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5 June 2020

This harrissa chicken is juicy and spicy with chicken marinated in harissa, lemon juice and plenty of seasonings, then grilled to perfection. They’re crispy skinned and very juicy. My favorite way to grill chicken.

Now that I have my new batch of Homemade Harissa Chili Paste in hand, I’ve been going crazy spicing everything up with it. I can’t help myself. I love the stuff!

It’s so MASSIVE on the flavor scale – not spicy, but just DANG. It will seriously add some BOOM to your food.

Like this recipe – Grilled Harissa Chicken Legs. Yes!

Chicken legs might not sound that exciting to some, but when they have been rubbed down and marinated in this mixture of harissa, olive oil, lemon juice and extra spices, they truly astound. Don’t just take my word for it. Read Patty’s Perspective below.

She LOVES these! And to be honest, they’re basically the best grilled chicken legs I’ve ever had. Good thing I can make them again any time I want!

Double YES!

So, let’s talk about how to make harissa chicken!

Grilled Harissa Chicken Legs - Plated and Ready to Serve

Harissa Chicken Ingredients

  • Chicken. I’m using 10 chicken legs for this recipe, though you can use any cut of chicken you’d like. This recipe works for either bone-in or boneless chicken, with or without the skins. Chicken thighs are great for this. Just be sure to adjust your cooking times to the cut of chicken.
  • Harissa. I use ¼ cup of my own homemade harissa paste, or you can find harissa in some grocery stores or online.
  • For the Marinade. You’ll need juice from 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon spicy chili flakes (for extra spicy), 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, and salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • For Serving. Fresh herbs and extra spicy chili flakes for serving

How to Make Harissa Chicken – The Recipe Method

Prep the Chicken. Pat the chicken legs dry and set them into a plastic bag or a large bowl.

Prepare the Harissa Marinade. Pour your harissa, olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings to a food processor and process it until it is nicely combined. You can use a blender for this. It should be fairly thick but not too thick, enough to let it stick to the chicken legs.

Rub the chicken legs down with the marinade. Really get it in there, rubbing it into the skins and even under the skins if you can manage.

It will look like this.

Grilled Harissa Chicken Legs - Marinating in a bowl with freshly made harissa

Marinate the Chicken. Cover the chicken or seal the bag and set it into the refrigerator to marinate for a couple hours. Overnight is great if you can plan for it.

Grill the Chicken. Oil your grill grates and fire it up to medium heat. Grill the chicken legs for 35-40 minutes each, flipping every 5 minutes or so to avoid burning. The skins will get nice and crispy.

Grilled Harissa Chicken Legs On the Grill, Cooking, Nicely Charred

The chicken legs are done when they measure 165 degrees F internally. I like to use my ThermoPop meat thermometer from ThermoWorks (I’m an affiliate). Works great! Cooking time can vary, so be sure to check your temperatures. 

Or Bake the Chicken. Bake the chicken for 35-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. They should measure 165 degrees F internally when measured with a meat thermometer.

For Serving. To finish them, serve them onto a serving plate and sprinkle them with fresh herbs and spicy chili flakes. A bit of fresh lemon juice would be nice, too!

These are incredible! I can’t wait to make another batch! So PERFECT for summertime grilling.

Homemade Harissa Paste

Here is my own homemade harissa paste recipe. I encourage you to make it at home. It is huge on flavor and very easy to customize to your own preferred heat levels. Also try my harissa sauce recipe, made with fresh roasted peppers.


  • 6 dried guajillo peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 6 dried ancho peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 3 dried pasilla peppers
  • 6 dried chiles de arbol or other dried peppers of choice
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Roasted red bell pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Cooking Directions

  1. Set the dried peppers into a large bowl or pot and pour boiling water over them. Let them steep about 20 minutes to soften. Set them into the food processor. NOTE: I prefer to dry toast the dried peppers in a hot skillet a few minutes before rehydrating them to release their oils, though you can make harissa without this step.
  2. Dry roast the caraway seeds, coriander sees and cumin seeds in a pan until they are fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Cool then grind them up with a mortar and pestle. Into the food processor they go.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients and process to form a paste while drizzling in the olive oil.
  5. Store in a jar with a little oil over the top. Use as needed.

Perfect to marinate your next chicken dish!

Homemade Harissa in a bowl - it's a wonderfully versatile chili paste

Recipe Tips

Flipping or turning the chicken legs as they grill is very important, so be sure to follow this method. It will help keep the marinade on the chicken from burning and charring.

You can close the grill lid to speed up cooking a bit, but don’t forget to turn them.

Keep a meat thermometer handy to measure the internal temperatures to make sure they are cooked through. As they are chicken on the bone, however, grilled chicken legs are pretty forgiving. If you overcook them a little bit, they’ll still be rather juicy and flavorful.

You can make a harissa marinade out of a harissa spice mix if you can find one by combining several tablespoons of the harissa spice blend with oil, lemon juice and other spices. You can also incorporate yogurt into the marinade, or serve with a spicy yogurt sauce. Tasty!

Grilled Harissa Chicken Leg in hand, ready to eat

Patty’s Perspective

When I think of chicken legs, I think of something that is fried from some catering company. Not so great. These are SO much better. They’re crispy from the grill and really flavorful. I want chicken legs like this now every time. One of my favorite recipes.

Try Some of These Other Grilling Recipe Ideas

Do You Love Harissa? Try Some of These Other Popular Recipes with Harissa

Also try my Cajun Oven Baked Chicken Thighs recipe. So good!

If you try this recipe, please let us know! Leave a comment, rate it and tag a photo #ChiliPepperMadness on Instagram so we can take a look. I always love to see all of your spicy inspirations. Thanks! — Mike H.

Grilled Harissa Chicken Recipe

This harrissa chicken recipe is juicy and spicy with chicken marinated in harissa, lemon juice and plenty of seasonings, then grilled to perfection.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Marinating2 hrs
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, chicken legs, dinner, harissa, spicy
Servings: 10
Calories: 311kcal


  • 10 chicken legs
  • ¼ cup harissa paste (use my homemade harissa paste recipe)
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon spicy chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh herbs and extra spicy chili flakes for serving


  • Pat the chicken legs dry and set them into a plastic bag or a large bowl.
  • Add the harissa, lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings to a food processor and process until smooth. Pour it into the bag or bowl with the chicken.
  • Rub the chicken legs down with the harissa marinade. Really rub it into the skins.
  • Cover and set the chicken into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Leaving them overnight will result in more developed flavor.
  • Fire up the grill to medium heat and lightly oil the grates. Grill the chicken legs for about 35-40 minutes, turning them every 5 minutes to keep from burning, until they are cooked through. They should measure 165 degrees F internally.
  • Sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs and chili flakes.


Makes 10 chicken legs.
Heat Factor: Mild-Medium. It will depend on the harissa being used. Try this Homemade Harissa Chili Paste that has little heat but HUGE flavor.


Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 216mg | Potassium: 306mg | Vitamin A: 460IU | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1.2mg

NOTE: This recipe was updated on 6/5/20 to include new information. It was originally published on 7/6/18.


Recipe Rating

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