This simple guide includes everything you need to transform harissa powder into a paste, including how to make it, how to use it in your daily cooking, how to adjust its spice levels and consistency, and how to select the best ingredients (including storebought powders.)

Harissa paste made by using harissa powder in a jar.

With a thick, creamy texture and a bold, spicy flavor, this harissa paste made using harissa powder will surely get you hooked on tons of other harissa recipes. My Harissa Vinaigrette is just the thing to give your salads a delicious kick of heat, while my Harissa Chicken will be the star of any dinner menu.

Ingredients You Will Need

You only need a few key ingredients to turn harissa powder to paste. Below are my go-to’s for making this condiment as robust and flavorful as possible.

Ingredients for the recipe from the top view.
  • Roasted red peppers: To make this recipe, you’ll need two jarred roasted red peppers, with as much juice removed as possible. Since these peppers tend to be milder, they better balance the spicier components of harissa seasoning.
  • Harissa Powder: I prefer making this spice mix from scratch because it gives complete control over its heat levels, as you can select your favorite balance of mild and hot chili peppers. Made with a blend of dried chilis, coriander and cumin seeds, and garlic powder, I find that homemade harissa seasoning is fresher and more flavorful than premade ones. However, if you want to reduce prep time, you can also find different brands at the store. My favorite ones are New York Shuk’s Fiery Harissa or Whole Foods Organic Harissa Seasoning (a slightly milder spice blend). We tested this recipe with both brands and found that it tasted very good.
  • Kosher Salt: I listed only one teaspoon of kosher salt, but you can add more or less depending on the saltiness of your harissa seasoning. You can also use sea salt or table salt based on what you have on hand.
  • Garlic cloves: Because you’ll eventually blend your fresh garlic cloves in a food processor, a rough chop will suffice before adding them to your other ingredients.
  • Tomato paste: This is an optional ingredient, but I enjoy the umami flavors it provides to the recipe.
  • Lemon juice: I recommend using fresh lemon juice in this recipe due to its brighter, more resonant citrus flavors. However, you can use store-bought lemon juice instead if needed.
  • Extra virgin Olive oil: Olive oil is one of the main ingredients in this powder-based harissa paste recipe. Though some recipes might advise using hot water instead, I found that a mild-tasting extra virgin olive oil offers a richer taste and smoother texture.

How to Make Harissa Paste from Harissa Powder

It is no secret that harissa paste is a staple ingredient in Tunisian cooking. While you can buy it at the store (or make it from scratch), following my simple, step-by-step instructions will teach you to convert harissa powder to paste in less than ten minutes.

Steps showing how to make the recipe.
  1. Add the ingredients: Add the roasted red chilies, harissa powder, garlic cloves, tomato paste, lemon juice, and olive oil to your food processor or a bowl large enough to accommodate an immersion blender. 
  2. Blend: Blend the ingredients to your desired consistency.
  3. Enjoy: You can use your harissa paste in your favorite recipe or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Ways to Use It

Adding authentic North African flair to your favorite meals is easy with this recipe. Whether you’re perfecting a meat marinade or adding heat to your favorite pasta sauce. Below are just a few of my favorite uses for this iconic blend:

  • Marinades: An easy way to give your favorite meats depth and heat is to add harissa paste to your marinade mix—especially yogurt-based marinades, like my Greek Yogurt Chicken. This mix tastes excellent with poultry, beef, and lamb, and it also makes an incredible pair with seafood and fish, given its mild citrus flavor. 
  • Dips and sauces: Want to give a spicy kick to your favorite dips? I love mixing harissa paste with Mediterranean classics, like Baba Ganoush, Tahini Yogurt Sauce, and Hummus—perfect additions to any mezze platter! Or, you can even infuse ketchup with harissa paste for a hot take on this classic condiment.
  • Burgers and sandwiches: If you’re tired of bland lunches, try using this harissa paste as a spicy spread for burgers, weekday sandwiches, and on-the-go wraps. That way, you can enjoy gourmet eats any day of the week.
  • Pasta sauce: A dollop of harissa paste can infuse any basic pasta sauce with deliciously smoky heat. 
  • Soups and stews: If you want to add more fragrant, bold notes to your favorite soup recipes, I highly recommend using harissa paste instead of tomato or chili paste. In particular, this recipe tastes out of this world when added to my Eggplant Beef Stew, Lentil Soup, and Quinoa Chili.
  • Eggs: Start your morning meal with vibrant heat by adding this harissa paste recipe to everything from simple scrambled eggs to a five-star plate of shakshuka.
  • Roasted veggies: With a deep yet tender taste, roasted vegetables expertly balance the savory heat of harissa paste. Roasted carrots, Roasted Eggplant, and Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes are just a few great ideas for this flavor-packed pairing.
  • Grains and legumes: Mixing harissa paste into a bowl of rice, Bulgur Pilaf, or lentils is one of my favorite ways to add a touch of heat to Middle Eastern cuisine. You can even try making harissa-marinated chickpeas for a side dish that’s as flavorful as it is filling.

Expert Tips

The best way to make powder-based harissa paste is by using these chef-approved tips. Below, you’ll discover how to adjust your paste’s consistency, enhance its natural flavors, and more.

  • Texture and consistency: When preparing harissa paste from powder, remember that the mixture’s consistency depends on how long you blend it. The less you blend, the thicker your mix will be, and more blending will result in a thinner, more sauce-like consistency. If your mixture becomes too liquidy, add more harissa powder to thicken it.
  • Freshest spices: It’s no secret that fresh species have the most potent, delicious flavor. Therefore, I highly encourage you to select the freshest ingredients possible—especially if you make your harissa spice blend from scratch.
  • Order of ingredients: When blending your paste, place the red peppers into the bowl first, followed by the powder. This ordering will lead to a more thorough, even incorporation of the ingredients.

FAQs

What does harissa paste taste like?

Harissa paste—a classic ingredient from Tunisia—boasts a complex balance of heat, smokiness, and earthy fragrance. In addition to its base of dried chiles and warm spices, this spicy condiment also gets a subtle tang from its lemon juice and tomato paste.

Is harissa paste the same as harissa powder?

Not quite. Of course, both recipes come from a similar mix of dried chili peppers and ground spices, like cumin, paprika, coriander seeds, and caraway seeds. However, harissa paste has a thick, wet consistency due to its inclusion of other ingredients, like lemon juice and tomato paste. Meanwhile, harissa powder exists in a dry, powder form—more like a seasoning.

What can I use as a substitute for harissa paste?

If you don’t have the ingredients to make your own harissa paste, you can try substituting it with another hot chili pepper paste, like sambal oelek, gochujang, or sriracha. Though these mixes have slightly different favorite profiles, they all boast a similarly spicy base, and you can add ingredients like ground cumin, coriander, and caraway to mimic the aromatic warmth of traditional harissa.

If you make your own Harissa Paste from Powder following our recipe, I would greatly appreciate it if you could take a minute to rate it and leave a comment below. It is a great way to support this website and help those planning to make it. Also, if you took pictures, I’d love to see them. Share your creations on Instagram using #foolproofeats so I can share them with the Foolproof Living community.

Harissa Paste from Powder Recipe

No ratings yet
Yields6 servings
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
This flavor-packed recipe for harissa paste from powder takes less than ten minutes to prepare. With just a few simple ingredients, you can add delectably spicy North African notes to dozens of dishes.

Ingredients 

  • 2 whole roasted red peppers, jarred, without juice
  • cup Harissa powder, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • cup extra virgin olive oil*

Instructions 

  • In the bowl of a food processor (or a bowl that can accommodate an immersion blender), place the roasted red peppers, harissa powder, garlic cloves, tomato paste, lemon juice and olive oil.
  • Blend to your desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and add more if desired.
  • Store in an airtight jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

  • Yields: This recipe makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of harissa paste, which is ideal for 6 servings. The nutritional values below are per serving.
  • Olive oil *: I found that ⅓ cup of olive oil was enough to give this recipe a rich taste and smooth, paste-like consistency. However, you can increase this amount to ½ cup if you prefer a thinner mix or a less concentrated spiciness.
  • Storage: To store your harissa paste from powder, transfer it to an airtight container or mason jar and store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. I recommend pouring a thin level of olive oil over the top to limit the exposure to oxygen and bacteria before storing.
  • Freezing: You can freeze harissa paste in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to a month. You can also portion it in ice cubes, freeze until solid, and then transfer the individual cubes into freezer bags to use in your daily cooking.

Nutrition

Calories: 128kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Sodium: 781mg | Potassium: 115mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 209IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Condiment/Sauce
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Tried this recipe?Mention @foolproofliving or tag #foolproofeats!

About Aysegul Sanford

Hello Friend! I'm Aysegul but you can call me “Ice." I’m the cook/recipe-tester/photographer behind this site.

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