Creamy Tahini and Harissa Beef

Servings: 4 servings Source:


  • 1 lb ground beef (20% fat)
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 6 scallions, white and pale green parts and dark green parts separated,thinly sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mixed tender herbs (such as parsley, cilantro, and/or mint)
  • 1/2 cup well-mixed tahini
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 7–8-oz bag salted pita chips
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup harissa (preferably thick)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more


Powerhouse players collide in this deeply flavorful speedy skillet dinner loosely inspired by the flavors of arayes—Lebanese-style meat-packed pita pockets. Ground beef, browned and broken up, soaks up a heady blend of smoky harissa and caramelized onions while the silky tahini sauce offers a rich, creamy counterpoint to the warm spices. We strongly recommend New York Shuk harissa—it’s thick and velvety and gives the sauce the right amount of body. It’s like the Goldilocks of harissa: spicy but not alarmingly so.

The inclusion of pita chips is entirely unexpected, but once you’ve taken your first bite, you won’t question the decision. The substantial crunch acts as a foil to the saucy beef while softening gently as it pulls in the harissa and tahini.


Step 1

Whisk ½ cup well-mixed tahini, 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, ½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and ½ cup room-temperature water in a small bowl until smooth; set tahini sauce aside.

Step 2

Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Cook 1 large red onion, finely chopped, white and pale green parts of 6 scallions, thinly sliced, and 8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped, stirring occasionally, until onion and scallions are tender and golden brown in spots, 8–10 minutes.

Step 3

Add ¾ cup harissa (preferably thick), 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (if using; you may not need it depending on your harissa and your own heat preference), remaining 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and ¼ cup water. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until harissa is slightly darkened in color and oil beads on surface, about 5 minutes. Add 1 lb. ground beef (20% fat) and ½ cup water and cook, stirring often to break up meat, until water is mostly evaporated and beef is cooked through, 8–12 minutes. Remove from heat; mix in dark green parts of 6 scallions, thinly sliced. Season with more salt if needed.

Step 4

Spread half of reserved tahini sauce in a large shallow bowl or over a platter; spoon beef mixture over. Top with a handful of salted pita chips and remaining tahini sauce, then ½ cup coarsely chopped mixed tender herbs (such as parsley, cilantro, and/or mint). Mix lightly to barely combine. Serve with more pita chips for crushing over.

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