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These spicy roasted harissa potatoes are crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, with a nice harissa kick. With just four ingredients, they can also be easily whipped up in under an hour.
What you’ll love about them:
- They’re spicy (choose from mild, medium or hot!).
- They’re perfectly roasted with a soft floury fluffy interior and a crisp external skin.
- If you use a gluten-free harissa sauce, these are gluten free. (Be cautious, sometimes store brands have added gluten, to be on the safeside it’s easy and inexpensive to make your own harissa).
- These babies are dairy-free and egg-free, so perfect for vegans or people with allergies.
- They’re very easy to make.
Pair them with…
These potatoes are delicious enough to eat alone or as a side, but in case you need any inspiration, serve them with:H
- Huevos rancheros (or vegan huevos rancheros) for a yummy filling breakfast or brunch.
- Ranch sauce (or try this vegan version) for dipping.
- Sour cream (or vegan sour cream) for dipping.
- A veggie burger or vegan fried chicken and salad for a complete meal.
- Creamy coleslaw and peri peri tofu.
For sure you’ll have some harissa leftover after making this recipe. Once opened, most commercial brands of harissa should be stored in the fridge, covered (put the cap or lid back on) for up to six weeks. Plenty of time for you to use it up making…
- Easy harissa pasta (spicy and creamy!).
- Vegan harissa grilled cheese (gluten-free).
- Harissa potato salad.
- Herbed orange harissa chickpeas.
- Creamy harissa dressing.
Ingredients and substitutions
With just four ingredients, there aren’t many substitutions you can make in this recipe. Have a look at what ingredient you’ll need in the image below and we’ll see what can be swapped out or omitted.
Harissa paste: This is obviously a bit of an essential ingredient for harissa potatoes. The one thing I would point out here is that store-bought brands really vary in quality and spiciness.
For this recipe, I used Dea harissa, my favorite, which is a good spicy authentic harissa paste. If using a less spicy harissa paste (like Le Phare du Cap Bon which is very mild), you could easily double the amount.
Potatoes: Again, a bit of a no-brainer. I would say you could swap out the potatoes for sweet potatoes, which are amazing when paired with spicy sauces, but I’m not sure how crispy they would get and haven’t tested it out yet.
I used a mix of whatever I had to hand when shooting my final test recipe, as I had used up my lovely roasting potatoes on previous tests. Ideally Yukon Gold, failing that russet or red potatoes will do in a pinch.
Olive oil: I live in Spain and love using olive oil for just about everything. Using it to roast your potatoes will definitely give them more flavor, just don’t whip out your expensive extra virgin olive oil.
A cheaper standard olive oil will do just fine. If you don’t have olive oil substitute with a mild flavorless oil that won’t compete with the harissa paste, canola, or sunflower for example.
Salt: A well-salted potato is a thing of beauty. In this recipe, the water for parboiling the potatoes is salted to really give the potatoes some flavor, and then just a teaspoon is sprinkled when they’re tossed with the harissa.
If you are trying to keep your sodium levels down you can of course skip adding the salt to the water, and salt to taste with a low-sodium or sodium-free salt substitute. Otherwise, salt away and don’t skimp on it.
How to make them
Harissa potatoes are simple to make, but like most perfect roast potatoes you do need to pay a little attention to timing. In this section, I go over the different steps involved with process photos to highlight what should be happening at each stage.
First, peel your potatoes and cut them into one and a half-inch chunks, a little smaller than roast potatoes usually are cut. Pop them into a large pot and add enough water to just cover the potatoes by about half an inch. Add a tablespoon of salt to the water (image one below), cover with a lid, and set on high heat to boil.
In the meantime, set your oven to preheat to 400ºF (200ºC). Take a large oven roasting tray or a large baking tray, and line well with baking paper. Make sure there is nowhere for oil to seep under. For example, I overlap two sheets of baking paper and place a third in the middle.
Now add the olive oil to the middle of the lined tray (image two below) and pop it into the oven. The potatoes will not absorb all the oil (only about half) but it’s important to have lots for re-coating the potatoes later and keeping them crispy.
When the water in the pot comes to a roiling boil, remove the lid and allow it to boil for two minutes. Be exact about the timing (use a timer) as overdone potatoes will fall apart when you’re roughing them up in the next step.
Drain the potatoes in a colander (image three above) and invert the pot to let any remaining water out. Shake the potatoes once or twice to make sure all the water is off them, and add back to the (hopefully) dry pot (image four above). If it’s not completely dry, give it a quick wipe with some paper towel.
Place the lid back on the pot and hold the lid down tightly, shake the pot very hard to really roughen up the surface of the potatoes (see image five below for how the potatoes should look after shaking). Some people like to use a colander to rough up the potatoes but in my experience, it really doesn’t roughen them up enough. The rougher the surface = the crispier the potato skin.
Now remove the lined tray with the oil from the oven, and carefully and slowly tip the potatoes into the oil (if you drop the potatoes in too fast or from too high a distance you could get splattered with hot oil).
Using a large tablespoon or two (I find it easier with two spoons), quickly toss the sizzling potatoes in the oil so they are covered with oil. Space the potatoes out a little so they aren’t touching (image six below). Spaced potatoes mean less moisture in one spot (so crispier skins) and less likelihood of the potatoes sticking to each other.
Place the potatoes back in the oven and set a timer for fifteen minutes. When the fifteen minutes are up, remove the potatoes and using the same spoons flip the potatoes so they’re not on the same side they were roasting on.
This means the browned side should be up (as in image seven above) or facing the side, depending on how you’re potatoes are cut, but not on the bottom. Add back to the oven and set the timer for another fifteen minutes.
When the time is us, remove the tray again, and using a slotted spatula, fish slice, or spoon, transfer the potatoes back to the pot you were using before. Make sure to place the tray back in the oven to keep the oil hot.
Add the harissa paste(image eight above). If you’re using harissa from a tube and not a jar, then I recommend actually weighing instead of using tablespoon measurements, just because it’s much easier, but it’s up to you. Note that if you’re using a quality spicy harissa paste like DEA, then:
- Three tablespoons will be mildly spicy
- Four and a half tablespoons will be medium-spicy.
- Six tablespoons will be hot.
Grab your spoons again and gently toss the potatoes in the harissa paste until they’re evenly covered with harissa. Now sprinkle the teaspoon of salt over (image nine below) and toss again until the salt is evenly distributed.
Take out the tray again and repeat the step of gently placing the potatoes in the oil and tossing until lightly coated (image ten above). Place back in the oven for five minutes. Remove and flip the potatoes once more. Roast a further five minutes.
Done! Test a large potato to make sure it’s done and to taste for salt. Serve immediately.
As with most roast potatoes, harissa potatoes should be eaten freshly made. If you do happen to have leftovers, keep them covered in the fridge for up to three days and “re-roast” in the oven at 400ºF, covered with aluminum foil and with a little hot oil for 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, if you’re lucky enough to have an air fryer, cook them for ten minutes at 200ºC with a spritz of oil spray.
Not really. What you can do is follow the recipe up until roughing up the potatoes, then stop and cover them tightly and keep them at room temperature (for no more than two hours) until you are ready to finish making the recipe.
Yes, and they actually cook up better from frozen than from being in the fridge! Reheat without defrosting in the oven, covered with foil, for about 20 minutes at 400ºF.
Did you make these ? Let me know how much you loved them with a star rating, review, and/or comment below.
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- 2.2 lbs potatoes (1 kilo)
- 3-6 Tablespoons harissa paste (42-84g, see notes)
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 5 Tablespoons olive oil (70ml)
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1.5-inch chunks. Line a large roasting tray with baking paper and add the oil to the center. Place in the middle of the oven and set the oven to heat at 400ºF (200ºC)
- Add potatoes to a large pot with enough water to cover the potatoes by about half an inch. Add one tablespoon of salt to the water, cover, and bring to a roiling boil. When fully boiling, uncover and cook for two minutes. Drain in a colander.
- Quickly dry the pot if needed with some paper towels and add the potatoes back to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid and shake energetically up and down and back and forth until the outside of the potatoes has been roughed up.
- Remove the roasting pan from the oven and gently tip the potatoes into the middle of the pan (be careful not to get splattered with hot oil). Using two tablespoons, toss the potatoes in the hot oil until coated with oil, and space the potatoes at least half an inch apart. Return to the oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan and flip the potatoes using the two spoons again, so that the side that was touching the bottom before is now facing upwards. Roast another fifteen minutes.
- Remove the pan and use a slotted spoon, fish slice, or slotted spatula to remove the potatoes from the oil and add them back to the pot you were previously using. Return the pan to the oven to keep the oil hot.
- Add the harissa paste to the pot and gently toss the potatoes using the two spoons until they are fully coated. Sprinkle over the remaining teaspoon of salt and toss again. Retrieve the pan from the oven, gently toss the potatoes in the oil, and roast for five minutes.
- Flip the potatoes and roast for five minutes more.
- Done. Check the potatoes are cooked through and adjust seasoning if needed.
3 tablespoons of harissa for mildly spicy, 4.5 for medium, and 6 for hot.
If you don't have any olive oil you can use any plain flavorless oil, e.g. canola or sunflower. You don't need to use EVOO.
If you're watching your sodium levels skip seasoning the water and use a low-sodium salt to season the potatoes after adding the harissa.
It seems like a lot of olive oil but it won't all be absorbed!