Grilled Harissa Chicken

This simple grilled harissa chicken dinner starts with jarred harissa sauce and has just a few additional ingredients, making it a meal that is easy to pull off any day of the week.

Jump to Recipe (or scroll for photos and riveting information...)
Advertisement - Continue Below
A gray dinner plate on a wooden table with grilled harissa chicken, rice and salad.

Summer Grilled Chicken

As the summer grilling season goes on, we need to switch up our grilling recipes from time to time and take a break from the traditional BBQ chicken. This recipe for grilled harissa chicken will do just that in an instant. You might just find your new favorite grilled chicken. It starts with a marinade made of jarred harissa sauce and just a few other ingredients. You can use chicken thighs, chicken breasts or both, so why not pick up a whole chicken and cut it into pieces that will please the whole family (you can learn how to cut up a chicken here). 

A jar of harissa sauce on a counter.

What is Harissa?

I knew you’d ask this. Harissa is a hot chili pepper paste that originated in Tunisia and is used in a lot of North African and Middle Eastern cooking. It’s a fantastic condiment to have in your refrigerator because it’s extremely versatile. It goes well with fish, chicken, meats and vegetables. You could make your own harissa paste if you like by grinding up dried chilies, garlic, lemon, spices and olive oil, but it’s much easier if you find a brand that you like and stick with it. Here’s my favorite.

Ingredients on a cutting board - cut up chicken, olive oil, harissa and spices.

Marinade Ingredients

Other than the harissa, all you need for this marinade is some smoked paprika, some ground cumin and some olive oil. Mix the ingredients together well and spread this all over the chicken. A word of warning – use gloves or put the chicken and marinade in a plastic bag and massage it into the chicken to prevent staining your hands. 

Chicken marinating in a bowl.

Marinating Time

How long you marinate the chicken is entirely up to you. Six hours in the refrigerator would be great, but if you only have 30 minutes… go for it! Don’t skip this recipe just because you need dinner in an hour. The flavor of the harissa is so vibrant that even a short marinating time will still reward you.

Chicken pieces on a grill.

Grilling Bone In Chicken

Bone-in chicken does take longer to grill than boneless chicken, but I really think it is worth it because chicken on the bone has so much more flavor. How long it takes will depend on how big your chicken pieces are. These days, whole chickens, chicken thighs and chicken breasts all vary so much in size that you have to use your judgement when timing the cooking process. Give yourself at least 6 to 8 minutes per side and use an instant read thermometer to know when you’ve reached the right internal temperature – 165˚F.

Grilled harissa chicken on a gray dinner plate with a green napkin and cutlery, all on a wooden table.

What to Serve with Harissa Grilled Chicken

When serving grilled harissa chicken, I like to keep the side dishes relatively simple so that you don’t have competing flavors. Some white basmati rice is a nice backdrop along with a green salad, but you could also serve this chicken with grilled vegetables, pita bread and some cool tzatziki sauce for a middle eastern meal. 

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

Cooking School
Marinating Basics

If you want to add flavor to your food before grilling, air-frying or baking, starting with a marinade is a...View Technique

Advertisement - Continue Below

Grilled Harissa Chicken

  • Prep Time: 5 m
  • Cook Time: 20 m
  • Marinating Time: 30 m
  • Total Time: 55 m
  • Servings:


  • 6 tbsp harissa chili paste
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 to 4 pounds bone-in chicken thighs breasts or a combination


  1. Combine the harissa, cumin, paprika and olive oil in a large bowl. Toss the chicken pieces into the marinade to coat and set aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 8 hours.
  2. Pre-heat your outdoor grill for at least 10 minutes, until you can only hold your hand 1 inch above the grill grates for 2 to 3 seconds before you want to pull it away.
  3. When you are ready to cook, remove the chicken from the marinade and place them on the grill plate. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes per side, seasoning with salt as you grill. The chicken should be firm to the touch and have an internal temperature of 165˚ F when cooked through.
  4. Remove the chicken from the grill and set them aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below

Comments (1)Post a Reply

  1. Wonderful! Just spicy enough and super tender. My sister was over for dinner and the chicken was a complete hit! Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *