This harissa butter is an exquisite blend of creamy butter, spicy harissa paste, and aromatic cumin with a touch of lemon. It is guaranteed to brighten your day and add that something special to your everyday cooking.
I love to shape this spicy butter in cute silicone moulds to serve it alongside mezze and platters. Or simply roll it into a butter log to spread over thick slices of warm sourdough bread.
You can easily adapt the spicy compound butter recipe to suit your pantry staples and taste buds.
Harissa butter ingredients and substitutes
This harissa butter is versatile and utterly delicious. Make it your own by substituting ingredients with what you have on hand.
- Butter: I use unsalted butter in this recipe. But you can just as easily use salted butter – just adjust the amount of salt in the recipe to taste.
- Harissa paste: Fragrant harissa paste is the key ingredient in this harissa butter recipe. I use my favourite homemade rose harissa paste, but you can use your favourite type of harissa. Or try an easy harissa paste substitute.
- Lemon zest: The bright and citrusy flavour mellows the harissa heat in the butter. You can also use dried lemon zest. Or, if you don’t have lemon, substitute it with lime zest or omit it altogether.
- Garlic: Raw garlic adds its characteristic savoury flavour to the compound butter. If you dislike raw garlic (or don’t have fresh garlic cloves), substitute it with a teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Ground cumin: The earthy spice adds a warm flavour. Substitute it with ground coriander or your favourite ground spice blend. Or simply omit it.
- Kashmiri chilli powder: The mild chilli powder adds a touch more heat and a beautiful red colour. You can also use sweet paprika or your favourite chilli powder (just be mindful of the spice level).
- Salt: Adjust the amount of salt to your preference. If you use salted butter, you may need less salt in the recipe.
How to make harissa compound butter
Grab a mixing bowl and add your room-temperature stick of butter (115 grams). Add two tablespoons of harissa paste, half a tablespoon of lemon zest, two finely minced cloves of garlic, half a teaspoon each of ground cumin and Kashmiri chilli powder (or paprika).
Use a fork to mash the ingredients until they’re all fully incorporated. The spicy compound butter should have a silky texture and orange hue.
Have a taste and add another tablespoon of harissa paste if you want more harissa flavour.
I add a quarter teaspoon of salt for one stick (115 grams) of unsalted butter. Adjust your seasoning to taste.
You can either shape the harissa butter in silicone moulds. Or use parchment paper or cling wrap to shape the compound butter into a wrapped log.
How to use harissa butter
If you’re a fan of harissa paste, you’ll love this spicy compound butter. It is super easy to make and adds a rich and complex flavour to any meal:
- Spread it on toast: Harissa butter is a delicious alternative to plain butter on your morning slice of sourdough or bagel.
- Add it to roasted vegetables: Toss your favourite vegetables in melted harissa butter before roasting for a spicy and flavourful side dish. Try this slow-roasted harissa cauliflower for an indulgent meat-free showstopper.
- Use it to sauté protein: Harissa butter is a great way to add flavour to sautéed chicken, fish, beef, or tofu. Melt a tablespoon of harissa butter in a skillet, and cook your protein until browned and cooked through.
- Elevate your grilled cheese: Mix harissa butter with grated cheese and spread it on your bread before broiling (or grilling) the open cheese sandwich. (This is a must-try!)
- Serve it with mezze: Spoon the harissa butter into cute silicone moulds (I use a silicone canelé mould) and refrigerate it for an hour or so to set. Then pop the shaped butter out and serve it with a mezze spread or falafel platter.
- Melt into a harissa butter sauce: Microwave the harissa butter for a few seconds until melted and drizzle over anything from poached eggs to steamed fish.
This fragrant, spicy butter is welcome anywhere it can melt over (or into) food.
Let me know how you used your harissa compound butter in the comments below!
- 2 to 3 tablespoons harissa paste*
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened at room temperature
- ½ tablespoon lemon zest, from one whole lemon
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic, from roughly 2 medium-sized garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder, or paprika
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- Add two tablespoons of harissa paste to a mixing bowl. Add the softened butter and remaining ingredients. Mash it with a fork until it’s all fully incorporated and the butter has a smooth and glossy texture.
- Taste your harissa butter. Adjust the seasoning according to preference with more harissa paste, chilli powder, or salt.
- You can use the harissa butter or refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 10 days.
- To store the compound butter in a log (optional)
- Lay a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper on a flat surface. Spoon the harissa butter mixture onto the centre of the plastic wrap or parchment paper.
- Shape it by folding the plastic wrap or parchment paper over the butter (with a generous overlap of wrap or paper) and gently roll it into a log. Twist the ends of the wrap to seal the butter log.
- Refrigerate the harissa butter log for 2 hours or until it is firm enough to slice.
- I use my favourite homemade rose harissa paste. Use your favourite, and you’ll be sure to love the result. No harissa? Find the best harissa substitutes you might already have in the house.
- I developed this recipe with unsalted butter simply because not all salted butter is equally salty. Use whichever butter you have, then adjust the salt to taste.
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Learn more about harissa
- See how to make rose harissa paste (or normal harissa paste) from roasted red bell peppers.
- Or try one of the best harissa substitutes for an instant harissa paste alternative.
- Make a fragrant dry harissa powder – a homemade spice blend from toasted whole chiles and spices – or try a harissa spice substitute to reconstitute into harissa paste.
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