Ready to spice up your chicken dinner? This quick harissa chicken recipe is your ticket! Chicken thighs coated in harissa chile paste, garlic, onion and a few warm spices. Savory, smoky, with a little spice kick!
Be sure to check out the video and tips below.
In an earlier post, I showed you how to make harissa. And if you've been looking for ways to use up this savory, sweet, smoky, spicy chile paste, I highly recommend you start with this easy grilled harissa chicken!
This easy chicken recipe is all the flavor, thanks to a quick marinade with a few tablespoons of harissa paste, garlic, onions, and a couple warm spices.
What is Harissa?
I covered this question earlier, but it bears repeating for those who are new here.
Harissa sauce or harissa paste is a North African chile paste, originally from Tunisia. It is typically made of dry red chiles, garlic, citrus, extra virgin olive oil and a few warm spices including cumin, coriander and caraway seeds.
Why this Grilled Harissa Chicken Works?
The goal of this recipe is to create a quick chicken dinner that is exciting and loaded with flavor. We're not necessarily after spicy chicken, but we do get enough of a kick here.
And, I love that there is so much flavor in these harissa chicken thighs that, if you don't have the time, you don't need to let the chicken marinate for any amount of time.
You can basically have this grilled chicken on the table in 15 minutes!
How to make it
First, the chicken takes on a quick coating of homeamde harissa sauce (mine is mild with just enough kick, sweet, smoky, and a little bit tangy), along with fresh garlic, and a few warm spices: coriander, cumin and smoked paprika.
You can cook the chicken thighs over medium-high heat on an outdoor grill OR an indoor griddle or skillet!
A quick note. Harissa can be made in advance to keep in the fridge for use with this harissa chicken, fish, meats or even veggies. Store-bought harissa paste will work in a pinch, but it can vary in flavor. If using store-bought, it's a good idea to start with less of it in this recipe, since it is more salty and can also be more spicy.
What to serve along
For an easy dinner, I like to serve these harissa chicken thighs over quick couscous, adding a side salad (something like Mediterranean bean salad or this lazy cucumber and tomato salad).
But it's also great with: baked zucchini; grilled vegetables; Skordalia; or roasted cauliflower. Or, if you can multitask at the grill, up your BBQ game with Grilled Romaine Salad.
More chicken recipes you may like:
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Grilled Harissa Chicken
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 lb)
- Kosher salt
- 10 large garlic cloves minced
- ½ red onion sliced
- 1 ½ teaspoon coriander
- 1 ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or 1 teaspoon sweet paprika)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne or more to your liking
- 5 to 6 tablespoon homemade harissa paste (I use this recipe for harissa. See notes if using store-bought harissa)
- Juice 1 lemon
- Generous drizzle of olive oil
- Pat the chicken dry and season with kosher salt on both sides.
- Place the chicken in a bowl and add garlic, onions, spices, and harissa paste. Add lemon juice and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- Heat an outdoor grill or an indoor griddle to medium-high heat (between 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit) and be sure to lightly oil the grates. Grill for 6 to 7 minutes or so on each side or until the chicken is fully cooked (using an instant read thermometer chicken's internal temperature should register 165 degrees F at the thickest part).
- Cook's Tip: For best results, use this homemade harissa paste. Harissa can be made in advance to keep in the fridge for use with this harissa chicken, fish, meats or even veggies. Store-bought harissa paste will work in a pinch, but it can vary in flavor. If using store-bought harissa, it's a good idea to start with less of it in this recipe, since it is more salty and can also be more spicy.
- Option to Marinate: If you have the time, allow the chicken to marinate in the harissa paste and spices for a bit. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. But if you do not have the time, go ahead and grill the chicken as instructed, it will still be delicious.
- Visit our Online Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils and spices used in this recipe.
This post originally appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2018 and has been recently updated with new information and media for readers' benefit. Enjoy!
where's the video
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Kitchen hack: No need to spend money on throw away gloves, just use regular kitchen gloves that you would use for dishwashing to mix up anything like this wonderful harissa chicken. Then, simply wash under water like washing your hands with hot/warm water and soap. Can reuse over and over.
Thanks for the tip, Gina!
I made this using 4 large chicken breast fillets as not a big fan of thigh. I also used fresh corriander and rose harrisa paste. Cooked on a medium high setting in the grill compartment of the oven for 25mins turning halfway through cooking time. It's now mine and my husbands favourite way of having grilled chicken. I served it with sweet pepper cous cous and steamed winter greens.
I have a bottle of Harissa dry seasoning, how would I turn that into paste? Is it even possible to make paste out of it? I really want to try this recipe. We loved the Moussaka and Green Goddess chicken!
Forgot to rate 🤭
Hi Suzy, thanx for sharing your recipes. My family loves everything I’ve made so far. I have a question, can this recipe work in the oven? Thank you!
I didn’t made your homemade Harissa but used store bought instead and made it on the grill and it was delicious and will make this again!!!
I love your recipes and have tried two others! I really am loving your way of preparing chicken!!!
Thank you so much, Elizabeth!
Would this recipe work well with chicken breast as this is my husband’s preferred part of the chicken? And If so, how long would I need to griddle this in a pan?
Loving your recipes.
Hi, Denise. Sure! You can use chicken breasts here. The timing would depend on the size of the breasts. I always recommend using a meat thermometer to measure doneness. Chicken is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F at it's thickest part.
This recipe was so delicious! I loved the flavours and how easy it was to make. I do not have a grill so made this in a griddle pan as the closest alternative and it turned out great. I also used store bought harissa paste and it worked very well for me, the right level of salty/spicy. I served this with saffron rice and steamed broccoli. Always love trying recipes from your website!
So glad to hear it, Debbie! Thank you!
This has been a staple in our house the last couple of years. I don't have harissa paste but I do have store bought version that I utilize. I also tend to prefer to cook the chicken in a skillet and utilize those marinade juices. Thank you for an excellent recipe!
Glad you enjoy this one, Kati!
Love your recipes. I have been teaching my 16 year old grandson how to cook with your recipes. He is loving them. Thank you!!!
That is wonderful, Jane! What great memories you are making together!
This is the second time I’ve made this, both times amazing. As advertised, not too spicy and a great smoky undertone!
Glad you enjoyed it, David!
I have not made this yet, on the menu for the week. Big question is what is that skillet pan you have?
I have made so many of your recipes and have recommended your site at least weekly! Please keep up the great work..every meal has been awesome
Awww! Thank you, Maggie! That pan is nothing special. Any grill pan or griddle will work on the stove.
I'm new to ur channel and wanted to let u know your recipes look amazing. I wanted to try to harissa chicken and wanted to know if i could use harissa sauce instead of harissa paste. Thanks.
Yes, Lorrien. That will work. I usually make my own Harissa for this one.