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.

grilled harissa chicken in a pan

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 cumincoriander and caraway seeds.

harissa paste

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!

harissa chicken in the pan. a side of parsley

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.

chicken thighs tossed in harissa paste, spices, garlic, and onions

You can cook the chicken thighs over medium-high heat on an outdoor grill OR an indoor griddle or skillet!

grilled chicken thighs

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.

More chicken recipes you may like:

Browse Top 50 Mediterranean Diet recipes. Browse all recipes here. Join my free e-mail list 

4.94 from 66 votes

Grilled Harissa Chicken

The Mediterranean Dish
grilled harissa chicken in a pan
Thanks to harissa paste, this easy grilled chicken recipe is all the flavor! Slightly sweet, smoky, tangy, and just enough spicy. Serve it over quick-cooked couscous, a side of veggies, or with your favorite Mediterranean salad.
Prep – 20 mins
Cook – 12 mins
Total – 32 mins
Cuisine:
Mediterranean
Serves – 8 chicken pieces
Course:
Entree

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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).

Video

Notes

  • 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. 

Nutrition

Calories: 142.4kcalCarbohydrates: 1.7gProtein: 22.1gFat: 4.8gSaturated Fat: 1.2gCholesterol: 107.3mgSodium: 102mgPotassium: 312.1mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 0.4gVitamin A: 208.8IUVitamin C: 1.5mgCalcium: 19.4mgIron: 1.2mg
Tried 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!

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. You mention using your harissa spice blend in this recipe, but I don't see anything that tells you how to use it.
    More information please.

    Thanks,
    Jack

  2. I have a rose harissa spice mix, to make it into paste form can I just let it sit in water? Do you know if this would affect the amount I should use in the recipe?

    Really excited to try this recipe

    1. Hi, Fatima. While I have not tried this personally with rose harissa spice mix, I did a quick internet search and found recommendations for mixing the powder with olive oil and a little warm water until it becomes a paste (maybe even add some garlic). We also have our own harissa paste recipe you can try that works amazing here: Harissa Paste link

  3. Dear Suzy,

    This recipe looks good! I am going to give it a try.

    If you were going to use a skillet instead of grilling outdoors how do you do that. Or how long is it in the oven?

    Also what is the recipe for Mediterranean spiced Hashweh riche with beef, pine nuts and raisins?

    With regards,
    Jane C. Muhonen

    1. Hi, Jane. The skillet/griddle instructions are listed there in the recipe for you. If cooking indoors, I would recommend that over baking in the oven. Here is the other recipe you were looking for: Hashweh Rice .

  4. 5 stars
    Hi Suzy! Thank you for this amazing recipe - truly fabulous! I have made it twice already and also adapted it to use on cedar plank grilled salmon, which was also just wonderful. Your recipes never disappoint, always so full of flavor, fresh and fantastic!

  5. 5 stars
    I found the harissa sauce at World Market. I've been looking for a chicken recipe to use it with. The chicken was fabulous!!! Nice tang, very flavourful. I served it with a cucumber salad side. The following day, I used it to top my green salad. I used it in my tacos. I used it in a sandwich. What can I say, when you cook for one, it goes a long way.

  6. 5 stars
    Unbelievable flavor. Best chicken dish I’ve had in awhile, husband said it’s in his top 5 ever. Thank you for an absolute keeper!

  7. GIRL, THIS WAS AMAZING!!! We made the paste too!! Full of Flavor! First time cooking Mediterranean! Definitely a new family staple! AND... I love the videos- my husband and I watched and tag-teamed it! They helped a lot! I will say it took me 30 minutes in the spices aisle at 3 different stores to find them all! Next time, Ill plan ahead and order the spices from you guys... We are trying everything now! THANK YOU for sharing this recipe with our family!

    1. Hi Robert, you can use chicken breasts but if you're grilling them, the technique will be a bit different because chicken breasts can get quite dry easily. You can set a gas grill on 350 degrees F with two-zone heat. Start with the chicken on the indirect side of the grill and close the lid, and cook it until the internal temperature reads 155 degrees F with an instant read thermometer. Then finish the chicken breasts over to the direct heat side of the grill for 2 minutes or so per side.

  8. 5 stars
    SO good. Husband loved it too. I was missing Morocco...this hit the spot. Used left over harissa on some roasted veggies a couple days later. YUM. Love all the fresh recipes!

  9. I'm confused as to why you omitted my question from your comments about if you've ever used green harissa instead of red as green was all I had on hand.

    1. Not sure if the question came through earlier, Jocelyn, we do not omit questions on this end. But at any rate, we've answered a similar question earlier. I have not tried green harissa in this recipe, so can not advice for sure.