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How To Make Harissa Paste

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Harissa paste is one of the many low-carb basics I make at home. This popular North African spice blend adds fantastic flavour to vegetables and meats. I like using it for marinating chicken, spicing up cauli-rice, or even mixing it with olive oil or full-fat yogurt and use as keto friendly salad dressing.

There is no one way to make Harissa and you can control the heat by using different chilies and spices. I make mine with mild, smoky chilies, toasted spices, garlic, lemon, olive oil, roasted bell peppers and a few sun-dried tomatoes that will add sweetness.

If you're using our KetoDiet App, you can find our Homemade Harissa Paste under the Ingredients section and when creating Custom Meals. This means that you can use any of the condiments we share on our blog to create your own meals!

Hands-on Overall

Serving size 1 tbsp, 15 g/ 0.5 oz

Allergy information for How To Make Harissa Paste

✔  Gluten free
✔  Dairy free
✔  Egg free
✔  Nut free
✔  Pork free
✔  Avocado free
✔  Coconut free
✔  Fish free
✔  Shellfish free
✔  Beef free

Nutritional values (per serving, 1 tbsp, 15 g/ 0.5 oz)

Net carbs1.8 grams
Protein0.6 grams
Fat1.9 grams
Calories29 kcal
Calories from carbs 27%, protein 9%, fat 64%
Total carbs2.9 gramsFiber1.1 gramsSugars0.3 gramsSaturated fat0.3 gramsSodium128 mg(6% RDA)Magnesium7 mg(2% RDA)Potassium136 mg(7% EMR)

Ingredients (makes about 2 1/2 cups)

Chili paste:
Spices for toasting:
  • 1 tsp whole caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds


  1. Use a combination of your favourite chilies. I used dried Guajillo, Ancho and Chipotle chilies and fresh sweet bell peppers. This combination results in moderately-mild spicy harissa. If you prefer more heat, add some Arbol chilies or skip the bell peppers. How To Make Harissa Paste
  2. Start by roasting the bell peppers in an oven preheated to 175 °C/ 350 °F (fan assisted), or 195 °C/ 380 °F (conventional). Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the skin is charred and the peppers are soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down. Put a piece of baking foil over the peppers and set aside until they are easy to handle. Then, peel the skin and remove the seeds. How To Make Harissa Paste
  3. While the peppers are baking, soften the dried chilies. Place the chilies in a pot and cover with boiling water. Place a lid on top and let them sit for 20-30 minutes. How To Make Harissa Paste
  4. Meanwhile, toast the spices. Place the coriander, cumin and caraway seeds in a hot pan and dry-roast briefly for just a minute or two. Grind the spices in a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. How To Make Harissa Paste
  5. Drain the chilies, remove the stems and seeds. How To Make Harissa Paste
  6. Place everything in a food processor or blender: chilies, roasted and peeled bell peppers, toasted and ground spices, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, turmeric powder, salt, olive oil and lemon juice. How To Make Harissa Paste
  7. Process until smooth. How To Make Harissa Paste
  8. Place the paste in a jar and store in the fridge for up to a week. How To Make Harissa Paste
  9. Place any remaining harissa paste in an ice-cube tray and freeze for up to 3 months. How To Make Harissa Paste

Ingredient nutritional breakdown (per serving, 1 tbsp, 15 g/ 0.5 oz)

Net carbsProteinFatCalories
Peppers, ancho chile (chili), dried
1.1 g0.5 g0.3 g11 kcal
Caraway seeds, spices
0 g0 g0 g0 kcal
Spices, coriander seed
0 g0 g0 g0 kcal
Cumin, spices
0 g0 g0 g0 kcal
Peppers, red bell, fresh
0.3 g0.1 g0 g2 kcal
Sun-dried tomatoes (in oil, drained)
0.1 g0 g0.1 g2 kcal
Garlic, fresh
0.2 g0 g0 g1 kcal
Turmeric, spices (dried, ground)
0 g0 g0 g0 kcal
Salt, pink Himalayan rock salt
0 g0 g0 g0 kcal
Olive oil, extra virgin
0 g0 g1.5 g13 kcal
Lemon juice, fresh
0.1 g0 g0 g0 kcal
Total per serving, 1 tbsp, 15 g/ 0.5 oz
1.8 g0.6 g1.9 g29 kcal

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Martina Slajerova
Creator of

Martina Slajerova

I changed the way I ate in 2011, when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. I had no energy, and I found it more and more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

That’s when I decided to quit sugar, grains, and processed foods, and to start following a whole-foods-based ketogenic approach to food.

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Comments (11)

Love the look of these encouraging me ME2 do keto

Thank you! This is actually something you could be making no matter what diet you follow. So much better than store-bought 😊

I found dried harissa (McCormick) while looking for another herb at my supermarket. I’m trying this dish for the first time next month (I try to plan in advance to keep the momentum going in my weight loss). Do you know how much I should use dry? I even found dried Chipotle pepper with adobo! I’ll first try the original recipe before swapping it out to use dry spices to check and make sure it tastes the same.
Thank you!

Hi Charlene, I think that if it's dried harissa (as powder/ground spice mix) it's ready to be used in dishes so you can use it just like the harissa paste. It depends on the strength but in recipes I'd use something around 1 teaspoon of the spice mix for every tablespoon of the harissa paste. I hope this helps!

Hello Martina,
Yes this helps.  I will make a small serving to test my level of tolerance of spiciness.  Thank you for your help!

I made this today to make your Moroccan Lamb Stew from your Slow Cooker Cookbook, and it as quite fun, but I wish I'd used gloves and a mask while reseeding the chillies, I was sneezing and coughing throughout.. lol! I ended up with a massive amount of paste but I kept aside 3 tablespoons for tomorrow and have frozen the rest. The paste is verrrry spice (I used a mix of chipotle, regular red and Kashmiri red chilies) but I'm sure it'll be wonderful in small doses. Once I run out of this batch (which will probably takes ages 😊 ) I'll make some with milder chilies. I think I can get Ancho in the UK although I don't know if it's very expensive. Perhaps Amazon has them cheaper. Thanks again for a great recipe!

Oh no, that happened to me too, never again! 😊 I used mild chilies in this one but I did suffer when I made this Sriracha - that was hot: Homemade Sugar-Free Ketchup
I think I got mine in bulk on Amazon so that should be easy (although not sure about now as there are limitations because of COVID-19). You may want to use an extra fresh bell pepper too. I always make a large batch and then freeze any remaining paste in an ice tray - makes it easy as you can use individual ice cubes and add them directly into your meal. Thanks again for your feedback Anu! 😊

Hi Martina,
Love, love , love all your recipes and wealth of information. Thanks so much for sharing !
For this recipe I do not have whole spices , can I use pre ground spices and roast them or do they need to be whole to be roasted ?  Thank you !!

Thank you for your kind words, Stephanie! Yes, you can use ground spices and add them directly to the blender. Toasting the whole spices adds flavour but it's not essential.

If I leave out a couple of the dried chilies will that make it more of a mild flavour? Just thinking might be too spicy for my kids.

I think it's best to only use Ancho and Guajillo chilies - these are mild-spicy. I hope this helps!