Harissa is a spicy North African sauce or paste made of ground dried chile peppers, garlic, olive oil, and spices like coriander, caraway, and cumin. Primarily Tunisian, harissa is also used in Moroccan, Algerian, and Libyan cooking. Ranging in heat from mild to scorching hot, harissa is used as both a condiment and an ingredient that's stirred into couscous, tagines (stews), soups, and pastas. Look for harissa in tubes, cans, or jars at well-stocked grocery stores and specialty markets. Or try your hand at making a homemade batch, using this recipe.

About one cup
30 mins
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  • 6 dried Anaheim or New Mexico chiles
  • 4 dried chiles de Arbol
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Stem and seed the chiles and put them in a medium heatproof bowl. Add enough boiling water to cover the chiles and let soak until well softened, about 1 hour. Drain and squeeze out any excess water.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, lightly toast the caraway, coriander, and cumin seeds over medium heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool slightly and then grind finely with a spice grinder.
Put the chiles, ground spices, garlic, lemon zest, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon warm water in a blender. With the motor running, gradually pour the oil in a steady stream through the feed hole in the blender cap; continue blending until a mostly smooth, paste-like sauce forms. If the sauce is too thick to puree, add warm water 1 tablespoon at a time to loosen. Transfer the harissa to an airtight container and top with a thin layer of olive oil. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Make Ahead:
Harissa can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
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