g 

Vitamin D 8mcg 40% Calcium 11mg 1% Iron 4mg 23% Potassium 354mg 8%

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.


The nutritional information provided is an estimate and may vary based on Ingredients, cooking methodology, and quantities used. This should only be used for informational purposes and not for dietary advice.


Is this Ugali any good? Absolutely, it is good enough to bring in the realization of how bland the normal ugali is. I knew it was good when I was subconsciously halfway digging in and then I realized I’m eating plain Ugali without touching the vegetables or stew… that’s how I knew it is good without being biased.

Normal ugali is dependent on the flavors of other dishes you are serving with to taste it, the buttery ugali is tasty enough on its own. In fact, it tastes close to chunky mashed potatoes in the flavor profile. The texture we all know is incomparable. You get the butter taste when chewing and grains separate in your mouth. It didn’t smell any different from the normal ugali just that it appeared slightly yellowish.

Straight tasting when steaming hot, can’t taste much of a difference but resting the ugali for 10 to 15 minutes brings it all out. 

You can optionally use margarine in place of butter since just like any dairy product in Kenya it is ridiculously expensive. KSh 950+ for 500g Butter? That is more than double the price you will pay in The US

I went with butter anyway since I don’t keep margarine, I don’t like its taste due to personal preferences. I imagine margarine ugali will be more flavorful since margarine is, you can even try it with vanilla margarine for “the science”


Will this be a new way of me cooking my ugali? Definitely no. I mean it is slightly elevated, but not mind-blowingly different to make it a no brainier choice. I, however, am cool to try it occasionally in the future and try out different ratios, maybe then I might just hit the sweet spot where it will be my default cooking method.

So it is not worth the extra steps and ingredients in my opinion and is kinda overrated. I do realize tastes are subject to individuals so maybe try it and it will be your new way. However, my stomach felt cramped for a while maybe it was due to the unusual combination of ingredients. 


Relevant Links

Authentic Kenyan Ugali Recipe:A Step-by-Step Guide(Noob Friendly).

Ugali Afya: Is This the Healthiest Maize Meal?

Ugali Mayai Recipe: The Saviour of Starving Campus Students

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