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red hot chili paste in glass jar next to dried chile peppers and cilantro

Hot Chili Paste (Harissa)

This hot chili paste is not for the faint of heart! With this recipe, learn how to make harissa to add bold flavor to North African foods.
5 from 7 votes
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Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Moroccan
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 24
Calories: 25kcal
Author: Kevin


  • 2 oz dried red chiles (chiles de arbol)
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • ¼ tsp orange water (or rose water)
  • 1 orange (4 inch by 1 inch strip of the zest)


  • Cut off the stems of the dried red chili peppers. Bring a saucepan of water to boil and add the chiles. Simmer for 2 minutes, covered. Turn off the heat (lay a saucer on top of chiles to submerge) and allow to soak for 30 minutes.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, cut a 4 inch by 1 inch strip of the zest from an orange.
  • Toast the cumin and coriander seeds until they start to give off their aroma, do not burn. Set aside. When cooled, place in spice grinder and pulse (See Note 1).
  • Next, either over an open flame blacken the red bell pepper all over until charred or under the broiler. Place charred pepper in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to steam so skin is easily removed. When cool enough to handle discard the stem, veins, seeds and charred skin (See Note 2). Place in a food processor or blender.
  • To the food processor or blender add the garlic cloves, paprika, salt, cumin, coriander, oil, vinegar, orange/rose water and orange zest strip. Puree until it resembles a loose paste.
  • Drain and squeeze excess water from red chiles, add to food processor or blender. Puree until it resembles a smooth paste.


  1. I prefer whole seeds to toast and bring out their essential oils, but feel free to use a heaping ½ teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander and proceed to Step 4.
  2. You can substitute a fire roasted, jarred large red bell pepper.

*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.


Calories: 25kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 51mg | Potassium: 57mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 802IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg