Fresh Chili Harissa Recipe

Photographs: Vicky Wasik

Why This Recipe Works

  • Charring the peppers allows you to easily peel their skin while lending a smoky flavor throughout.
  • A blend of sweet and spicy chilies gives the harissa a balance of flavor and heat.

Harissa is a punchy North African chili paste. This version is made with an assortment of fresh chilies that are charred and blended together for smoke and spice. It's simply seasoned with the traditional additions of caraway and coriander, but feel free to jazz it up with anything from diced preserved lemon to pungent raw shallots.

Recipe Details

Fresh Chili Harissa Recipe

Active 25 mins
Total 25 mins
Serves 16 servings
Makes 2 cups


  • 2 red bell peppers (540g) (see note)

  • 1 poblano pepper (100g)

  • 4 Fresno chile peppers (160g)

  • 2 serrano chiles (30g)

  • 1 tablespoon (10g) neutral oil, such as canola, corn, or grape seed

  • 1 teaspoon (4g) ground coriander

  • 3/4 teaspoon (3g) ground caraway

  • 2 teaspoons (12g) Diamond crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same by weight

  • 3 tablespoons (45g) freshly squeezed lemon juice, from about 1 lemon

  • 3 tablespoons (25g) extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set the bell, poblano, fresno, and serrano peppers on it. Rub the peppers with the oil. Place under the broiler and cook the peppers, rotating as needed, until evenly charred all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer the charred peppers to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam.

  2. Meanwhile, in a dry sauté pan, toast the coriander and caraway over medium heat until fragrant. Set aside.

  3. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove their skins, seeds, and stems with gloved hands. Place the cleaned peppers in a food processor and blend until smooth.

  4. Transfer the pepper paste to a bowl. Finish the harissa by mixing in the toasted coriander and caraway, salt, lemon, and olive oil. The harissa is best the next day and keeps in the refrigerator for a week.

Special equipment

Sheet tray, food processor, gloves


Mix and match any fresh chilies you have on hand. For a spicier harissa, use smaller varieties; stick with larger sweet chilies if you prefer a milder condiment.

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
37 Calories
2g Fat
4g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 37
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 293mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 79mg 396%
Calcium 9mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 114mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)