This easy spicy harissa aioli recipe takes minutes to make and is the perfect dip for french fries or a tasty condiment for sandwiches or burgers. It’s so versatile, you will be shocked at how many ways you can use this harissa mayo sauce. And, it’s made with only 4 ingredients!
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What Is Harissa Aioli
We became slightly addicted to aioli when living in Spain. Aioli is often referred to as a garlic mayonnaise. Aioli is common in Spain and is particularly common in Catalan dishes. We learned how to make it properly at an artisan olive oil producer in the Costa Brava, where we used to live.
Traditional aioli is made with olive oil, garlic, and salt. That’s it. It’s macerated, by hand, using a mortar and pestle until it becomes creamy. It’s labor intensive to make it the right way.
That’s why this spicy harissa mayo uses mayo as a replacement for traditional aioli. I am always looking for ways to make things both yummy and easy, even if that means it’s not traditional. In this case, this recipe for aioli is not traditional just like it’s not a traditional Moroccan recipe. It’s just Moroccan-inspired. Another tasty way to use harissa.
What Kind Of Harissa To Use For Aioli
Harissa is a spicy Moroccan chili paste that is served on the side of all sorts of Moroccan dishes. It’s a way to had some heat to a cuisine that is not actually spicy itself. We fell in love with harissa while traveling in Morocco and try to incorporate it into lots of dishes at home.
There are two types of harissa I use when cooking Moroccan recipes. Mina is one of my favorite harissa sauces. It comes in a glass jar and is found in a lot of supermarkets in the US. I also like Le Phare du Cap Bon, which comes in a tube. This is commonly found in our Irish supermarkets and in the UK. Both can be found on Amazon:
The Mina harissa is more of a sauce than a paste. This is why it’s important to add any harissa you use a bit at a time to judge its spiciness and adjust for how much heat you want. In this case, if you accidentally add too much, add a bit more mayo.
How To Serve Harissa Mayo
Any food or dish that pairs with mayo, pairs with harissa aioli. Our favorite way is to serve it with shoestring french fries. I sprinkle the fries with a little salt and some paprika before serving.
We also use this on burgers, as a sandwich spread, even as a dip. In Catalonia, we use aioli on sausage and pepper sandwiches and as a toping for Spanish rice dishes. There’s no reason why you can’t mix a little harissa into Spanish dishes.
Ingredients For Spicy Harissa Aioli
There are a variety of ways to make this harissa aioli recipe. You can start by making the aioli from scratch, like the Spanish do. But, I prefer to take a quicker route. Making a harissa mayo with just 4 ingredients makes this a super easy recipe with so many versatile uses.
The base of this dip is mayonnaise, which I know is kind of cheating. But, again, this is an easy dip! Then, harissa. Always add harissa carefully. There are a variety of different brands of harissa paste, some are spicier than others. Start with a tablespoon, make the dip, taste, and add more if needed. It’s always easier to add more harissa than to take spice away.
The ingredients include the zest and the juice of one large lemon. I always end up adding about 3/4 of the lemon and then adjusting the taste and adding more lemon if needed. A good dose of salt helps to bring all of the flavors together.
Check out some of our other Moroccan-inspired recipes with harissa:
How To Make This Harissa Aioli Recipe
Add the lemon zest and lemon juice to a small mixing bowl. Next, add the salt and stir to dilute the salt into the liquid. Add the harissa and mayonnaise and stir to blend.
Taste and adjust whether you want it more or less spicy. If you want it less spicy, add more mayo. If you want it spicier, add more harissa. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Serve with fresh vegetables like cucumber or sliced red pepper. Serve alongside shoestring fries. Or, add it to a burger or sandwich in place of regular mayo. The aioli can be saved in the fridge for 4-5 days in a sealed container.
- Juice of one large lemon
- Zest of one lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 tablespoons of harissa
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Add the lemon zest and lemon juice to a small mixing bowl.
- Add the salt and stir to dilute the salt into the liquid.
- Add the harissa and mayonnaise and stir to blend.
- Taste and adjust whether you want it more or less spicy. If you want it less spicy, add more mayo.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Please see the notes about using harissa in a recipe like this
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 316mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 1g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.
FAQs – Spicy Harissa Aioli
Compared to other chili pastes made with jalapenos, Scotch bonnet, or habanero peppers, harissa is a “mild” spicy. On the Scoville scale, the system for measuring heat levels, harissa scores low, around 4,000 to 5,000.
Harissa’s main taste characteristic is a rich, smokey flavor more than spicy. You will also find elements of garlic and citrus flavors.