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Easy Harissa Chicken

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 35 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Calories: 660
Grilled chicken with harissa marinade on a plate with arugula

Chicken thighs marinate in a homemade harissa sauce, then hit the grill for a super quick, easy chicken dinner that packs a major, major smoky, spicy burst of flavor.

A Homemade Harissa Chicken Marinade That’s Easier Than It Sounds!

This grilled harissa chicken might just be one of the simplest, best chicken recipes we’ve ever created. With a simple harissa-inspired marinade made quickly and easily in a high-powered blender or food processor, we were able to take some humble chicken pieces and create a truly praise-worthy meal. If you are looking for a way to amp up your weeknight chicken game, then this is the recipe for you.

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What Is Harissa Made Of?

Harissa is a spicy North African chili paste traditionally made out of roasted red peppers, chili peppers, baklouti pepper, serrano peppers, and other hot chili peppers. It also often contains garlic paste, coriander seed, saffron, rose, or caraway. Olive oil rounds things out and often citrus is in the mix, too. In other words harissa paste is delicious in every way and takes whatever it touches to the next level. We wanted to make a simple harissa-inspired marinade that would be a perfect go-to for any night of the week, so we created a pared-down harissa-inspired sauce recipe for marinating chicken. Simply blend together:

  • Roasted red peppers

  • Lots of fresh garlic

  • Caraway and coriander

  • Smoked paprika

  • Cayenne

  • Olive oil

  • Red wine vinegar

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What Cut of Chicken Should I Use to Make Grilled Harissa Chicken?

While you can use this marinade to make harissa chicken breast, or boneless harissa chicken thighs, our favorite for making grilled harissa chicken is bone-in, skin-on chicken hindquarters. Not to toot our own horns, but they tasted delicious (we’ll take dark meat any day of the week), plus you can often find them on sale. You could even use this quick harissa marinade on a whole roasted chicken. Whatever this marinade touches is destined to be delicious.

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How Do You Make Harissa Chicken?

Our delicious grilled harissa chicken recipe could not be quicker (really!) or more simple. That smoky, lightly spicy, creamy harissa marinade makes basic grilled chicken truly dinner party worthy! Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Make the harissa marinade. You could even do this a day or two ahead of time, if you’re trying to work ahead.

  2. Coat the chicken pieces with the harissa marinade and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, or as long as overnight. Before you toss the chicken with the marinade, save about 1/4 cup of the harissa sauce, because you’ll need it later to...

  3. Make a quick harissa mayo to serve with the grilled chicken by mixing together that reserved harissa sauce and some mayonnaise. YUM.

  4. Grill the harissa chicken! Grill over high heat until you see an internal temp of 165°F. Then your chicken is done and it’s time to dig in!

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Tools You’ll Need

What to Serve With Grilled Harissa Chicken

This chicken is so full of flavor that it doesn’t need much accompaniment! That said, if you’re in the mood for a Mediterranean feast, or making a big meal for company, round it out with:

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So, Is This Everyone’s New Favorite Grilled Chicken Recipe?

When you decide to give this our grilled harissa chicken recipe a try, we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to snap a photo, add it to your Instagram feed or stories, and tag @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Also feel free to leave a comment on this post and be sure to tell your friends where you discovered the recipe.

Easy Harissa Chicken

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 35 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Calories: 660


  • 4 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken, hind quarters or mix of thighs and legs
  • 1 (12 oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise


  1. Add red peppers, garlic, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, paprika, cayenne, salt, olive oil and vinegar to the container of your Vitamix Blender and secure the lid.
  2. Select Variable 1 Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to high. Blend for one minute, using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades. You should end up with about one cup of harissa sauce marinade. Reserve 1/4 cup of the harissa sauce for the harissa mayo—you'll use the rest for marinating the chicken pieces.
  3. Pat chicken dry. Place on a rimmed baking sheet or into a large container. Pour the harissa sauce marinade over the chicken. Put it in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Heat grill to medium high heat, about 400°F. Grill the chicken, skin side down, for 4-5 minutes. Flip over and grill the chicken on the other side for 4-5 minutes. Continue grilling chicken, flipping it every 3-4 minutes (so it doesn’t burn) until the internal temperature reached 165°F. The whole process will take about 25-30 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, make harissa mayo by mixing the reserved ¼ cup harissa sauce with the mayo until fully incorporated. Serve alongside the grilled harissa chicken.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories 660
  • Protein 68 g
  • Carbohydrates 14 g
  • Total Fat 36 g
  • Dietary Fiber 1 g
  • Cholesterol 315 mg
  • sodium 2324 mg
  • Total Sugars 7 g

Easy Harissa Chicken

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Vangie

    If I don’t have a Vitamix blender can I use a Bullet ?


  • Patti

    Could you pour marinade over chicken, then put in freezer to use later?

    Hi Patti, yes, that should work just fine!

  • Rosie L

    I made the chicken harissa yesterday and could not be happier. The harissa mayo put it over the top. Outstanding. I did leave out the caraway seeds. Delicious😋

    Thanks Rosie, we are so glad you love it!

  • Amanda

    We are addicted. Honestly, we found we didn't need the mayo at all for this dish, as it had so much flavor by itself (and I am a mayo fan), but we sure found other uses for it.

    Thank you Amanda, we are so glad you love this one!

  • Janice Harrington

    Flavorful! I mean… the roasted peppers with fresh herb marinade made the chicken such a new experience. I was so glad I followed the recipe. The reserved marinade made into a sauce …. Genius. I used an indoor stovetop cast iron grill because I am a northeast gal and it still turned out like I was in the back yard! Biggest tip… don’t overcook ! Loved this recipe. Thank you.

    Thanks Janice, we are so glad you loved it!

  • Jocelyn Kujala

    I made this last night with boneless chicken thighs, and I baked them @ 375. I broiled them at the end to let the marinade get that smoky flavor. It was ridiculous. The dipping sauce is delicious as well. Becoming a huge fan of your food! This was to die for!

    Thanks for letting us know! We are so happy you loved it!

  • Jody Johnson

    I loved this. I want to put the sauce on everything.

    Yay. Gotta get some more recipes on the blog that include that sauce.