Homemade Harissa Recipe: Harissa paste is a versatile North African condiment made with dried chilies, garlic, olive oil, and spices. It can be used as an accompaniment to grilled meats and fish or simply added to soups and stews for an extra kick. This recipe is super simple to make, only taking 5 minutes at the most!
I have to admit that I’m a hot sauce kind of person. You can never come to my house and not find a type of hot sauce in my fridge or pantry.
Although you can buy canned sauces, homemade sauce is vastly superior.
What is Harissa?
Harissa is a spicy chili paste native to North Africa. It is dairy-free and gluten-free and can be used in place of hot sauce on burgers, fries, eggs, sandwiches, tacos, and more.
Harissa is said to have originated in the region of Cap Bon in Tunisia. After that, it was passed regionally to the surrounding countries of Algeria, Libya, and Morocco.
Harissa can be made with dry or fresh peppers:
- Dry peppers: The dry peppers are rehydrated by soaking them in water until they become softened
- Fresh red peppers: the peppers are steamed or roasted to soften the skin. The skin is then removed from the pulp, and the pulp is used.
What does it taste like?
Harissa has a complex sweet, smoky, and a little bit tangy addictive flavor. And the heat can range from mild to hot.
Harissa sauce is tasty as soon as you make it, but I find that if it’s refrigerated the next day or two, the flavors will meld well, creating a richer chile paste that you’ll love!
While there are many variations to making harissa, this recipe is my preferred method. There isn’t anything complicated about it, and the steps are easy to follow.
You can easily customize this recipe, and I have included some ways to adjust it to your own preferences, and I hope some of the tips will be helpful as you experiment around with it.
What kind of chiles should I use for harissa?
I like to use a combination of chile peppers: New Mexico chiles, which is a bit mild but with a kick, roasted bell peppers, for some sweet smoky flavor, chiles de arbol for some heat, and I love even more heat, so I added cayenne pepper.
Deseeding the pepper
It is not necessary to remove the seeds, it’s a matter of personal preference. Some people remove the seeds because they find them bitter. Also, the seeds can float around the paste, and some don’t like the texture.
Ingredients for making Harissa
- Lemon/vinegar for acidity
- Smoked paprika lends a little more of kick to the relatively mild, smoky flavor of the ancho chili
- Tomato paste for depth of flavor, color, and thickness
- caraway and coriander seeds give harissa a bit of a floral flavor
- cumin seeds provides a nutty, earthy taste.
- Salt for flavor
- Pepper: I used a mix of New Mexico chiles, hot peppers, roasted bell peppers, and cayenne pepper.
- Olive oil
How to make harissa
- Soak the dry Peppers
- Blend with the ingredients
- Store in the refrigerator or freezer
How To Store Harissa
Harissa should be stored in a glass jar and kept in the refrigerator for up to one month. However, the paste should always be topped with olive oil, ensuring it’s not exposed to air; otherwise, it will spoil.
For longer storage, the paste can be made into ice cubes and stored in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- You should adjust the quantity of hot peppers based on your personal preference.
- Be sure to wear gloves when dealing with hot peppers.
Other Recipes You Might Like:
- Fish Taco Sauce – Fresh And Delicious!
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Shrimp Cakes and Avocado-Cilantro Dipping Sauce
- Nigerian Chicken Stew
- West African Pepper Sauce
- Lemon Pepper Wings with Lemon Pepper Sauce
Homemade Harissa Recipe
- 10 dried New Mexico Chiles
- 8 oz roasted red peppers jarred – drained rinsed
- 3 dried chiles de arbol
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or add to taste
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar optional
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- To prepare the dried chiles, soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes in a heat-resistant glass container until they are soft and re-hydrated. Then, drain the chiles and remove the stems and seeds.
- Place the chiles in the food processor bowl fitted with a blade. Add all the other ingredients except the olive oil – the tomato paste, roasted red peppers, garlic, ground caraway seeds, coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, lemon juice, and salt to taste.
- Blend for a minute or two, then pour the olive oil while still blending. Stop the processor occasionally to scrape down the sides and continue blending until you reach the desired paste-like texture. Add more water or oil if you want it to have a saucier texture.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Store in jar and pour oil over the paste to keep it fresh. The harissa paste will deepen in flavor during the next day or two as it sits in the fridge.
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