Harissa Chicken Kabobs are my new go-to chicken on the grill recipe. The spice level can be easily adjusted depending on how much harissa sauce you add and Greek yogurt does an excellent job of tenderizing the chicken, resulting in the juiciest chicken on the grill you’ve ever had.
While you can use the same marinade for chicken thighs, drums or whole breasts, I like to cut mine into cubes and put them on skewers. It dramatically reduces the cooking time which also prevents grilled chicken from drying out, one of the biggest issues with any grilled chicken recipe.
The longer you can marinate your Harissa Chicken Kabobs, the better. I would say 4 hours is the minimum, although I like to do mine overnight or even longer.
I reserve a little bit of the harissa marinade for basting during the grilling process, but marianting really gets those chicken chunks full of flavor.
What is Harissa
The next question is what is harissa? For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, harissa is a spicy sauce or paste hailing from the Middle East. According to Wikipedia….
Harissa is a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste, the main ingredients of which are roasted red peppers, Baklouti pepper, serrano peppers, and other hot chili peppers, spices and herbs such as garlic paste, coriander seed, saffron, rose, or caraway, as well as some vegetable or olive oil to carry the oil-soluble flavors.
Historically harissa hailed from the Middle East and was made with Maghrebi hot chili peppers. Since these chiles aren’t available worldwide, but the condiment was so tasty, other cultures started making their own adaptations of harissa sauce using different local peppers.
The original harissa recipe uses roasted red peppers, garlic, serrano peppers, coriander, caraway seed and olive oil for preservation. Some even added rose petals. Fancy!
The choice is yours. Making harissa is actually very simple and requires only a few ingredients. Since the traditionally used chile peppers aren’t available here, I pick up a pack of dehydrated New Mexican chiles from the International aisle at the grocery store.
Why You’ll Love These Harissa Chicken Kabobs
Tender chicken full of warm spices and grilled to perfection- what’s not to love about these moroccan chicken skewers!
- Simple ingredients – You only need a total of four, yes four, ingredients to make these easy chicken kabobs.
- Quick and easy – Besides the marinating time, it takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish to make these kabobs.
- Full of flavor – Even though the ingredient list is short, these chicken pieces are absolutely packed with flavor!
Ingredients For Harissa Chicken
All of these ingredients can easily be found at your local grocery stores.
- Chicken breasts – You will want to cut your chicken into bite size pieces. Make sure the pieces are uniform so that they cook evenly.
- Plain Greek yogurt – The yogurt provides both a tang and creaminess to the spicy chicken. It helps to balance out the spice of the harissa.
- Lemon juice – We need a little acidity to our spice marinade, and lemon juice will do just that. Fresh lemon juice is always preferred over the bottled stuff.
- Harissa sauce – You can either make your own harissa using my homemade recipe, or buy it from the store. It can be found down the international aisle.
How to Make Harissa Chicken Kabobs
You are going to love how easy it is to make these harissa chicken skewers.
- Marinate chicken. Place all ingredients into an airtight plastic bag, massage mixture into chicken and marinate over night.
- Add chicken cubes to skewers. Soak wooden kabobs in water for at least a half hour. Thread chicken onto kabobs, leaving s small space between each chunk to ensure the chicken cooks evenly.
- Cook. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Cook kabobs on grill, turning occasionally until chicken is done and juices run clear.
- Enjoy. Remove, serve and enjoy your Harissa Chicken Kabobs!
Tips for Making Kabobs
Check out my tips below to make the most of your bamboo skewers.
- If you are using wooden skewers, make sure to soak them for a good long time before threading them. This prevents fires, thus making this recipe for harissa chicken kabobs Smokey Bear approved.
- Sometimes chicken tends to spin around on the skewer, you can prevent this by using the double skewer method, using two skewers to anchor your food or using metal skewers with a swirl pattern or that are flat that prevents this from happening. The only drawback here is if you are making kabobs for a lot of people, you’ll be spending a pretty penny and may never use them again.
- If you don’t want to mesh around with skewers at all, just get a grill basket. These things are fabulous!
What to Serve with Harissa Chicken Kabobs
These kabobs are super versatile and can be served with just about anything! You can serve them with fresh veggies like green beans or broccoli. A starch like rice or potatoes would be great too. If you’re trying to stay low carb, cauliflower rice, a nice side salad or any other vegetable side dish would be perfect.
You can also serve these kabobs with other grilled meats. Burgers, hot dogs, or any other main dish you cook on a hot barbecue is great.
There are plenty of ways you can make these harissa chicken kabobs your own!
- Sauce – All these chile based hot sauces are so similar. If you find you like one more than another, simply use the one you like! You can easily substitute another hot sauce or even sriracha.
- Vegetables – You can totally add vegetables to these chicken kabobs. Here are the best vegetables for kabobs: corn cob pieces, zucchini slices, bell pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, lemon wedges.
- Use for other meats – Use the harissa marinade on beef or pork, even slather it on salmon or other fish. You can marinate shrimp, scallops or even serve it onto of grilled or steamed mussels or oysters. Harissa is commonly made into harissa beans or harissa potatoes as well.
Storage and Freezing
Storage: You can store any leftover harissa chicken skewers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
Freezing: You can freeze raw chicken in the marinade as long as it isn’t being frozen for the second time. You can also freeze cooked chicken. If packaged properly, it will stay good for up to 4 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
There really isn’t much of a different, only the name.
Like so many recipe, the exact spice blend varies from restaurant to restaurant and family to family. The basics are chile peppers, garlic and olive oil. The other most common harissa ingredients include: cumin, coriander, caraway and mint.
Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil will taste like, well, olives, while a poorly made one will taste like vegetable oil. Gross. While people tend to favor Italian and Greek olive oils, I prefer to buy mine domestically.
There are some great ones out there from all over the world, but the reporting of ingredients isn’t always the same and you could find that your super expensive olive oil was actually cut with vegetable oil.
More Skewer Recipes
- Spicy Honey Vegetable Kabobs
- Watermelon Shrimp Kabobs
- Teriyaki Pork Kabobs
- Tortellini Salad Kabobs
- Easy Kabob and Skewers Recipes
Harissa Chicken Kabob Recipe
- Combine the chicken, yogurt, lemon juice and harissa sauce in an airtight plastic bag or large mixing bowl. Massage into the chicken to cover.
- Soak 10-15 wooden kabobs in water for at least 30 minutes. Thread the chicken onto kabobs, leaving a small space between each chunk to ensure the chicken cooks evenly.
- Heat the grill to medium-high heat (approximately 350°F). Cook the kabobs on grill for 15 minutes, turning occasionally until chicken is done and juices run clear.
- Remove and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.