Harissa Chicken

I’ve never had harissa before, but when I saw Anne Burrell make it, I decided I wanted to try it. I’ve heard about it on food shows and seen it on menus, but never really knew what was in it. So when I saw her toast the spices and grind them, I realized that I could make it very easily! I already have all those spices in my pantry, and knew that the combination would make for a very spicy and flavorful chicken. After making the harissa, marinating my chicken in it overnight, and baking, I knew I had to make this meal a menu staple. I also thought it would be a great idea to share my homemade harissa with Stephanie. I delivered my leftover harissa to her apartment and shared the chicken cooking instructions with her. The photos of the cooked chicken are from Stephanie’s kitchen. The ones of the harissa-making are mine.

Oh, the reason I had so much marinade leftover? I used only half a cut up chicken. I was only serving two people, so I didn’t need to cook a whole chicken. And Stephanie also made half a chicken. We had just enough sauce. So, if you’re making an entire chicken, use all the sauce. I think this would also be amazing on a butterflied chicken on the grill. You can also use it for fish or even tofu!

Harissa Marinade, adapted from Anne Burrell:

  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted (I roasted them on my gas stove. You can also buy jarred roasted, or cut them in half and broil them till the skin is black. Then seal them in plastic and let them steam so you can peel off the black skin.)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 4 red dried chiles, seeds left inside
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt


1. Put the cumin, coriander, fennel, and caraway in a pan and toast until you can smell them. Grind them in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

2. Coarsely chop the chiles and put them in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to pulverize.

3. Add the spices, the roasted red peppers, garlic, and tomato paste. Puree.

4. Add half the olive oil and pulse, then add the other half and pulse again.

5. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Store in an air tight container.

For the chicken:

1. Toss the chicken in the harissa and let sit at room temperature for two hours, or for a few days in the fridge.

2. Place in baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the harissa is slightly browned (but not burnt!)

3. Let chicken rest for five minutes before serving.

* Stephanie and I have the same meat silverware! She copied me…