Harissa chicken is so easy to make and loaded with deliciously spicy North African flavor. It’s amazing that it only has 6 ingredients (plus salt + pepper).
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This is a favorite weeknight chicken dish, served with rice or roasted potatoes and a green vegetable.
What is harissa paste?
Harissa paste is a spicy North African or Middle Eastern chile paste. Versions of it can be found in the cuisines of Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Libya.
Harissa recipes vary from place to place, but they all start with a base of hot red chiles. It isn’t just hot, though. It is loaded with layers of complex flavors—caraway seeds, coriander seeds, garlic, paprika, and often other ingredients like rose petals.
In North African cuisine, it adds flavor to stews, soups, sauces, dips, and spreads, or forms the base of a marinade for meat and fish. Thinned out with a bit of olive oil, it is perfect for dunking bread.
This Harissa Chicken recipe is a perfect example of how a single condiment can add intense, complex flavor to a dish.
Where can you find it?
You can find harissa sauce or harissa paste in tubes, jars, or cans in the International aisle in many supermarkets, in Middle Eastern markets, or buy harissa paste online. There are many good brands.
Trader Joe’s harissa paste is surprisingly good! (by the way, this is a link to the TJ’s paste on Amazon. I don’t recommend buying it there if you can get it from TJ’s but you can see what the jar looks like and the ingredients)
You can also make it at home using this easy recipe for harissa paste!
How do you make harissa chicken?
Harissa chicken is very easy to make. I like to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
- Make a marinade by mixing harissa paste with spices and olive oil. Toss the chicken in the marinade to coat and then refrigerate it until ready to cook.
- Marinate for anywhere from 20 minutes to overnight. I think it turns out best when it is marinated for at least an hour, but it will be delicious even if you only have 20 minutes.
- After marinating, cook on a sheet pan for about 35 minutes.
- Drizzle with plain yogurt.
- Sprinkle with fresh dill.
The yogurt helps tone down the spiciness of the harissa.
The prep for this dish is super quick. It takes less than 10 minutes to make the marinade and the rest is all hands-free time, making this a perfect dish for busy weeknights. You can even marinate the chicken the night before.
What to serve with harissa chicken?
I like to serve harissa chicken with basmati rice or roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes (which you can roast on the same sheet pan alongside the chicken!) Quinoa, farro, or couscous are great sides, too.
And a crisp green salad with citrus vinaigrette is a nice, refreshing counterpart to the spicy chicken.
You can also serve it with flatbread. I sometimes serve it as part of a sort of mezze platter with homemade hummus, pita bread, and sliced cucumbers to wrap it up in.
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/3 cup harissa paste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt (whole-milk preferred)
- ½ cup chopped fresh dill
- In a large bowl, stir together the harissa paste, olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper together. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Marinate for at least 20 minutes or as long as overnight (refrigerate if longer than 20 minutes).
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Arrange the chicken in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake for about 18 minutes, flip the chicken pieces over, and
cook for about 18 minutes longer, until the edges are charred and the chicken is cooked through.
- Transfer the chicken to serving plates or a large platter. Drizzle the yogurt over the chicken and sprinkle the dill on top.
- Serve immediately.
- The longer you marinate the chicken the better. You can marinate it as long as overnight.
- If you plan to marinate the chicken for more than 20 minutes, refrigerate it.
Amount Per Serving Calories 379Total Fat 25gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 19gCholesterol 167mgSodium 916mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 2gSugar 1gProtein 35g
Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.