Are you a fan of the fiery North African flavor of harissa paste, but struggling to find it in your local grocery store? Or maybe you’ve run out of it mid-recipe and need a quick substitute?
Fear not, because we’ve got you covered with a list of the best harissa paste substitutes. Whether you prefer a milder heat or want to experiment with different flavors, there’s an alternative for everyone.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most popular harissa paste substitutes and how to use them in your cooking. So, let’s dive in and discover the perfect harissa paste substitute for your next culinary adventure!
What Is A Harissa Paste Substitute?
Harissa paste is a spicy and flavorful North African condiment that is made from chili peppers, garlic, and various spices. It’s a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes, from stews and soups to marinades and dips.
However, if you can’t find harissa paste in your local grocery store or have run out of it, there are several substitutes that you can use instead. These substitutes may not provide the exact same flavor as harissa paste, but they can still add a spicy kick to your dishes.
Why Use A Harissa Paste Substitute?
There are several reasons why you might want to use a harissa paste substitute. Firstly, harissa paste can be difficult to find in some grocery stores, especially if you live in an area where North African cuisine is not common. In this case, having a substitute on hand can save you time and effort in searching for the ingredient.
Secondly, using a harissa paste substitute can also be a good option if you want to customize the flavor of your dish. Harissa paste has a unique flavor profile, with a combination of spicy, smoky, and slightly sweet notes. However, if you want to adjust the level of heat or add different flavors to your dish, using a substitute can give you more control over the final taste.
Lastly, using a harissa paste substitute can also be a good option if you want to experiment with different flavors and ingredients. There are many substitutes available, from chili powder and smoked paprika to tomato paste and hot sauce. Trying out different substitutes can help you discover new flavor combinations and add variety to your cooking. So, whether you’re looking for a quick fix or a way to experiment with new flavors, using a harissa paste substitute can be a great option for any home cook.
Chili Paste Substitutes
One of the best substitutes for harissa paste is another chili paste, such as sambal oelek. This paste is made from ground fresh chilies and vinegar, and it has a similar texture and spiciness to harissa. Sambal oelek can be found in most grocery stores and Asian markets.
Another option is to use chili powder. While chili powder is not as spicy as harissa, you can increase the heat level by adding a little cayenne pepper or red chili flakes to the chili powder. Smoked paprika is also a good substitute for harissa in a pinch, as it has a smoky flavor that is similar to some harissa powders. However, you may need to add some cayenne or red pepper flakes to increase the spice level.
Sumac is a citrusy spice that can be used as a harissa alternative, but it’s important to mix it with chili powder or smoked paprika to balance out its flavor. To any of these substitutes, you can also add caraway seeds, dried lemon zest, and/or coriander seeds to increase the flavor of harissa and customize it to your tastes. To increase the spice level, add some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
If you don’t have any of these substitutes on hand, you can make a quick substitute by finely chopping fresh red chilies and adding a pinch of caraway seeds and enough olive oil to make a pesto-like paste. Leave the seeds in for a stronger kick, or use ground coriander instead of caraway seeds if you don’t have them. With these chili paste substitutes, you can still enjoy the spicy kick of harissa even if you don’t have any on hand.
Spice Blend Substitutes
If you’re looking for a spice blend substitute for harissa paste, there are several options to choose from. One of the easiest substitutes is chili powder, which can be found in most grocery stores. While chili powder may not be as spicy as harissa paste, you can increase the heat level by adding a little cayenne pepper or red chili flakes to the chili powder.
Another option is smoked paprika, which has a smoky flavor similar to some varieties of harissa paste. However, it may need some cayenne or red pepper flakes added to increase the spice level. Sumac is a citrusy spice that can also be used as a harissa paste substitute, but it should be mixed with chili powder or smoked paprika to balance out the citrus flavor.
To any of these spice blend substitutes, you can also add caraway seeds, dried lemon zest, and/or coriander seeds to increase the flavor and customize to your tastes. To increase the spice level, add some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
If you want a more neutral base for your harissa paste substitute, sambal oelek is a good option. It’s a chili paste made from chilies with a small amount of vinegar, water, and salt. While it may not have the same spiced nuance as harissa paste, you can add cumin, coriander, and caraway seeds to sambal oelek until you reach the flavor profile you prefer.
Homemade Harissa Paste Substitute Recipes
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to make your own harissa paste substitute, here are two recipes that you can try at home:
Recipe 1: Spicy Tomato Paste Substitute
– 1/4 cup tomato paste
– 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
– 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
– 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1/8 teaspoon salt
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
1. In a small bowl, mix together the tomato paste, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, ground cumin, garlic powder, and salt until well combined.
2. Gradually add in the olive oil, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches a smooth and spreadable consistency.
3. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. If you prefer a spicier paste, add more cayenne pepper or chili flakes.
Recipe 2: Roasted Red Pepper and Chili Paste Substitute
– 2 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled
– 2 dried chili peppers, rehydrated in hot water for 10 minutes
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
1. In a blender or food processor, combine the roasted red peppers, rehydrated chili peppers, minced garlic, ground cumin, smoked paprika, and salt.
2. Blend on high speed until the mixture becomes a smooth paste.
3. Gradually add in the olive oil while blending until the mixture reaches a thick and spreadable consistency.
4. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. If you prefer a spicier paste, add more chili peppers or cayenne pepper.
Both of these homemade harissa paste substitutes can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Use them as you would regular harissa paste in your favorite recipes for a spicy and flavorful kick!
Tips For Using Harissa Paste Substitutes In Your Cooking
Here are some tips for using harissa paste substitutes in your cooking:
1. Choose the right substitute: When selecting a substitute for harissa paste, consider the other flavors in your recipe. If you’re looking for a milder flavor, go for tomato paste or chili oil. If you want something spicier, try sambal oelek or hot sauce.
2. Adjust the amount: Harissa paste is quite potent, so you’ll need to adjust the amount of your substitute accordingly. Start with a small amount and add more as needed.
3. Experiment with spices: Harissa paste contains a blend of spices, so if you’re using a substitute that doesn’t have the same blend, consider adding some of your own spices. Cumin, coriander, and paprika are all good options.
4. Consider the texture: Harissa paste has a thick, paste-like consistency. If you’re using a substitute that has a thinner consistency, like hot sauce, you may need to adjust the other ingredients in your recipe to compensate.
5. Taste and adjust: As with any ingredient substitution, it’s important to taste your dish as you go and adjust the flavors as needed. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the right balance of flavors for your taste buds.
By following these tips, you can successfully use harissa paste substitutes in your cooking and still achieve delicious and flavorful dishes.