You’ll love this easy Chicken Couscous dinner with baked chicken thighs in warm Moroccan spices, vegetables, and fluffy couscous.
Easy chicken and couscous recipe
If you need a little inspiration to step up the chicken dinner game, today’s recipe is for you!
This couscous chicken is a riff on my earlier Moroccan chicken. In this version, I use boneless skinless chicken thighs, coated with a Moroccan-inspired rub with garlic, tomato paste and warm seasonings including Ras El Hanout, cinnamon and ginger. I add in vegetables–carrots, celery, and onions–to make a one-pan baked chicken dinner.
Couscous is the perfect thing to finish this pan of baked chicken thighs, and it literally takes only 10 minutes to make.
This chicken with couscous and vegetables is a winner every time!
What is couscous and how do you cook it?
Though many confuse it with a grain, couscous is actually a tiny pasta made out of semolina flour, and it is a staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking.
There are a few types of couscous, including the pearl couscous I used in this earlier salad recipe, but in today’s recipe, I opted for Moroccan-style couscous. Using this fine couscous that’s already been steamed makes for a quick addition to this pan of chicken.
I like to start by toasting the couscous in extra virgin olive oil; this is a great way to add flavor right off the bat. To cook this fine Moroccan couscous, you’ll add 1 cup of boiling water or broth to 1 cup of couscous, then simply cover and let the couscous soak up the water (off the heat) and do not disturb it for 10 minutes before fluffing it with a fork. (Check out my earlier post for How to Cook Couscous for more helpful tips.)
What you’ll need for this couscous recipe
This Moroccan-inspired chicken dish is made with traditional Moroccan spices, chicken and couscous.
For the chicken:
Extra virgin olive oilRed wine vinegarTomato pasteGarlicRas el Hanout – This is a popular North African spice blend that lends the Moroccan flavor to this dish without needing a long list of spices on hand. Ground cinnamon and ginger – While both of these are in this Ras el Hanout blend, I like to add extra for additional warmth.Chicken thighs – Boneless, skinless chicken thighs work best in this recipe.Salt and pepperVegetables – Carrots, celery and red onion are all baked with the chicken.Raisins – An optional topping before serving.
For the couscous:
Extra virgin olive oilCouscous – I used instant Moroccan couscous for this recipe. It’s pre-steamed, so it cooks quickly.Water – You can also cook the couscous in chicken broth.Kosher saltGround cinnamon – Just a pinch to add flavor to the couscous.Fresh parsley – Adds a fresh flavor and pop of color to the dish.
How to make chicken couscous
In this recipe, you’ll start by seasoning and baking the chicken and vegetables, then you’ll add the cooked couscous on top when ready to serve. Here is how to make it (the print-friendly recipe is below):
Season the chicken. Pat the chicken dry and season with kosher salt and pepper on both sides, then coat with about ¾ cup of the rub. Set aside for now (or if working ahead, you can cover and store in the fridge for a couple hours or up to overnight)
Season the vegetables. In a mixing bowl, season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Toss with the remaining rub.
Combine the chicken and vegetables. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a baking pan.
Bake. Bake at 425 degrees F (on the center rack) for 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear. The veggies should also soften and gain some char.
Prepare the couscous. While the chicken is baking, cook the couscous. First, toast the couscous with olive oil in a saucepan. Season with kosher salt and a dash of cinnamon, then add 1 cup of boiling water or broth. Cover and turn off the heat. Do not disturb for 10 minutes
Add the couscous over the chicken to serve. Remove the cooked chicken from the oven. Spoon the couscous between the chicken and allow it to soak up the pan juices. Finish with raisins (or other chopped dried fruit of your choice) and serve!
Enjoy your Moroccan-inspired chicken couscous fresh from the oven; just be sure to give the couscous a few minutes to soak up some of the pan juices. With chicken, couscous and veggies all in one dish, this is truly a complete meal. There’s no need for side dishes or extras, though you can never go wrong starting with a big salad.
Additional Recipe FAQs
Yes, boneless chicken breasts will work here as well. However, remember to adjust cooking time as chicken breasts can dry out. Depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts, it can take about 18 to 20 minutes to bake. With chicken breasts especially, I like to start by baking covered with foil for 10 minutes, then finishing uncovered for another 8 minutes or so. I have a baked chicken breasts recipe that can be a good guide for you here (different flavors, of course)
If you want to work in advance, you can season and marinate the chicken, keeping it in the fridge up to 1 night. You can also chop up the veggies and cook the couscous one day ahead, if you like.
Yes! Pearl couscous will work well here. The cooking method will vary as pearled couscous cooks much like pasta in boiling water for about 15 minutes or so. Learn more about pearl couscous here.
Leftover cooked chicken couscous can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat just until the chicken has warmed through (you may add a little liquid if needed).
More couscous recipes:
Moroccan-Inspired Chicken Couscous
For the chicken
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil1 tablespoon red wine vinegar4 tablespoons tomato paste4 cloves garlic (minced)2 teaspoon Ras el Hanout1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (divided)¾ teaspoon ground ginger6 to 8 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)kosher salt and black pepper3 carrots (cut into 1-inch pieces)2 celery ribs (cut into 1-inch pieces)1 red onion (large, halved and cut into ½-inch thick slices)handful of raisins (optional)
For the couscous
extra virgin olive oil1 cup couscous1 cup water (or chicken broth)kosher salt½ teaspoon ground cinnamon1 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
Leftover chicken couscous can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat just until the chicken has warmed through (you may add a little liquid if needed).
Review this post for how to cook couscous for more tips.
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