Homemade harissa paste is easier to make than you think! An authentic harissa paste recipe made from dried peppers and aromatics such as caraway, cumin, and coriander.
This North African condiment will add depth and smokey flavors to any dish. Enjoy this spicy sauce mixed into your favorite dips, stews, soup, and marinades. But we especially like it in our harissa beef over carrot noodles.
You control the spice level using your own combination of chile peppers. Not sure what to do? Don't worry we have broken down our favorite combo for you to try.
This post may include affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Originating in Tunisia, harissa is the base for many regional dishes. But here in the US, I typical mix it into rice, with ground beef recipes, as a marinade, and over roasted veggies.
Like making saffron water, every family has their own way of making this recipe.
While I love a good no-cook sauce, harissa may taste bitter until it has been cooked for a few minutes. It doesn't take long but is consistent with all dishes made from dried chiles.
Dried Peppers- I chose a mix of chiles de árbol and guajillo. On its own, the paste is very spicy but you only use a little into each dish making it much more palatable. But you can choose whatever peppers you like.
Spices- Caraway seeds, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds are classic flavors.
Red Wine Vinegar- Not as common in harissa recipes, the vinegar helps preserve the paste and brightens up the
Smoked Paprika- I omit if I use chipotle peppers but the smokiness is a great addition to the recipe. Use regular paprika in a pinch.
🌶 What chiles can you use in harissa?
Any dried chile can be used in harissa. A mix of 2 to 3 types of chiles is typically recommended for a rounded flavor profile. From mildest to hottest the most common chiles are
- de árbol
- kashmiri hot
The first thing you want to do is to dust your chiles off with a damp cloth. You will need 2.5 ounces of dried chiles in total.
Place the chilis in a mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. The chiles need to be totally submerged but they tend to float. To combat this I use a small plate to hold them down.
While your chile's are soaking it is a good time to get started on your spices. Dry toast them in a small pan over medium heat. They are ready when they start to smell fragrant. Shake the pan frequently to prevent burning.
Authentic harissa is made with a mortar and pestle. Don't have one? Put the spices in a spice grinder or directly into your blender.
Once the chiles are softened you need to remove the stems and the seeds. I HIGHLY recommend gloves for this task. Especially if you chose a hotter chile.
Add the chiles to the blender with your spices, garlic, lemon juice, and vinegar. The dried chiles will take a while to break up down completely. Slowly add the olive oil to get your desired consistency.
Now your harissa paste is ready for your recipe.
🥘Tips and Tricks
- You can also dry toast the chile peppers before soaking them for added flavor. Be sure to turn on your exhaust fan on!
- Use gloves when removing the stems and seeds from the peppers. Even when using a milder pepper the capsicum will build up as you work.
- Got it too spicy? No worried add one roasted red pepper, homemade or jarred to the puree to tone it down. Also, remember that once you add it to your dish it
- Store in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top after each use to extend the shelf life of the harissa paste.
Thanks for checking out our homemade harissa paste recipe. We love a good sauce around here. Food should be full of flavor, but we don't always have time to make a fancy sauce recipe. Here are a few of our favorite no-cook sauces that take less than 5 minutes!
Harissa Beef and Carrot Noodles
Easy Romesco Sauce
Did You Enjoy Making This Recipe? Please rate this recipe with ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ or leave a comment. It helps other wonderful people connect with my food.
📖 Printable Recipe Card
- 1.5 oz dried chiles de árbol about 20 small chilis
- 1 oz dried guajillo chiles about 2-3 chilis
- ¾ teaspoon caraway seeds
- ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon whole coriander seed
- 3 garlic cloves smashed
- 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup olive oil plus more for storage
- Place the dried chiles in a large heatproof measuring glass. Pour boiling water over to submerge, use a small plate to hold down the chilis, if needed. Let sit until chiles are very pliable and cool enough to handle, 15–20 minutes. Drain; remove stems and seeds and discard.1.5 oz dried chiles de árbol, 1 oz dried guajillo chiles
- Toast cumin and coriander in a dry small skillet over medium-low heat, tossing constantly, until very fragrant, about 3 minutes.¾ teaspoon cumin seeds, ½ teaspoon whole coriander seed
- Transfer to a food processor, add garlic, and pulse until spices are broken up and garlic forms a paste. Add chiles and pulse until chiles form a coarse paste. Add lemon juice, vinegar, paprika, and salt and process until mostly smooth but mixture still has a little texture.3 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1½ teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ¾ teaspoon caraway seeds
- With the food processor running add olive oil slowly. Process until the oil is incorporated. Store the paste in a jar, top with a thin layer of olive oil.¼ cup olive oil
- Store the harissa paste in the refrigerator. Top with a thin layer of olive oil after each use to extend the shelf life. When stored in this manner the harissa should last up to 2 months.