Harissa Sauce (Harissa Paste)

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  • Never heard of harissa sauce… maybe you’ve heard of harissa paste? Well, if you enjoy spicy food, meet your new best friend! 

    Harissa Sauce in a small white bowl

    What is harissa?

    According to Wikipedia….

    Harissa is a Tunisian (North African) 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, preserved lemon, 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. I’ve also seen Moroccan versions and others that use fresno chiles and bird’s eye chiles.

    What Chilies To Use?

    Since these chiles aren’t available worldwide, but the condiment was so tasty, other cultures started making their own adaptations of harissa sauce using local pepper varieties. 

    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! 

    Harissa Sauce or Harissa Paste is spicy chile sauce blended with spices. Add to marinades, hummus, salad dressings and more for some heat! #harissa #hotsauce www.savoryexperiments.com

    Modern day harissa sauce has many variations. And like many sauces and condiments, feel free to put your own spin on it.

    Some use tomatoes, smoked or roasted garlic and red bell peppers, smoked paprika, cumin, salt and even mint.

    I haven’t been able to find any recipes that still use rose water or rose petals, but hey, be my guest! 

    I use New Mexico dried chilies, which are in the International aisle near Latin foods and sometimes just labeled “chile peppers,” but you can always special order other blends and flavors or use chipotle for a smoky heat. 

    Using Dried Chiles

    Most recipes that use dried chiles also require you to reconstitute them in water, then remove all the seeds and the steam. My version just uses them dry.

    I do break off the stems, but otherwise the food processor will blend seeds right on in and other liquids will soften the peppers.

    How to Make Harissa Sauce

    My process is really easy and it will take longer to gather the ingredients than it will to actually make the sauce. So grab these items:

    • Dried peppers
    • Garlic
    • Roasted red pepper
    • Caraway seeds
    • Extra virgin olive oil
    • Coriander
    • Cumin
    • Lemon juice (optional)
    • If you want to intensify the flavors, toast spices (caraway seeds, coriander and cumin) in a dry skillet ahead of time.
    • Add all ingredients to a small food processor. Blend. I do recommend wearing gloves when handling any type of chile pepper.
    • Add olive oil sparingly until it is a thick, but spreadable consistency.
    • Some folks like to add a spritz of lemon juice to their homemade harissa- this is up to you.

    Uses

    Well, you can use a harissa paste in just about anything you would typically use any other hot sauce. A little goes a long way and packs a punch.

    Harissa Chicken Kabobs use the spiciness of harissa paste and the coolness of Greek yogurt to make tender chicken on the grill. #chickenkabobs #grilledchicken www.savoryexperiments.com
    Grilled Harissa Chicken

    I like to top hummus with mine or blend it with plain Greek yogurt for an excellent marinade worthy of chicken, meats and seafood, even vegetables! Dip tortilla chips right on in or use to punch up soups and stews. 

    PRO TIP: It is rumored that spicy foods speed up your metabolism and can aid in weight loss! 

    It also makes a great salad dressing and many people make harissa potatoes, beans and vegetables. Anything you’d use hot sauce on, can be used with harissa.

    Harissa Hummus is an easy, packed full of flavor, homemade hummus recipe. Pair with vegetables or chips for a dip, or even as a spread on flatbreads or sandwiches! #spicyhummus #homemadehummusrecipe www.savoryexperiments.com
    Harissa Hummus

    Can harissa be substituted for other hot sauces or Sriracha? It sure can! All these chile based hot sauces are so similar. If you find you like one more than another, simply use the one you like! 

    What is harissa mayo? Just mayo blended with harissa! You can use 1-2 tablespoons per 1 cup of mayonnaise. 

    What is harissa aioli? Basically, it is harissa mayo. Follow the same instructions as above! 

    Storage & Freezing

    Harissa will stay good in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

    It can also be frozen. I like to freeze it in an ice cube tray and then pop out the individual pieces to use in small doses.

    Tools for making Harissa Sauce:

    Mini Food Processor– I use this thing daily! It is by far my most used kitchen appliance, it is small and I throw all the parts into the dishwasher, well except the base and cord, of course!

    Wood cutting board – wood won’t dull your knives like plastic and if treated properly, has natural antimicrobial properties.

    Good knife – Global is my favorite! They are worth the price, I promise. I am kind of obsessed with them and store them tucked away so no one else can use them. Including hubby. Hands off my good stuff! 

    Harissa Sauce or Harissa Paste is spicy chile sauce blended with spices. Add to marinades, hummus, salad dressings and more for some heat! #harissa #hotsauce www.savoryexperiments.com

    You’ll like these other spicy recipes:

    Jalapeno Bacon Wrapped Chicken
    Jalapeno Bacon Wrapped Chicken is a cheese stuffed chicken breast recipe using three cheeses and fresh jalapenos. Avocado and lime cool off the hot flavors. #baconwrappedchicken #jalapenopopperchicken www.savoryexperiments.com
    Jalapeno Bacon Wrapped Chicken is a cheese stuffed chicken breast recipe using three cheeses and fresh jalapenos. Avocado and lime cool off the hot flavors. 
    Spicy Cedar Plank Salmon
    Spicy Cedar Plank Salmon is an easy grilled salmon recipe using a spicy salmon glaze. Perfect for a hot summer night and pairing with a crisp, sweet wine. #cedarplanksalmon #salmononthegrill #spicysalmon www.savoryexperiments.com
    Spicy Cedar Plank Salmon is an easy grilled salmon recipe using a spicy salmon glaze. Perfect for a hot summer night and pairing with a crisp, sweet wine.
    Spicy Thai Chicken Pizza
    Spicy Thai Chicken Pizza uses a rich peanut satay sauce with shredded chicken, colorful vegetables and topped with sweet honey roasted peanuts and spicy chili oil. #thaichicken #homemadepizza www.savoryexperiments.com
    Spicy Thai Chicken Pizza uses a rich peanut satay sauce with shredded chicken, colorful vegetables and topped with sweet honey roasted peanuts and spicy chili oil.
    Spicy Aioli
    With only 4 ingredients and a few minutes, you can have a spicy sauce that is amazing! Sriracha Aioli is great on sandwiches or as a dipping sauce!
    Harissa Sauce or Harissa Paste is spicy chile sauce blended with spices. Add to marinades, hummus, salad dressings and more for some heat!Click to Tweet
    Harissa Paste in a white serving bowl

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    Harissa Sauce or Harissa Paste is spicy chile sauce blended with spices. Add to marinades, hummus, salad dressings and more for some heat! #harissa #hotsauce www.savoryexperiments.com
    Print Recipe
    5 from 4 votes

    Harissa Sauce

    Harissa Sauce or Harissa Paste is spicy chile sauce blended with spices. Add to marinades, hummus, salad dressings and more for some heat!
    Prep Time10 mins
    Total Time10 mins
    Course: Condiment
    Cuisine: Middle Eastern
    Keyword: harissa paste, harissa sauce
    Servings: 1 cup
    Calories: 426kcal
    Author: Jessica Formicola

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    • Combine all ingredients into a food processor and blend until creamy with chile bits.
    • Serve and enjoy your Harissa!
    • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was! 

    Video

    Nutrition

    Calories: 426kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 517mg | Potassium: 230mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2180IU | Vitamin C: 22.4mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 2mg

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