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Easy Harissa Lemon Chicken

I make this Harissa Lemon Chicken at least two to three times a week. It is a foolproof recipe to enjoy juicy and incredibly tasty chicken breasts in less than 20 minutes and with less than 4 ingredients!

3 ingredient lemon harissa chicken

Whether I am cooking cucumbers or tempeh, I use a lot of harissa in my cooking. Harissa is a Middle Eastern / African spice that I was introduced to when I lived in Abu Dhabi, with my family.

If you happen to be wondering, what does harissa taste like? 

Well, harissa tends to be a blend of smoky, tangy, and sweet flavors. If it was a wine, I would say, it has notes of chili peppers, cumin, caraway, coriander, and garlic. To me, it isn’t too spicy, but I tend to like spicier foods.

What is Harissa made of?

The harissa powder I use is a blend of chili peppers, cumin, garlic, caraway seeds, and coriander seeds. However, harissa is one of those spices that differ from region to region and brand to brand. I have found that very often, no 2 harissa blends taste alike. 

Lately I have been finding BOGO offers on chicken breasts, and I simply cannot walk past a deal. But, chicken breasts can be tricky to cook. They seem to go from undercooked to overcooked and dry in seconds, unlike chicken thighs.

However, this recipe for Harissa Lemon Chicken results in the juiciest chicken every time, because of a simple hack. 

This Harissa Lemon Chicken recipe is not only juicy and delicious, but it is so darn easy and quick, making it perfect for a weeknight dish. And, you only need 4 ingredients to make it! 4 ingredients and a total time (including prep time) of 17–20 minutes, makes this a winner of a chicken dinner for me.

3 ingredients plus oil to make easy chicken dinner

What are the ingredients needed to make this dish?

The 4 ingredients needed are:

1) Harissa powder
I always have New York Shuk (I am not being paid to say this, BTW, just one of my favorites) harissa powder on hand and used it in this recipe. This smoky, sweet and peppery blend of chili peppers, cumin, garlic, and other spices add so much flavor to chicken.

2) Lemon
Fresh lemon zest adds a tangy twist to the harissa. I also used a little bit of lemon juice to pan sauté the chicken in.

3) Chicken
I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. 

4) Oil
I used grapeseed oil. You could use any other high heat oil like avocado oil or coconut oil or if you do not have those on hand, olive oil would work as well.

Instructions to make tasty, quick, and juicy Harissa Lemon Chicken on the stovetop:

Butterfly the chicken breasts

1) First, butterfly the chicken breasts. I do this by laying the chicken breast down on a cutting board. Then, placing my hand on the top of the chicken and running the knife horizontally to my hand, thus cutting the chicken breasts in half and opening them up so they resemble a heart.

2) Sprinkle some of the harissa powder and lemon zest onto the chicken.

Add harissa to chicken

3) Place the oil in a skillet set on a stovetop that has been set to medium-high heat. 

4) Place the chicken into the pan, with the seasoned side facing down. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and cover the pan. Let the chicken sauté in the covered pan for 4 minutes.

Juicy harissa lemon chicken

5) Remove the cover and flip the chicken over. The flipped side should be golden brown. Add in another tablespoon of lemon juice and cover the chicken in the pan again and let the chicken cook for 3 minutes.

6) Remove the pan from the heat, and leave the cover on the pan. Let the chicken rest in the covered pan for 8–10 minutes.

7) Remove from the pan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you want to make it gorgeous, garnish it with some chopped cilantro or parsley, and enjoy!

Easy Harissa lemon chicken breasts

Substitutions:

Harissa Powder: If you have harissa paste on hand, you could use it instead of the harissa powder. However, some harissa pastes have tomatoes in them and this will change the taste of this dish. 

Chicken: If you would rather use another cut of chicken, please do so. If using chicken thighs though, this method of covered cooking is not necessary as chicken thighs tend to be a lot juicier than chicken breasts.

3 ingredient chicken lemon harissa chicken dinner

What is the closest spice to harissa?

Don’t have harissa on hand and cannot find it at your local grocery store, yet want to try out this technique of cooking chicken? Well, a good substitute, in my opinion, would be a combination of spices such as smoked paprika, chili flakes, cumin, and garlic powder.

What to serve with this Lemon Harissa Chicken Recipe?

This lemon harissa chicken can be served with yellow rice and a condiment like mango chutney, or lemon za’atar quinoa, or some roasted vegetables, or a simple salad.

Sometimes, I like to cut the lemon harissa chicken up into bite-sized pieces and toss it in with cooked pasta and veggies like thawed frozen beans and green peas, like you see in the image below. Other times, I like to sauté some onion, garlic cloves, ginger, carrots, and zucchini, and toss bite-sized pieces of this chicken into that mixture.

Harissa lemon pasta chicken and veggies

How to store leftovers of this chicken?

If you have leftovers, or meal prep a large quantity of this lemon harissa chicken, the best way to store it would be to place it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge. It should stay fresh for up to 5 days.

Unfortunately, I am not sure how well this freezes. I am not sure if chicken prepared like this would retain the same juiciness when thawed out, as I usually like to prepare a small quantity of this recipe.

Thanks so much for stopping by. If you make this recipe, please let me know in the comments below what you think of it, or tag your creation on social media with @savoryspin or #savoryspin. For more fusion, spice-filled, recipe ideas, please subscribe and follow me on FacebookInstagram, and/or Pinterest!

3 ingredient lemon harissa chicken

Easy Harissa Lemon Chicken

5 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2
Cost: $7 per serving
Author: Shashi
I make this Harissa Lemon Chicken at least two to three times a week. It is a foolproof recipe to enjoy juicy and incredibly tasty chicken breasts in less than 20 minutes and with less than 4 ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • 2 tablespoons Harissa powder
  • 1 lemon (2 tablespoons of juice of 1 lemon and zest)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (grapeseed or olive oil)

Instructions

  • First, butterfly the chicken breasts. I do this by laying the chicken breast down on a cutting board. Then, placing my hand on the top of the chicken and running the knife horizontally to my hand, thus cutting the chicken breasts in half and opening them up so they resemble a heart.
  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the harissa powder and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of lemon zest onto the chicken.
  • Place the oil in a skillet set on a stovetop that has been set to medium-high heat. 
  • Place the chicken into the pan, with the seasoned side facing down. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and cover the pan. Let the chicken sauté in the covered pan for 4 minutes.
  • Remove the cover and flip the chicken over. The flipped side should be golden brown. Add in another tablespoon of lemon juice and cover the chicken in the pan again and let the chicken cook for 3 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, and leave the cover on the pan. Let the chicken rest in the covered pan for 8–10 minutes.
  • Remove from the pan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you want to make it gorgeous, garnish it with some chopped cilantro or parsley, and enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 411kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 49g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 464mg | Potassium: 966mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 182IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. Oh I am definitely trying this out soon! We picked up some harissa from Trader Joe’s recently and tried mixing it with riced cauliflower. It was good – but holy cow it was spicy! We said we needed to look up more recipes to understand how to use harissa…and it seems like you were listening to that comment. Can’t wait to fire up the grill!

  2. Simone says:

    I love harissa! I make the paste myself actually. Super easy to do and would work really well with this good looking chicken too!

  3. Hiya, I’m Shashi says:
  4. Shay says:

    So flavorful and delicious! This was so easy to follow and the whole family loved it!

  5. Paula says:

    this lemon harissa chicken was so flavorful! Woah!!! Definitely making this one again.

  6. Tiffany says:

    This is such a flavorful and easy weeknight protein for me to make! We love it with rice and salad!

  7. Nicole says:

    My family gets kind of bored with chicken breasts so this is a great way to spice things up! We love them!

  8. TAYLER ROSS says:

    I made this lemon chicken for dinner last night and it was incredible! Super flavorful and easy to make!