14 Best Substitutes for Harissa

Best Substitutes For Harissa
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Harissa is a fiery and flavorful paste made from chilies, garlic, and other spices that is popular in North African and Middle Eastern cooking.

If you’re looking for the best substitutes for harissa, this blog post has you covered! 

We’ve compiled a list of delicious and best substitutes for harissa to help you spice up your dishes without buying this specialty ingredient.

Read on to discover some flavor-packed alternatives to harissa that you can use in various dishes.

1. Gochujang

Gochujang is a Korean condiment that is gaining popularity around the world. It’s made from fermented red chili peppers, glutinous rice powder, and salt.

It has a slightly sweet, savory, and spicy flavor, making it an ideal substitute for harissa. 

Gochujang has a more complex flavor than harissa, as it hints at smokiness and sweetness. It can be used in various dishes, such as marinades, stir-fries, soups, and stews.

In addition, it’s the starter of this list of the best substitutes for Harissa and is relatively easy to find in most major grocery stores or online.

2. Sriracha Sauce

Sriracha sauce is one of the best substitutes for harissa, especially if you’re looking for something with similar heat and flavor.

It is a thick and creamy hot sauce that is made from chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Its flavor is slightly sweet and tangy but with a good amount of heat.

It can be used as a condiment on everything from sandwiches to tacos or stirred into soups and stews. 

Sriracha sauce pairs wonderfully with rice dishes, noodles, and eggs. This popular sauce is easy to find in most supermarkets and can be used in place of harissa for an equally delicious result.

You can adjust the amount of Sriracha sauce depending on how much heat you want in your dish. 

Try adding a pinch of red pepper flakes to the mix for an extra kick. And don’t forget to garnish your dish with fresh cilantro to brighten the flavors!

3. Hot Sauce

Hot sauce is third on our list of excellent and best substitutes for harissa, as it provides a similar level of heat and spice.

Hot sauce is a condiment made from peppers, vinegar, and other spices, depending on the type of hot sauce you are using.

Hot sauce can be added to dishes, such as soups, salads, and sandwiches, or used as a marinade for meats. 

Hot sauce can also be used to spice up curries and other dishes that would normally use harissa.

When substituting hot sauce for harissa, it is important to remember that the flavor profiles of the two sauces may differ slightly.

Therefore, you may need to adjust the amount of hot sauce used to achieve the desired flavor profile. 

If you are looking for a milder substitute for harissa, consider using a chili paste instead.

Chili pastes are usually made from ground chilies and other spices and often come in mild and spicy varieties.

Chili paste can be used in place of harissa in many dishes, such as soups, stews, and curries. 

Additionally, it can be used as a condiment or dip, making it a versatile alternative to harissa.

It is important to note that chili pastes are generally not as spicy as harissa, so if you’re looking for a more pungent flavor profile, you may need to adjust the recipe accordingly.

4. DIY Homemade Harissa Paste

Making your own harissa paste is an easy and affordable way to bring a unique and delicious flavor to any dish.

The base ingredients of this paste are red chili peppers, garlic, cumin, coriander, olive oil, and lemon juice.

You can add other spices like paprika and cardamom for extra flavor. Start by roasting the chili peppers over an open flame or in the oven until blackened.

Once cooled, remove the stem and seeds, then blend with the other ingredients until smooth.

To finish, slowly add the olive oil to emulsify and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Finally, store your homemade harissa paste in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Enjoy this one of the best substitutes for harissa!

5. Piri-Piri Sauce

Piri-Piri Sauce is a great option when looking for the best substitutes for harissa. It’s made from a blend of African bird’s eye chilies and has a distinct smoky and spicy flavor.

The taste profile also has a bit of sweetness, which makes it great for marinades, sauces, and condiments. 

This sauce is widely used in Mozambique and other African countries and can be found in grocery stores in the international section.

If you’re looking for a way to add some heat to your dish without the overpowering spice of harissa, Piri-Piri Sauce is the perfect substitute.

6. Sambal Oelek

Of the best substitutes for harissa, Sambal Oelek is a popular condiment in Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine.

It’s a thick paste made from chilies, garlic, and other spices. The key difference between harissa and Sambal Oelek is the absence of vinegar in the latter. The paste is slightly sweet and offers a delicious chili pepper flavor.

Moving on, it can be used as a marinade or as a condiment to add heat to dishes such as stews, soups, and sauces.

Sambal Oelek also makes for an excellent dip or spread for sandwiches and wraps. For a lighter flavor, you can dilute it with oil or water to make it more palatable.

7. Chili Pepper

Chili peppers can make the best substitutes for harissa list. They come in various flavors, from mild to spicy, and are commonly used in many cuisines worldwide.

Chili peppers can be dried and ground into a powder to use as a seasoning or chopped up and added directly to dishes for a hit of heat. 

Chili peppers can also be made into a paste for a thicker consistency, similar to harissa.

You can add other ingredients, such as garlic, cumin, and olive oil, to make your homemade chili pepper paste.

This is a great alternative to store-bought harissa and can be adjusted to your desired flavor and spice level. 

Chili pepper is not left out of this list of best substitutes for harissa that is easy to find and customize to your taste.

It is perfect for adding a bit of extra heat and flavor to any dish. With its versatility, it is sure to become one of your go-to harissa substitutes.

8. Tandoori Masala

Tandoori masala is a flavorful blend of spices that make it a great alternative to harissa.

It has a distinct smoky flavor that adds depth and complexity to any dish. It is typically used to marinate and cook meats but can also be used in vegetable dishes or to add flavor to sauces and soups. 

Tandoori masala combines ginger, coriander, cumin, chili powder, garam masala, turmeric, and cardamom.

It can replace harissa in dishes like couscous and meat, adding a slightly different flavor profile.

Adding tandoori masala to your dish is an easy way to get the same flavor and complexity as harissa without having to hunt down the ingredients for the sauce. 

You can buy ready-made tandoori masala from most grocery stores or make it yourself using the spices listed above.

Adding just a tablespoon of this flavorful blend will go a long way towards giving your dish a similar flavor to harissa without having to go through the work of making it yourself.

This list of the best substitutes for harissa isn’t complete without Tandoori Masala.

9. Garam Masala

Garam masala is a mix of spices used in many Indian dishes and is the perfect substitute for harissa.

The spice blend consists of cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, mace, and cloves.

It can be used as a direct substitution for harissa in recipes, providing the same level of flavor but without the extra heat. 

Garam masala can be added to soups, stews, sauces, and curries to give them an extra punch of flavor.

Additionally, it can be mixed with yogurt or oil to create a marinade for meats or vegetables.

When substituting garam masala for harissa, it’s important to remember that the spice blend is much milder than harissa, so you’ll need to use more of it to achieve the same flavor. 

Add small amounts of garam masala until you reach the desired flavor, and adjust accordingly.

As with any spice blend, store garam masala in an airtight container away from heat and light for maximum freshness and flavor.

With a little experimentation and practice, you’ll soon have delicious dishes with a perfect blend of flavors!

10. Nali Sauce

Nali sauce is an African condiment with chili peppers, garlic, onions, and tomatoes.

It has a complex blend of flavors and is a great option if you want something a bit spicier than harissa.

Nali sauce is often used as a marinade for meats or fish and can also be used as a base for soups, stews, and stir-fries.

It has a distinct flavor that makes it a great addition to any dish that needs extra heat. 

Nali sauce can be bought in many grocery stores, but if you want to make your own, all you need to do is combine the ingredients of onions, garlic, chili peppers, tomato paste, olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings of your choice.

Blend all of the ingredients until you get a thick paste. Then store the mixture in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

You can use it as a dip, spread, or seasoning whenever you need a flavorful kick. 

Nali sauce is one of the best substitutes for harissa and will add a flavorful boost to your favorite dishes.

It’s easy to make and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. With just a few simple ingredients, you can easily make your own delicious Nali sauce and enjoy the bold flavors of Africa!

11. Nam Prik Pao

Nam Prik Pao, a Thai chili paste, is also one of the best substitutes for harissa.

This delicious and flavorful paste can be used in various recipes to provide a spicy yet savory flavor profile.

It is made from red chilies, garlic, shallots, sugar, fish sauce, shrimp paste, tamarind paste, and other spices. 

Combining these ingredients produces a unique flavor profile with smoky, spicy, and savory notes, making it a perfect substitute for harissa.

It can be used to make marinades, dressings, or sauces, adding an interesting twist to many traditional dishes.

When substituting Nam Prik Pao for harissa in a recipe, it is important to adjust the amount depending on the desired level of spice. 

The paste has a strong flavor and can easily overpower a dish if too much is used.

Start with a small amount and taste before adding more. Adding it to the cooking process end will help retain the most flavor and heat. 

Nam Prik Pao can be found in most Asian grocery stores or online. Its complex flavor and versatile uses make it an excellent alternative to harissa that will not disappoint.

12. Berbere

If you are looking for the best substitutes for harissa, Berbere is a hot pepper spice blend used in Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine.

It comprises chili peppers, garlic, ginger, and various spices such as cardamom, fenugreek, coriander, and allspice.

Berbere has a smoky flavor with some sweetness and a good amount of heat.

Furthermore, it can be used to replace harissa in any dish and is especially popular in stews and soups.

Berbere can also be used as a rub for meats or mixed into sauces or dressings. A little goes a long way, so use it sparingly if you’re not used to the intense flavors.

13. Bomba Calabrese

Unlike the other best substitutes for harissa, Bomba Calabrese is an Italian chili sauce from the region of Calabria.

It’s a thick, spicy paste made from fresh chilies, garlic, parsley, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and capers.

It’s one of the best substitutes for harissa since it adds a rich heat and intense flavor to dishes. 

Its vibrant color also adds a colorful touch to any meal. Bomba Calabrese is usually used as a condiment but can also be added to soups, pasta dishes, pizza, or sandwiches to add a fiery kick.

If you’re looking for something with a little more heat than harissa, give Bomba Calabrese a try.

14. Thai Red Curry Paste

Thai Red Curry Paste makes for a great substitute for harissa. It’s an aromatic paste made from a combination of ingredients like chilies, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and shrimp paste that creates a flavorful, hot condiment with a pungent smell.

A little bit goes a long way in adding a spicy kick to any dish. You can easily find Thai Red Curry Paste at your local Asian market or in the international aisle of most grocery stores. 

Using Thai Red Curry Paste as a substitute for harissa will give your dish a sweet and savory flavor with a hint of spice.

Try using it to marinate meats or add it to soups and stews for an extra kick of flavor.

You can also use it to create tasty sauces for burgers, tacos, and salads. With its versatile flavors, Thai Red Curry Paste is likewise one of the best substitutes for harissa and will take your dishes to the next level!


Harissa is an amazing condiment that adds a unique flavor to dishes. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find in some regions.

Luckily, there are many best substitutes for harissa that you can use to create similar flavors. 

Gochujang, Sriracha sauce, hot sauce, homemade harissa paste, piri-piri sauce, chili pepper, sambal oelek, tandoori masala, garam masala, nali sauce, nam prik pao, bomba calabrese, thai red curry paste, and berbere are all wonderful alternatives to harissa.

By using one of these options, you can recreate the bold flavors of harissa in your dishes.

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