Harissa chicken thighs are a little spicy and smoky, and get crispy as they roast with potatoes on one sheet pan. Finish with freshness from dill and arugula, and cool brightness from lemony yogurt and dinner is ready in about an hour!
These harissa chicken thighs require almost no prep! They are perfect for an evening when you want a lot of great Middle Eastern flavors without a lot of work.
Chicken and potatoes are coated in a harissa marinade for just 30 minutes, then throw everything on a sheet pan to get crispy and you've got dinner. The spiciness of the harissa chicken is rounded out by fresh dill and arugula, and a kiss of creamy yogurt sauce with lemon juice and zest.
I like to make these on a Saturday movie night because everything can go from one pan to one plate, side dish already included. If you're into one pan chicken thigh recipes, try my Chicken Thighs with Coconut Creamed Corn, or Chicken Thighs with Rice and Black Beans.
Harissa chicken recipe ingredients
You don't need very many ingredients for harissa chicken because the harissa itself is doing all of the work, adding spice, smokiness, earthiness and complexity. Most everything else is a quick pantry pull, so it's easy peasy to make this on a whim.
- Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs: Just about the easiest meat to cook ever! The skin will get crispy, and the potatoes will cook in the rendered fat. Yum. Chicken thighs are ideal for a sheet pan dinner like this because they don't need babysitting, they don't dry out, the chicken skin gets crispy (so do the potatoes) and everybody's happy.
- Yukon Gold potatoes: These waxy potatoes get crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside as they soak up all the spicy marinade from the chicken.
- Harissa: Harissa is pretty widely available, I often get mine at Trader Joe's. You can also order it online. The spice level varies by brand, so always check that out first before using!
- Cumin: This aromatic spice will pair with the harissa to add some complexity to the flavors.
- Plain Greek yogurt: I like the thickness of Greek yogurt, because we are going to add lemon juice and thin it out. But if you just have plain-old plain yogurt, that will do.
- Lemons: We are going to use the juice and the zest to make a cooling sauce. I rarely leave any citrus zest behind. Use it for more free flavor, I say.
- Dill and arugula: Fresh green-ness to sprinkle on top at the end and cut through the spiciness. If you don't like arugula or dill, sub parsley or cilantro.
- Olive oil and kosher salt: We just need a bit of oil for the marinade, and salt because, you know—salt.
How to make harissa chicken thighs
Adapted from New York Times Cooking.
Step 1: Make the harissa marinade and slice the potatoes
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, the cumin, and harissa.
Use a good chef's knife and slice the potatoes in half, then into slices about ½ inch thick.
Step 2: Marinate the chicken and potatoes in the harissa mixture
Season the chicken thighs with salt on both sides and under the skin. Then add chicken, potatoes, and the harissa mixture to a large bowl. Toss to thoroughly coat the chicken and potatoes and let sit at room temp for 30 minutes.
Step 3: Bake in the oven
Place the chicken thighs skin side up on the sheet pan and spread potatoes out in one layer and place in the oven. After about 20 minutes, remove the sheet pan and stir the potatoes around, flipping over the slices that are getting very brown.
Place the sheet pan back into the oven and roast for another 15-30 minutes, until the chicken thighs are crispy and potatoes are golden brown.
Step 4: Make the lemon yogurt sauce
While the chicken and potatoes are roasting, use a Microplane grater and grate the zest from one lemon. Then add yogurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice to a small bowl and stir to combine. You can add a touch of black pepper if you like.
Step 5: Top with arugula and herbs, drizzle with sauce and serve!
Remove the chicken and potatoes from the oven, sprinkle dill and arugula over the top. Dollop with the lemon yogurt sauce. Serve any remaining yogurt sauce on the side. I like extra!
Harissa chicken tips
- Taste that harissa: Different brands of harissa vary in spiciness. Be sure to taste first, and adjust the amount in the marinade to your liking. You can find harissa online, at Trader Joe's, and at international grocery stores.
- Potato flip tip: When you remove the sheet pan at 20 minutes, wait just a couple of minutes before you stir the potatoes. If you give them a minute to cool slightly, the potatoes will let go of the pan and be easier to flip. This way you won't lose that crispy surface you've worked so hard to get.
- Green ingredient swaps: If you don't like dill, you can use parsley or cilantro instead. If you can't find arugula, you can use watercress.
- Use different cuts of chicken: If you'd like to use skinless chicken thighs or bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts those substitutions are fine. I don't recommend boneless skinless chicken breasts for this harissa chicken recipe, as they will tend to dry out when they roast.
- Try another side: You can swap out sweet potatoes or cauliflower for the Yukon Gold potatoes to change up the flavors.
I love this harissa chicken recipe because the side dish is already built in. But you might want to start with a salad? A Garbanzo Bean Salad or this Ottolenghi Green Bean Salad would go nicely on the side, and the smokiness of a Mezcal Negroni makes a perfect cocktail pairing.
It depends a little on the size of the thighs and the temperature of the oven. At 425 F, it could take anywhere from 25-40 minutes. I usually cook mine in the 35-minute range unless they are very small. Use a meat thermometer and make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees F. Chicken thighs are also very forgiving, so there's not too much danger of overcooking. Once the juices run clear and the skin is crispy, you're ready to go!
No you do not need to flip the chicken thighs. As they roast, the skin will render the fat and get crispy on top just with the heat of the oven! (and that good chicken fat will get slathered all over those potatoes!)
Harissa is a spicy chili paste that hails from Tunisia originally, and is used in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. You can find many variations in flavor and level of spice depending on the maker and the country of origin. Harissa tastes smoky and spicy, even sometimes slightly sweet, and is balanced with garlic and citrus flavors. No two brands taste the same, so try a few to find the one you like best! Harissa pairs well with chicken, lamb, or vegetables, and can be stirred into soups, sauces and dips like hummus. Once you try it, you'll find so many ways to use it.
More recipes with harissa
Harissa is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many ways, not just for chicken recipes. Here are a few of my favorite recipes using harissa.
- Try Shakshuka with Feta for brunch! It uses a bit of harissa to add spice and smokiness to the tomato sauce.
- These Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings are coated with a honey and harissa glaze.
- Add harissa to roasted squash and make this Butternut Squash Salad for a simple, 5-ingredient vegan option.
More sheet pan recipes
Harissa chicken is crispy, spicy, cool and fresh!
- The chicken and potatoes marinate in a harissa olive oil mixture and get super crispy as they cook.
- Harissa and cumin combine for spicy, smoky, earthy flavor, the lemony yogurt sauce adds creamy, bright notes.
- Just quickly marinate the chicken and potatoes in harissa and spices, then bake on a sheet pan for easy prep and minimal cleanup.
- Whip up the sauce in one bowl and top with fresh arugula and herbs and dinner is ready!
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Harissa Chicken Recipe
- 1.5 lb bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 4 thighs)
- 1 lb yukon gold potatoes
- 2 tablespoon harissa
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 tsp kosher salt plus more for chicken thighs
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- fresh dill or other soft herb such as parsley or cilantro
- fresh arugula
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Slice the potatoes in half, then into slices about ½ inch thick.
- In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, and harissa.
- Season the chicken thighs with salt on both sides and under the skin. Then add chicken, potatoes, and the harissa mixture to a large bowl. Toss to thoroughly coat the chicken and potatoes in the marinade and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Place the chicken thighs skin side up on the sheet pan and spread potatoes out in one layer and place in the oven. After about 20 minutes, remove the sheet pan and stir the potatoes around, flipping over the slices that are getting very brown. Place the sheet pan back into the oven and bake for another 15-30 minutes, until the chicken thighs are crispy and potatoes are golden brown.
- Remove the chicken and potatoes from the oven, arrange dill and arugula over the top. Dollop with the lemon yogurt sauce and serve.
- Different brands of harissa vary in spiciness. Be sure to taste first, and adjust the amount in the marinade to your liking. You can find harissa online and at international grocery stores.
- When you remove the sheet pan at 20 minutes to stir the potatoes, wait just a couple of minutes. If you give the potatoes a minute to cool slightly, they will let go of the pan and be easier to flip. This way you won't lose that crispy surface you've worked so hard to get.
- If you don't like dill, you can use parsley or cilantro instead. If you can't find arugula, you can use watercress.