Amp Up Your Basic Mayo With A Spicy Kick Of Harissa

Mayonnaise isn't just wildly popular but versatile. It's spread on sandwiches, is used as a creamy base for a variety of sauces, and can even be implemented in cake and cookie recipes. Its usefulness knows no bounds, and if you'd like to add a unique spin to your favorite everyday mayo, harissa may be your answer.

Harissa is a Tunisian chili paste made from dried chili peppers, olive oil, garlic, and spices. This spicy, bright red condiment can often be found in Middle Eastern and North African recipes and happens to be the perfect ingredient to add to mayonnaise. All that's needed is to add your mayo to a bowl, add a dollop of harissa on top, and then mix. Since the paste can be quite spicy, start by stirring in a small amount and add more to your liking. Harissa comes in a variety of different heats, from mild to very hot, so find a brand you like and stick to it for the best results. (You can usually find it pre-made in jars or tubes in the international aisle of the grocery store). Once you've gauged the spice level to your liking, the fun begins: It's time to start adding harissa mayo to all your favorite foods.

How to use harissa mayo

On TikTok, "harissa mayonnaise" has over a billion views — it has nearly as many uses. It's the perfect addition to any lunchtime cold-cut sandwich. It will kick your standby turkey on white bread into the stratosphere with a peppery, smoky, spicy twist. The condiment is a great substitution for any sort of hot sandwich spread or topping you'd use, like spicy pickles, relish, or hot sauce. If you're grilling up beef or lamb burgers, have some harissa mayo on hand for your buns, as well as for dipping. It's a great alternative to ketchup and is delicious with french fries or really any sort of potato, like tater tots, hashbrowns, or sweet potato fries.

No one is stopping you from putting harissa mayo on a hot dog. However, for even more fun between the bun, try spicy North African lamb merguez sausage instead. The hot and deeply spiced link will complement harrisa's garlicky, peppery savor. Dress it up further with equally aromatic and garlic-packed Moroccan pickled vegetables flavored with everything from coriander to cinnamon.

In addition to potatoes, harissa mayo makes a great dip for chicken tenders and is tasty spread on vegetables like grilled eggplant. Finally, if you usually add a hefty helping of hot sauce or jalapenos to your breakfast burritos, swap in this mayo instead. Spread it over the tortilla and savor the creaminess that goes so well with eggs and potatoes.

Other ways to add depth of flavor to harissa mayo

Since making your own harissa mayo is very simple, it's easy to keep experimenting in the kitchen by adding even more depth of flavor. Incorporating other North African ingredients is a great place to start. If your mayo has too much of a kick to it, try adding a bit of sweetness to balance it out with date syrup. Preserved lemons are a North African staple, and adding a bit of lemon zest would be another great way to bring something new to your palate.

The condiment is also an excellent component for a spicy homemade ranch dressing. Simply add 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup of full-fat Greek yogurt. The tang of the yogurt goes great with the spice of the harissa mayo, and you can continue to bump up the ranch flavor by adding dill, chives, salt, and pepper.

If spicy foods and mayonnaise are on your list of pantry essentials, there's no doubt that adding harissa to your grocery list would be a wise decision. Especially if you're feeling bored with your standby condiments, harissa mayo may be the exact shake-up you need.