This zesty harissa vinaigrette is packed with North African flavour with a touch of smoky sweetness. It’s utterly delicious drizzled over any meal. It adds a bit of heat and tanginess to your salads, roasted vegetables, and grain bowls. Or use it as a harissa marinade to elevate your roasted veggies and meat.
Best of all? It’s super easy to make and requires no chopping. Just mix the ingredients together, and you’re good to go.
Why not make a double batch as part of meal prep to easily spice up your midweek meals?
Why you’ll love this recipe
Harissa vinaigrette is the perfect way to add flavour and zing to your meals. The smoky and spicy flavours of the harissa paste balance the tangy lemon and the sweet maple syrup for a zesty salad dressing:
- It’s super easy to make: You need only a handful of pantry staples, and no chopping is required. Just measure (if you want) and mix.
- It’s naturally vegan and gluten-free: The simple ingredients are naturally gluten-free and plant-based.
- It’s versatile: Use it as a dipping sauce, salad dressing or marinade.
- It’s delicious: Sweet, smoky and spicy. What’s not to love? The harissa dressing is perfect to boost any midweek meal.
Harissa vinaigrette ingredients and substitutes
Fragrant harissa paste may be the star of this spicy salad dressing. But extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and maple syrup transforms the spicy North-African paste into a bright, zesty salad dressing.
The recipe is very forgiving, so substitute with what you have available and, as always, adjust the flavours to suit your preference.
- Harissa paste: Different brands of harissa paste have different spice levels, so adjust the harissa to match your spice tolerance. You can use homemade rose harissa paste for a milder dressing with a slight floral hint. Or try smoked harissa for a smoky twist. If you don’t have harissa, try one of these harissa substitutes or use a tablespoon of harissa spice instead.
- Extra virgin olive oil: It adds richness and depth to the dressing and carries the oil-soluble flavours. You can also use avocado oil or your favourite salad dressing oil.
- Lemon juice: You’ll need freshly squeezed juice from about half a lemon. You can add more if you want more acidity. Or use apple cider vinegar, or more red wine vinegar instead.
- Red wine vinegar: I like to use a mix of lemon juice and red wine vinegar, but if you don’t have both, use more of the one you have on hand.
- Maple syrup: I love the sweet, smoky flavour of maple syrup. It does a great job of slightly sweetening the harissa dressing while balancing the acidity. But you can use honey or agave nectar instead.
- Sea salt: You can also use kosher salt or any other type of salt you prefer.
And feel free to add other ingredients to customize the flavour. Minced or roasted garlic, roasted red pepper paste, black pepper and spices (like cumin, caraway or coriander) all make a great addition.
Let me know in the comments below how you customised your harissa vinaigrette!
How to make harissa vinaigrette (step-by-step)
This harissa dressing is super easy to whip up. Just measure and mix. Then you’re good to go.
You can take the extra step to mix the dressing in a food processor for a creamy harissa dressing. But I love the convenience of the simple vinaigrette.
Step 1: Gather your ingredients
In a small bowl, combine
- three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil,
- two tablespoons of harissa paste,
- one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice,
- one tablespoon of red wine vinegar,
- one tablespoon of maple syrup and
- one teaspoon of sea salt.
Step 2: Mix or shake
Whisk together the ingredients. Or add it to a mason jar and shake vigorously until the harissa dressing is well-combined.
Taste the harissa vinaigrette and adjust the seasoning to your taste. Different brands of harissa paste have different spice levels, so adjust the harissa to match your harissa paste to your tastebuds.
Rose harissa paste will create a milder dressing with a slight floral hint. Or use a smoked harissa for a smoky flavour. You can always add a pinch of cayenne pepper powder or red pepper flakes if you want an even spicier harissa dressing.
Step 3: Use straight away or refrigerate
Your harissa vinaigrette is ready to enjoy! Or you can refrigerate the harissa vinaigrette in an airtight container for up to one week.
Enjoy this hot harissa vinaigrette and dress up your favourite dishes. This vinaigrette goes well with leafy green salads, roasted veggies, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and more. It’s an easy way to add serious flavour to your meals.
Serving suggestions for harissa vinaigrette
Harissa vinaigrette is a bright, spicy, and tangy salad dressing that transforms a simple green salad into a treat. And it’s so easy to make with no chopping required. Simply measure and mix the ingredients.
Harissa vinaigrette is great for salads, roasted vegetables, and grain bowls. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Green goddess salad: Drizzle harissa vinaigrette over a vibrant green salad loaded with fresh herbs, avocado, and crunchy veggies.
- CAVA copycat grain salad bowl: Do a fridge raid and mix a bunch of different fresh veggies into a grain bowl. Try grilled chicken or tofu with avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and brown rice or quinoa. Then drench the grain salad bowl in hot harissa vinaigrette.
- Roasted vegetables: Make a large batch of harissa vinaigrette and use it to dress up your plain roasted vegetables. Or use it to marinate your vegetables or meat as they cook. Try it in this harissa roasted cauliflower instead of the harissa butter mixture. Or rub young carrots in the harissa marinade, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, then roast for 20 to 30 minutes to make delicious harissa roasted carrots.
- Creamy harissa sauce: Add Greek yoghurt for a thick and creamy harissa sauce to serve with crunchy veggies like carrots, sliced bell peppers, and celery fingers. You may need to blitz everything in a food processor to fully incorporate the olive oil into the yoghurt.
Enjoy this zesty and flavourful harissa vinaigrette with salads, vegetables, and grain bowls. Make a large batch and store it in an airtight container or mason jar in the fridge for up to one week.
And don’t forget to let me know how you use your harissa vinaigrette in the comments below!
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons harissa paste*
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
- In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients until well combined. Alternatively, you can add the ingredients to a mason jar, close the lid and shake vigorously.
- Taste the harissa vinaigrette and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
- Different brands of harissa paste have different spice levels. Adjust the harissa to match your harissa paste to your tastebuds. Use rose harissa paste for a milder dressing with a hint of floral. If you want it even spicier, add some red pepper flakes. Or try a harissa paste substitute if you don’t have any.
- I like to use a mix of lemon juice and red wine vinegar, but if you don’t have both, use more of the one you have on hand.
- Refrigerate the harissa vinaigrette in an airtight container or mason jar for up to one week.