Grilled Harissa Chicken

5 from 29 votes

This Mediterranean grilled harissa chicken recipe is quick and easy to prep. Perfectly juicy chicken thighs are coated in a rich chili paste.

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Perfectly spicy, tender and juicy, these grilled harissa chicken thighs are an easy way to liven up your chicken dinners. Marinated in a lemon and harissa seasoning, this simple recipe is quick to cook and loaded with Mediterranean flavor.

Grilled harissa on a platter served with lemon slices

Ingredients & substitutions

  • Chicken: This recipe uses boneless skinless chicken thighs. They are marinated before being quickly cooked on the grill.
  • Harissa paste: Harissa is a hot chili paste that originates from Tunisia. Red chilies are ground down and mixed with oil and other seasonings like garlic and cumin to form a rich and spicy paste.
  • Olive oil: Oil is important to use in marinades as it helps the flavors to penetrate into the meat, as well as helping it cook more evenly by distributing heat.
  • Lemon: Use both the zest and juice of a fresh lemon for a nice zingy flavor and also to mellow out the harissa. You can swap with white vinegar if you prefer.
  • Garlic: Grate or mince the garlic cloves for the strongest flavor.
  • Spices: Paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
Ingredients to make the recipe

How to make grilled harissa chicken

  1. Add the seasonings for the marinade to a bowl.
  2. Mix to combine.
  3. Add the chicken thighs to the marinade.
  4. Coat well and let sit for the flavors to develop.
  5. Place the thighs on a hot grill.
  6. Cook on both sides until browned and cooked through.
6 image collage showing the steps for making the marinade, adding chicken to it and then cooking it on grill pan

Tips for grilling chicken with harissa

  1. Don’t marinate the chicken for too long. Because there is acid in the marinade, don’t let the chicken sit for more than a couple of hours, or the chicken can become tough. The marinade is rich, so it only requires 15 minutes to an hour.
  2. Bring the chicken to room temperature before adding it to the grill. Adding cold chicken to a hot grill pan can result in a tough texture. Because the marinade time is less than 1 hour, you can leave the chicken at room temperature to marinate.
  3. Preheat your grill before adding the chicken. This results in those lovely grill marks and helps to cook the thighs through evenly. It also makes it easier to flip the chicken as it is less likely to get stuck to the grates. You should allow the grill 15 minutes to properly heat up.
  4. Close the grill or use a lid when grilling the chicken. This allows the chicken to cook more evenly all around instead of charring on the outside before the inside is thoroughly cooked. If you’re using a grill pan, use a lid.

Frequently asked questions

Where can I find harissa paste?

Harissa is widely available now and you should be able to find it in your local grocery store. It is usually in the international aisle, or can sometimes be found with the herbs and spices. It usually comes in jars, but you can also find it in cans or tubes.

Can you make this recipe with chicken breasts?

This recipe works great with thighs, but you can also use it with breasts if you prefer. The only change in the recipe is that breasts will require slightly less cooking time. This will also work as a great marinade for lamb, or you can brush some over a salmon fillet before cooking it for a burst of flavor.

What do you serve with it?

This grilled harissa chicken is perfect to serve with your favorite rice, vegetable or salad side dishes. Try it with:
Lemon Rice
Shirazi Salad
Grilled Eggplant
Oven Roasted Cauliflower

Close up shot of the grilled harissa chicken on a platter

This harissa chicken thigh recipe is so simple and easy to make, but is a wonderful way to add some flavor to your dish. It’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal, but easily tasty enough to serve to guests!

More chicken recipes:

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Grilled Harissa Chicken

This Mediterranean grilled harissa chicken recipe is quick and easy to prep. Perfectly juicy chicken thighs are coated in a rich chili paste.
5 from 29 votes
Servings 4 servings
Course Main Course
Calories 296
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 35 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (5-6 thighs)
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup harissa paste homemade or store bought
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves grated or minced
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • Fresh dill for serving

Instructions

  • Pat the chicken dry and season generously with kosher salt on both sides.
  • In a large bowl, mix harissa, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and black pepper. Add chicken and toss to coat. Let sit for 15 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  • Preheat a grill (grates should be clean and lightly oiled) or grill pan to medium-high heat covered. Remove thighs from marinade, letting any excess drip off. Grill until thighs are slightly charred and the internal temperature at the thickest part is 165°F), 7-10 minutes per side.
  • Remove to a plate and serve with fresh dill immediately.

Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last up to 4 days.
Nutritional Data: Please note that the nutrition label provided is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. It will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.

Nutrition

Calories: 296kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 162mg, Sodium: 389mg, Potassium: 544mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 416IU, Vitamin C: 18mg, Calcium: 36mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

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Grilled harissa on a platter served with lemon slices

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Comments

    1. I don’t have a recipe for it on my website, but you can always use store bought harissa for this recipe!