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Best Homemade Harissa Sauce: Low Carb

Best Homemade Harissa Sauce: Low Carb
Home » Low Carb Lifestyle » Low carb sauces » Harissa, Romesco and Chimichurri

Protein, fat and vegetables are the staples of most of the low carb and slow carb (and keto) diets. A perfect way to add flavor to these staples is to use a robust spice or sauce. A harissa paste or harissa spice blend is one of my favorite sauces that adds flavor, whether you are low carb or not!

Bowl of harissa hummus with side of toasted pita bread.
Harissa hummus with toasted pita bread

Jump to: RECIPE | What is Harissa | Other Low Carb Sauces

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Popular Low Carb Sauces

If you are not used to cooking whole foods, the protein world of a low carb diet can get monotonous very quickly.  

Even if you don’t follow a low carb diet, it is fun to explore the world of enhancing flavor with robust, unique sauces.

Romesco Sauce, Chimichurri Sauce, or Harissa sauces are a great place to start, and here’s why:

  • Classic sauces that have stood the test of time
  • They can introduce you to some global cuisines without intimidating recipes
  • Compliant with a wide range of diets
  • No sugar, but still robust flavor
  • Easy to make with readily available ingredients

Low Carb Harissa Sauce

Harissa is a wonderful North African sauce or condiment that is used to flavor many different kinds of dishes.  It is frequently used to flavor couscous and grilled dishes.  It is also used as a relish or condiment with all kinds of proteins.

Salmon topped with harissa sauce
Salmon topped with harissa sauce

You can make your own harissa sauce with the recipe below. Sometimes however, a powdered harissa spice blend is a better option (i.e., when using rubs on sheet pan dinners).

You can purchase a harissa spice blend or you can mix up your own with these ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin, 
  • 2 Tbsp ground caraway, 
  • 2 Tbsp ground coriander, 
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon, 
  • 1 cup Powdered chile peppers (mixed)
  • salt (to taste)
Ingredients in Heathglen’s harissa spice blend, with package of blend in front.
HeathGlen’s harissa spice blend

Other Popular Low Carb Sauces

Romesco Sauce

Romesco sauce is an Italian sauce made with peppers, tomatoes, vinegar and ground almonds. My favorite way of using Romesco sauce has been to take it out of the refrigerator, warm it slightly in the microwave and top off scrambled or fried eggs with the sauce. 

It is also wonderful to add to vegetables or any sauce or skillet diner you are making to enhance the flavor profile.

Scrambled eggs with a side of low carb Romesco sauce
Scrambled eggs with a side of low carb Romesco sauce

Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri sauce is an important part of Argentinian cuisine, traditionally served with grilled chorizo and grilled steaks.  Pan-seared skirt steak with chimichurri sauce is a popular recipe.

Chimichurri sauce also pairs nicely with chicken and fish, it works well as a marinade, and it is delicious on vegetables.  Any of these choices work with a low carb or slow carb diet.

sliced skirt steak topped with Chimichurri sauce and a small bowl of Chimichurri on the side.
Sliced skirt steak topped with chimichurri sauce

Most of these low carb sauces can be stored for at least 3 weeks and used as convenient, creative meal enhancements by pairing them with just about any protein or veggie or egg dish you make.

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Low Carb Harissa Sauce (or Paste)

Sauces for meat, eggs & vegetables
Harissa is a North African paste made with peppers and spices. Purchased harissa ranges in the degree of spicy heat, with some being extremely hot. This DIY recipe is considered medium hot, as I think it allows the other spices in it to shine.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 8



  • 12 dried chile peppers I used a combination of guajillo, pasilla and arbol but you can mix and match
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • juice from 1-2 lemons
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil


  • De-stem chile peppers and soak dried chile peppers in pot of water that has just been turned off after being brought to a boil. Soak for 20-30 minutes to hydrate.
    12 dried chile peppers
  • Toast seeds 2-3 minutes in small, dry pan over medium heat, until aromatic. Let cool before grinding.
    1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • Add cinnamon, salt and toasted spices to a coffee bean grinder and grind to a fine grind or powder.
    1 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon, 1 tsp salt
  • Drain peppers, reserving chile water, and add chiles, spices lemon juice, garlic and oil to blender or food processor. Process until smooth, thinning with chile water if necessary.
    juice from 1-2 lemons, 5 cloves garlic, 3 Tbsp olive oil


For Homemade Harissa Spice 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)


Calories: 8kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 0.3gFat: 0.2gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.05gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 293mgPotassium: 33mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 0.3gVitamin A: 203IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 10mgIron: 0.3mg
Did you make this recipe?If you tried this recipe, please give it a star rating! To do this, just click on the stars above. Comments are always helpful also and I respond to all of them (except rude ones)

For more recipes using Harissa:

Spiced ChickpeasTamale Harissa Pie

Baked wings

Crockpot Stuffed Bell Peppers

For more recipes using Romesco:

Italian Pepperonata

Spanish Pork Romesco

For more recipes using Chimichurri:

Chimichurri Topped Beef Brisket

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Although I am not currently taking clients for diet & health coaching, I was a coach for many years with the online service called It is a great platform for all kinds of coaching – anything from specific diets, writing a blog, getting up early, or getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  

There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Contact me at [email protected] to get a referral to some of the tested, experienced online coaches on

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  1. Anonymous says:

    How would you rate each of these sauces in terms of spicy or not? TexMex, So Calif, rest of US or Minnesotan?

    • The Romesco and Chimichurri are not really designed to be really spicy, whereas the harissa traditionally is quite hot. I like spice and I smoke my own chipotles, which is what I used in these. The amount of the chipotle powder in the Romensco and Chimichurri would probably make them rank as medium. The harissa would rank as hot as I used quite a few arbol peppers.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Love your blogging, Dorothy!!

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  5. […] is a dish to make for Sunday supper or when you have time to cook.  Alternatively, you can go here for a recipe to make Romesco sauce ahead of time to use on this and other […]

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  7. […] but for a more traditional chimichurri sauce,  see this recipe.  Or try a romesco sauce  with this recipe.  They are all great sauces and they can go with just about any other protein or vegetable on a […]

  8. […] is so hot you can’t distinguish the unique flavors.  You can also make your own of course.  Click here for a harissa recipe you can make at […]

  9. […] is so hot you can’t distinguish the unique flavors.  You can also make your own of course.  Click here for a harissa recipe you can make at […]

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