This hot harissa vinaigrette is a bright, bold dressing perfect for leafy green salads, grain bowls, sandwiches and wraps, or drizzled over roasted meats and veggies!
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Why You’ll Love This Harissa Dressing Recipe
I started thinking about this recipe when I saw a harissa dressing on the menu at Cava, a Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant with some super tasty, fresh options that I really enjoy.
I loved the idea, so I decided to make my own version.
With just a few simple ingredients, harissa vinaigrette is the perfect condiment for a wide variety of dishes.
It's easy to adjust the heat level of this dressing by adding a bit of cayenne for a spicier dressing or using mild harissa paste for anyone who is sensitive to spicy food.
Plus, it's delicious! With smoky, peppery harissa, bright white wine vinegar and rich olive oil, the dressing is balanced and boldly flavorful.
It's also quick and easy to make. Measure the ingredients, put them in a jar, shake, and you're ready to serve!
- Why You’ll Love This Harissa Dressing Recipe
- What You’ll Need for Harissa Salad Dressing
- Recommended Equipment
- How to Make Harissa Vinaigrette
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Variations and Substitutions
- How to Store
- How to Serve Spicy Harissa Vinaigrette
- Expert Tips
- More Dressings You'll Love
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
What You’ll Need for Harissa Salad Dressing
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- Harissa Paste: You can typically buy harissa paste at your local grocery store. I was able to locate it at all major grocery stores near me, including Ralph's, Vons, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's. If you can't find it locally, you can also buy it online.
- Olive Oil: It's not necessary to use a super high-quality extra virgin olive oil here, but something that tastes good to you is important because there are so few ingredients in this recipe.
- White Wine Vinegar: This adds a super bright, punchy flavor to the vinaigrette. If you don't have any, try using red wine vinegar instead.
- Cumin: This adds an extra element of savoriness and smokiness to the dressing. It's a bit nutty, earthy, and lightly sweet in flavor. If you can't find cumin, try subbing in coriander.
Glass Mason Jar with Lid or Bowl
How to Make Harissa Vinaigrette
Step One: To make harissa dressing, measure the ingredients and add them to a jar with a lid or a small bowl.
Step Two: Tightly seal the lid and shake until well combined. If using a bowl, whisk the ingredients together until they have emulsified. You can use a whisk or a fork for this.
Step Three: Taste for seasoning and serve!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Harissa is a spicy, smoky, slightly sweet North African condiment made from hydrated dried red chiles, roasted red peppers, garlic, citrus, oil, and spices like cumin, caraway, and coriander. The ingredients are then blended until smooth to create a paste.
Yep. You can mix the harissa powder with oil and water to create a paste to mix with the remaining ingredients. It may be a looser dressing, so add the oil a little at a time to reach the right consistency.
A classic rule of thumb is 3 parts fat to 1 part acid. This is a good place to start, but I also love a more punchy 2 to 1 or even 1 to 1 ratio for a very bold, flavorful vinaigrette.
Both! This vinaigrette is delicious on a cold salad, but it's equally good served over hot potatoes, or on a warm salad or grain bowl.
Variations and Substitutions
Creamy Harissa Dressing: Add a tablespoon or more of Greek yogurt to your dressing for a creamy version.
Sweeter Vinaigrette: You can add a bit of maple syrup or honey to your dressing to make it sweeter. This will also tame the spice of the harissa a bit.
Spicier Harissa Sauce: Different brands of harissa have varying levels of spiciness. If you find your brand isn't as hot as you'd like, add a pinch of cayenne pepper to increase the heat of the dressing.
Lemon Juice: Try adding just a bit of lemon juice for a tangier dressing.
How to Store
Fridge Harissa vinaigrette can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. Because harissa often contains garlic, it's important to make this recipe and use it within a shorter time frame.
Freezer You can freeze this dressing for about 1 month. Be sure to leave extra room in the container for the liquid to expand while freezing. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, or place the jar in a container of warm water to speed up the process.
Reheating While there's no need to reheat this dressing, you can let it come to room temperature if the oil has become solid in the fridge.
You can also put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to speed up the process (without the metal lid, of course). Be sure your container is microwave-safe!
How to Serve Spicy Harissa Vinaigrette
This homemade salad dressing is amazing on more than just a simple green salad! Try it with some of the serving suggestions below:
Roast Chicken: Try spooning this delicious harissa vinaigrette over a simple roast chicken for a big boost of flavor.
Potatoes: If you haven't tried a bold vinaigrette on your roasted or fried potatoes, you're missing out! You can use them on air fryer fingerling potatoes or air fryer smashed potatoes. These sautéed sweet potatoes would be amazing with a spoonful of dressing, too.
Roasted Vegetables: Spicy harissa dressing is so good on roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts and asparagus, these spicy roasted vegetables, or drizzled on this air fryer roasted zucchini and squash.
Bowls: Add harissa vinaigrette to your favorite grain bowls, like this warm grain bowl with goat cheese and greens.
- Taste the dressing before serving. I know this seems like an obvious tip, but not everyone is in the habit of tasting for seasoning before serving, then needing to add more salt, etc. when the meal is already on the table. Give it a taste, add more salt if needed, then serve.
- Make sure to scoop from the bottom. Some harissa, like the jar I bought from Whole Foods, is on the chunkier side and the pieces of red pepper sink to the bottom of the container. I like to grab a spoon and scoop from the bottom so that I'm not just tasting the oil and vinegar on the top.
- Dressing too tart for your taste? I love a super punchy dressing, but if you prefer a somewhat milder flavor, make a honey harissa dressing to tone down the boldness of the vinegar and the harissa paste.
More Dressings You'll Love
Hot Harissa Vinaigrette
- Measure the ingredients and add them to a jar with a lid or a small bowl.
- Tightly seal the lid and shake until well combined. If using a bowl, whisk the ingredients together until they have emulsified. You can use a whisk or a fork for this.
- Taste for seasoning and serve.
- Harissa paste can vary in its level of spice across different brands. If the dressing is not spicy enough for you, add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- If the dressing is too spicy, try adding a bit of honey or more olive oil and vinegar.
- Fridge Harissa vinaigrette can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. Because harissa often contains garlic, it's important to make this recipe and use it within a shorter time frame.
- Freezer You can freeze this dressing for about 3 to 6 months. Be sure to leave extra room in the container for the liquid to expand while freezing. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, or place the jar in a container of warm water to speed up the process.
- Reheating While there's no need to reheat this dressing, you can let it come to room temperature if the oil has become solid in the fridge. You can also place it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.