Harissa Sauce

Harissa is a Tunisian hot chili sauce whose main ingredients are a variety of hot chili peppers and spices such as garlic paste, coriander, red chili powder, caraway as well as some olive oil. It is most closely associated with Tunisia, Libya and Algeria but recently also making in-roads into Morocco and Israel. Variations of Harissa can include the addition of cumin, red peppers, garlic, coriander, and lemon juice. It can also be used as a flavoring in couscous, or as a spread on your favorite bread. Harissa paste can be also used as a rub for meat or eggplant.

The Harissa recipe I’m going to be sharing with you was passed down from my Iraqi Grandmother, Savta Na’ima.

Cook time
Total time
Hot chili Harissa sauce recipe
Recipe type: Dip, Sauce
Serves: Family
  • 8oz dried red Chili Peppers
  • 7 cloves of Garlic (about 5 teaspoons chopped)
  • 1 Lemon - peeled
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cumin
  • ½ cup light Olive Oil
  • 1½ teaspoons Salt
  1. Soak dried chili peppers in water for about 5 hours (make sure all chilies are under water).
  2. Once chilies are soft, strain water, remove stems and cut open chilies to remove as many seeds as possible.
  3. Allow chilies to dry off in strainer for about 15 minutes. You can squeeze them to help rid of excess water.
  4. In a meat grinder, add chilies, garlic, lemon, and grind to paste.
  5. Once ground, mix in cumin, salt, and olive oil. Be sure to mix well.
  6. Enjoy!
  7. Store unused Harissa in an airtight container in the fridge.
If you like your Harissa hot, be sure to choose hot peppers, as many dried peppers vary from mild to hot. Use waterproof gloves while handling hot chili peppers to prevent burn.