Chef John's Harissa Sauce Recipe -
Chef John's Harissa Sauce Recipe
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How to Make Harissa
See how to make Chef John’s all-time favorite hot sauce. See more
  • READY IN 45 mins

Chef John's Harissa Sauce

Recipe by  

"Harissa is probably my all-time favorite hot sauce, and one I'm sure you've seen me use in a bunch of recipes here. A small spoonful of this makes virtually any savory dish better."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 6 servings Change Servings
  • PREP

    20 mins
  • COOK

    15 mins

    45 mins


  1. Preheat oven's broiler and set the oven rack at about 6 inches from the heat source. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place red bell peppers with cut sides down onto the prepared baking sheet. Cook under the preheated broiler until the skin of the peppers has blackened and blistered, 5 to 8 minutes. Place the blackened peppers into a bowl and tightly seal with plastic wrap. Allow the peppers to steam as they cool, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard skins.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add Fresno and habanero chiles and cook uncovered over medium heat until vegetables start to soften, about 3 minutes; drain and set aside to cool. Remove seeds and membranes from chiles (wear gloves); set aside.
  3. Shake coriander and caraway seeds in a skillet over medium heat until you start to smell the spice, about 2 minutes. Use a mortar and pestle to crush toasted seeds; add cumin, mint, and salt, and crush until finely ground. Transfer spices to a blender and add roasted bell peppers, chiles, garlic, lemon juice, and vegetable oil; puree until smooth. Drizzle in extra-virgin olive oil at the end, blending for only a few seconds.
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  • Cook's Note:
  • If you have a gas stove, you may use an open flame to roast the red pepper. Turn heat to medium high and roast pepper over the flame, turning occasionally until the skin has blackened and blistered, 8 to 10 minutes. Place peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam. When cool, strip and discard skins.
  • Substitute any red chiles for Fresno chiles.

Reviews More Reviews

Jul 13, 2013

I combined this recipe and another one on this site to make my favorite harissa ever. Instead of the fresno and habanero, I used fresh jalapeno peppers (4)and did NOT roast them, and instead of lemon juice, added fresh cilantro. Very very good harissa.

Nov 21, 2012

We used Tunisian bak louti peppers from our garden instead of the Fresno chiles, and it was so good. Thanks for all your great recipes and videos, Chef John!

Nov 11, 2014

I loved the complexity of the flavours in this condiment. Delicious!

Feb 24, 2015

YUM! I had a hard time getting the membranes off the peppers though. I might blanch a little longer next time. I also need the coriander and caraway seeds. I looked up substitutions and was able to use cilantro, dill, and parsley. I can only imagine how much better it would be with the exact recipe.

Jan 08, 2015

Background: grew up in Texas, travelled the world in the military and after, and grew up to love all things hot. THIS is the best hot sauce I've tasted bar-none. Only had one red bell, no mint, and no Fresnos, so instead of traipsing to the store for them I used a 12oz jar of roasted red peppers (less the juice) plus the red bell I roasted. Substituted 4 jalapenos and about a Tblsp Sriracha to get the heat up, and used Basil rather than Mint. Not quite what you may have intended with my substitutions but WOW--Chef John my hat's off to you. A great balance between taste and heat. Thanks for your efforts as your recipes are always winners. Been cooking for over 40 years--still learning!

Oct 13, 2014

Wow. Spicy for sure and not for the faint of heart and we eat Hatch, NM chile! Next time I think I will add half a habanero and more red peppers than green chile. However, I do like the spices that are used.


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  • Calories
  • 99 kcal
  • 5%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 9.6 g
  • 3%
  • Cholesterol
  • 0 mg
  • 0%
  • Fat
  • 7.2 g
  • 11%
  • Fiber
  • 2.5 g
  • 10%
  • Protein
  • 1.7 g
  • 3%
  • Sodium
  • 326 mg
  • 13%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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