small jar filled with morrocan spicy chili paste harissa, and olive oil

Harissa: North African Chili Paste

  • Author: Michal Martinek
  • Prep Time: 40 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x


Harissa is a brick red, fiery-hot Tunisian condiment made from chilies, garlic and spices.



  • 30 dried chillies, such as Guajillo, New Mexico, or California, or a mixture
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
  • Olive oil


  1. Put plastic disposable gloves on or remember not to touch your face or eyes to avoid burning.
  2. Cut the stems off the chillies and discard them. Place chilies in a big bowl, and pour boiling water over them. Make sure they are fully submerged. You can place a plate with a heavy can on top.
  3. Soak until soft, about 40 minutes. Drain the chilies, making sure to squeeze out the water.
  4. Place the chilies, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt, and a ¼ cup of olive oil into a food processor and pulse. Stop and scrape the sides of the food processor. Pulse again, add more olive oil in a slow stream until a smooth paste forms.
  5. Transfer the harissa into a glass jar or another container, smooth out the surface, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top, and secure with a lid. Store in a cool place, dark place or refrigerator.
  6. After every use, make sure the surface is smooth and there’s a thin layer of olive oil. The harissa will keep for minimum six months.


  • This recipe easily doubles.
  • Put a bow on it and bring as a gift.
  • My favorite ways to use harissa: stirred into savory oatmeal; stirred into vegetable soups and stews; with eggs, on toast; with couscous.