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harissa pasta in a bowl

30-Minute Creamy Harissa Pasta

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  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree, Dinner, Lunch
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Moroccan, North African
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This harissa pasta recipe is made with a creamy, North African pepper based sauce that comes together in 30 minutes. It’s a flavor packed weeknight meal that’s perfect for pairing with your favorite protein. Plus, you can easily adjust the spice level by adjusting the quantity of harissa used.


Units Scale
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup harissa paste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped + more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped + more for garnish
  • salt & pepper to taste, plus additional salt for the pasta water
  • 16 oz pasta
  • Optional: 2 tbsp parmesan cheese


  1. Sauté the alliums. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat before adding the onion. Sauté until translucent before adding the garlic and cooking until fragrant.
  2. Heat the pasta water. While the alliums cook, salt 10 cups of water & bring to a boil in a stockpot.
  3. Add the harissa to the sauce. Add the harissa to the pan with the alliums, mixing to combine everything & bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the cream & herbs. Add the cream to the sauté pan and mix in to combine. Sprinkle in the basil and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook the pasta. Add the pasta to the pot of water and cook according to package instructions. Once the pasta is almost done, add ½ cup of the starchy pasta water to the harissa sauce and mix well.
  6. Finish the pasta. Add the pasta to the sauce in the pan and top with parmesan cheese (optional) & additional herbs. Serve & enjoy!


Easy Protein Tip: Add a cup of cooked chickpeas to the pan with the onions for an easy protein boost!

Plant Based Cream: Keep in mind you can use a plant based cream or coconut milk instead of the heavy cream to keep things vegan.