I’m a bit of a condiment fan. They allow you to spice up burgers, dip your veggies or jazz up any food with minimal effort. Unfortunately, most condiments and sauces that you can purchase at the store are full of preservatives, hard-to-pronounce ingredients and tons of refined sugar.
You might not be familiar with harissa, but it’s an extremely popular condiment in the Middle East and North Africa, where it originated from. It’s difficult to describe it — harissa is more of a paste than ketchup and has a much more complex flavor.
Depending on who prepares the harissa recipe and where it’s from, the ingredients can vary, but there are a few staples that are always included: benefit-rich garlic, hot chili peppers, oil and spices like coriander and fennel.
The hot chili peppers is probably the most distinctive part of harissa, which is lucky. These same peppers have been found to help people live longer. One study found that people who ate a chili pepper at least once a month reduced their risk of dying by 13 percent. Now there’s one good reason to make this harissa recipe!
But if you need more, some of my favorite ways to use harissa include adding them to scrambled eggs for a kick of flavor, mixing it with mayonnaise for a spicy aioli or using in my Middle Eastern shakshuka recipe.
This harissa recipe also makes a great marinade for chicken (especially if you’re grilling or broiling!) and, when combined with olive oil, is a yummy alternative to butter when you’re serving bread. You can mix it with your tomato sauce for pasta or pizza bases or spread on veggies before roasting. There’s nothing that a good harissa sauce doesn’t go well with.
Are you ready to whip up some harissa?
We’ll start by soaking the peppers in apple cider vinegar, one of the most versatile household ingredients, for 30 minutes. I purposely haven’t specified how many hot peppers to use so that you can choose the heat level that matches you and your family’s tastes.
While the peppers soak, gather the rest of your ingredients. This homemade harissa actually packs quite the nutritional punch. You’ll get heart-healthy good fats from the avocado oil used in this harissa to make it nice and smooth.
Coriander is the spice we’ll use most in this recipe. Coriander is the ground version of cilantro leaves and, luckily for us, it’s full of healthy benefits. Coriander seeds have been found to lower blood pressure, make digestion go more smoothly and decrease blood pressure levels.
Once the peppers are through soaking, add all of the ingredients to a food processor. Process on high until a harissa paste is formed, adding water slowly if necessary.
Your homemade harissa recipe is done! You can store this harissa in a glass or other air-tight container. It will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Prep: 5 minutes; Total: 35 minutes
- 3–4 dried peppers of choice, stems removed
- ¼–½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2–3 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon of lemon zest, optional*
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- ¼ cup avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon fennel
- ½ tablespoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ pink salt
- ½ cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons water, if needed
- Soak peppers in ACV for 30 minutes.
- Add all ingredients, except water, to a food processor and process on high until well combined, adding water if needed.