Homemade Harissa

Homemade Harissa Recipe

The Spruce Eats / Sonia Bozzo

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
44 Calories
4g Fat
3g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 44
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 80mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 9mg 45%
Calcium 22mg 2%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 78mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Harissa is a hot chile paste that is commonly found in North African cooking, mainly Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian cuisine. Recipes vary among different countries, but most versions of this spicy paste include a blend of hot chile peppers, garlic, olive oil, and spices, including caraway, cumin, coriander, and mint. Other common ingredients include tomatoes and rose petals.

Harissa is considered the North African version of Sriracha or ketchup in the sense that it is a common condiment; it is added to couscous, soups, pasta, and a wide range of other dishes. Harissa is sold in jars and can be purchased in Middle Eastern markets, but it is also simple enough to make at home.

One of the benefits of preparing from scratch is that you can adjust the heat to your liking. For a very spicy harissa, use a blend of cayenne, chile de arbol, or cayenne with a milder chile like ancho chiles. For medium spiciness, use a blend of New Mexico chiles with guajillo chiles.

Harissa can be used to season meats and vegetables or included in a salad dressing for a spicy kick. It can also be stirred into hummus (store-bought or homemade) for another layer of flavor.


  • 10 to 12 dried red chile peppers

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients

    Ingredients for harissa recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Sonia Bozzo

  2. Soak dried chiles in hot water for 30 minutes.

    Soak the dried chiles in hot water

    The Spruce Eats / Sonia Bozzo

  3. Drain and remove stems and seeds.

    Drain and remove stems and seeds from chiles

    The Spruce Eats / Sonia Bozzo

  4. In a food processor, combine chile peppers, garlic, salt, and olive oil. Process until blended.

    Blending chiles, garlic, salt, and olive oil in a food processor

    The Spruce Eats / Sonia Bozzo

  5. Add coriander, caraway seeds, and cumin and blend to form a smooth paste.

    Blending chiles and spices in food processor

    The Spruce Eats / Sonia Bozzo

  6. Transfer to an airtight container. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top to keep the harissa fresh. It will keep for a month in the refrigerator.

    Homemade harissa in a jar

    The Spruce Eats / Sonia Bozzo

  7. Incorporate into a variety of recipes and enjoy.

Recipe Variations

  • You can use whole coriander, caraway seeds, and cumin seeds in this recipe; toast them first in a dry skillet and then grind them in a spice grinder.
  • If you'd like a little bit of smokiness, add a pinch or two of smoked paprika along with the other spices.
  • If you don't care for the licorice taste of caraway seeds you can simply eliminate them.

How to Use

  • Harissa really adds spice and flavor to any cut of red meat, especially flank steak. Flank steak is thin enough that it really absorbs the flavors.
  • You can also use your homemade harissa to spice up a beef or lamb stew, or a vegetarian soup.
  • Turn plain olives into a fiery appetizer.
  • Some Middle Eastern countries use it as a marinade for fish or meat, like lamb.
  • Use as a spread on a sandwich; mix with mayo to add a bit of a kick.
  • Harissa can be a nice foil to sweet ingredients, like the dates and apricots in a one-pot Moroccan Cornish game hen dish.
  • Olive tapenade is kicked up a notch when a bit of harissa is added.