Harissa is kind of like North Africa’s answer to sriracha. One of the world’s most beloved hot sauces, harissa is spicy, it’s flavorful and you’ll want to put it on everything.
The flavorful red chili paste – made with dried chilies, and spices like cumin, caraway and cinnamon – is slathered and rubbed on all manner of foods in its native Tunisia and surrounding countries, used as everything from a meat marinade to a flavor enhancer in dips.
This recipe for harissa paste is simple to make and highly adaptable; you can switch up the chilies you use depending on the specific flavors you’re looking for, or just according to what’s available at your local grocery store. You can also add flavor enhancers like lemon juice or coriander. (One note: if you use fresh chilies instead of dried, you’ll need to double the number used).
While we love adding harissa paste to kick up the heat in hummus or just to marinate chicken (like for Michael Mina’s harissa grilled chicken lafa), we highly recommend adding one more step and turning your harissa paste into harissa butter.
Just by adding some fennel and blending with butter, you can make a spicy butter that’s incredible for brushing on corn, bathing lobster or sautéing just about anything.
Hrissa paste gains flavor if you let it set for a few days, so feel free to make as much paste as you want, and a few days later use it to whip up a batch of harissa butter.
Scroll through photos for step-by-step instructions on how to make harissa paste and harissa butter.
- 1 red bell pepper, charred* and chopped
- 10 dried arbol chiles
- 6 dried chiltepins
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika flakes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces unsalted butter softened
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground
- 3 tablespoons harissa paste
*Recipe and photos via Thanksgiving.com