9 Best Substitute For Rose Harissa Paste

Rose Harissa Paste Substitute

Rose Harissa Paste, a fiery and fragrant condiment hailing from North Africa, is renowned for its unique blend of heat, spices, and subtle floral notes, making it a standout ingredient in countless recipes. This chili paste not only intensifies the flavor of dishes but also adds a level of sophistication with its complexity. The combination of hot peppers, spices, and rose petals, either fresh or dried, forms a powerful trio that can awaken the palate and turn a simple meal into a gastronomic adventure.

However, Rose Harissa Paste isn’t always easily accessible, and sometimes, you might need an alternative to suit dietary preferences or restrictions. That’s when substitutes step in, each bringing a unique combination of flavors that can mimic or complement the distinct taste of Rose Harissa Paste. From the smoky heat of Chipotle in Adobo Sauce to the umami punch of Gochujang, these substitutes offer an array of flavors to keep your culinary creativity flowing, proving that even without the exact ingredient, deliciousness isn’t compromised.

What is Rose Harissa Paste?

Rose Harissa Paste is a special variant of Harissa, a hot chili paste that originates from the Maghreb region in North Africa, specifically Tunisia. The rose version integrates dried or fresh rose petals, which add a delicate floral note that complements the fiery heat of the chili peppers, creating an exquisite balance of flavors. This ingredient is a versatile addition to a wide range of dishes, offering depth and complexity that can elevate even the simplest of recipes.

Spicy Alternatives: The Substitutes For Rose Harissa Paste

  1. Gochujang
  2. Sambal Oelek
  3. Chipotle in Adobo Sauce
  4. Sriracha
  5. Ancho Chili Powder
  6. Ras el Hanout
  7. Red Pepper Flakes with Dried Rose Petals
  8. Cayenne Pepper and Smoked Paprika Blend
  9. DIY Rose Harissa Paste

Best Substitutes For Rose Harissa Paste

Each of these substitutes brings a unique combination of heat, flavor, and complexity that can match or complement the distinct characteristics of Rose Harissa Paste. Let’s delve deeper into the details of each one.


Originating from Korean cuisine, Gochujang is a red chili paste that shares the spicy and slightly sweet characteristics of Rose Harissa. Its rich, umami flavor is derived from glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. The first element of Gochujang’s charm is its versatility, being able to deliver flavor and depth to a variety of dishes, from soups to stir-fries and marinades.

However, it lacks the floral notes of rose that characterize Rose Harissa. To mimic this, you can add a dash of rose water or a sprinkle of dried rose petals if you have them on hand. This way, you’ll come close to the original while also introducing the unique dimensions of flavor that Gochujang brings to the table.

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What sets Gochujang apart from Rose Harissa, apart from its origin, is its sweetness, which adds an extra layer to its flavor profile. This sweetness balances out the heat, making it a suitable substitute for those who might find the spiciness of Harissa a bit too overwhelming.

Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek, a popular condiment in Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines, is another excellent alternative. It’s a straightforward chili paste made from crushed raw chili peppers, salt, and vinegar, which gives it a fresh, bright, and hot flavor profile.

Although Sambal Oelek lacks the depth and complexity of Harissa, its simplicity can be a strength. It allows the chili flavor to shine, making it a good base to build upon. Add a touch of rose water and some ground spices like cumin and coriander to mimic the complex flavor of Rose Harissa.

Remember, Sambal Oelek packs a punch when it comes to heat, so adjust the quantity according to your taste and heat tolerance. It’s excellent in marinades, stews, or any dish that needs a kick of heat and a touch of acidity.

Chipotle in Adobo Sauce

Chipotle in Adobo Sauce is a Mexican ingredient featuring smoked jalapeno peppers marinated in a tangy, slightly sweet sauce. It provides a unique blend of smokiness, heat, and sweetness that can bring a different yet delightful twist to dishes that call for Rose Harissa.

While it won’t exactly replicate the taste of Rose Harissa, it brings its unique flair to the mix. The smokiness of the chipotle peppers contrasts well with the sweet and tangy adobo sauce, creating a balance of flavors that can enhance any dish. For the missing rose component, adding a splash of rose water can bring this substitute closer to Rose Harissa.

It’s worth noting that Chipotle in Adobo Sauce is quite potent, so start with a small amount and adjust according to your taste. This ingredient works well in stews, marinades, and grilled dishes, giving them a smoky, spicy, and tangy dimension.


Known and loved worldwide, Sriracha is a type of hot sauce or chili sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. Named after the coastal city of Si Racha in eastern Thailand, it has become a staple condiment in many parts of the world due to its balanced heat, sweetness, and tang.

Despite lacking the complex blend of spices and the floral note found in Rose Harissa, Sriracha can provide the heat and a touch of sweetness to your dishes. It’s a more accessible substitute you’re likely to find in any supermarket or convenience store.

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To use Sriracha as a substitute for Rose Harissa, consider adding a few warming spices such as cumin or caraway to your dish, and don’t forget the dash of rose water to hint at the floral aspect. It’s an excellent addition to soups, stews, stir-fries, and dips.

Ancho Chili Powder

Ancho Chili Powder is made from dried and ground poblano peppers. This chili powder is popular in Mexican cuisine and offers a mild, sweet heat with slight fruity undertones. It’s not as hot as some other chili powders, making it a great option for those who prefer a less spicy alternative.

While it lacks the complexity of Rose Harissa, Ancho Chili Powder can still add depth and mild heat to your dishes. Combine it with common Harissa spices such as cumin, coriander, and caraway, and add a touch of rose water to bring it closer to the flavor profile of Rose Harissa.

Remember that Ancho Chili Powder is not as concentrated as a paste, so you may need to adjust the quantities when using it as a substitute. It works well in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, and rubs for meats.

Ras el Hanout

If you’re looking for an alternative that mirrors the complex blend of spices in Harissa but with less heat, Ras el Hanout is an excellent option. This North African spice blend includes several ingredients, such as cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek, and dry turmeric.

Although it’s not a paste and lacks the heat and rose flavor of Rose Harissa, Ras el Hanout offers a complexity and depth of flavor that can enhance any dish. To use it as a substitute, combine it with fresh or dried chili and rose water to get a little closer to the original flavor profile.

Ras el Hanout is typically used in tagines, couscous, and rice dishes, but its potential uses are vast due to the variety of spices included in the mix.

Red Pepper Flakes with Dried Rose Petals

A simple yet effective substitute for Rose Harissa Paste can be created with just two ingredients you might already have in your pantry: red pepper flakes and dried rose petals.

Red pepper flakes provide the heat that’s a fundamental part of Harissa’s flavor profile. The heat level can vary depending on the type of red pepper flakes used, allowing you to adjust to your preference. Meanwhile, the dried rose petals bring the floral notes that are unique to Rose Harissa.

While this substitute lacks the complex blend of spices present in Rose Harissa, it’s a quick and easy solution that can still add an interesting layer of flavor to your dishes. You can enrich it by adding ground spices such as cumin, coriander, and caraway to better mimic the flavor of Harissa.

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This mix is great for sprinkling on dishes as a seasoning, but you can also rehydrate it with a bit of warm water and oil to create a makeshift paste.

Cayenne Pepper and Smoked Paprika Blend

Another spice blend you can put together to substitute Rose Harissa Paste is a combination of cayenne pepper and smoked paprika. Both these spices are often readily available and can mimic the heat and smokiness of Harissa.

Cayenne pepper is known for its high heat level, so use cautiously if you’re sensitive to spicy foods. Smoked paprika, on the other hand, provides a warm, smoky flavor that can add depth and complexity to your dishes.

However, like other spice-based substitutes, this blend lacks the floral notes and complexity of Rose Harissa. Add some rose water and other ground spices such as cumin, coriander, and caraway to enhance the flavor.

This substitute is especially good in rubs for meats, in stews, or in any dish where you’d like to introduce a smoky, spicy character.

DIY Rose Harissa Paste

If you have a bit more time on your hands, making your own Rose Harissa Paste at home can be an immensely satisfying endeavor. This allows you to control the heat level and the balance of flavors according to your personal preferences.

To make your own Rose Harissa Paste, you’ll need a mix of hot and sweet peppers, garlic, salt, olive oil, and a blend of spices such as caraway, coriander, and cumin. To capture the rose aspect, add either fresh rose petals, dried ones, or rose water.

While making your own paste requires a bit more effort, it can yield a more authentic flavor, especially if you’re trying to replicate a specific style or heat level of Rose Harissa Paste.

Substitutes for Rose Harissa Paste: Nutritional Profile

Below is a general nutritional profile of the substitutes mentioned in a ¼ cup serving. Please note, these values can vary depending on the specific brand or variety.

SubstituteCaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)Gluten
Sambal Oelek200401No
Chipotle in Adobo Sauce401.5731No
Ancho Chili Powder482942No
Ras el Hanout160.7310.7No
Red Pepper Flakes with Dried Rose Petals301.752.71.3No
Cayenne Pepper and Smoked Paprika Blend17131.40.8No
DIY Rose Harissa PasteDepends on recipeDepends on recipeDepends on recipeDepends on recipeDepends on recipeDepends on recipe

Wrapping Up

Finding a perfect match for Rose Harissa Paste can be challenging due to its unique and complex blend of flavors. However, the alternatives listed here, while not exact, can still bring an interesting dimension to your dishes. Whether you choose to use a different chili paste, a spice blend, or even make your own version at home, remember that cooking is about exploration and enjoyment. So don’t hesitate to experiment and adapt according to your taste. With a little creativity, you can transform the absence of one ingredient into an opportunity to discover new flavors and recipes.

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