Harissa Chicken paired with rice is a Tunisian inspired recipe that uses a sweet and smokey red chili pepper paste to create a bold, spicy and flavorful dish
This easy and healthy harissa chicken is quick to make and perfect to serve over rice for a weeknight meal. Chicken breast is marinated in harissa paste for a sweet and spicy dish. Gluten free and low carb.
Although I’m biased towards Lebanese cooking, I love creating all types of Mediterranean recipes, and I’ve been experimenting with Harissa paste lately and adding it to flatbreads, fish and now chicken. This harissa chicken recipe uses harissa paste as the main ingredient along with fresh garlic paste, olive oil and a few other spices. It’s a quick and easy marinade that has a sweet and smokey flavor – perfect way to punch up any chicken recipe!
What is harissa?
But first, what is harissa? Harissa is a spicy North African chili pepper paste that originates from Tunisia. It basically brings alive any dish you’re making because of its zesty and aromatic flavor. You can make your own harissa sauce at home by smoking hot chile peppers and blending them with garlic, tomatoes, olive oil and various spices, including cumin, coriander and caraway.
However, it’s so easy to find harissa in mass grocery stores these days that I opted for the quick route in creating my harissa chicken. I just used the store-bought condiment. I found mine at Trader Joe’s, and I’ve seen it at other local grocery stores like Meijer and Kroger. You can usually find it in a jar or tube sold in the Middle Eastern section of the International isle or sometimes in the condiment section.
A small jar goes along way! All I used was two tablespoons in this recipe with two pounds of chicken. It will totally wow your taste buds and transform any boring chicken dinner to a flavorful and bold one!
How do you make harissa chicken?
It starts out as an easy marinade that includes the following: harissa paste, olive oil, garlic cloves (preferably crushed to become paste-like), paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. You can play around with the measurements here to add more or less of certain ingredients as you like. But I think two tablespoons of the harissa paste for two pounds of chicken gives the perfect mild spice level!
I prefer to marinade the chicken in the morning and cook this in the evening. It also works really well if you prepare it overnight and allow the flavors to really get absorbed. When it’s time to cook it, it’s a simple pan-fry method that will take 8-10 minutes.
Top tips to make this harissa chicken recipe
- Marinate the chicken for at least 4 hours and up to 24 for the best flavor.
- Use organic chicken breast that is raised without antibiotics.
- Leftovers will last in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to serve with harissa chicken?
When you’re done cooking the harissa chicken, serve it over white rice, brown rice, quinoa, couscous, flatbread, salad or whatever you’re in the mood for. The classic way to eat is with over white rice, but it’s a flavorful chicken recipe that you can use in so many ways. My husband likes wrapping it up with pita bread, hummus and tabbouleh. He’s basically living his best life!!
Is harissa healthy?
Harissa has several healthy benefits, and it’s a great food to incorporate into your diet. It’s rich in vitamins E, C, B6 and K as well as iron and copper. It can help boost metabolism and is rich in antioxidants.
I love how easy it is to make this delicious chicken dish and it’s so versatile too! It’s a real punch of flavor that will spice up your weeknight meal!
For more chicken recipes, try these:
- Grilled Lemon Chicken
- Grilled Chicken Tenders
- Cilantro Chicken
- Butter Chicken
- Chicken Shish Tawook
- Pan Seared Chicken Thighs
- Chicken Lettuce Cups
If you make this healthy-ish feel good Harissa Chicken recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons harissa paste
- 4 garlic cloves crushed or minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 pounds chicken breast cut into 2 inch chunks
- Rice for serving
- Fresh mint for serving
- Lime wedges for serving
- In a large bowl, combine olive oil, harissa, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the spice mix and mix well to incorporate. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Heat a large saucepan on medium without any oil, then transfer the chicken from the bowl to the saucepan. Cook until the chicken is well done, about 8-10 minutes. When it’s cooked, squeeze some fresh lime juice on top of the chicken.
- Serve over rice with a lime wedges and fresh mint, if desired. Due to the spice level, plain yogurt also works really well with the recipe.