Making your own Harissa paste is incredibly easy and once you taste it, you won’t be able to stop using it. Perfect as a marinade for meat or a fiery dressing for roasted vegetables.
What is Harissa?
Harissa is a North-African chilli paste/sauce that consists of peppers, garlic, spices like coriander seeds, paprika, cumin, caraway seeds and olive oil. It is used as a condiment and is incredibly flavorful. It adds incredible depth and heat to any dish you add it to.
Full recipe with amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Red bell peppers.
- Garlic cloves.
- Tomato paste.
- Chilli peppers. I used a combination of Fresno peppers and bird’s eye chillies. Any red chillies will work.
- Olive oil.
- Cumin seeds.
- Coriander seeds.
- Caraway seeds. I am not a fan of the flavor of caraway so I don’t include it in my recipe but feel free to add half a teaspoon to your harissa.
- Fennel seeds.
- Chilli flakes.
- Lemon juice.
- Salt and pepper.
How to make Harissa
- Make the spice mix: Combine the spices in a small frying pan set over medium heat. Allow the spices to toast for a few minutes, giving the pan a shake regularly to prevent the spices from burning. The spices will become aromatic and start to pop. Remove from the heat. Grind with a pestle and mortar until fine.
- Char the peppers: The easiest way to char peppers is over an open flame, like a gas hob. You can also do it under a hot broiler. Char the peppers until blackened all around then transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to steam for 20 minutes then peel off the charred skin. De-seed the peppers and set aside.
- Make the Harissa: Combine the peppers, chillies, peeled garlic cloves, tomato paste, spices, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and blend. Adjust seasoning if necessary then transfer to a sealable jar or container.
How long does harissa last?
A jar of harissa paste will keep in the fridge for at least a month but I doubt you’ll have it for that long. Once you get into using this stuff, you won’t be able to stop!
How to use Harissa paste
- Use on chicken before grilling.
- Stir a spoonful into vegetable soup.
- Toss with vegetables before roasting.
Easy sauce recipes
- 2 red bell peppers charred and skins removed
- 5 peeled garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 fresh red chillies I used Serenade peppers but jalapenos will also work
- 1 fresh red bird's eye chilli
- 5-6 tablespoons olive oil
- salt & black pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
for the spice mix
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
- Combine the spices in a small frying pan set over medium heat.
- Allow the spices to toast for a few minutes, giving the pan a shake regularly to prevent the spices from burning.
- The spices will become aromatic and start to pop. Remove from the heat. Grind with a pestle and mortar until fine.
- The easiest way to char peppers is over an open flame, like a gas hob. You can also do it under a hot broiler. Char the peppers until blackened all around then transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Allow to steam for 20 minutes then peel off the charred skin. De-seed the peppers and set aside.
- Combine the peppers, chillies, peeled garlic cloves, tomato paste, spices, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and blend.
- Adjust seasoning if necessary then transfer to a sealable jar or container.
- Nutritional information is worked out per tablespoon of Harissa paste. The full recipe makes 300ml (just over 1 cup) of Harissa paste.
Please .. Do we use the char black bits on the bell pepper.. Thank you
No, you peel them off.
Hi in the recipe ingredients it says 2 tbs of tomato paste but in the recipe its a tin of chopped tomatoes, which one is it please
In the video I used chopped tomatoes but that was when I originally posted this recipe years ago. I have since re-worked it and use tomato paste instead.
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe Alida. Im gonna make this Harissa paste this weekend.
This looks wonderful. I have never had Harissa sauce but it looks delicious. Question. Can I use dried chillies?
It won’t have quite the same end result but I’m sure it could work?
Oh hi Alida
I made the harissa paste it come out good
Also just want to say we have the same
Hi, i was wondering how long this sauce keeps? Do i need to keep it in the fridge? Thanks
Yes, in the fridge it will keep for at least a few weeks.
Thank you I will try it.
I love spicy foods, tomatoes, sauces and marinades. For some reason I don’t really enjoy herbs but loves spices. Unfortunately, I pretty much HATE red bell peppers! Green bell peppers are ok depending on what recipe they are in. But are there any options here for someone that doesn’t enjoy bell peppers????
Just leave them out, they add bulk to the sauce but they are not a necessity. 🙂
Thanks for this guide! Definitely want to learn how to make my own harissa at home. Definitely one of my favorite condiments / ingredients to add into dinner!
It’s so versatile!
Thanks for the lovely recipe! Sometimes I change it up and use sundried tomatoes instead of a can, and it make a deliciously rich and thick paste.
Delicious! So glad you like this recipe.
Looks mouthwatering 🙂 Will make this over the weekend! You have a great website!
Thanks so much.
If I do not have the spice in seed type Would it matter if I just use the spice in the crushed form
Not at all! Ground spices will work perfectly well.
tony de Andrade
Good Day Alida
I do make a Peri Peri sauce & I cannot buy these chillies anywhere.
I live iN.P.E & normally buy from Sana-ns in East London but they have none after trying to purchase them on JHB market.
Are you able to help.
Tony de Andrade
You can substitute with any red chillies.
Quick, easy, very yummy – what else can I say! If I make it again I think that I will crush the garlic and finely chop the birds-eye chili, as this way I can stop blending before it becomes too smooth, as I prefer a slightly textured sauce but I’m not keen on chunks garlic etc. Will be perfect served with slow barbecued lamb shoulder and flatbreads etc,
Thanks for your feedback Hannah! So glad you liked it.
Thank you very much! This was an amazing recipe. First time tasting harissa, and I’m in love.
I’m so glad to hear that Ryan! It is SUCH a delicious condiment.
What a great recipe. I’ve made it many times and just had to come tell you how much I love using it. My favorite way is to do as you said and slather it over chicken before grilling and it is by far our family’s favorite way of cooking chicken. Your recipes are always trustworthy and delicious.
Thank you so much for the lovely compliment Glen. That chicken sounds completely delectable!
My family was from French Algeria, and to this day continues to make the traditional dishes of North Africa. Just a side note to this wonderful twist on Harissa…If you allow the peppers to thoroughly drain all of their liquid, you can actually store it in a cupboard. Just make sure about one half inch of olive oil covers the mixture. My Aunties would make enough at a time for 6 months. I leave my peppers in a colander, with a plate on top, and when there is no more liquid in the bowl underneath, its ready to be blended with the spices of choice. No refrigeration needed. Great recipe, trying it today!
Is there a difference between a fresh red chili and a fresh red bird’s eye chili?
Bird’s eye chili is very spicy but fresh red chilies can also be used.
I just love your recipes and as you do, I just love spicy foods. However I suffer from irritable bowel and the doc suggested I stop eating foods that contain chillis. Im so upset, how can you make curry without chillis?? Please give us one of your fab curry recipes without chilli especially for those of us who dont tolerate them. Please Please….
You could definitely leave out any of the hot chillies in my curry recipes. I’m not sure which spices are allowed with IBS but I would go with adding all the regular mild spices (coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika) and just leave out the chilli.
Hello, I was just about to ask if it was ok to leave the chilies out of this recipe when I read the question from the lady with IBS. I have a bit of an allergy to spicy chillies so often exclude them from recipes. However, I did worry about losing the authenticity of this recipe. So glad you said it could be made without the chillies. I love all the other spices mentioned in the recipe so will definitely be giving it a go ?
Hope you love it!
If these are an option for you the older India cuisine used black pepper or mustard for heat before they had chilis. It wasn’t until chilis arrived from the Americas via Europe that they added them to their dishes.
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
Love this harissa Alida! So spicy. Just the way I like things. Can’t wait to try your recipe.
Thanks so much Mary Ann. It’s a goodie!
The Harissa paste from my local supermarket is really not nice at all so I will definitely
be making this. Many Thanks for the recipe.
Please let me know what you think once you’ve tried it Tricia! 🙂
Trisha @ The Ham & Cheese Of It
Thank you for posting this! I have always been curious on how best to make this. Now I know. I feel so very smart right now lol
I always love your gorgeous photos and awesome recipe, and this post is no different. I have longed to make this Harissa paste, so you can be sure I will make this very soon. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us.
<3 <3 <3
And how I love your beautiful comments. Thanks Pang! And let me know as soon as you’ve made this what you think of it!