Make Ahead


August 20, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Makes 1 1/2 cups
Author Notes

I have been making this interpretation of harissa for years, and it's positively addicting. Not only is it fiery from chiles, it's sweet and smoky from roasted red peppers, and aromatic with toasted, freshly ground spices. It's extremely versatile and can be served as a condiment, garnish, marinade and dip. It's delicious with grilled meats, chicken and fish, mixed into rice and couscous, or served straight up with veggies for dipping or bread for mopping. - TasteFood —TasteFood

Test Kitchen Notes

I’ve bought little jars of harissa for years and while I’ve found ones I really like, now that I’ve made this recipe I don’t think I’ll ever buy harissa again. This is just delicious; the combination of the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds is perfect. I used a little chopper instead of mortar/pestle to grind up the spices once I had toasted them, and the flavors they contributed were great! And no big surprise, it gets better with time. I added mint to it at the end and used it as a marinade for some lamb and it was to die for! - ChezSuzanne —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 red jalapeno or serrano chiles, stemmed, chopped with seeds (the more you add, the hotter the harissa)
  • 2 large or 3 medium red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded, coarsely chopped
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or mint leaves (optional)
  1. Toast cumin, coriander and caraway seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until aromatic, 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar with pestle. Grind seeds to a fine powder.
  2. Combine ground seeds, garlic, chiles, red peppers and 1 tablespoon olive oil in bowl of food processor. Process, adding additional olive oil if necessary, for a thick sauce-like consistency. Add ground pepper and salt.
  3. Let harissa sit at least one hour and up to 24 hours before serving. (Refrigerate until use.) Before serving stir in chopped cilantro and/or mint, if using.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Scribbles
  • Jessica Mills
    Jessica Mills
  • borntobeworn
  • Summer of Eggplant
    Summer of Eggplant
  • TasteFood

21 Reviews

Greg F. August 29, 2020
I see that this has been around for awhile but I wanted to add my positive review. This is a wonderful recipe and I particularly like the touch added by the caraway seeds. It freezes well and like sofrito, it can be done in ice cube trays for measured use in tagines. It is also quick so if I’m roasting lamb, I can make some fresh as a condiment. Love it!
Cindi B. February 10, 2019
I need to make somethings ahead and thought this might work to sit in the fridge for a day and then freeze it--thoughts?
TasteFood February 10, 2019
I have frozen it before without a problem. The flavor and heat may be slightly milder once defrosted, so taste for seasoning.
Pattie M. November 29, 2018
I used this on thin sliced sweet potatoes for a holiday dish. Absolutely delicious. Will keep harissa around forever!
eucalyptus June 23, 2014
Just made this last night- absolutely delicious!
Scribbles August 19, 2013
Just finished making this and it already taste awesome! Can hardly wait to put it on the Summer Melon Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint.
Jessica M. June 29, 2013
I had a hard time finding Harissa here in New Zealand. Spent over an hour driving around to different stores with no luck; will never do that again now that I have this recipe!!
Hilary G. September 20, 2012
Authentic and perfect! The layer of oil on top is a don't-skip element for flavor and texture!
Hilary G. September 20, 2012
Authentic and perfect! The layer of oil on top is a don't-skip element for flavor and texture!
borntobeworn December 10, 2011
I just made my first batch of this today :) I'm letting it sit for at least 24 hours but my "tastes" from the spatula were awesome!!!
TasteFood December 10, 2011
I'm glad you like it!
Summer O. March 17, 2011
I ran out of harissa recently and my spouse was insistent on having Moroccan food and I had no desire to make the drive to Williams-Sonoma, so I made this! Lovely. Not sure I will buy it again, thanks! The remainder is in the fridge looking forward to the next outing.
TasteFood September 16, 2010
Thank you for the review Susan - I am so happy you liked it!
lapadia August 31, 2010
Thanks for sharing your recipe TasteFood!
Oui, C. August 30, 2010
I could live on Harissa, but have never made it from scratch. Thanks for giving me the tools to do just that.
Lizthechef August 27, 2010
This is the kind of recipe on the site that separates the teachers from the students - happy to be your pupil ;)
TasteFood August 28, 2010
That would be mutual, Liz, thanks!
WinnieAb August 27, 2010
I love harissa and this looks amazing!
TasteFood August 28, 2010
Thanks, Winnie.
TasteFood August 23, 2010
Thanks, Cathy! It will be a perfect accompaniment to your merguez - which is on my must-make list!
MrsWheelbarrow August 22, 2010
Thank you so much for posting this. I make merguez (recipe on the site) and have experimented with many commercial harissas, and each time, wonder what it would take to make my own. I love the idea of caraway - never would have thought of that!