Harissa Chicken

Harissa is a hot chile sauce originally from North Africa. You can buy it from grocery stores, but hey, everything tastes better homemade. Besides, you can experiment with chile peppers and make your sauce as hot as you want. It is great to marinate chicken, hence the title of the post. We love it. But do not stop there you can put it in sandwiches, pasta sauce. It is also great as a dip.

I recommend you to not use ground spices here (or ever in another recipe). Store-bought grounded spices lose a lot till they reach you. Buy them as seeds and ground them yourself after toasting. It makes a lot of difference. It is a mess to clean coffee grinder after grounding spices. So, I keep good grinder just for this purpose.

Harissa: (makes about 2 cups)

2 red bell peppers
4 red dried chile peppers, seeds left inside (the hotter the better)
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
4 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt to taste


Put the red peppers on the grill and char them until they are black on all sides. Put the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When cool enough to handle, scrape the charred black skin off the peppers and remove the stem and seeds. Coarsely chop.

Put the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds in a dry saute pan and toast them until they are fragrant and begin to pop. Grind all the spices into a powder in a spice grinder.

Coarsely chop the dried chiles, toss them into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to pulverize. Add the toasted ground spices, the roasted red peppers, chopped garlic and tomato paste. Puree until the mixture is smooth. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil and pulse to combine. Add in another 1/4 cup of olive oil and pulse again. Season with salt to taste. Store in an airtight container.

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11 Responses to Harissa Chicken

  1. I have never had a homemade harissa sauce & I now know I must! Looks amazing.

  2. myFudo says:

    Looks great, never used Harissa sauce before. Looking forward to try it out. Great pics.

  3. Oh, I’d love to try this. I remember this so well from my travels in Morocco, would be a feel-good dinner of memories and wanderlust. Thank you for the inspiration :)

    • tartepink says:

      Thank you so much Kelsey! Morocco is one of the places I want to see aswell, I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it! Please try this and let me know if it is the same taste as the one you had there!

  4. liz nudd says:

    I just made this yesterday and it is amazing. I put of teaspoon in sourcream and put it on my baked potato. Awesome – thanks for sharing.

  5. Pingback: Crown Roast of Lamb | Tarte Pink

  6. andi says:

    I love harissa and make it quite often.
    Was really hoping for the chicken part of this recipe. Am I not seeing it?

    • tartepink says:

      Hi Andi! Yes, I only gave the recipe for the harissa. You just cover the chicken (wings, legs or whole chicken) with harissa and grill it. Not rocket science :D

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