Man have I got a banger of an amazing sauce for y’all! This harissa aioli is everything I love a sauce to be- creamy, slightly spicy, a little tangy and absolutely addictive. It is made with just a handful of ingredients and can be used on almost anything- from sandwiches to rice bowls to French Fries. Let’s talk about how to make it!

fork with roasted sweet potato cubes dipped in harissa aioli

I’ve said this before, but whenever someone asks me “Erica what is a food you DON’T like?” I’ve always answered mayonnaise. But here’s the thing. I use mayo in my cooking all the time. So it’s not that I don’t like mayonnaise, it’s that mayo needs a serious glow-up to become aioli. Ya feel me? So, that’s what we’re doing today- adding irresistible smoky-spicy harissa, a squeeze of lemon, dash of smoked paprika and finely grated garlic to make a condiment that is out of this world.

bowl with creamy spicy harissa aioli

What is harissa?

Harissa is a North African chili paste made from roasted red peppers, coriander seeds, various hot chile peppers, garlic and olive oil. It is spicy, smoky and flavorful condiment used often in African and Mediterranean cuisines.

Why harissa aioli?

Adding a creamy ingredient like mayo to spicy harissa paste helps tame the heat and makes a lovely, balanced aioli recipe.

ingredients needed for the recipe: garlic, harissa, smoked paprika, lemon, mayo

What you will need to make this spicy harissa aioli:

Harissa paste: nowadays you will likely be able to find harissa at any normal grocery store. (I got mine at Kroger) It will be in either the international foods aisle next to the other hot sauces like sriracha and chili garlic sauce OR it will be in the condiments aisle with mustard, mayo, ketchup and the like.

Mayo: I love using a high-quality mayo made with extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil but any mayo will work!

Smoked paprika: smoked paprika helps reinforce the smoky flavor of this sauce. Find it in the spices aisle. If you can’t find smoked, regular paprika or sweet paprika will work fine.

Garlic: opt for fresh garlic if you can, I love grating it on a microplane so that it’s almost like a paste that infuses the entire sauce with wonderful flavor.

Lemon: a squeeze of fresh lemon juice provides the acidity and brightness to balance this aioli.

How to make:

small bowl with the ingredients in the recipe

In a small bowl combine the mayo, harissa, smoked paprika, garlic and lemon. Whisk into until smooth and creamy. Alternatively, you could use an immersion blender or food processor to blend into a smooth aioli.

small bowl with whisked harissa mayo

If you do not have mayo on hand you can easily make your own! Here’s how:

Place one room temperature egg yolk in a food processor. With the motor running, start adding 1 cup of neutral flavored oil like non-GMO canola oil or avocado oil, a few drops at a time, while continuously blending the mixture. When the mixture begins to thicken you can gradually increase the speed of oil addition into a steady stream. Once you’ve added all of the oil, whisk in one teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar and a big pinch of salt. Ta-da! Homemade creamy aioli- AKA mayonnaise in no time.

Use this glorious sauce as:

  • a dunking sauce for roasted sweet potatoes, sweet potato fries or regular seasoned fries
  • a sauce to dip chicken fingers or chicken tenders into
  • a drizzle on rice bowls
  • a spread to top burgers or lather on sandwiches
  • the salad dressing base for a creamy, spicy salad dressing
  • an accompaniment for fusion tacos, burritos or quesadillas
  • the mix-in for deviled eggs to add amazing flavor and spice to the filling mixture
  • a marinade for shrimp, chicken or salmon
bowl with harissa aioli and a spoon

FAQs

Can I adjust the spice level?

Yes. The spice comes from harissa, so if you want less spicy use less harissa (start with a teaspoon and work up) and if you like it spicaaayyy, add more harissa!

How long does this last in the fridge?

This is good in the fridge for up to 10 days. Store in an airtight container or mason jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Is this vegan?

To make this recipe vegan, use an egg-free or vegan mayo (most mayo is made with egg yolks or whole eggs)

If you love this harissa aioli you’ll love these other homemade sauces:

Watch how to make this harissa aioli as part of a full meal:

If you make this recipe, it would mean a lot to me if you left a comment and star rating! I also love seeing your creations on Instagram and TikTok so don’t forget to tag me!

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bowl with harissa aioli and a whisk

Harissa Aioli

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  • Author: Erica
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: N/A
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 2/3 cup aioli 1x
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Whisk
  • Cuisine: African
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Quick and easy harissa aioli is a creamy, spicy sauce that adds a boost of flavor to burgers, sandwiches, rice bowls, eggs, French fries, roasted vegetables and more.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pinches of salt and pepper, to taste, if needed
  • 13 tablespoons water, if needed to adjust consistency

Instructions

In a small bowl combine the mayo, harissa, smoked paprika, garlic and lemon. Whisk until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with a pinch each of salt and pepper.

Depending on what you’re using this aioli on you may want to adjust the consistency with a tablespoon or so of water. If I’m using this as a dipping sauce I leave it as is, but if I’m using it as a drizzle on a rice bowl or similar, I like to thin it out with a little bit of water.


Notes

I like to use a microplane to grate the garlic so that it almost a paste consistency and blends evenly throughout the sauce.

Refer to above blog post for answers to frequently asked questions and ideas for how to use harissa aioli.

Nutrition information is an estimate and may vary slightly.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: one tablespoon
  • Calories: 79
  • Sugar: 0.3 g
  • Sodium: 89.3 mg
  • Fat: 8.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.6 g
  • Fiber: 0.1 g
  • Protein: 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 4.7 mg

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