Make Ahead


January 30, 2013
1 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 1 cup
Author Notes

In its most basic form, Harissa, a North African chile sauce, is made with dried chiles, garlic, olive oil and spices. I’ve added lemon juice, zest and red wine vinegar to brighten flavors, and tomato paste for body. I also opted for dried chiles that fall into the “sweet and complex” category rather than smoky or spicy. A blend of ancho, mulato and guajillo chiles provides a fruity base with intriguing depth of flavor. I've adapted this recipe from the New York Times. —Kitchen Konfidence

What You'll Need
  • 5 medium dried chile peppers, stems removed*
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  1. Soak chile peppers in vinegar for 30 – 45 minutes (until soft). Add chiles, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and olive into a food processor and process until smooth.
  2. In a small frying pan, lightly toast coriander and fennel seeds (no need to add oil). Grind up spices with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Add ground coriander and fennel seeds to the food processor with pepper, allspice, nutmeg, salt and tomato paste. Process until smooth (drizzle in extra olive oil if the mixture seems too thick). Season to taste with additional kosher salt.
  3. * I used a mixture of 1 ancho chile, 1 mulato chile and 3 guajillo chiles, and my Harissa turned out complex and flavorful (not spicy)! Feel free to experiment with different types of dried chile peppers. Dried chipotle peppers will give your Harissa a smokier flavor. Chile de arbol will bump up the heat factor.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Vstarr71
  • AngelaM-E
  • Jennifer Nikola
    Jennifer Nikola
  • Pixie29354
Kitchen Konfidence is a collection of recipes and techniques aimed to inspire the home cook to do more in the kitchen. About Brandon: I enjoy cooking with seasonal ingredients, making ice cream and shaking up some killer cocktails. When I am not cooking and taking pictures of my food, I am at the beach, carousing with friends, taking day trips up the 5, or engaging in all manner of computer geekery.

7 Reviews

Jennifer N. January 4, 2016
Did anyone else have a problem with the vinegar taste? Normally I make the harissa recipe from kitch'n which has a spicer, smokier flavor. Or perhaps the vinegar I used (fresh bottle from Central Market) was too astringent. Hmmm.
Vstarr71 November 4, 2014
Oops! Just saw the answer, further down:)
Vstarr71 November 4, 2014
Love, love, love this! I've made it a few times:) Wondering how long it keeps in the refrigerator? Thanks!
Pixie29354 June 19, 2013
I absolutely love this recipe! I make a batch every week and put it on everything from pasta to cheese sandwiches. I'm actually obsessed. The only change I make is skipping the lemon zest because I think it overcomes the chili flavor and adding extra paste because I'm a bit of a wimp
k S. February 26, 2013
De-freaking-licious. I can't stop putting it on everything. Also, I might have a slight obsession with dried chiles now.
AngelaM-E February 17, 2013
Thanks for the recipe. I'm excited to make my own harissa. How long will this keep? How should it be stored? Can you freeze it?
Pixie29354 June 19, 2013
I've only stored it for a week and a half in the fridge and it gets better with age!