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So, I had this whole delicious lunch for you guys.

Homemade Harissa (Spicy Red Pepper Sauce) |

Or breakfast or in my case dinner,  but then this sauce happened and since this said lunch includes this Harissa sauce I felt I had to share this first.

But, I am making it known that you have a very, no highly delicious, meal coming your way and I am jumping out of my skin to share it with you. But not tomorrow, and I think we all know why it is not happening tomorrow.

So predictable.

Homemade Harissa (Spicy Red Pepper Sauce) |

Now that I think about it though, posting this sauce today is kind of perfect.

I mean, with tomorrow being Valentine’s Day you may be looking to spice things up a little, and this sauce (or some people would say paste) is spicy. Spicy and really good, so do not get freaked out by the heat. You just need to mix it with something to help tame the heat a little. Although, I know it is also used like salsa and eaten with chips. If hot is your thing, using it as salsa would be great too.

Homemade Harissa (Spicy Red Pepper Sauce) |

If you have never heard of Harissa it is a spicy sauce used in a lot of Moroccan cooking. Typically it is used  as a garnish, with eggs, or sometimes it can be mixed into dishes too. To be honest, this is the first time I have even tried Harissa. I have been wanting to for forever, but my lame small town grocery store does not carry any.

I ordered some on Amazon, but with all the snow we had last week it was not delivered on time and I really wanted it. So, I figured I would just make my own and I cannot believe how easy it was. It is really just a bunch of peppers all tossed together. The total prep time is only thirty five minutes – and thirty of those minutes come from letting the dried chiles soak in water. The rest of the work is all done in the food processor (or blender).

Easy peasy.

Homemade Harissa (Spicy Red Pepper Sauce) |

I made the sauce, made my lunchy thingy that I cannot wait to tell you all about and then……

There was a knock on the door.

Homemade Harissa (Spicy Red Pepper Sauce) |


Of course, the sauce shows up the minute I am finished. Story of my life.

Homemade Harissa (Spicy Red Pepper Sauce) |

Whatever, like I said, I love my homemade version. Plus, it makes me feel all cool that I made my own Harissa sauce.

I mean, homemade always trumps the store. Ok, well unless the homemade version takes like days or something to make, in which case maybe the store bought is sometimes ok. But if you can go the homemade route… do it. Bonus, in the long run it usually ends up being like half the price!

Homemade Harissa (Spicy Red Pepper Sauce) |

Oh, and if you are wondering, this is about as spicy as it is going to get around here this Valentine’s Day. Me and my sauce have a little date with some runny eggs….and chocolate. Duh.

You know, some people say being single on Valentines Day is the worst, but for me, it just means more of the good stuff. That and I just have zero time in my life right now for a boyfriend. I say, me first then the guy.

Homemade Harissa (Spicy Red Pepper Sauce) |

Homemade Harissa (Spicy Red Pepper Sauce).

Prep Time 15 minutes
Rest 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings: 1 Cup
Calories Per Serving: 653 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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  • 2 whole roasted red peppers seeds removed*
  • 2 dried ancho chilies*
  • 1 dried chile de arbol*
  • 2 in chipotle chiles adobo*
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 clove garlic peeled + smashed
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • Place the dried chiles in a heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water over top the chiles. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes until the chiles are softened. Reserve chile water.
  • Once chiles are softened, cut top off the chiles and remove the seeds from inside. Add to the bowl of a food processor or blender, along with the chipotle chiles in adobo, garlic and lemon juice.
  • Purée, slowly pouring in the olive oil to thicken the sauce. If desired add 1-2 tablespoons of the reserved chile water to thin the sauce a bit (I did not do this). Season to taste with salt and extra lemon juice.
  • The Harissa will keep refrigerated for a few weeks.


*You can use any combo of dried chiles you prefer. I just used what I could find in my area, but found that I loved the flavor. You will need a total of 5 dried chiles. *To roast your own red peppers you can either broil them in the oven or place them directly on a gas top burner and char all sides of the pepper. Once all sides are charred remove the pepper from the broiler or stove top and place in a bowl and cover. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, remove and peel the charred parts away. Slice and use.
Nutritional values are  based on 1 cup of condiment

Homemade Harissa (Spicy Red Pepper Sauce) |

Or maybe me, some chocolate… and then the guy.

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  1. 3 stars
    I appreciate the effort at making it but this is not a sauce that is “frequently used in Moroccan cuisine. it was created in Tunisia and until today remains one of their most important cooking ingredients. good luck!

  2. 5 stars
    This is absolutely delicious. I made it tonight to accompany some fish tacos, but I am tempted to eat the whole batch with chips. YUM. Thank you!!!! <3

  3. In Tunisia Harissa is served in every restaurant with sliced fresh baguette prior to a meal. In even the smallest community restaurants make their own Harissa as a matter of course. It is also used as the principal condiment for the ubiquitous Tunisian favourite, Tunisian Tuna sandwich. What strikes me about your recipe is that you are using a large portion of SW peppers that are in no way used in Harissa as Moroccan/Tunisian makers of Harissa would not normally find these in the local market where all food is purchased in those countries. As well, your recipe does not include nearly enough garlic. Harissa is a garlic pepper sauce rather than a pepper sauce with some garlic. It should be all about the garlic at first taste followed by some heat at the end. Try it with a good baguette this makes the beautiful complexity of flavour shine through.

    1. It’s a spread that can be used on things like toast, or as a dip and can aslo be used in recipes as well. Let me know if you have other questions

  4. Hey! Sounds so good.. Can’t wait to try. Do the chiles have to be dried? I love spicy and have both cayanetta and tobasco peppers growing on my deck.

    1. Hi! Hmm, I would think fresh chiles would also work, but I have never made it that way. Let me know how it goes! Thank you!

  5. Huh? Pardon me, but where’s the cumin? The coriander? The caraway? I grew up on harissa and have always made my own. This looks like a very nice pepper paste recipe, but without those toasted & ground seeds, ESPECIALLY the cumin, honey, this sure ain’t no harissa!

  6. By “roasted red peppers” I assume you mean sweet bell peppers and not hot peppers. Am I right? You did not show anything but anchos and hot peppers.

  7. This looks delicious but if you are short on time in the kitchen check out the new Harissa Entube, really scrummy.

  8. i dont know why im so scared to try harissa. I love thai chili sauce and sriracha. I just will have to hunker down and try it.

  9. I was wondering if you have tried to can this for long time storage. My husband is away for an extended trip and I would love to make it for him.

  10. Happiness is finding an awesome recipe and knowing that you already have all the ingredients! I just finished making this but I can’t help but think there is something missing. I love garlic so I used four cloves and I even roasted my own red peppers, but something is missing…… preventing it from tasting “full-bodied.” No matter, it’s still good! Thanks for the great recipe!

  11. used a jar of drained pasilla peppers, 2 dried anchos, 2 dried new mexico ( too avoid too much heat ), and switched to 3 roasted cloves of garlic.. the rest was pretty similar , and you could dip in a chunk of whole grain bread and smile.. jp

  12. How did I miss this post? But found it because of today’s? I love Harissa and always have it in my fridge. Can’t wait to try this! It’s sure to be my new favorite! Harissas also an ingredient in my OTHER favorite dip, muhumurrah, which is also wonderful with sweet potato fries/ chips!

  13. Oh wow Tieghan- I didn’t realize this was so easy to make! I love a good really spicy Harissa and can’t wait to try. Stumbled upon your blog through Love & Lemons- so glad I did!

  14. Accidentally stumbled upon your blog and dumbstruck by your gorgeous photography…. I always thought it was a Moroccan origin but apparently it’s Tunisian. Anyway, I can almost taste it in my mouth. Thank you for teasing my taste buds today.

  15. Ooo, very cool idea, Tieghan! I could see myself grilling with this paste and using it as a sauce all spring and summer long. Look at that amazing color! Lovely recipe and photos, girl!

  16. Oh wow, I can’t tell you how excited I am to make this. I enjoy making things that call for dried chilies to be toasted and then re-hydrated etc…. I recently purchased a small bottle of Harissa infused oil while in Monterey and it’s amazing, but I use it sparingly cause I don’t want it to be gone. You’ve helped me ensure I can keep those flavors in my kitchen – thank you!!

  17. this is a GREAT how-to Tieghan, I absolutely love harissa!!! (and still obsessed with your bowls, btw)

  18. You got a successful blog, way better than a boyfriend! You will find someone awesome in time I mean come on look at that food. You would be one hell of a girlfriend! Happy V-Day!

  19. I would never have made my own harissa. Way to go. And that shot of the water pouring into the bowl over the chilies?? Just awesome.

  20. I love spicy the more heat the better…when you do have time for a boyfriend he’s going to be so stoked with all the good eats you make.

  21. You seem like such a wonderful girl. Never, ever put up with any guy who doesn’t treat you like a queen and appreciate your insanely amazing cooking/photography skills. Should you choose to settle down one day, you will make someone very, very happy. He will be a lucky guy. The right guy is always worth the wait and somewhere out there, someone else is waiting for you.. the perfect girl! 😀

    Keep up the great recipes.. you rock!

  22. Awesome post. I just recently starting using harissa….love it! Last weekend as I opened a new jar I took a look at the ingredients, and all i could think was – why on earth am i not making my own!

  23. i have also only heard about harrisa but never made it. I will be on the hunt for these chili peppers. I am excited to see what you came up with for lunch.

  24. Homemade is ALWAYS better (especially from you). This is totally going on some soft poached eggs. Thanks Tieghan!!

  25. OMG – this looks incredible! You can taste the rich flavor because it’s so apparent with the rich color. Amazing! Love heat, will definitely make this.
    p.s. Smart girl – when you put yourself first, everything else in life falls into place. Yay for you!

  26. You did NOT just make me fall in love with you. Okay. Okay. You did. I have been wanting to make homemade harissa for a zillion years and have been too busy/lazy to look up a recipe. I’m making the crap out of this. In bulk. Costco-style.

    And you, my love…have a great head on your shoulders. YOU come first. Always stick to that 🙂

  27. Yum! I have totally been wanting to try harissa. I’m inspired now that you’re making it sound so simple! What a great color, too.