It’s high summer and that means it’s high-grilling season! This Independence Day, give your favorite food a delicious, tangy homemade BBQ sauce.

I do not like jarred sauces and never use them. And prepared sauces have a lot refined sugars, thickeners and other ingredients that I do not want to feed to my family and friends. I also want the food to taste like I made it — not like some large company made it!

This sauce has some of the heat of a typical North African harissa, but instead of just being a fiery condiment, it is a luscious and complex sauce with the addition of toasted spices, tangy fresh lime juice, fresh mint and coriander. This BBQ sauce is summery, spicy and delicious!

Armed with only my blender and my grill, I made the most delicious grilled chicken, vegetables and potatoes thanks to this sauce. I even made a double batch and froze some for later. Jump up off the computer right now and go MAKE THIS SAUCE. You can thank me later.

Piquillo Harissa (Recipe yields about 1 cup sauce)

If you cannot find Piquillo Pimentos, substitute jarred roasted red peppers. This sauce has a fresh tang from the lime juice and an underlying complex flavor from the hard spices (star anise, cumin, coriander and cinnamon). The sauce is easy to make as you just throw the ingredients into a blender and give it a whir.

The sauce is fantastic on fish, chicken and grilled vegetables.


  • 3 limes, zested and juiced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 star anise
  • 10 ounces roasted piquillo pimentos or roasted red peppers
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated on a microplane
  • 2 hot chili peppers, sliced (I use jalapeno)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Roast the seeds, cinnamon and star anise and grind the spices into a powder in a spice mill (I use a small coffee grinder that I keep just for grinding spices).
  2. Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend to a paste. The flavors will develop as the harissa sits. You can store the sauce in a covered dish in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze it for up to two months.
Laura Frankel is an Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and author of numerous kosher cookbooks including Jewish Cooking for All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. To purchase her books, click here. For more articles by Laura, click here.
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