This Quick & Easy Harissa Chicken is the best 20-minute weeknight dinner! Chicken thighs are marinated in a quick no-fuss harissa marinade & roasted to perfection. The chicken becomes fall-part tender and soaks up all the sweet, rich flavours of the harissa marinade. It's the perfect chicken recipe to accompany all your favourite sides. Easy, flavorful, versatile, & super fast thanks to the Air Fryer!
This Baked Harissa Chicken recipe is SO simple to make⏤The marinade literally does all the work with only a few minutes of prep! This simple marinate-and-cook chicken recipe is unabashedly flavourful, bursting with complex warm, sweet, spicy, garlicky notes from the harissa paste. Plus, this recipe is excellent for meal prep, make-ahead dinners, & entertaining⏤you'll love having this harissa marinade a part of your recipe arsenal!
Why You'll Love This Harissa Chicken?
- PERFECTLY SPICY-SWEET, thanks to a few generous heaps of harissa, a touch of honey & more garlic than you think is necessary. It absolutely bursts with rich North Africa flavour despite a short cook time – life’s too short for bland chicken!
- SERIOUSLY QUICK & EASY! It calls for simple pantry staples that you probably already have on hand & you can marinate it ahead of time! You can even freeze the chicken in the marinade and thaw in the fridge the day before.
- TOTALLY VERSATILE. It’s an all-purpose harissa marinade that you can use on just about anything. Use it as a chicken marinade or for lamb, beef, veggie kabobs, & so much more – it’s always amazing!
There's seriously nothing not to love about it.
What is Harissa?
If you love a little spice in your life, you'll love harissa!
Harissa is a spicy chilli paste condiment from Tunisia. Don't let the word "spicy" scare you ⏤YOU can control the heat by adding more or less harissa. You can even choose different spicy levels if you purchase brands like Zwïta.
Harissa (Arabic: هريسة), the word harissa is derived from the word "haris" which means to crush or to crush, describe a porridge of pounded wheat, butter, meat, and certain spices. Arabs love to name food after the main ingredient or technique used to make the recipe, and harissa is no exception.
What is Harissa made of?
Harissa is made from ground sun-dried red chillies, olive oil, garlic and spices. It's bursting with the perfect balance of complex flavour notes. Some blends of harissa have different flavour profiles added, like roses, persevered lemon, red peppers, and additional warming spices.
How to Select a Good Harissa?
Over the years, I've tried my fair share of harissa. I've eaten harissa in Tunisia, Libya and even travelled back home to Canada with containers filled with homemade harissa from Libya. It's not often you find authentic and delicious Harissa in North America. I've tried every single brand I could get my hands on in hopes of finding a perfect store-bought version.
Here are some tips when selecting authentic harissa:
- It should be 100% made from Chilli peppers
- No perserved lemons in the mixture (never, EVER buy)
- There should be the traditional spices of caraway & coriander
- Red peppers don't belong in harissa, it makes the sauce too thin
- Harissa should be a paste, not a sauce.
- Select Tunisian brands and not Morrocan brands
How to use Harissa?
Harissa can be used as an ingredient in poultry, beef, lamb, fish, soup stew, vegetables, & couscous recipes or as a condiment served alongside meals.
It is unlike other chilli pastes because it boasts deeper, earthier, nutty, more complex flavours, with strong whispers of lemon, garlic and warming spices.
Yes, you can use harissa paste or sauce. The difference between harissa sauce and paste is just the texture. Both Cap Bon Harissa and Mina Harissa are considered Harissa sauce & they can be used in this recipe. A word of caution with the Cap Bon Harissa, it's really spicy so you may want to reduce the amount required in the recipe if you have a low tolerance to heat.
Yes, you can use the harissa spice mixture for this recipe. I recommend adding some pepper paste in the marinade with the harissa spice.
Absolutely! You can use any part of the chicken for this recipe, however, cooking time will differ.
I don't know since I've never tried it. However, if you're going to try it I recommend removing the paprika & cinnamon from the recipe.
More Recipes Using Harissa
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- 8 chicken thighs
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons harissa paste
- 10 garlic cloves peeled
- ½ lemon juiced
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 2 teaspoon cumin ground
- 2 teaspoon coriander ground
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika ground
- 2 teaspoon caradmon ground
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon ground
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Prepare Marinade: Place the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar into a food processor. Blend until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the harissa, honey, spices and salt into the food processor and pulse to combine. Set aside.
- Dry the chicken thighs with paper towels and add them to a large mixing bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken and mix⏤make sure the chicken is completely coated in the marinade.
- Marinate the chicken: Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. However, you can marinate for less time and still have great results.
Air Fryer Method:
- Heat air fryer to 375ºF. Once the air fryer is heated add the chicken thighs in the basket, skin side down, for 12 minutes. Turn your chicken thighs skin side up and cook for 10 minutes more. If you would like your chicken thighs super crispy. Thighs are done when an internal meat thermometer reads 165F. Let chicken rest a few minutes before serving.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place the chicken into a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking for 10 minutes uncover or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Outdoor Grill method:
- Heat grill to medium-high heat, about 400°F. Place the chicken skin-side down, then grill for 4-5 minutes. Flip over and grill the chicken on the other side for 4-5 minutes. Continue grilling chicken, and flip it every 3-4 minutes (so it doesn’t burn) until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. The whole process will take about 25-30 minutes.
marinated the chicken last nite, used an air fryer tonight to fry it up as i had no time....wow wow wow just super delicious had it with a side of salad + tomatoes with sumac, olive oil, white wine vinegar.
Am definitely going to make this again, this time in the oven !
I’m glade you enjoyed the recipe and your side salad sounds delicious. ❤️
If I want to make this ahead and freeze it, what would you suggest?
Hi Karen, you can freeze the chicken in the marinade. Just thaw the chicken in the fridge the night before you plan on cooking.
Thanks for the quick reply! I have marinated it, frozen it and will make it for Passover in a few weeks.