Harissa Is The Secret To Spicing Up Your Breakfast Burrito

Nothing hits the spot quite like a breakfast burrito. With everything from eggs to hashbrowns, avocados to salsa, and beans to bacon, a breakfast burrito is a quick and convenient way to roll all the best parts of breakfast into one tortilla and start your day off on a classic, Tex-Mex note. But, while most of the flavors and ingredients for your breakfast burritos may come from south of the border, the secret to spicing it up doesn't come from the poblanos or jalapeños that are traditional to Mexican cuisine. The secret is actually harissa — a hot chili pepper paste native to the Maghreb region, but Tunisia specifically.

Derived from the Arabic verb "harassa," which means to pound or crush, harissa is traditionally made by grinding sun-dried chili peppers with garlic and salt. Some variations, specifically those from Nabeul, Tunisia — a city that's widely considered the harissa capital of the world — also contain various amounts of coriander and caraway. While there are other brands, the most iconic packaged harissa is Dea harissa, easily identifiable by its iconic yellow tubes. When scooped on as the final layer to your breakfast burrito, harissa gives its hearty ingredients the perfect hit of spice.

Harissa for breakfast

Harissa is the secret to spicing up your breakfast burritos because it provides just the perfect amount of heat when layered on top of your hashbrowns, eggs, and sausage. While it can be scooped on and rolled up just as it is, if you want to make it into more of a sauce and less of a paste, it's not uncommon to find it mixed with olive oil, or thinned out with vinegar or lemon juice. But you can also get creative by frying your eggs or tossing your breakfast potatoes in it, too.

That's right, your burritos aren't the only breakfast item that harissa can lend its spicy flavor to. Just like you'd fry eggs in chili oil, you can fry them in harissa. It'd also make a great addition or substitute to Yotam Ottolenghi's fried boiled eggs, in which he uses a tomato-based chili sauce to create a unique, spicy breakfast. The same can be said for your breakfast potatoes, which are taken to a whole other level with a quick toss in some olive oil and harissa paste.

The other, more obvious, option is to lean into harissa's North African roots and use it to make a spicy, harissa shakshuka. However, if you're just keeping things simple, it works perfectly mixed into scrambled eggs or spread on the inside of your breakfast sandwich. Basically, for anything savory that could use some spice, harissa is a condiment you can rely on.