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Spicy Harissa Chicken Thighs

Morrocan harissa chicken thighs, roasted with wedges of onion and a glaze of spiced harissa paste, honey & butter with dried mint and sumac!

Portrait overhead image of roasted harissa chicken thighs with onion wedges served on herbed couscous

Spicy Roasted Chicken Thighs

You can’t beat a good simple chicken dinner and for me that invariably means some chicken thighs.

They are loaded with great flavour, are as cheap as chips and they are really versatile.

Whether you use them with classic European flavours like this lemon and garlic chicken thighs or look East with this chicken adobo with coconut milk recipe they just take it in their stride.

This recipe, like my pomegranate chicken thighs, lamb and bean fasolia and chermoula chicken, takes its flavour influences from North Africa and Persia.

We make a simple glaze of butter, Moroccan harissa paste and honey, then pour it over chicken thighs.

To turn up that flavour to 11 we season the chicken with salt, sumac and dried mint.

There is no searing, just chuck them in a hot oven and leave them alone! This is easy cooking!

Portrait overhead image of roasted harissa chicken thighs with onion wedges in a roasting tin

Equipment Used

What size roasting tin should I use?

The first thing that you need to do is ensure that the roasting tin that you use for this recipe is not too big.

You need to pack the thighs in pretty tightly as you can see from the image above. If your pan is too large it will allow the juices to evaporate.

This will mean no sauce at the end of the dish and will also lead to less juicy chicken.

Can I remove the skin from the chicken?

One area of this recipe that you have complete freedom over is whether to leave the skin on or remove it.

I prefer to leave it on but it will not get crispy! If you are counting calories or are not a fan of gelatinous chicken skin then you should remove it.

Can I use fresh mint rather than dried mint?

Do not be tempted to replace the dried mint with fresh mint, the flavour is completely different.

My harissa salmon fillets, harissa pork chops and sweet potato tagine all use it so there is no need to fear of it going to waste!

What is sumac?

Sumac is a spice that comes from the dried berry from a shrub that is used in both cooking and as a seasoning on cooked food.

It is very popular in North African and Levantine cuisine and has a wonderfully tart flavour.

Portrait close up image of roasted harissa chicken thighs with onion wedges served on herbed couscous

Serving Suggestions

The North African influences in this Moroccan spiced harissa chicken recipe make buttered couscous an obvious choice as a side dish.

I like to run a load of snipped chives through the couscous to add a fresh onion flavour to complement the roasted onion.

Another great North African option would be some simple bulgur wheat or even a tabbouleh salad.

But you need not stick to North African flavours!

The sweet and sour tones in the glaze lend themselves really well to salty potato wedges or fried potatoes. It also works particularly well with cheesy polenta chips.

If you wanted to add some lighter vegetables this Shirazi salad would be great. It picks up on the flavours of dried mint and helps cut through the rich glaze.

Landscape image of roasted harissa chicken thighs with onion wedges served on herbed couscous

Equipment Used

I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Oven.
  • Stovetop.
  • Small roasting tin.
  • 15cm or 6″ saucepan.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring spoons.
  • Stirring and serving spoons.
  • Pastry brush.
  • A quick read meat thermometer, optional but I swear by using mine.
Square image of roasted harissa chicken thighs with onion wedges served on herbed couscous
Yield: 2 Servings

Honey & Harissa Chicken Thighs Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

These baked harissa chicken thighs have got the most wonderful almost caramel 'lacquer' from the combination of butter, honey and of course harissa paste!


  • 4 Small Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 50g (2½ Tbsp) Honey
  • 2 Tbsp Harissa Paste
  • 1 Stick Cinnamon
  • 30g (2 Tbsp) Butter
  • 1 Tsp Dried Mint
  • 1 Tsp Sumac
  • ½ Tsp Salt


  1. Peel and cut the onion into 4 wedges.
  2. Place the chicken into a roasting tray just large enough to hold them.
  3. Squeeze the onion wedges in with the chicken and sprinkle with the salt, dried mint and sumac.
  4. Heat the honey in a 15xm or 6" saucepan with the butter, harissa paste, and cinnamon stick stirring until it is combined.
  5. Pour over the chicken and onions then use a pastry brush to spread around.
  6. Place in the oven and roast at 200°C or 400°F for 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 70°C.
  7. Remove and rest for 5-7 minutes before serving.
  8. Whilst the chicken is resting pour the juices from the roasting tin into a fiercely hot pan and reduce by half.
  9. Nap the reduced sauce over the chicken before serving.


After resting the internal temperature of the chicken should reach at least 73°C or 165°F.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 817Total Fat: 52gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 365mgSodium: 780mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 3gSugar: 24gProtein: 63g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Anne Krieger

Friday 15th of October 2021

I love this recipe and have made it with great success. I am wondering, however, what the word "nap" means in step 9.

Brian Jones

Friday 5th of November 2021

Hi Anne... To nap is from a French term "nappe" and it means to coat in a thin layer of sauce, usually from a spoon.

So glad you like the recipe, Brian.


Wednesday 22nd of November 2017

Wow, that burnished chicken looks so amazing! I will be adding harissa to my shopping list. This is something I really have to make! Thanks for sharing!

Brian Jones

Friday 24th of November 2017

You are welcome Marcellina, have fun, mixing harissa with honey gives the most amazing colour and flavour, throw in a little butter and it is all over bar the shouting :D

Shashi at SavorySpin

Friday 17th of November 2017

That chicken is seared to perfection! Loving the flavors and pom seeds in the cous cous are a colorful and tasty touch!

Brian Jones

Tuesday 21st of November 2017

Thanks Shashi, I love pomegranate seeds too such a great splash of colour and flavour in winter!


Friday 17th of November 2017

Harissa is one of my favourite flavours and this chicken looks amazing. Great with the couscous too.

Brian Jones

Tuesday 21st of November 2017

Thanks Dannii

Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry

Friday 17th of November 2017

Those Harissa thighs look incredible! I love Harissa, it really packs a punch

Brian Jones

Tuesday 21st of November 2017

It certainly is a great flavour profile to change things up a little.

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