You can’t call yourself a spice lover if you’ve never eaten harissa paste.
Harissa paste is a delicious and flavorful hot pepper paste that originated in North Africa. It can accompany just about any dish to give it a zest and a lifted flavor.
However, sometimes it can be difficult to get your hands on a good harissa paste. So what are the substitutes for harissa paste?
Some of the best harissa paste substitutes include sriracha, hot sauce, chili, tandoori masala, berber spice, garam masala, nali sauce, chili oil, sambal, and gochujang.
Keep reading to learn more about each of these substitutes!
What is harissa paste?
Harissa is a hot pepper paste originating from Tunisia. It is made from roasted red peppers, baklouti peppers, serrano peppers, and spices and herbs such as garlic paste, lemon, cumin, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, etc. .
Therefore, not only do you get a hint of chili from eating harissa, but there are also the rich flavors of the herbs and spices.
Harissa is a truly distinct type of spicy paste, although it has now gained popularity in all corners of the world.
If you’re not a fan of zinger, you can enjoy rose harissa. This variant of harissa paste has a slightly sweet taste and is made from rose petals.
Best Harissa Paste Substitutes
Now that you know all about harissa paste, let’s dive into some substitutes that will give you an equally delicious and flavorful zinger.
1. Sriracha sauce
As you may already know, sriracha is a type of chili sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, and salt. Although it is a sauce and not a paste, sriracha is a good alternative to harissa paste.
They both have a similar level of spice and they are both full of flavor. If you want to give sriracha sauce a texture similar to harissa paste, you can add some coriander or cumin seeds to the mixture.
2. Hot sauce
You might not expect something like hot sauce to be on the list of harissa paste substitutes. There are a wide variety of different flavors of hot sauce that you can find, many of which can serve as substitutes for harissa paste, both in taste and texture.
Additionally, hot sauce is the most easily accessible alternative to harissa paste. If you can’t find an exact match for harissa paste, you can always mix it with additional ingredients to get the flavor you’re looking for.
Chilli is one of the main ingredients in harissa sauce. You probably have some in your kitchen or you can easily find them at the supermarket.
So if you’re looking for something that can match the spiciness level of harissa, why not use the ingredient found in the paste? You can chop chilli into small pieces and add it to your dish or use chilli flakes.
4. Berber herbs
Berber spices are native to East Africa and are often used as a substitute for harissa paste. This spice blend is made with chili, coriander, ginger, garlic, and spices like basil, ajwain, fenugreek, etc.
Although Berber spice is a powder and cannot be served as a paste, you can freely add it to dishes like cooking. Substituting harissa paste for Berber spices in a 1:1 ratio will give you the level of spice and flavor you desire.
5. Tandoori masala
Tandoori masala is a spice blend originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is very tasty and is made with garam masala, cayenne pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, etc.
Tandoori masala is usually not as spicy as harissa paste, but you can always add a few extra spices to enhance the flavor. Additionally, you can also find tandoori masala in paste form, which you can use to mimic the texture of harissa paste.
6. Garam masala
As I mentioned above, tandoori masala is made with garam masala and other spices. Now you might be wondering what is garam masala.
Garam masala is another spice blend originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is made up of ingredients such as red chili powder, cumin, coriander seeds, cloves, fennel, bay leaves, cardamom, etc.
As the long list of ingredients suggests, garam masala has a high spice content and a mouth full of flavor. So if you ever need another traditional substitute for harissa paste, you have the choice between garam masala and tandoori masala.
7. Nali sauce
Also known as “Africa’s hottest peri-peri sauce”, Nali sauce is a great substitute for spice lovers. It is made with ‘Malawian bird’s eye’ peppers, the hottest type of pepper in all of Africa.
Nali sauce is now so popular around the world that it comes in seven flavors including mild, hot, garlic, ginger, barbecue and curry masala. So if you ever need a splash of flavor to replace your harissa paste, you know where to look.
8. Chilli oil
Chili oil is widely used in various cuisines in Asia.
It is made by infusing vegetable oil with chilli and adding spices such as paprika, Sichuan pepper and garlic. Some variations of this oil also use soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, etc.
So if you ever need less spicy yet complex substitutes for harissa paste, chili oil is the way to go. However, keep in mind that harissa paste has a much thicker texture than chili oil.
Sambal is a paste made from a mixture of peppers, lime juice, shrimp paste, garlic, ginger. There are up to 200 varieties of sambal used in Asian dishes.
Sambal may have a lower spice content than harissa paste. However, it gives you more or less the same taste you want in your dishes.
Gochujang, which means red chili paste, is made from chili powder, fermented soybeans, salt, and other herbs and spices.
Since chili powder is the main ingredient in gochujang and harissa paste, you can easily substitute one for the other. Moreover, gochujang also tastes slightly sweet like harissa paste.
How to use harissa paste?
Harissa paste was originally eaten with traditional North African dishes, but there are no restrictions on what you can serve on the side.
You can also eat harissa paste with any dish you want to spice up. Also, there is no particular way to serve harissa paste. But to inspire you to spice up your next dish, here are some ways to use harissa paste.
One way to make a serving of roasted vegetables simply interesting is to add harissa paste to the mix. All you have to do is lightly toss the vegetables with this chili paste before roasting them.
If you are a fan of spicy dishes, why stop at vegetables? Take your next barbecue to the next level by replacing your original hub with harissa paste. Trust us, a spicy and lemony touch goes perfectly with your favorite meats.
You can add a kick of spice to any of your favorite salad dressings by adding harissa paste. This process is quite simple and can enhance the flavor of all your favorite salad dressings.
You can also add harissa paste to yogurt and hummus to make your own sweet and spicy sauce. You can serve this sauce with just about any dish or use it as a dipping sauce with chicken wings, nachos, etc.
Did you think you would serve pasta with harissa sauce? Well, the influence of harissa in North Africa has made it a reality. Next time you eat pasta, feel free to add a delicious twist of spicy harissa.
Spice up your next breakfast with a touch of harissa paste with your eggs, be it an egg sandwich, fried egg, scrambled eggs, etc.
There is no dish that cannot improve this delicious pasta.