This easy honey harissa chicken recipe is sweet and spicy chicken with my Mediterranean twist! Harissa paste, a North African condiment loaded with smoky, garlicky, citrusy flavor is layered with sweet honey, fresh lemon juice, garlic, and warming spices like coriander and smoked paprika. 

Platter of harissa honey chicken with a silver serving fork.
Photo Credits: Kathrine Irwin

I could go on forever about the glory of the sheet pan chicken thighs–see my Greek Sheet-Pan Chicken and Smoked Paprika Chicken with Chickpeas and Carrots for further proof. And this harissa honey chicken is yet another recipe to add to your rotation. It's a weeknight-friendly situation that requires zero fuss and is virtually impossible to mess up, but so incredibly tasty!

The thighs get beautifully caramelized in the honey harissa marinade, becoming perfectly sticky and juicy. Though it reminds me of a healthier version of a takeout craving, it’s far from basic: I layer the chicken with fresh citrus juice for balance, umami-rich tomato paste, and warming Mediterranean spices like coriander, Urfa biber and smoked paprika. 

A couple of hours in your fridge will make the flavors even louder, but the chicken becomes tangy, sweet, spicy, smokey and delicious just in the time it takes to heat up your oven. 

Table of Contents
  1. Harissa Honey Chicken Ingredients and Substitutions 
  2. Ingredient Spotlight 
  3. How to Make Sweet and Spicy Chicken 
  4. What to Serve with Harissa Honey Chicken 
  5. More Harissa-Marinated Deliciousness
  6. Try our Harissa Paste!
  7. Harissa Honey Chicken Recipe
Ingredients for harissa honey chicken, including chicken thighs, salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, coriander, urfa biber, olive oil, lemon, honey, tomato paste, and harissa.

Harissa Honey Chicken Ingredients and Substitutions 

If your pantry is running low, our shop has almost all the essential spices and olive oils you need for this recipe, each of which I hand-picked myself! 

  • Harissa paste brings the heat.
  • Tomato paste: Adds depth of flavor and a savory umami quality. 
  • Honey: Use a delicate all-natural honey–I love our Greek wildflower honey with notes of thyme and sage. 
  • Fresh lemon juice lifts the richness, adding tang for balance. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil infuses the chicken with spices and other flavor-makers. Use a high-quality extra virgin variety–any of the oils from our collection work well, but I love how the smoothness of our Italian Nocellara lets the bolder ingredients sing. 
  • I add an extra kick with Urfa Biber, an earthy, tannic chili flake from Turkey (read more in our guide: Urfa Biber: The Turkish Chili Pepper You Want In Your Spice Drawer). Aleppo pepper or red chili flakes would also work well. 
  • Coriander adds a warming, earthy note. Cumin is the best substitute. 
  • Smoked paprika adds another layer of mild spiciness for a more complex burn, and the smoky flavor goes well with the savory chicken thighs. If you’re not into smoky, sweet paprika works well in its place. 
  • Garlic adds sweet and savory depth of flavor. 
  • Chicken: I love boneless chicken thighs. They’re easy to cook and easy to eat, staying juicy and tender even during a longer cook time. You can substitute other cuts if you’d like, or use bone-in, skin-on chicken. Just adjust the cooking time to ensure the thickest part reaches 165°F. 
  • Kosher salt and black pepper enhance the flavor. 
Chicken thighs after baking in a honey harissa sauce, showing the juicy baking dish.

Ingredient Spotlight 

Harissa is a spicy red chili paste or sauce originating in North Africa. It’s an instant flavor-booster, adding garlicky, citrusy, sometimes smoky heat with just a small spoonful. It’s not only delicious in marinades, you can also use it like a condiment, spreading it on sandwiches, eggs, or over toast. 

Close up shot of oven baked chicken thighs in a bright red harissa honey sauce.

How to Make Sweet and Spicy Chicken 

This harissa chicken recipe is easy: just get the chicken soaking in a bath of sweet and spicy flavor, then bake on a sheet tray until juicy and perfectly charred at the edges. Here are the steps:

  • Make the honey-harissa marinade. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 to 4 tablespoons harissa (more if you like spicy), 2 tablespoons tomato paste, ¼ cup honey, the juice of 1 lemon, and enough olive oil to generously coat the chicken (I used ⅓ cup). Season with  1 teaspoon Urfa Biber (or Aleppo pepper/red chili flakes), 1 teaspoon coriander, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, and 5 minced garlic cloves. Whisk until well incorporated. Finished honey-harissa marinade with harissa, tomato paste, honey, lemon juice, urfa biber, coriander, paprika, garlic, and olive oil.
  • Marinate the chicken. Season the chicken well on both sides with salt and pepper, then add to the marinade. Mix well to make sure the chicken is fully coated. If you have the time, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. Otherwise, allow it to sit at room temperature while your oven heats. Chicken thighs in a glass bowl that have been fully coated in honey harissa marinade.
  • Get ready. Preheat your oven to 400°F. 
  • Bake. Transfer the chicken and the marinade into a 9x13 baking pan. Place the baking pan on the center rack of your heated oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through and the surface is nicely caramelized with some charred bits, about 35 to 40 minutes. chicken thighs with honey harissa marinade in a rectangular baking dish.
  • Finish and serve. Drizzle a bit of the pan juices over the chicken and serve! honey harissa chicken on a platter.

What to Serve with Harissa Honey Chicken 

A fresh seasonal salad is the best way to complement the sweet and savory flavors of this hot honey chicken.

In the summertime, I love to lean into the sweetness with a Fresh Grilled Corn Salad. Or go for something cooling to balance the heat, like Creamy Cucumber Salad.

Round out the meal with Perfect Pearl Couscous or simple Basmati Rice. And don't forget the drinks. Cool the heat of this Harissa Honey Chicken with a traditional Turkish yogurt drink called Ayran or this tart and tangy Egyptian Hibiscus Tea.

More Harissa-Marinated Deliciousness

Browse all Mediterranean recipes.

Visit Our Shop.

Try our Harissa Paste!

Slightly sweet, smoky, and tangy with just the right amount of spice. The perfect addition to your Moroccan Fish.

Harissa paste by Villa Jerada.
4.89 from 9 votes

Harissa Honey Chicken

Suzy Karadsheh of The Mediterranean Dish. In the kitchenSuzy Karadsheh
Side shot of a platter with 8 honey harissa chicken thighs and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.
This sweet and spicy chicken recipe is layered with smoky, warming, garlicky, citrusy notes. So easy and yet it brings restaurant-level flavor! You can let the chicken marinate overnight for even more zing, but the marinade is so tasty that even 20 minutes while your oven heats up is plenty.
Prep – 10 minutes
Cook – 35 minutes
Total – 45 minutes
Cuisine:
American/Mediterranean
Serves – 4 to 6
Course:
Entree

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Make the honey-harissa marinade. In a large mixing bowl, combine the harissa, tomato paste, honey, lemon juice, and enough olive oil to generously coat the chicken (I used ⅓ cup). Add the Urfa Biber, coriander, smoked paprika, and garlic. Whisk until well incorporated.
  • Marinate the chicken. Season the chicken well on both sides with salt and pepper, then add to the marinade. Mix well to make sure the chicken is fully coated. If you have the time, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. Otherwise, allow it to sit at room temperature while your oven heats.
  • Get ready. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  • Bake. Transfer the chicken and the marinade to a 9x13 baking pan. Place the chicken on the center rack of your heated oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through and the surface is nicely caramelized with some charred bits, about 35 to 40 minutes.
  • Finish and serve. Drizzle a bit of the pan juices over the chicken and serve!

Video

Notes

  • Chicken is cooked through when the internal temperature at the thickest part reads 165°F, but chicken thighs are very forgiving. They'll stay juicy up to around 175°F.
  • You can use any cut of chicken you like for this recipe, just adjust the cooking time accordingly–breasts cook faster, bone-in, skin on thighs will take longer.
  • Shop this recipe: Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including the olive oil, Urfa biber, coriander, smoked Spanish paprika, harissa, and honey used in this recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 361kcalCarbohydrates: 24.4gProtein: 44.7gFat: 9.5gSaturated Fat: 2.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3.2gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 214.7mgSodium: 367.1mgPotassium: 732.7mgFiber: 1.5gSugar: 20.1gVitamin A: 358.1IUVitamin C: 18.7mgCalcium: 40.7mgIron: 2.5mg
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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. Julia says:

    4 stars
    I’m not sure if all harissa paste is always really smoky or if it was just the variety I got, but I had to cut the smokiness down by adding a bit more tomato paste. I’m not normally a fan of smoky things, but this was pretty good. My fiancé especially liked it. It tasted like a mediterranean style BBQ sauce.

  2. Sandy says:

    5 stars
    Followed recipe exactly and it was delicious. I seasoned with the urfa biber and it was not as hot as I thought it would be. My husband doesn't like his food spicy but he really liked this. Will be making again. Thanks again for another wonderful recipe.

  3. Susanne Howard says:

    5 stars
    My favourite chicken tecopr

  4. NT0020 says:

    5 stars
    As a newbie to harissa, I really liked this. Didn't go full amount on the Aleppo peppers to keep less spicy. Will be adding this to my keeper recipes.

    1. TMD Team says:

      So glad you enjoyed it!!

  5. Bill Burns says:

    Maybe I am misreading this, but it says to put the chicken on the middle oven rack. I think it needs to be in a pan? I can't see cooking chicken thighs directly on the rack?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Bill! Yes, you'll want to place the chicken in a baking dish and then place the baking dish on the middle oven rack.

  6. Susan C. says:

    I would give this recipe 5 stars! It was easy to prepare and cook and was so delicious! I baked the chicken thighs with the marinade and the marinade was so good on the vegetable side dish that I cooked to go with dinner. The cooked marinade made a delicious tomato soup! We are going to try it with other cut of chicken, although I love the boneless thighs. Our harissa paste was labeled "mild" and with the addition of the Aleppo Pepper, the dish was just the right spicy-ness for us. We will definitely be making this again!

    1. TMD Team says:

      So glad you enjoyed it, Susan!

  7. Lynn says:

    I made this with the spicy version of the harissa paste and I loved it!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Gotta love that extra little kick!

  8. Judy L says:

    5 stars
    This dish was so delicious! I feel like a broken record when commenting on Suzy’s recipes. This has such perfect spicing and heat. A purchasing mistake had me using chicken breast tenderloin and skinless, boneless thighs together. I cut the thighs in half and baked for 35 min. All of it was tender and delicious after sitting in the marinade for 8 hours.

    1. TMD Team says:

      Thanks so much, Judy! We always appreciate you taking the time to comment and review!

  9. Cathy says:

    5 stars
    I made this last night using chicken breast fillet. It was absolutely wonderful and I couldn't believe how tender the chicken remained! It occurs to me that the same marinade would work on a salmon fillet (I'm cooking for one) with a few raw jumbo king prawns added towards the end. Do you have any thoughts, please, as to whether this would be a terrible idea for any reason? 😹 I feel as though I want to eat it with my favourite garlic, paprika and cumin rice...

    1. TMD Team says:

      Sounds like a fun experiment. I say go for it! Be sure to come back and let us know how it went!

      1. Cathy says:

        5 stars
        I made it and consider it a success! In truth, I made a little too much marinade and the end result was slightly more "saucy" than the chicken dish had been. Lesson learned. But, for me, the flavours of the marinade definitely worked with the salmon and king prawns and with the rice. I roasted some asparagus too, since the oven was on! A really tasty end to the bank holiday weekend here in UK. Thanks for a great recipe!

  10. Drue Cushman says:

    5 stars
    This recipe was out of this world! My husband kept saying how delicious it was with almost bite! Thanks for sharing your delicious recipes!

    1. TMD Team says:

      You are very welcome, Drue! So glad you both loved it!

  11. Fiona Stanton says:

    My husband is a diabetic. How could l reduce the sugars in this recipe?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Fiona. If you want a harissa chicken with a lower sugar content, can reduce the honey or eliminate it all together. That will make the marinade a bit more like our Grilled Harissa Chicken recipe which is equally delicious to this one :).

  12. DD says:

    Was the marinade added to the sheet pan along with the chicken to bake??

    1. TMD Team says:

      It was! Just be sure to add it right when you place the chicken in the cooking dish, and do not add more during the cooking process for food safety reasons.

  13. Crucious says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe. Not sure I would agree that cumin is a good substitute for coriander. The two success are often used together because they are quite different but complimentary. I have noticed that roasting while cumin seed and grinding it provides a much more pleasant taste to my palate than does pre ground cumin. I think that the former would be a somewhat closer approximation to the taste of coriander than the latter. I think this would also be delicious barbequed, but would need to be very low heat to avoid burning the honey.