Oven-Roasted Harissa Chicken

A platter of harissa chicken.

The marinade for this rich harissa chicken recipe is made with dried spices, red chiles and Greek yogurt. Marinate the chicken overnight for the best results. The next day, roast the chicken until it’s cooked through. This easy dinner takes a little planning, but the results are worth it.

roasted bell pepper and paper bag

I’m kind of in a funk right now. Every time I sit down to write, I get distracted, or think that my theme is trite and not worthy of the keystrokes it takes to choke out another sentence. Even for something as amazing as this Oven-Roasted Harissa Chicken.

Is that weird? Take this oven-roasted harissa chicken. When I made it (using the recipe from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook) I was utterly swooning. I was giddy with the aromas and having serious, caveman-esque fantasies about devouring one of these succulent thighs.

peppers onions and spice in a pan.

Then I sat down to write about it — and nothing. I couldn’t get the words out. They all sounded overdone. Writer’s block?  Maybe. Thing is, I’ve come back to this post four or five times now and I’m still having the same issue.  It can’t be the subject matter — I mean this chicken is tender and meaty with a little heat.  It’s what my love child would taste like in chicken form.   Too graphic?

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spices and lemon zest in a blender.

Ingredients for the harissa marinade and chicken:

  • Roasted Red Pepper
  • Whole Coriander Seeds
  • Whole Cumin Seeds
  • Whole Caraway Seeds
  • Olive Oil
  • Yellow Onion
  • Garlic
  • Mild Fresh Red Chiles
  • Crushed Red Chile Flakes
  • Lemon Zest & Juice
  • Tomato Paste
  • Kosher Salt
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Red Onion
  • Lemon Slices
  • Chicken Thighs
  • Cilantro
blended harissa marinade.

Well, I suspect you’d  have a similar reaction.   And unlike so many chef-y recipes that go on for four pages, this one is do-able even in my little kitchen.  Make the harissa marinade the night before and let  the chicken pieces soak in it.  The yogurt helps to tenderize the chicken and the bell pepper, chilies and spices give it a tangy heat.

harissa in a bowl with yogurt

The next day, place the chicken on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle with some thinly sliced red onion and fresh lemon and roast.  

chicken marinating in harissa

Roasting harissa chicken:

  1. After the chicken has marinated overnight, preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. Arrange the chicken thighs on a large, rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Scatter with slices of red onion and sliced lemons.
  4. Roast for 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce the oven temperature to 350° F and cook for an additional 12-15 minutes.
  6. Turn on the broiler and broil the tops for 2-3 minutes just to get some color.
  7. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.
oven-roasted harissa chicken on a platter.

And look at the result.  I mean, it’s gorgeous, right?  And the aroma!!!  If it were up to me, this would be a scratch-n-sniff website!  Limitations of technology…

What to serve with roasted harissa chicken:

  • Steamed Jasmine Rice
  • Couscous
  • Crispy Roasted Potatoes
  • Buttered Noodles
Serving harissa chicken on a platter.

More chicken thigh recipes:

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Harissa chicken with lemon slices.
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5 from 5 votes

Oven-Roasted Harissa Chicken

The yogurt marinade tenderizes the chicken and gives it a wonderful flavor!
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword chicken thighs, harissa
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6


  • 1 red bell pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds
  • ½ teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ yellow onion coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic coursely chopped
  • 2 mild fresh red chilies seeded and coarsely chopped
  • teaspoon red chili flakes
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt
  • 6 chicken thighs bone in, skin on, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 lemon thinly sliced into 6 rounds.
  • 1 small red onion peeled and thinly sliced into wedges
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place whole bell pepper on a baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes or until skin blackens and flesh is tender. Remove from the oven and slip into a small paper bag. Roll up the end of the bag and let the pepper steam.
  • In a small skillet toast the coriander, cumin and caraway seeds until fragrant, and beginning to sizzle and pop, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind or pulse to a powder.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the onion, garlic and fresh chilies. Cook 6-8 minutes until fragrant and slightly browned.
  • Peel the skin and remove the seeds from the bell pepper. Add the bell pepper flesh to a blender. Add the spices, the onion mixture, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and zest, tomato paste and salt.
  • Pulse until well combined. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the Greek yogurt and stir.
  • Place the chicken thighs in a gallon zip-top baggie. Add the harissa mixture. Squeeze most of the air out of the baggie and seal it. Work the harissa and chicken together until the thighs are well coated. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 425.
  • Place the chicken thighs, well spaced, on a large baking sheet. Scatter the onion pieces over and around the chicken. Top each chicken thigh with a slice of the lemon and roast for 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and cook for another 12-15 minutes, until the chicken is almost cooked. Then, place it under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to give it extra color and cook it through completely. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro just before serving.
  • Delicious with jasmine rice, couscous or crispy roasted potatoes.


Calories: 359kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 118mg | Sodium: 804mg | Potassium: 370mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 495IU | Vitamin C: 27.5mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1.8mg

“Pin It” For Later!

Want a twist on your old chicken thighs recipe? Easy Oven-Roasted Harissa Chicken is full of spice and flavor! Homemade harissa marinade over juicy baked chicken thighs is an easy dinner. #chickenthighs #easychickenthighs #easychickendinner #chickenrecipe #harissa #ottolenghi #middleeasternfood #middleeasternchicken #homemadeharissa #easychickenrecipe

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  1. 5 stars
    Your photography is great! Definitely love seeing recipes that include harissa – it is one of my favorite ingredients to add to dishes lately. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much! We love harissa too. I hope you enjoy this!

  2. Pat Stoddard says:

    I have a six pound chicken thawing in the frig. If I cut up the chicken, do you think this recipe would work for the breast meat as well? It sounds delicious.

    1. Absolutely. I just happen to be fond of dark meat.

  3. footnotes and finds says:

    5 stars
    yum! great step by step photos!