I first tasted harissa paste on a trip down to the South West of Western Australia. It’s such a beautiful place and we spent days going from farm door to winery and over again. We travel there often.

Pieces of cut roasted chicken on a white plate with a grey napkin underneath and rice in the background

I had to buy a jar of harissa last time and this Sticky Harissa Chicken was born. Since we have a roasted chicken every Thursday night, this one is on regular rotation now.

This chicken is an absolute winner. It’s absolutely packed with flavour, the skin has a sweet and spicy hit but the chicken is perfectly delicate and it’s also super simple to throw together – even on a Thursday night.

So what is harissa?

Harissa is a condiment used predominantly in North African and Middle Eastern cuisine and is a hot chilli paste mixed with various spices, garlic, oil and herbs.

Birdseye view of 4 pieces of roasted harissa chicke on a white plate with a grey napkin underneath

How do you make Sticky Harissa Chicken?

First things first – you need to spatchcock your chicken. Not sure what that is? Check out my post on How to Butterfly a Whole Chicken

It’s an important step due to the honey in the marinade – you don’t want the chicken to be in the oven too long or it will just burn. Butterflying it will help it to cook quicker. It also makes it perfect for weeknights.

Now that’s sorted we can move on with cooking the chicken.

A whole butterflied chicken in a roasting tray being brushed with marinade

  1. Place the butterflied chicken on top of some onion wedges in a baking tray and bake it in a preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  2. Simmer the sauce ingredients together until syrupy and then brush them over the partially roasted chicken.
  3. Roast for another 20-30 minutes, basting regularly.

The chicken gets a char on the outside from the honey caramelising which I like but if it looks like it’s getting too dark for you, just cover it with foil for the last bit of roasting time.

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Pieces of roasted harissa chicken on a white platter with an orange sauce on the side

This recipe is on repeat in our house. I love how simple it is – basic flavours turning into this luscious, flavoursome dinner with little to no effort means this one gets a regular Thursday night gig. 

More chicken recipes

A closeup of roasted harissa chicken on a white plate

Sticky Harissa Chicken

5 from 2 votes
Whole chicken covered in a honey and harissa coating and roasted to tender, succulent perfection. This Sticky Harissa Chicken only needs 45-50 minutes in the oven so it works well for a weeknight dinner or the weekend.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1.8 kg (4lb) whole chicken
  • olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 ½ tablespoons harissa paste (notes)
  • 1/2 lemon, zest & juice only
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet (or mild) paprika

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 200C / 395F / 180C fan forced. Place onions in the bottom of a large baking dish or tray (large enought to fit the chicken).
  • Butterfly the chicken: Cut down each side of the backbone of the chicken to remove it, then flip it over and press with the palm of your hand to flatten out the chicken at the breastbone. Place chicken on top of the onions, breast side up.
  • Put a few small pieces of butter under the skin of the chicken on the breast part. Now rub the skin of the chicken with a little salt and oil. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • While the chicken is cooking, bring the honey, harissa paste, lemon juice & zest, cumin & paprika, to a simmer in a small saucepan. Continue simmering until it gets quite thick and syrupy (like honey consistency).
  • Once the chicken has been in the oven for 20 minutes, take it out and brush the sauce all over.
  • Return the chicken to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until it's cooked through (notes), While it's cooking, baste every 5-7 minutes with the juices from the pan or any leftover sauce,
  • Chop it into 8 pieces with a carving knife, drizzle a little of the pan juices over the top and serve.

Notes

  1. I use an Australian standard tablespoon size 20ml (= to 4 teaspoons worldwide)
  2. A meat thermometer placed in the thickest part of the chicken should read 75C if it is cooked.
  3. Serving suggestion: This is lovely served with rice (I cooked my rice in chicken stock & leek for some extra flavour), some sautéed spinach with toasted pine nuts and something like naan bread for mopping up the extra sauce. Raita is also a nice addition to cool it all down a bit.
Have you tried this recipe?Rate or comment below and let us know how it was!

Closeup of the meat on a piece of roasted harissa chicken