Flavor Insight: Harissa

May 29, 2020
Flavor Trends

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A staple in North African cooking, harissa is a garlicky chili paste that that blends hot chili peppers (which are often smoked), garlic, olive oil and spices, like cumin, coriander, caraway and mint. Harissa is making its way onto a wide range of restaurant menus as well as new product introductions. With only 10 harissa flavored products appearing globally in 2014, we are seeing significant growth even in the last year with 40% from 2018-2019. Let’s take a closer look at the various forms of harissa on the menu, in social media, and in new products.

Social Listening Summary

We conducted a social listening analysis on harissa covering the previous six months. An overview is provided below.

  • 28  mentions per hour
  • 67% female voice

Keywords: olive oil, sweet potatoes, delicious, North African

Key Consumer Interests: 90% Food & Drink, 78% Desserts & Baking, 51% Cooking

Top Posts

Instagram: @theswanwalton posted “If you’re trying #veganuary this Jan but missing your comfort food we’ve got the perfect fix! Butter bean, pepper & harissa stew with cheese dumplings #dreamy”
Instagram: @plantfitkids posted: “Sure, avocado toast might be overplayed, but since we all still love it so much, here are a few ideas to up your avocado toast game-roasted chickpeas & harissa: fave lunch!”

On Food.com, 99 recipes appear when you search for Harissa. Recipes are way beyond just recipes to make harissa but include: safari pizza with harissa, prawn and harissa stew with couscous, poached eggs with harissa oil, harissa lamb with hummus and harissa spaghettini.

Top "Liked" Post from Instagram

Recipe for Stuffed Butternut Squash with Harissa
November 25, 2019 • @veganbowls • 18,437 likes

Harissa on the Menu: Q3 2018 - Q3 2019

623 Harissa Mentions on the Menu

Fast Casual is the top restaurant segment, with sandwiches, entrées, and appetizers as the top three menu sections with the most harissa-flavored items. Sandwiches account for 34% of all harissa-flavored menu items.

Menu Mentions:

  • Morning Shakshuka featuring a North African-inspired tomato ragout made with harissa, Polidori Sausage, goat cheese, and fresh parsley. Topped with two sunny side up eggs at Snooze in Denver, Colorado.

  • Chocolate Pot de Creme served with toasted almonds, harissa whipped cream and maldon salt at Claudette in New York, NY.

  • Speculoos Comfort Bowl featuring Greek yogurt, granola, speculoos, apple, chestnut cream and topped with a cranberry-harissa chutney at Le Pain Quotidien in New York, NY.

“According to Uber Eats 2020 Trend Predictions, “harissa a hot chili pepper paste, saw a rise in popularity between 2014 and 2015, when Time named it one of 2015’s food trends. Uber Eats now reports that people are increasingly ordering dishes with harissa as we head into 2020, indicating the spicy sauce may be making a comeback.” -Business Insider

Harissa Global New Product Introductions 2014-2019

231 harissa flavored new product introductions


  • EUROPE is the top global region for plum new product introductions with 62% of all new products.

  • SEASONINGS is the top product sub-category globally for harissa flavored new products.

  • HUMMUS is the top flavor paired with harissa.


Woolworths Pumpkin & Harissa Bites: Flavorful fritters filled with chickpeas, sweet pumpkin and a subtle kick of harissa spice. This vegetarian product can be paired with a minted yogurt dip for a tasty appetizer. | New Zealand

Olly’s Olives Harissa & Rosemary Halkidiki Olives: Pitted green olives in a harissa, sundried tomato and rosemary dressing. They are described as colossal-sized olives with the most vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean. | UK

Belazu Ingredient Co. Rose Harissa Paste: A middle Eastern spice paste with rose petals, and is said to add depth and spice to meat, vegetables, soups and stews. | UK

Harissa North America New Product Introductions 2014-2019

42 harissa flavored new product introductions


  • NORTH AMERICA accounts for 18% of all harissa flavored new product introductions.

  • SEASONINGS are the top product sub-category for harissa flavored new products.

  • HUMMUS is the top flavor paired with harissa.


Nature’s Nectar Harissa Spiced Mango Juice Cocktail: A harissa flavored mango juice cocktail blended with other two juices from concentrate. Only 36% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would purchase this product, significantly under performing its subcategory. | USA

Culinary Tours Kettle Cooked Peanuts with Harissa: Crunchy peanuts with a spicy, smoky, Moroccan style makeover. 61% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would purchase this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. | USA

Private Selection Honey Harissa Beef Jerky: Premium beef jerky is said to have been made from quality beef and has been marinated for 24 hours in an intensely tasty marinade packed full of flavors of harissa, honey, cumin, ginger and cinnamon. 46% of consumers responded that they likely or definitely would purchase this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. | USA

The Takeaways

Harissa is showing significant growth in the past year across the globe primarily in sauces and seasonings. We are also spotting growth in harissa flavored menu items, with fast casual dining as the top restaurant segment and sandwiches accounting for 34% of all harissa-flavored menu items. For those posting about harissa on social media the words olive oil, sweet potatoes, delicious and North African are most often associated with posts about harissa. With Uber Eats stating that harissa will be making a comeback with increased consumer orders, we are sure to see harissa become more mainstream in the next couple of years. The question is: is harissa on your Flavor Radar?

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Sources in full report