Algerian sauce, also called sauce Algerienne is a delicious chunky spicy sauce perfect for making French tacos or using it as a dip or spread and comes together in just a few minutes.
Despite its name, Algerian sauce is not actually from Algeria, it originated in the north of France and Belgium. Some of its ingredients, like harissa paste, cilantro, and cumin are common in Maghrebi cuisine so it’s possible that’s where the name came from.
⭐ Why you’ll love it
- It’s fresh and spicy but you can easily dial the level of heat up or down to suit your level of tolerance.
- It’s vegetarian but easily made vegan with just one ingredient swap.
- It’s a mixture of spicy, slightly sweet, and tangy crunchy fresh flavors.
- You probably already have most of the ingredients to make it in your refrigerator and cupboard.
- It’s very easy to make and is virtually foolproof. Just do a little bit of chopping and mixing and voilà, Algerian sauce!
🛒 Ingredients and substitutions
With just a few ingredients, there’s not much room for making substitutions, but check out the photo below to make sure you have the right ingredients, and scroll down beneath to see any recommended swaps.
Onion: I use red onion for this recipe and it gives the best flavor but if you don’t have any you can substitute it with brown or sweet onion. I don’t recommend using green onion or scallions as they will be quite overpowering.
Cilantro: This is an important ingredient, but if you hate cilantro you can substitute it with the same amount of chopped fresh parsley, and increase the amount of lemon juice by a teaspoon. It won’t taste the same but will still be good.
Garlic: Fresh crushed garlic is best, but if you don’t have any to hand you can use jarred. I don’t recommend using ground garlic or garlic powder.
Sugar: You do need sugar to balance this sauce and get it slightly sweet. You can substitute it with liquid sweeteners like honey or low-carb alternatives like stevia.
Lemon juice: Use freshly squeezed lemon juice, not concentrate. Depending on how ripe your lemons are you may need to increase the amount slightly and add to taste after adding the initial amount as in the recipe card.
Tomato paste: Use only concentrated tomato paste, the kind you get in a tube or a small can, do not substitute with fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, passata, or canned chopped tomatoes.
Cumin: Use ground cumin, not seeds. This is an important ingredient, don’t omit it.
Harissa: Use high-quality harissa paste and don’t omit it. Le Phare du Cap Bon is an excellent authentic brand. If you use a different brand you may need to dial the amount used up or down depending on the spiciness of your paste. You can also make your own harissa paste. If you can’t find it or make it, try using sambal oelek instead, although it won’t taste quite the same.
Mayonnaise: Use high-quality mayonnaise that you like. I’m allergic to eggs so I prefer to use a nice egg-free mayonnaise, which is also vegan, like Hellman’s, or make your own mayonnaise. To make the sauce lighter, you can sub out a third of the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt but then you may need to dial down the lemon juice to compensate for the additional tanginess.
👩🍳 How to make it
Algerian sauce is super simple to make and just requires chopping and mixing but I’ve given in-depth instructions here along with photos of every stage in case you have any doubts.
- Peel the onion and chop it very finely. Finely chop the cilantro. Add to a small or medium-sized bowl, preferably a glass or transparent one, along with all the other ingredients, as below.
- Whisk briskly with a fork or small balloon whisk until all the ingredients have been well incorporated. Pay special attention to any globs of tomato paste or harissa which may be clinging to the sides of the bowl. Taste and adjust sugar and lemon juice to taste, add a pinch of salt if necessary. If it’s not spicy enough, you can add more harissa paste, but remember that the sauce will get spicier as it sits.
You can enjoy the sauce straight away, but it will taste even better after at least one hour in the fridge. Enjoy!
📝 Equipment notes
What you’ll need:
- A sharp knife and cutting board.
- A small or medium-sized bowl, preferably transparent or glass so you can make sure none of the tomato or harissa paste is clinging to the sides when mixing the sauce.
- A clean Tupperware container or jar for storing the sauce.
💡 Expert tip
Cumin always tastes better when toasted, particularly if you’re not a fan of the somewhat claggy aftertaste.
You can either toast cumin seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, cool, and then grind, or my favorite, simply add the ground cumin to a dry non-stick pan that has been heated on medium-high heat until hot and use a spatula to move the cumin around until very fragrant and slightly darker.
Immediately remove from the pan to the bowl with the ingredients as otherwise it will burn and be bitter.
🍽️ Serving suggestions
Algerian sauce is most often used to make French tacos, not to be confused with Mexican tacos, but is also amazing as a dip or spread for:
- Dunking french fries or potato wedges in.
- Sandwiches, instead of regular mayonnaise.
- Gyro wraps or in pita bread stuffed with salad and cheese and falafel.
- Burger buns, replacing mayo.
- Barbecued and grilled foods.
Store leftover sauce in a container with a lid or a clean jar with a lid in the refrigerator for up to ten days if made without yogurt. If you’ve used yogurt then you can only keep this in the fridge for four days maximum.
I don’t recommend freezing it as the ice crystals formed will ruin the emulsion in the mayonnaise once thawed and make your sauce look curdled and unappetizing.
Did you make this dish? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐and a comment below.
- 1 small red onion, very finely chopped (about half a cup)
- 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1-2 crushed cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 cup of Mayonnaise
- 1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
- 3-6 Tablespoons harissa paste (3 for mild-medium spice up to 6 for hot)
- 1.5 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Finely chop the red onion, chop the cilantro and crush one clove of garlic and add to a small-medium size glass bowl.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, the mayonnaise, one tablespoon of lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of harissa paste, tomato paste, cumin, and sugar. Whisk well with a fork or balloon whisk until all the ingredients are well-incorporated.
- Taste, and adjust the seasoning. Add up to one tablespoon more lemon juice for tang, an extra crushed clove of garlic if you want it more garlicky, and up to three more tablespoons of harissa paste for a spicier sauce. Remember the sauce will get spicier and stronger as it sits.
- Use straight away, or if you have time, preferably refrigerate the sauce for at least an hour to let the flavors develop more.
- Use vegan mayonnaise to make this sauce vegan.
- For a lighter dip, swap a third of the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt.
- You can store this dip in the refrigerator for up to ten days unless you use Greek yogurt in which case it will only last four days.
Serving Size2.5 Tablespoons
Amount Per Serving Calories 155Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 8mgSodium 233mgCarbohydrates 4gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 1g