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A clear bowl with the dark red harissa paste being served with a metal spoon. There is cilantro, red chilies, and a lemon in the background.

Harissa Paste Recipe

Make this easy Harissa Paste Recipe and add the spicy flavors of North Africa to your cooking! Great on chicken, vegetables, and more.
Course Pantry
Cuisine African
Keyword chilies, harissa
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 53kcal
Author Meggan Hill


  • 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).



1. Dried Chili Heat:
Mild: New Mexico, red bell peppers
Medium: Guajillo, Ancho, Pasilla
Hot: Arbol, Puya
Smoky: Chipotle, Morita
2. If using fresh chillies, use 8 ounces instead of 4 ounces.
3. Because of the presence of garlic, I recommend using or discarding the harissa paste within 4 days to prevent the risk of botulism.
4. To freeze, portion the harissa paste into rounded tablespoons and freeze individually on a baking sheet. Then, combine in a freezer-safe container.
Adapted from The Kitchn.


Calories: 53kcal