Harissa Tomato Sauce

Spiced bite…

Harissa tomato sauce is more than spicy ketchup. There’s a real robust spice here – a mix of cumin, coriander, and caraway provide an earthy and fresh zing. We use sambal oelek as a base for the sauce instead of going with freshly ground dried chilies like a a typical homemade harissa. It provides the needed tomato sauce base while packing plenty of heat. You can pick up sambal oelek in most grocery stores or online.

Use harissa tomato sauce as a dipper – it’s delicious with fresh or toasted pita, fried foods (like mozzarella sticks), and French fries. It’s also an interesting option as a pasta sauce for those that enjoy spicier fair.

harissa tomato sauce

Harissa Tomato Sauce

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  • 3 tomatoes large, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 onion medium, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sambal oelek
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground caraway
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a pan over medium heat, heat the oil, then add the onions, sambal oelek,  garlic, cumin, caraway, coriander, and chili powder. Stir the onions and spices, until the onions are softened/translucent (approximately 5 minutes). 
  • Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Allow the mix to simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. 
  • Remove the pan from the heat and cover. Allow the ingredients to rest, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • Uncover and pour the mix into a blender or large bowl (if using a hand held food processor). Blend/process the mix until smooth. 
  • Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or for best flavor allow the harissa tomato sauce to chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld. 
Did you make this?Mention @PepperScale or tag #PepperScale so we can see what you made!

See more of our spicy sauces…

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on January 20, 2021 to include new content.
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