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This easy Grilled Harissa and Honey Chicken with Cilantro Cream Sauce has the perfect balance of sweet and heat- it’s great for BBQs, and easy enough for a weeknight dinner!

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Whether you’re looking for a great new grilled chicken recipe to serve at your next big BBQ bash, or for a simple weeknight delight- this Harissa and Honey Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Cream Sauce will not disappoint.

This is a super flavorful, super easy dinner to prepare. So grab your passport, because you are headed straight to Flavor Town (if you see Guy Fieri there, tell him I said hi, and he should try this chicken, because it is “OUT OF BOUNDS”). The Cilantro Sauce’s creamy, herbalicious flavor perfectly compliments the sweet and spicy chicken thighs. Serve the chicken up with a side of grilled veggies, or even as a taco or slider. I have served it all 3 ways- they are all equally delicious.

Grilled Harissa and Honey Chicken

What’s harissa?

Harissa is a super flavorful, spicy chili pepper paste, originating in North Africa. It can be purchased in a tube or a jar, and there are many different variations- some spicier than others. I love the jarred version sold at Trader Joe’s, but have also had luck with DEA brand, which comes in a tube. Experiment and find which brand you love!

ginger garlic harissa honey

Making the marinade for the chicken thighs

The marinade could not be simpler to make! All you need is harissa paste, honey, garlic and ginger. Whisk em up and toss them to evenly coat your chicken thighs (I use boneless, skinless thighs, and I pound them out to about 1/4″ thickness with a mallet or rolling pin). Once the chicken is coated, transfer it to the fridge for 4-8 hours to help the chicken really soak up all the flavor.

marinating chicken

Making the Cilantro Cream Sauce

To make the sauce, you will need:

  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • the juice of 1 lime 
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, stems and all 
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, or Greek yogurt 
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander 
  • salt and pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

First, you’ll grind up the garlic, cilantro and lime juice in a food processor until everything is finely chopped. The simple add the remaining ingredients, and blend util smooth. Make up to 3 days in advance, or right before dinner. It’s great right away, and only gets better as it sits, and the flavors begin to meld.

Grilled Harissa and Honey Chicken

Grilling tips for cooking the Harissa Honey Chicken Thighs

  1. Marinate for as long as you can. Trust me, dong the marinade the night before or the morning of makes all the difference, and really lets the chicken suck up al that flavor. 
  2. BEAT YOUR CHICKEN. Pounding out the chicken in a bag with a mallet or rolling pi not only tenderizes the meat and helps it cook more evenly, it also help you take out your frustrations. Who do you hate today? Picture them while you beat the chicken into submission. 
  3. Make sure you’ve got a hot side and a cool side. That way you are prepared for any flare ups, and won’t risk burning the chicken. 
  4. Keep a close eye on your chicken. With the honey involved, you want to keep a close watch to ensure the chicken doesn’t burn. We want charred and crisp, not burnt and black. 
  5. Resist the urge to cut that chicken right after it comes off the grill. I know it smells heavenly, but you’ll thank yourself for giving it 5-10 minutes to rest and redistribute all those precious juices. 
Grilled Harissa and Honey Chicken

If you make my Grilled Harissa and Honey Chicken, please be sure to leave me a comment! I would love to hear from you, and value your feedback! Lastly, if you make the recipe and love it, please tag me on Instagram! I love to see your photos!

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Grilled Harissa and Honey Chicken

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Marinate4 hrs
Total Time40 mins
Course: Dinner, lunch
Keyword: cilantro cream, grilled chicken, harissa, honey
Servings: 3

Equipment

  • Food Processor

Ingredients

For the chicken 

  • 6 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs- pounded out to 1/4” thickness 
  • 2 tbsp harissa paste*
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 

Cilantro Cream Sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, whole
  • the juice of 1 lime 
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, stems and all 
  • 3/4 cup sour cream*
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander 
  • salt and pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • Make the Cilantro Cream Sauce: In a food processor, pulse the whole garlic, lime juice and cilantro (pushing down the sides with a spatula as needed) until garlic and cilantro are finely chopped. Add the sour cream, coriander, salt and pepper and apple cider vinegar, and pulse until smooth. Sauce can be made up to a few days in advance (flavor builds as it sits).
    2. Make the marinade for the chicken: In a small bowl, whisk together harissa paste, honey, grated ginger and minced garlic until well incorporated. Once chicken has been pounded out to 1/4” thickness with a meat mallet, transfer to a bowl or ziplock bag and coat all pieces evenly with the marinade. Marinate chicken for 4-8 hours before grilling for maximum flavor.
    3. Cooking the chicken on a gas grill: Set one side of the grill to medium-high and one to low, close the grill lid and allow to grill to heat up for 15 minutes.
    4. Place the chicken on the grill on the high side first, and grill for 7-12 mins until well browned/charred, checking occasionally to make sure the chicken doesn’t burn. Keep an eye out for flare-ups on the grill, and move chicken around as needed to ensure even browning/crust.
    5. Once the chicken is browned on the first side, flip kit over and move to the cool side and grill, covered for an additional 5-7 mins, checking occasionally, until chicken is cooked through.
    6. Allow chicken to rest for 5-10 mins before serving/ slicing.
    7. Serve chicken warm with sauce on side, or even as a taco!

*Notes/Substitutions:

I LOVE Trader Joe’s Traditional Tunisian Harissa Hot Chili Pepper Paste With Herbs and Spices, but any harissa paste works for this recipe. It can be found in a jar or tube online and in most grocery stores.

You can use full fat sour cream, low fat sour cream, or greek yogurt for the Cilantro Cream Sauce. All are delicious!

© Jawns I Cooked. All images & content are the sole property of Jawns I Cooked. Please ask permission prior to using my photos. If you would like to share one of my recipes, please link back to this post and re-write the instructions in your own words.