Lamb Chili with Harissa

lamb chili 2Your next pot of chili doesn’t have to be the same old ground beef chili.

Instead, cook up a pot of ground lamb seasoned with things like turmeric and ginger and a few tablespoons of fiery harissa. The end result is a meal that’s still recognizable as chili but has delicious new flavor.

You know the drill with lamb by now: it’s a nutritionally complete protein packed with all 8 essential amino acids and a whole lot of vitamins and minerals. Lamb can be challenging to cook, but when your butcher grinds it for you and it’s used as the base for chili, there aren’t any worries about overcooking the meat and making it tough. This is an easy and stress-free way to cook lamb.

Harissa is used as the main spice component in this lamb chili. This Middle Eastern condiment gives chili (even beef chili) amazing flavor and adjustable heat. Two tablespoons of harissa adds a slow, robust burn to a pot of chili. Cut back to 1 tablespoon for less heat, or, use the harissa strictly as a condiment. That way, everyone can give their own bowl of chili as much or as little heat as they want.


Servings: 4

Time in the Kitchen: 1.5 hours


  • 1 ½ pounds ground lamb (680 g)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (15 ml)
  • 1 white or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (5 ml)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric (2.5 ml)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger (a pinch)
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (a pinch)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste (5 ml)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomato (425 g)
  • 1 cup water (240 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons harissa, or more or less to taste (15 ml)
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish


Warm the olive oil over medium-high heat then add the onion, garlic and red pepper. Saute until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

Add cumin, turmeric, ground ginger and cinnamon. Cook 1 minute, stirring the spices into the onions. Add ground meat and season with salt.

Break up the ground meat as it cooks. When it is almost cooked through and barely pink, add the can of diced tomato, water and harissa.

Simmer gently, with a lid just barely cracked, for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.

Top with cilantro and serve, with harissa on the side.

harissa 2

lamb chili 1

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9 thoughts on “Lamb Chili with Harissa”

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  1. Looks GREAT! I have a neighborhood chili party up coming, and this will be a perfect addition to the buffet. But I think I won’t tell anyone it’s made with lamb, until after they are in love with it. Sneaky Sneaky!

  2. This would be great with dollup full fat yogurt as well.

  3. Ack, the mere mention of the forbidden herb (cilantro, not THAT forbidden herb) makes my stomach turn. This looks like a great recipe though. I’ve taken to adding a can of 100% pumpkin to all of my chilis and stews. It’s super cheap, adds great texture and very little flavor, and works as a nice thickener.

  4. “it’s a nutritionally complete protein packed with all 8 essential amino acids ”

    Well yeah, it’s meat. You know of any meat that doesn’t contain all the EAAs? If you’re going to tout a meat as superior to other meats, the angle needs to be either vit/mineral content or fatty acid profile.

  5. I made this but subbed venison+added some roasted pumpkin and served over cauliflower rice… It was possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten!! I’m definitely going to make a big ass batch to feed to my family! 😉

  6. Can’t wait to tuck into this for dinner! I also made some thin omlettes to use as a soft wrap. Yum!