Does Harissa Paste Go Bad? (Fully Explained)

Harissa paste is a popular condiment in North African and Middle Eastern cuisine, known for its spicy and flavorful kick.

But like any food item, it’s important to know if it can go bad and how to properly store it.

In this article, we’ll explore the shelf life of harissa paste and how to tell if it’s gone bad.

Plus, we’ll share a delicious recipe for making your own harissa paste at home.

So, whether you’re a seasoned harissa fan or a curious newcomer, read on to learn more about this fiery paste.

Does Harissa Paste Go Bad?

Harissa paste does eventually expire, but it can keep for a long time if stored properly. The components that make up harissa, such as chili peppers, garlic, coriander, and other spices, can last for a very long duration without going rancid. This is because all of the ingredients are cooked or pickled and then packed in oil.

Typically, harissa paste will last for 2-3 months when stored at room temperature in a cool, dry place. If it is refrigerated after opening, it can last for up to 6 months. However, it’s important to keep a few key indicators in mind when trying to determine whether harissa paste has gone bad.

These signs include a sour smell, drastic change in color, or an unusually thick or lumpy consistency. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the harissa paste and open a new container.

What Is Harissa Paste?

Harissa paste is a fiery and flavorful condiment that originates from North Africa, specifically Tunisia. It is made by blending together chili peppers, garlic, coriander, cumin, caraway seeds, and other spices with olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar. The resulting paste is a bright reddish-orange color and has a distinctively spicy and savory taste.

Harissa paste is extremely versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes to add heat and depth of flavor. It can be used as a marinade for meat or vegetables, stirred into soups or stews, or even used as a spread on sandwiches or burgers.

Due to its strong flavor, only a small amount of harissa paste is needed to add a significant amount of heat to a dish. This means that a single jar of harissa paste can last for quite some time, especially if stored properly.

How Long Does Harissa Paste Last?

Harissa paste can last for up to a year if it is stored properly. This means that it should be kept in an airtight container or jar, placed in a cool and dark location away from direct sunlight. It is also helpful to add some smoked paprika in the jar to help preserve it. Refrigeration will help to extend the shelf life even further, and with a tight-fitting lid, harissa paste will last for 5 to 6 weeks in the fridge or until the use-by date on the jar.

If you want to freeze your harissa paste, we recommend scooping it into an ice cube tray, freezing it, and then storing it in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. However, it’s important to note that the flavor may degrade over time, so it’s best to use frozen harissa paste within 3 months of freezing it.

It’s also worth mentioning that the best way to ensure that your harissa paste is still good is to look for signs of mold before using. The paste should have a reddish-orange color and a strong smell that is distinctively spicy. If it looks, smells, and tastes okay, then it probably is okay to use. However, if you have any doubts about the quality of your harissa paste, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and discard it.

Signs That Harissa Paste Has Gone Bad

It’s important to know the signs that harissa paste has gone bad to avoid consuming spoiled food. One of the key indicators is a sour smell, which can indicate that the harissa paste has started to ferment. Another sign is a drastic change in color, such as a darkening or discoloration of the paste.

If the harissa paste has an unusually thick or lumpy consistency, it may have started to dry out or develop mold. In some cases, you may also notice visible mold growth on the surface of the paste. If any of these signs are present, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard the harissa paste.

It’s worth noting that even if the harissa paste appears to be fine, it’s always a good idea to give it a quick taste test before using it in your cooking. If it tastes off or has an unusual flavor, it’s better to be safe than sorry and dispose of it.

Proper Storage Of Harissa Paste

To ensure the longevity of your harissa paste, it’s crucial to store it properly. The paste should be kept in an airtight container or jar and placed in a cool and dark location away from direct sunlight. Adding smoked paprika in the jar can help preserve it. It’s also recommended to refrigerate the paste to extend its shelf life even further.

Before using, always check for signs of mold. The paste should have a reddish-orange color and a distinctively spicy smell. If you notice any mold, discoloration, or an off smell, it’s best to discard the paste.

If you make homemade harissa paste, store it in a tight lid mason jar in the fridge. Adding a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top will help seal it well. It typically lasts 2-3 weeks in the fridge. You can also freeze it for later use for about a month or so.

Making Your Own Harissa Paste Recipe

Making your own harissa paste is a great way to ensure that you always have a fresh supply on hand. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make and customize to your liking. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started:


– 10 dried chili peppers (such as guajillo, ancho, or chipotle)

– 3 cloves of garlic

– 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

– 1 teaspoon caraway seeds

– 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

– 1/2 teaspoon salt

– 1/4 cup olive oil


1. Start by removing the stems and seeds from the dried chili peppers. You can do this by breaking them open and shaking out the seeds.

2. Soak the chili peppers in hot water for about 30 minutes, until they are soft and pliable.

3. While the chili peppers are soaking, toast the coriander, caraway, and cumin seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant.

4. Drain the chili peppers and add them to a food processor or blender along with the toasted spices, garlic cloves, salt, and olive oil.

5. Blend everything together until you have a smooth paste. If the mixture is too thick, you can add more olive oil or a splash of water to thin it out.

6. Taste the harissa paste and adjust the seasoning as needed. You can add more salt or spices if you prefer a stronger flavor.

Once you’ve made your harissa paste, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 weeks. You can also freeze it for longer storage. Use it as a marinade for meat, a condiment for sandwiches or burgers, or mix it into hummus or yogurt for a spicy dip. The possibilities are endless!

Creative Ways To Use Harissa Paste In Your Cooking

Harissa paste can be a versatile ingredient in your cooking, adding a spicy kick to a variety of dishes. Here are some creative ways to use harissa paste in your cooking:

1. As a marinade: Mix harissa paste with olive oil and lemon juice to make a flavorful marinade for chicken, fish, or vegetables. Let the ingredients marinate for a few hours before grilling or roasting.

2. In soups and stews: Harissa paste can add depth and complexity to soups and stews. Add a spoonful or two to your favorite soup or stew recipe for an extra kick of flavor.

3. As a condiment: Use harissa paste as a condiment on sandwiches, burgers, or hot dogs. It can also be used as a dip for vegetables or pita chips.

4. In salad dressings: Mix harissa paste with oil and vinegar to make a spicy salad dressing. It pairs well with greens like arugula or spinach.

5. In pasta dishes: Add harissa paste to your favorite pasta dish for an extra layer of flavor. It pairs well with tomato-based sauces and can also be used in creamy sauces.

6. On pizza: Use harissa paste as a pizza sauce instead of traditional tomato sauce. Top with your favorite toppings and bake as usual.

7. In dips: Mix harissa paste with Greek yogurt or sour cream to make a spicy dip for chips or veggies.