Harissa is one of my favorite spice blends and this recipe uses both a harissa spice rub and a harissa paste on wings. We tested these harissa baked wings against our go-to smoked wings. It was a toss up for best flavor, but the baked wings were definitely easier. Both great for game days!
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Harissa Spice Rub vs Harissa Paste
Harissa is a North African blend of spices that typically includes smoked chile peppers, cumin, coriander, caraway, cinnamon and salt & pepper.
Frequently you will find it for purchase as a paste rather than a dry spice blend. Just know that the heat level of the harissa pastes vary quite a bit. Some are scorching hot.
I prefer more complexity of the chile blends rather than just overpowering heat, so the harissa paste that I make at home involves 7 different chile peppers, ranging from mild to very hot.
Harissa can also be purchased online as a dry spice blend, or you can make your own DIY harissa spice blend (see below). The dry spice blend is great as a rub on proteins and vegetables. It is a go-to blend for me for sheet pan dinners.
The paste is preferable if you are making a finishing sauce or if you want to use it as a side condiment for dipping vegetables in. It’s also great as a topping for quinoa and various grains!
DIY Harissa Spice Blend
Of course you can always make your own harissa spice blend. The peppers may vary but harissa always includes cumin, coriander and carway. Here is my favorite blend:
- 2 Tbsp ground cumin,
- 2 Tbsp ground caraway,
- 2 Tbsp ground coriander,
- 2 Tbsp cinnamon,
- 1 cup Powdered chile peppers (mixed)
- salt (to taste)
Baked Wings vs Smoked Wings
Wings are incredibly popular, especially for athletic event watching. It doesn’t seem to matter how you make them as long as you provide a big plate of them!
My husband and I did a little contest to see who could make the tastiest wings. I chose baking the wings, simply because it was the easiest. I used the harissa spice blend as a rub and baked them on a sheet pan for 25 minutes. Easy!
I did make an additional harissa sauce to drizzle over the top after they were done. Using a prepared harissa paste made that process very easy also, but be warned that it also makes for messy eating.
My husband smoked his wings with a garlic rub and then dusted them with parmesan while they were still warm.
Both were awesome. Since I was the single judge the taste test went to the harissa baked wings of course. I will say however, that if you prefer non-spicy food then go for the parmesan-garlic dusted wings.
The best way to please your guests of course is to provide both! As long as you have a couple of cooks in the house that works great.
You can make your own homemade harissa sauce or purchase it. Harissa also comes in a powdered form that you can use as a rub. Just whisk together all the ingredients for the powdered harissa spice blend
There are a number of recipes on this site that use harissa rubs or harissa pastes. One of my favorites is this Mexican casserole recipe , but enter harissa into the search bar on this site for many more!
Recipe for Harissa Baked Wings
Harissa Baked Wings
- 22 chicken wings
- 5 Tbsp harissa spice see below for DIY spice blend
- 4-5 Tbsp harissa paste
- 4 Tbsp butter
- ¼ cup honey (optional)
- 2 Tbsp ground cumin toasted if possible
- 2 Tbsp ground caraway toasted if possible
- 2 Tbsp ground coriander toasted if possible
- 2 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 cup Powdered chile peppers I used chipotle, but use your favorite
- salt (to taste)
The Spice Blend
- Mix all spice blend ingredients together thoroughly in a bowl.2 Tbsp ground cumin, 2 Tbsp ground caraway, 2 Tbsp ground coriander, 2 Tbsp cinnamon, 1 cup Powdered chile peppers, salt (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Place some parchment paper over a sheet pan
- In a large bowl, combine chicken wings with harissa spice blend and rub together thoroughly with your hands. Spread wings on the parchment papered sheet pan, leaving a bit of room between each one. Bake for about 20 minutes22 chicken wings, 5 Tbsp harissa spice
- Remove the wings from the oven after 20 minutes and turn them over. Bake for another 10 minutes.
- While wings are finishing baking, make a harissa sauce by adding the harissa paste and the butter together over medium heat. Add honey if desired to make it more sticky. I didn’t think it needed the honey, but if you prefer a sweeter, stickier sauce, add a bit of honey.4-5 Tbsp harissa paste, 4 Tbsp butter, 1/4 cup honey (optional)
- Remove wings from the oven and drizzle the harissa sauce over the wings. Serve with a tzatziki or dipping sauce of your choice.
Watch the Step by Step Video for More Details