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5 harissa uses and recipes that may surprise you

You may be looking for some cooking inspiration now or possibly just trying to find the way to use those harissa leftovers. If you are a fan of Moroccan cuisine, sometimes you may find that you don’t use the whole jar of harissa for your dish. Well, we have good news! There are multiple unconventional harissa uses that can bring new flavors to your usual dishes and we are going to discuss them in this piece.

Whether you’re using our harissa, harissa paste, harissa powder or creating your harissa from scratch you may still occasionally be left with a half-empty container in your fridge - not quite enough to make a decent harissa-based dish so it just stays in your fridge forever before mutating into a new form of penicillin-related life. (Don’t get us wrong – we’re all about hygienic cooking, but that’s what happened to some of our friends…honestly!)

Traditional use of harissa

In Moroccan cuisine harissa is used as a seasoning for tagines and couscous and as a spread. Harissa is also often used in harira and lentil soup. Almost any bland dish can be enhanced with this spicy and flavor-packed sauce or paste. But in this article we will look at some less traditional uses of harissa that require smaller amounts of harissa seasoning, and are therefore perfect for using up harissa leftovers.

Leaving specific recipes for harissa aside, you can use it with pretty much any savory dish. Just add a bit to any stew or casserole or even try simply adding it to a seafood pasta with a squeeze of lemon. Harissa also blends in very well with tomato based dishes.

All the harissa uses that are listed below would work perfectly with any type of harissa: harissa paste or one of Mina harissa sauces (we have spicy, mild and green harissa too). If you are using harissa powder – just blend it with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice to make a sauce from it. Also, feel free to use green harissa as well as rose harissa for a slightly different taste.

How to use harissa?

  • 1. Mix harissa with grains or couscous

    Harissa couscousOne of the most popular ways to use harissa is to season a couscous with it. There are plenty of couscous recipes using harissa. For the most basic one just blend some harissa into couscous and drizzle some olive oil on it.

    The same recipe works perfectly well with lentils. Cook your lentils accordingly, add some chopped onions and parsley, then mix in some spices and harissa for a flavorful and healthy dish.

    Try mixing harissa paste into quinoa, rice, farro or any other grains. Serve these grains or couscous with salmon and a side of zaalouk. These flavors complement each other very well.

  • 2. Use harissa for roasting vegetables

    Harissa roasted vegetablesIf you are using Mina harissa – just drizzle your vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt before roasting. Brush them with harissa 10 minutes before they are ready.

    Harissa goes extremely well with roasted carrots, onions, beets, sweet potatoes,zucchini and squash as the spicy harissa cuts through the sweetness of these vegetables and creates a perfect balanced flavor.

    If you prefer to use harissa powder, just toss your vegetables in it and mix in some olive oil before roasting. If you are using a paste – add some olive oil to it and a bit of honey. Toss your vegetables in it until they are evenly coated and roast them.

  • 3. Rub harissa into your meat for roasting

    Harissa roasted chickenIf you are using paste or sauce you need to make sure that your meat is evenly coated. Always use high heat when roasting meats. This creates a beautifully colored crust and seals in the juices. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.

    Alternatively, rub your meat with harissa powder mixed with some salt and olive oil before roasting.

    Lamb, chicken and fish are great proteins for roasting with harissa. Serve them a side of rice or couscous and vegetables.

  • 4. Cook your meats in harissa flavored sauce

    Harissa Braised MusselsThough this is a very typical use for harissa, we think it is still worth mentioning it. If you’re cooking a casserole, stew or tagine – consider adding some harissa to the cooking liquid. Slow cooking will allow harissa to develop its flavor and enhance the sauce as well as the final dish.

  • 5. Make a sandwich with harissa

    Avocado harissa toastOne of the less common harissa uses and probably the most delicious one is using it as a spread and dip. In Moroccan cuisine harissa is used a lot as a spread and dip. Olive oil, lemon juice and salt is added to the harissa and it is used in many applications. It works the best with a freshly baked bread or a baguette. Tear it into chunky pieces spread or dip! Feel free to neatly cut your bread, but we love it rustic!

    Alternatively, mix your harissa with some Moroccan olives and olive oil and serve it with some bread – it is perfect for sharing. Your friends would definitely love this bread dipping heaven.


All in all, harissa is an extremely versatile condiment, so feel free to go as wild as you want! Experiment and don’t be shy. That’s exactly what cooking is for – try adding it to any chicken or lamb ragu. Though be reasonable! Harissa is a seasoning with a lot of character and it won’t work well with some dishes, for example, French cuisine.

Recipes using harissa


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