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This harissa chicken is unbelievably tender, earthy and warming. It’s also super quick and easy too! Perfect for a mid-week meal or when you just don’t have the energy to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
What is it?
Harissa is a North African sauce that originates from Tunisia. It’s made from chillis and a variety of earthy spices giving it a fiery and extremely flavoursome taste.
This recipe combines harissa coated chicken with potatoes, onion, peppers and tomato. It’s cooked as a traybake so it’s super simple and involves very little washing up (hurray!)
While I include directions and ingredients to make your own harissa at home for this recipe, you can buy it from the supermarket, or even on Amazon. However, it is really simple and quick to make at home, you can control how hot you want it, and it lasts for up to a month.
Can I make it in advance?
You can prepare this traybake up to a day in advance and keep covered in the fridge before cooking. The potatoes may become a little discoloured after slicing (although they will cook perfectly fine) but you can avoid this by cutting the potatoes just before cooking.
Cooked leftovers can be kept covered in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheated in the oven. Although it really does taste best when freshly cooked as the chicken may dry out a little in the process. You can also freeze leftovers for up to 3 months. Defrost thoroughly before reheating.
Leftover harissa paste will last for up to 1 month in the fridge if stored in a sterilised jar. To sterilise wash the jar and lid well in hot soapy water and then dry in a warm oven. Pour a layer of olive oil over the paste in between uses to prevent air from getting to the sauce.
What type of potatoes should I use in a traybake?
New or baby potatoes are perfect for a traybake. You can simply halve or quarter them based on the size and they should cook perfectly in the time allocated.
New potatoes are generally waxy, which also means that they will hold their shape while cooking rather than disintegrating into the dish.
While you can use any type of potato, note that a floury variety such as Maris Piper or Russet will be softer and possibly falling apart at the end of the cooking time.
If you don’t have any baby or new potatoes available then an all-purpose variety such as Desiree in the UK or Yukon Gold in the US will work as they should hold their shape but be soft enough after cooking. Just slice them into even pieces around 1.5cm thick so they will cook through properly in the oven.
What can I use leftover harissa paste for?
I’d strongly suggest making more harissa paste than you need for this recipe as it’s so versatile! See above for storage instructions. There are tons of different uses, some examples include:
- On these Mediterranean roasted vegetables – use it in place of the balsamic vinegar.
- Smothered on this garlic pizza bread to add a little heat to a snack or starter.
- In place of the sweet chilli sauce on this easy salmon foil packet dish.
- Instead of the red pesto in this comforting pasta.
- Dolloped onto bubble and squeak to add an extra flavour dimension and warmth
For a full list of ingredients with weights and measurements jump to the printable recipe card.
For the harissa paste (or you can use ready-made paste)
- Dried chillis – see notes above on types of chillis
- Large garlic cloves, crushed or grated
- Extra virgin olive oil – use a good quality oil
- Lemon juice
- Tomato puree (note: In the UK look for tomato puree and in the US look for tomato paste – it’s that thick tomato substance often sold in tubes that you want!)
- Ground coriander
- Ground cumin
- Caraway seeds
- Sweet paprika – or you can alternatively use smoked paprika
For the traybake
- New potatoes – halved or quartered depending on how big they are
- Red Onions – ends and skin removed and cut into quarters
- Red Pepper/capsicum – deseeded and cut into large pieces
- Chicken thighs – bone-in and skin-on
- Cherry tomatoes
- Parsley, finely chopped (optional)
Roasting tin or sheet pan – around 22x28cm (9in x 11in) is a good size for 2 portions (the default recipe). This super-economical set of two available on Amazon is ideal.
How to make it
For more detailed instructions, with recipe tips jump to the printable recipe card.
To make the harissa paste:
- Snip the tops off the chillis and (optional) pour out the seeds and discard them.
- Place the chillis in a bowl. and pour over boiling water. Leave for 30 minutes.
- Drain the chillis and add around a third of them to a food processor or blender. Add the remaining ingredients and season well with salt and pepper. Blitz until you have a smooth paste. Taste and add more chillis until you get the desired level of heat.
To make the traybake:
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- Add the potatoes, onions and red pepper (capsicum) to a large sheet pan or roasting dish.
- Drizzle some olive oil and a little of the harissa paste over the vegetables and potatoes and mix everything together.
- Smear the remaining harissa paste all over the chicken thighs and then nestle them in with the veg and potatoes.
- Bake for 20 minutes before removing and adding the cherry tomatoes to the bake. Return to the oven for a final 30 minutes.
Looking for more great chicken recipes? Try:
- Greek stuffed chicken breasts
- Spinach stuffed chicken
- Chicken and broccoli bake
- Hunter’s chicken
- Healthy honey and mustard chicken
Products that work well for this recipe:
Dawsons Living 2 Piece Traybake and Roaster Set
Magnetic Spice Rack – Set of 12
Russell Hobbs 3-in-1 Blender
This harissa chicken traybake is unbelievably flavoursome & super easy to make. Packed with chicken, potatoes & veg, it’s a perfectly balanced midweek meal.
The default recipe serves 2
Don’t be perturbed by the number of steps and instructions – it’s actually a really simple recipe with very little ‘hands-on’ time (most of the time required is spent hydrating the chillis for the paste or with the dish roasting in the oven)
For the harissa paste (alternatively use 2 tbsp ready-made paste)
This makes enough paste for the recipe, although I strongly recommend multiplying the ingredients and making a few portions!
- 1–4 dried chillis (see note 1 & 1)
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed or grated
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp tomato puree (see note 3)
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
- 1/2 tsp sweet paprika (see note 4)
For the traybake
- 300g / 10oz new/baby potatoes, cut into halves, or quarters if they are large (see note 5)
- 1 large red onion, ends cut off, skin removed and cut into quarters
- 1 red pepper/capsicum, desseded and cut into large slices
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 4 chicken thighs, skin-on and bone-in (around 500g / 1.1lb) (see note 6)
- 150g (around 10) cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Roasting tin or sheet pan – around 22cm x 28cm (9in x 11in) is a good size for 2 portions (the default recipe). This set of 2 available on Amazon is ideal.
To make the harissa paste:
- Use scissors to snip off the top of the chillis and tip out the seeds. (see note 7)
- Place the chillis in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 30 minutes.
- Drain the chillis and transfer around a third of them to a food processor/blender.
- Add the remaining ingredients and season well with salt and pepper. Blitz until you have a smooth paste. Taste and add more chillis until you reach the heat you want.
- If you have made extra harissa paste then transfer to a sterilised jar with a lid (see note 8). Cover with a thin layer of olive oil between uses to prevent air from getting to the paste. Keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.
To make the traybake (start here if using ready-made harissa paste):
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- Place the potatoes, onion and pepper into a deep baking tray and pour over the olive oil. Add 2 tsp harissa paste and mix everything together to coat.
- Spoon 1 tsp of harissa paste on each chicken thigh and rub so it’s covered all over on both sides.
- Nestle the chicken in among the vegetable and potatoes and add a little salt and grate over some black pepper (see note 9). Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove the tray from the oven and add the cherry tomatoes. Shake gently and place back in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Scatter the parsley over the traybake and serve.
- Type of chillis – If you don’t have a wide selection available you can buy some generic dried chilli from Amazon. However, if you want to go the authentic route, and you can manage to get your hands on dried Baklouti peppers then this is the traditional pepper used in harissa. They are also quite large and fairly mild. An alternative to Baklouti is Mexican dried Guajillo chillis (available on Amazon) as they are also large and again, fairly mild.
- The reason for such a wide variation in the number of chillis needed is because there is such a broad spectrum of heat depending on which chillis you use. Around 2-3 works for me (using generic, small red chillis)
- In the UK you’ll need to look for tomato puree and in the US look for tomato paste – it’s the very thick tomato paste that you can buy in tubes or small pots that you need!
- You can use smoked paprika instead – I just like the extra sweet notes that sweet paprika brings.
- If you don’t have new/baby potatoes then an all-purpose variety such as Desiree in the UK or Yukon gold potatoes will work well – as floury varieties (such as Maris Piper or Russet) may break apart in the tray. However, you can technically use any type of potato you like – just make sure to slice to around 2-3cm thick.
- I don’t recommend using chicken breast for this recipe as it will result in much drier meat. If you do want to use chicken breast however then add it for only the last 20 minutes of baking. If you use thighs that are skinless and boneless then also add these for just the last 20 minutes of cooking time to prevent them from overcooking.
- If you like things very hot then you can skip the step of tipping out the seeds (and I’m sure this suggestion will make many chefs shudder). However, the seeds hold most of the heat in chillis so this will make it a little more palatable for many.
- To sterilise a jar first wash it really well with soapy water, including the lid. Then transfer the jar and lid to a warm oven to dry. You can also freeze the harissa for up to 3 months. Stir well to mix if it has separated when defrosted.
- If you have seasoned the harissa paste well then you may not need to add much seasoning.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Tunisian
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 605
- Fat: 32g
- Carbohydrates: 35g
- Protein: 40g
Keywords: tunisian, north african, dinner, chicken, oven, traybake, easy, hot, spicy