Skip to Content

Moroccan Harissa Recipe with Dried Chili Peppers

Moroccan Harissa Recipe with Dried Chili Peppers

This post may contain Amazon or other affiliate links that allow us to earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our Disclosure Policy for more info.

Harissa is a North African condiment made from chili peppers. Either fresh or dried chili peppers can be used to make harissa. The former allows more flexibility for controlling the heat while harissa with dried chili peppers will always be spicy hot.

We use harissa mostly as a condiment but also sometimes as an ingredient. As example, some Moroccans like to add a spoonful of harissa to the side of their plate and dab bread into it while eating tagines or salads. It can also be added directly to a sauce, stew or even the dough for a savory biscuit.

The recipe below is for Moroccan harissa with dried chili peppers. If making it for the first time you may want to make a smaller batch.

For a milder version of harissa, check out my recipe for Moroccan harissa with fresh chili peppers.

Taste of Maroc logo
A bowl of harissa paste with dried red chili peppers

Harissa Paste with Dried Red Chili Peppers

Nada Kiffa | Taste of Maroc
Harissa paste made from dried cayenne peppers is the hottest form of harissa paste. Although easy to make and to adapt to your liking with regard to spices and types of chili peppers, it will be so hot as to make you sneeze. The heat from the chili embalms the air and you will feel it all the way down your throat. You might need to open the windows while sauteing. 
The good news is that you can omit this step but make sure you thoroughly pat dry the chilis before grinding them.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Rehydration 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Spices and Condiments
Cuisine Moroccan
Yield 32 tablespoons (1 lb. total)
Calories 45 kcal



  • It is suggested to wear plastic or latex gloves to handle the chili. 
  • Run the knife through the top end of each dried chili. Shake them head down and scrape out seeds. Discard them and leave the peppers to soak in hot water for 30 to 60 minutes. 
  • Drain and grind the chilis in a food processor or meat grinder (or mortar and pestle). Add salt, oil and any other spice used. 
  • OPTIONAL: Transfer the mix to a frying pan and saute for a few minutes over medium heat until it looks like a thick dark paste. Keep stirring. It is a delicate step as the heat will get to your nose and throat and there will be a lot of sneezing.
  • Transfer the harissa to jars and top it with oil. Store in a dark place. Although you can do this in a cupboard, it is better to keep the harissa in the fridge, where it will stay for 2 to 4 weeks, or in the freezer for longer.


  • This harissa is usually flavored with caraway seeds, coriander seeds and/or cumin while garlic and preserved lemons can be omitted.


Serving: 1tbsp (14 g)Calories: 45kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 1gFat: 2gSodium: 226mgPotassium: 176mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 2455IUVitamin C: 2.9mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 0.8mg

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate obtained from online calculators. Optional ingredients may not be included in the nutritional information.

Tried this recipe? We'd love to know!Mention @tasteofmaroc or tag #tasteofmaroc!
Leave a Comment or Review

About the Author

Nada Kiffa is Contributing Editor at Taste of Maroc. A native of Casablanca with strong Fassi roots, she writes about Moroccan and international cuisine at Ainek Mizanek.

Recipe Rating


Wednesday 22nd of May 2024

Hello - I have just returned from marrakech with a jar of fresh harissa, thanks to you I now know I need to portion and freeze it. The merchant was selling red harissa and something he called harissa douce - which was more yellow due to added preserved lemon he told me he sells this for use with fish. I couldnt carry more jars so just too the red. Now Ive been searching the Internet but I cannot find any information on the second type. Can you help?

Christine Benlafquih

Wednesday 22nd of May 2024

Harissa douce would just be a mild harissa, so one made with some sweet pepper as opposed to using only dried chili peppers. Here's an example of mild harissa (harissa douce) that includes the addition of preserved lemon. To make the harissa that you bought more mild, you can thin it with some olive oil and/or a little tomato paste. Adding chopped preserved lemon can also help cut the heat and add nice flavor.


Monday 12th of September 2022

Thanks for this recipe! I made it using chiles I grew and dried myself and it turned out wonderful. Better than the stuff in the tube I usually buy from my local Mediterranean grocery!

Christine Benlafquih

Monday 12th of September 2022

Yes, homemade is usually so much better. I'm glad the recipe turned out well for you!


Sunday 22nd of October 2017

Hi Nada The quantity of olive oil is incomplete in the recipe!! Possibly 250ml olive oil but...


Friday 15th of September 2023

Hi @Nada Kiffa, did you correct the quantity? It now states 0.25ml, which is a quarter of a millilitre...

Nada Kiffa

Sunday 22nd of October 2017

Oh good catch Claire. Thanks for that!


Wednesday 11th of October 2017

The only mention of preserved lemons and coriander seeds is in the recipe notes, where the notes say they may be omitted. But if they are NOT omitted, how much should be used?

Nada Kiffa

Wednesday 11th of October 2017

Hi John,

It usually depends on how lemony you want it to be and how big the preserved lemons are. I'd say for this quantity, we usually go for 2 small or a large preserved lemon. As for coriander seeds, again, it's up to you. Personally I would go for a leveled tablespoon but you could start with 1 teaspoon and see how you like it. The recipe is given as a guideline and is pretty much a family affair in sense that it's open to adaptation.

I hope it helps!