Harissa Powder Uses

Harissa powder is a versatile North African spice blend that can transform the flavor of many dishes.

Harissa Powder Uses

With its complex blend of smoky, spicy, and earthy flavors, harissa powder makes an excellent addition to meat rubs, vegetable dishes, soups, and sauces.

Read on to discover the many delicious ways you can use harissa powder in your cooking.

Add Heat and Flavor to Meat Rubs

One of the most popular uses for harissa powder is as a dry rub for meats. The spice blend's blend of chili heat, garlic, cumin, and coriander makes it an ideal rub for beef, lamb, chicken, or fish.

To use harissa powder as a meat rub, first mix the harissa spice with some olive oil to form a wet paste. Coat your meat evenly with the harissa paste, cover, and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate. The paste's garlic, spices, and chili heat will infuse the meat with delicious flavor.

Harissa's warming heat makes it particularly well suited to rubs for red meats like lamb and beef. But it can also lend a wonderful flavor to chicken, turkey, or fish like salmon. No matter what meat you choose, a harissa rub will take it from bland to boldly flavored.

Liven Up Vegetables with Harissa Powder

In addition to meat rubs, harissa powder also makes a fantastic seasoning for vegetables. Its smoky flavor and moderate heat complement the natural sweetness of many veggies.

Before roasting vegetables like potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, or squash, toss the chopped veggies with a sprinkle of harissa powder. The heat and spice will lend great flavor as the vegetables caramelize in the oven.

You can also make a quick harissa paste by mixing the powder with some olive oil, then use it to coat vegetables before grilling or roasting. No matter which method you choose, harissa powder will lend wonderful complexity and just the right amount of chili kick to vegetable dishes.

Infuse Soups and Stews with Harissa

Another delicious way to use harissa powder is by incorporating it into soups, stews, and curries. Just a half teaspoon or so will provide a flavor boost to tomato-based soups, hearty bean stews, lentil dals, and more.

For example, add a pinch of harissa when sautéing aromatics like onion and garlic as the base for a soup or stew. Or stir in some of the powder after cooking, when adjusting the seasoning. The blend of garlic, spices, and chili heat will give great depth of flavor.

Harissa powder also makes an easy flavor-packed addition to canned soups. Simply stir in a bit of the spice blend to liven up the flavor.

Make Unique Dips and Spreads

You can also harness the flavor of harissa powder by blending it into dips, spreads, and sauces. Just a spoonful mixed into hummus, baba ganoush, labneh or Greek yogurt will give a spicy flavor kick.

For an easy spicy dip, blend harissa powder into plain yogurt or mayonnaise. You can also mix it into nut butter like peanut or almond butter for a more flavorful sandwich spread.

And for an instant harissa sauce, combine the powder with some olive oil and lemon juice. Use the sauce as a condiment for grilled meats, fish, and vegetables.

Create Hot and Flavorful Harissa Paste

While harissa powder is very convenient to use, you can also easily turn it into a flavor-packed harissa paste. Simply mix the powder with some olive oil and water until it reaches your desired consistency.

Let the paste sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the spices to bloom. Then you'll have an easy homemade harissa paste ready to use in recipes.

You can swap this homemade harissa paste for storebought in recipes that call for harissa paste. It will provide that same chili heat, garlic, and spice flavor. Use it to marinate meats or shrimp, season vegetable dishes, or mix into salad dressings and dips.

Make Unique Marinades and Rubs

Make Unique Marinades and Rubs

Harissa powder also shines when incorporated into wet marinades and spice rubs. Its potent flavor stands up well to being combined with other bold ingredients.

For example, mix harissa powder with garlic, cumin, and olive oil for a Middle Eastern marinade for chicken or fish. Or blend it into a Greek yogurt sauce seasoned with lime juice and cilantro.

You can also combine harissa powder with brown sugar, salt, and pepper for a sweet and spicy dry rub for pork or beef. Let your imagination run wild playing with flavor combinations using the spice blend.

Add Heat to Sandwiches and Burgers

Burgers, sandwiches, and wraps also benefit from the smoky chili flavor of harissa powder. Blend some into mayonnaise or hummus for a spicy sandwich spread.

Or add some of the spice blend directly into ground meat when forming burger patties. It will lend delicious flavor and heat that complements the beef.

You can also brush harissa powder mixed with oil on burger buns or pita bread. This will infuse them with warmth and spice just like a flavorful sandwich spread.

Spice Up Eggs with Harissa

Looking to add more flavor to your morning eggs? Then harissa powder is here to help. Just a pinch blended into scrambled eggs or an omelet will give them a flavorful spike of chili heat.

For a heartier breakfast, top poached or fried eggs with a drizzle of harissa oil. Simply combine harissa powder with olive oil for an instant flavor booster.

You can also sprinkle some of the spice blend over a basic egg salad sandwich. The smoky chili notes will perk it up wonderfully.

Lend Depth to Sauces and Stews

Stirring just a teaspoon or two of harissa powder into long-simmered sauces and stews works wonders. The earthy spices and heat will liven up the flavor of dishes like beef stew, pasta sauce, chili, and curry.

For example, add some harissa when first browning ground meat for chili or pasta Bolognese sauce. Or stir it in later to balance the flavor and spice level.

Tomato-based stews and braises also benefit from harissa's savory depth. Add it when cooking aromatics or adjust the seasoning at the end.


What drinks pair well with harissa?

Since harissa often has bold spice and heat, drinks that help cool the palate make good pairings. Iced tea, lemonade, and cold fruit juices complement Harissa's heat. Fuller-bodied beers can also stand up to and balance out the intensity of Harissa's flavors.

Can you use harissa powder when baking?

Yes, harissa powder can add a nice flavor to baked goods. Add a pinch to the cookie or scone dough for a hint of spice. Or use it to flavor oil for brushing on flatbreads or pizza. Harissa also complements chocolate's richness, so try adding some to brownies or cake batters. Just use a light hand, as the chili heat can overwhelm in sweeter baked goods.

What is the shelf life of harissa powder?

An unopened jar of harissa powder will stay fresh for up to 1 year past its best-by date. Once opened, harissa powder will maintain optimal freshness and flavor for 6 months when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Over time, the dried chili and spices may start to lose their potency.


As you have learned, harissa powder is far more than just a spice for traditional North African cooking.

With its complex chili heat and smoky garlic flavor, it can improve and elevate many dishes across multiple cuisines.

From flavorful meat rubs to spicy egg dishes to intrigue-adding stews, the uses for harissa powder are nearly endless.

Keep a jar of this versatile spice blend on hand to quickly provide flavor and heat whenever a dish needs a lift.

Sarah Cortez
Sarah Cortez

My name is Sarah and I'm a baker who loves trying out new recipes and flavor combinations. I decided to challenge myself to use a new spice or ingredient powder in my baking each week for a year. Some successes were the cardamom sugar cookies, vivid turmeric cake, and beetroot chocolate cupcakes. Failures included the bitter neem brownies and overwhelmingly hot ghost pepper snickerdoodles. Through this experience I've discovered amazing additions to spice up desserts while learning how to balance strong flavors. Follow my journey as I push the boundaries of baking with unique powders!

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