Make this easy Harissa Paste Recipe and add the spicy flavors of North Africa to your cooking! Great on chicken, vegetables, and more.
Harissa Paste (pronounced ha-RISS-uh) is a North African (possibly Moroccan) blend of dried chillies, fresh herbs, garlic, citrus juice, tomato, spices, and anything else you want to add.
It's spicy in the best possible way (you can make it mild or hot), customizable, and utterly delicious. Put it on anything and everything: chicken you bake, pork you grill, vegetables on the side, everywhere. It's accidentally healthy and my new favorite way to season EVERYTHING.
Harissa place first crossed my path in a box of Blue Apron meals. I'll be eternally grateful to them.
However, and this might sound obvious: They included the harissa. So when I wanted to recreate their delicious meal, I had to figure out what on earth this harissa stuff was.
I quickly discovered that I could buy harissa paste (online or at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods or wherever), but what's the fun in THAT?!
Following a lovely tutorial over at The Kitchn, I began experimenting with Harissa paste. To my surprise and delight, it didn't have to be so spicy, your face would melt.
I started with New Mexico dried chillies (mild) and have also made versions with dried Anchos (mild, brown not red, similar to my Chipotle Chicken marinade) and arbol chilies (by far the spiciest version). See the recipe notes for dried chili ideas.
Can you freeze Harissa?
Harissa paste freezes well. So if you make a batch, you don't have to eat it all in 5 minutes. Freeze some! Save it for later.
Here is my favorite Harissa recipe - Harissa Chicken with roasted chickpeas, white rice, carrots, and a creamy yogurt sauce. Amazing!
Homemade Harissa Paste Recipe
- 4 ounces dried chilies (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 tablespoon oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Place chilies in a large heat-proof bowl. Cover with boiled water and let sit for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Meanwhile, add caraway seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds to a dry skillet. Toast over the lowest possible heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Shake frequently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.
- Transfer toasted spices to a small grinder or mortar and pestle. Process until finely ground.
- Drain the chillies well. Remove the stem and seeds from each chili (wearing gloves is recommended) and transfer to a food processor.
- To the food processor, add ground spices, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, mint leaves, cilantro, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and salt. Process until a thick paste forms, scraping down the sides as necessary.
- With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until combined. Transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze up to 2 months (see notes).