Harissa Grilled Chicken

Harissa Grilled Chicken
Harissa Grilled Chicken
This image courtesy of Jakob Layman

The  first  time  I  tasted  harissa,  I  was  blown  away  by  the  smoky  depth  of  flavor.  I  knew  I  wanted  to  keep  it  in  my  refrigerator,  so  I  started  buying  the  store-bought  version  to  season  pretty  much  everything  I  was  eating.  The  only  problem  was  that  a  jar  of  harissa  didn’t  last  very  long  in  my  kitchen;  so,  I  turned  to  making  my  own  version  at  home.  I  added  a  can  of  fire-roasted  tomatoes  to  my  recipe  to  add  some  bulk  to  the  sauce.  

The  smokiness  of  the  harissa  sauce  really  adds  a  lot  of  flavor  to  chicken  that  is  being  prepared  
on  the  grill.  I  love  to  grill  harissa  chicken  in  the  summer.  I’m  instantly  transported  to  memories  of  holidays  like  Memorial  Day  and  Independence  Day  and  large  cookouts  with  family  and  friends.


  • Harissa Sauce
  • 2 large jarred or fresh roasted red bell peppers
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 (15-oz [420-g]) can fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tablespoons (16 g) smoked paprika
  • 2 medium jalapeño chiles
  • 1 small habanero chile
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) olive oil
  • Ground cumin, to taste
  • Ground coriander, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Chicken
  • 1 tablespoon (8 g) garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon (8 g) paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon (4 g) ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon (8 g) salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 pounds (2.3 kg) chicken drumsticks
  • 10 ounces (300 ml) Harissa Sauce


  1. To make the sauce, combine the bell peppers, garlic, tomatoes, smoked paprika, jalapeños, habanero, oil, cumin, coriander and crushed red pepper flakes in a food processor. Process until the mixture is uniform. Transfer the sauce to jars and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

  2. To make the chicken, preheat the grill to 400°F (204°C).

  3. In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, salt and black pepper.

  4. Place the drumsticks and spice mixture in a large resealable bag. Shake the bag, ensuring that each piece of chicken is coated with 
    the spices. 

  5. Place the drumsticks directly on the grill and flip them every 5 to 7 minutes.

  6. Once the drumsticks start to brown, move them to the side of the grill, away from the direct heat. When the internal temperature of the 
    drumsticks reaches 190°F (88°C), baste the chicken with the harissa sauce and cook for 2 to 5 minutes.

  7. Remove the drumsticks from the grill and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.


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