You may be using this paste with a wide assortment of dishes. But have you considered what you would use instead if you ever run out of it? Well, if that was ever a problem, we will answer you with the ten best harissa paste substitutes from our feature this time.

  1. Hot Sauce
  2. Sriracha Sauce
  3. Gochujang
  4. Piri-Piri Sauce
  5. Sambal Oelek
  6. Nam Prik Pao (Thai Red Chili Paste)
  7. Berbere
  8. Bomba Calabrese
  9. Thai Red Curry Paste
  10. DIY Homemade Harissa Paste

Replacement options in any type of food will not give the exact flavor. But still, some options are good enough to go. Likewise, the harissa paste substitutes include:

So, are you prepared to see how these alternatives are going to resemble the flavor of your ever loved hot condiment? Read till the end to check how many of your favorites can replace harissa!

The 10 Best Harissa Paste Substitutes

Replicating the flavor of one of the world’s spiciest condiments is not an easy task. In fact, choosing this list became a bit of a challenge for us too. However, we managed to come up with the best harissa paste substitutes that can give the closest flavor approximation. So here it goes!

Best Harissa Paste Substitutes - SpiceRally

01- Hot Sauce

Hot sauce is actually a very familiar condiment that can be found in many stores and many homes-obviously. Since harissa is mainly about heat, hot sauce is one of the top candidates on the list of harissa paste replacements, even though the consistency is different.

Whatever hot sauce you have at home is good enough to go. And if you are planning to buy it from the store when the original product is unavailable, make sure you check with the heat level as some hot sauces are way too spicier than harissa.

This fiery sauce comes in a variety of flavors and usually contains hot red chilies, spices, and other additives. Thus, when adding to your food in place of harissa, you will have to keep them all in mind.

02- Sriracha Sauce

Sriracha sauce is another top-of-the-list condiment that could closely replicate the taste of harissa. Like hot sauce, the consistency can be different. But, Sriracha’s pepper and garlicky undertones can match so well with that of harissa.

It is basically a blend of chili peppers, garlic, salt, sugar, and distilled vinegar. However, when you replace the original product with this, adding similar amounts from ground coriander, cumin, and caraway is recommended for a similar flavor approximation.

Most Sriracha sauce brands that you buy would have more garlicky flavor and sweetness that counterbalances spiciness. Therefore, you can add some cayenne pepper or hot paprika to get the desired heat, as in harissa.

Harissa paste is actually something more than what you really know. We have a complete article on the spices used to make this super flavorful condiment. Click here if you are nosy about learning the facts!

03- Gochujang

This is the Korean red chili paste that marks its place as one of the hottest condiments in the world, just like harissa. The base flavor of Gochujang is built upon the usage of Korean red chili flakes, miso paste, and a sweetener.

Although Gochujang’s taste could not exactly resemble that of harissa, it can still save your dish. Specifically, you can use this in place of the original product when you need to make certain vegetable and chicken dishes. And this can even go well as a dip.

04- Piri-Piri Sauce

Piri-Piri, also known as Peri-Peri sauce, is a close relative of harissa as they both come from the same cuisine. This condiment is widely available in stores, and maybe you are having this in your kitchen cabinet right now!

So the good news is that Piri-Piri can be a good substitute for harissa. The consistency can be different again as Piri-Piri is much saucier than the paste we wish to replace. 

But, this sauce is a combination of crushed Piri-Piri chilies (also known as African bird’s eye chilies), salt, garlic, oil, and lemon that gives a very similar taste to harissa. However, the heat level could vary depending on the brand you buy or have. So, you may have to adjust the spiciness accordingly.

05- Sambal Oelek

Apparently, different types of hot chili pastes that represent various countries would essentially be a good harissa paste substitute. Likewise, Sambal Oelek, the traditional Indonesian chili paste, can be used in place of the original product.

This chili paste is typically a blend of crushed Thai red peppers mixed with vinegar and salt. Some recipes include garlic and lime juice, and this condiment usually has a very strong punch. 

However, the flavor elements of the dry spice trio- coriander, cumin, and caraway could be lacking from Sambal Oelek. Therefore, when you need to go for a replacement, you will necessarily have to add a bit from those three spices to balance the flavor.

If you would like to learn more about Sambal Oelek and its ingredients, then you shouldn’t be missing our article right here!

06- Nam Prik Pao (Thai Red Chili Paste)

This Thai red chili paste could be a good option to save a dish or two if in case you cannot find the original paste when you go shopping.

Most of the time, Thai red chili paste comes together with red chili peppers, a sweetener, garlic, and fish derivatives. And, these fish or seafood derivatives gives a powerful umami kick to this relish. 

However, since harissa is typically vegan-friendly, vegans may find it a problem to use Thai chili paste as it could contain ingredients like shrimp. Other than that, this could still be a suitable replacement, and you can adjust the heat by cayenne pepper or hot paprika if you find it less spicy.

Cooking requires confident guesswork and improvisation – experimentation and substitution, dealing with failure and uncertainty in a creative way

Paul Theroux

07- Berbere

Berbere is a subtle combination of several spices which are hot and zesty. It usually has two or more types of red chili powders. Ingredients used in harissa like coriander and cumin are also a part of berbere, making it another companion in need when you don’t have the original paste.

Most berbere recipes are hotter, while some come with mild hotness. And the consistency is entirely different from the paste we are talking about here. Therefore, when you need to substitute the original paste with berbere, we suggest mixing the necessary amount of this spice mix with some olive oil. 

In addition, for a closer flavor approximation, you can adjust the spiciness as desired and add some lime juice and garlic powder if necessary.

08- Bomba Calabrese

This name might not be very familiar to you. But, we undoubtedly recommend this as another good substitute for harissa. Bomba Calabrese is a traditional Italian hot sauce spread packed with the punch of hot Calabrian red chili peppers, vegetables, and other flavorings.

The heat of this condiment can obviously replicate the flavor of harissa. But, the taste can be quite different since Bomba Calabrese is based on several mushrooms and other vegetables rather than spices. 

Nevertheless, it is very flavorful and can be used in place of the original product to accompany certain seafood, egg, and vegetable dishes. And it can justify the heaty kick you expect as you get from the harissa paste.

09- Thai Red Curry Paste

It seems as if many Thai condiments are coming to save the recipes that are going to be bypassed without harissa- isn’t that so? So, of course, the popular Thai Red Curry Paste should not be forgotten!

This condiment is spicy but will not blow your head off like the original paste would do. But, the flavor can be adjusted with a few additions of a hot pepper powder when this remains the only option. 

Still, it contains red chili pepper and garlic as in the original product, which will be replaced. So, you can specifically use it with meat dishes like chicken or beef.

Did you know that just like Thai red curry paste can substitute harissa paste, harissa paste also could be used as an alternative for red curry paste? So, to learn 11 of the best red curry paste replacements, read our article here.

10- DIY Homemade Harissa Paste

When nothing appears to be working- but, if you have some hot red chili peppers remaining in your spice cabinet, why do you lament over something you don’t have? Just go ahead and assemble your own homemade batch! 

You will have to collect a few simple ingredients like hot red chili peppers, dry spices (cumin, coriander, and caraway), and a few other flavorings. All of them will go together into the food processor and make a DIY harissa paste in no time!

So, if you want to try this, click here as we have a step-by-step guide to making your own delicious homemade harissa paste recipe.

Wrapping Up

Not every hot or spicy condiment can replicate the taste of this distinctively flavored paste. But, our list is the closest flavor approximation that you can find on the internet.

In fact, all these harissa paste substitutes were listed after extensive research, although they cannot give the exact taste as in the original product. So, refer to the list of these ten alternatives well and pick the easiest option for you!

Write A Comment

fifteen + nineteen =