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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). The rich, spicy harissa sauce is absolutely delicious.
The chicken is marinated and cooked in a spicy harissa sauce and then drizzled with yogurt and showered with chopped fresh herbs. This harissa chicken is a favorite weeknight chicken dish, served with rice or roasted potatoes and a green vegetable.
What ingredients do you need to make harissa chicken?
One of my favorite things about this harissa chicken recipe is that it requires only a short list of ingredients. Here’s what you need:
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I prefer boneless skinless thighs, but you can also use boneless skinless chicken breast if you like)
- Harissa paste
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Ground cumin
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Plain yogurt (whole-milk preferred, can use Greek yogurt or regular yogurt)
- Fresh dill
What is harissa paste?
Harissa paste is a spicy North African or Middle Eastern chile paste. You’ll find versions of harissa paste in the cuisines of Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Libya.
Harissa paste 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. (My Tunisian friend tells me that it’s not a proper harissa sauce if it doesn’t have caraway seeds in it!)
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, this quick harissa sauce is perfect for dunking bread.
This Harissa Chicken recipe is a perfect example of how a single condiment like harissa sauce 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 harissa sauce or paste at home using this easy recipe for harissa paste!
How do you make baked harissa chicken?
Harissa chicken is very easy to make. I like to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
- Make a harissa marinade by mixing harissa paste with spices and olive oil. Toss the chicken thighs in the marinade to coat and then refrigerate it until ready to cook.
- Marinate the chicken thighs 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 the chicken thighs, arrange them on a sheet pan and cook in the oven for about 35 minutes.
- Drizzle the cooked chicken thighs with plain yogurt.
- Sprinkle with fresh dill.
The yogurt helps tone down the spiciness of the harissa.
The prep for this harissa chicken recipe is super quick. It takes less than 10 minutes to make the harissa 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.
You can also make grilled harissa chicken (marinate the chicken as directed in the recipe, and then grill it on a hot grill for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking time) or cook the harissa chicken in an air fryer (380 degrees for about 10 minutes per side).
What to serve with harissa chicken thighs?
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 a lemon juice vinaigrette is a nice, refreshing counterpart to the spicy chicken.
You can also serve this harissa chicken with flatbread, which is great for wrapping around the chicken or for sopping up the irresistible harissa sauce. I sometimes serve it as part of a sort of mezze platter with homemade hummus, pita bread to wrap it up in, and sliced cucumbers.
More great chicken recipes you’ll love
If you’re looking for more delicious chicken recipes that are easy to make and sure to please your family, look no further. Some of my favorite chicken recipes are Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken, Sesame Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma, Thai Chicken Curry, and Thai Chicken Satay.
- 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 15 minutes, flip the chicken pieces over, and
cook for about 15 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.
- You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs or boneless skinless chicken breasts in this recipe. You can even use bone-in chicken thighs or chicken breasts, if you like, but you may need to adjust the cooking time.