You'll love this easy Chicken Couscous dinner with baked chicken thighs in warm Moroccan spices, vegetables, and fluffy couscous.

Couscous chicken in a silver pan

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.)

Overhead view of Moroccan-inspired chicken ingredients

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 oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Tomato paste
  • Garlic
  • Ras 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 pepper
  • Vegetables - Carrots, celery and red onion are all baked with the chicken.
  • Raisins - An optional topping before serving.

For the couscous:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Couscous - 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 salt
  • Ground 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):

  • Prepare the seasoning rub. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, garlic and spices (ras el hanout, cinnamon, and ginger)

    Overhead view of moroccan-inspired chicken marinade
  • 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)

    Overhead view of chicken marinating in a baking sheet

  • Season the vegetables. In a mixing bowl, season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Toss with the remaining rub.

    Onions, celery and carrots coated in marinade in a glass bowl
  • 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.

    Overhead view of freshly baked chicken couscous
  • 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

    Couscous with parsley in a pot
  • 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!
Overhead view of chicken and couscous

Serving suggestions

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

Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs in this recipe?

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)

Can I prep this chicken couscous in advance?

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.

Can I use pearl couscous instead?

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.

How long will this chicken and couscous recipe keep?

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:

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4.89 from 53 votes

Moroccan-Inspired Chicken Couscous

Suzy Karadsheh
Overhead view of chicken and couscous
Easy chicken couscous dinner with baked chicken thighs, warm Moroccan spices and fluffy couscous! If you like, add a big salad to start the meal.
Prep – 15 mins
Cook – 45 mins
Total – 1 hr
Cuisine:
Moroccan
Serves – 6 servings
Course:
Main Course

Ingredients
  

For the chicken

  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoon Ras el Hanout
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (divided)
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 to 8 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 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 oil
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup water (or chicken broth)
  • kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup fresh parsley (chopped)

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Make the seasoning rub. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, garlic, and spices. Whisk to combine.
  • Pat the chicken dry and season with kosher salt and black pepper on both side. Pour about ¾ of the rub you just made all over the chicken (reserve the rest for later) and toss to make sure all the pieces are well coated. Set aside for now.
  • Put the vegetables and onions in a mixing bowl. Season with kosher salt and black pepper and pour the remaining seasoning rub. Toss to combine.
  • Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a large baking pan or rimmed sheet pan.
  • Bake in the center of the heated-oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and the juices run clear. The vegetables should also soften and gain some char.
  • While the chicken and veggies are baking, prepare the couscous. Boil the water or both until bubbling. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the couscous and cook, tossing regularly, until the couscous is toasted to golden brown. Season with kosher salt and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon. Add the boiled water. Immediately turn the heat off and cover the saucepan. Leave the couscous undisturbed for 10 minutes, the couscous should absorb all the liquid. When ready, add the fresh parsley and fluff the couscous with a fork.
  • When the chicken is fully cooked through, remove it from the oven. Spoon the couscous between the chicken pieces and allow it about 5 minutes to sop up some of the pan juices. Finish with the raisins, if you like.

Video

Notes

  • Prepare ahead: You can season and marinate the chicken in the fridge a few hours or up to 1 night in advance. 
  • 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. 
  • Visit Our Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, couscous, and spices used like ras el hanout

Nutrition

Calories: 492.6kcalCarbohydrates: 31.6gProtein: 23.5gSaturated Fat: 7.7gMonounsaturated Fat: 21.2gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 110.7mgSodium: 399.6mgPotassium: 594mgFiber: 4gVitamin A: 6208IUVitamin C: 19.5mgCalcium: 69.6mgIron: 2.6mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. Does a full teaspoon of cinnamon go into the rub for this recipe or do you divide it and put half in the rub and half in the couscous? Thanks

  2. 5 stars
    A friend and I made this together over zoom! So wonderful that next week we are going to try it with shrimp -
    marinating the shrimp in the sauce for awhile, roasting the veggies with some of the sauce, then tossing the shrimp in for the last 5-8 minutes of veggie roasting time.

  3. 5 stars
    Excellent! Had 8 thighs thinking we would have plenty of leftovers. Had an unexpected guest. GONE. So flavorful and easy to make. It’s another keeper. Thank you Suzy!

  4. 5 stars
    This was delicious! it was my first time using Ras el Hanout and we loved the flavor it added to this dish. Now my husband wants to put it on everything. It was quick and easy and I will definitely be making this again.

  5. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe! Thank you so much for sharing! I made it today and we all loved it!

    There is one thing I was not sure about, when you bake the chicken and vegetables in the oven, do you cover the pan? or do you leave it uncovered?

    Thanks

  6. 5 stars
    I just made this and it was an absolute hit with my husband (and with me!)!
    I am vegetarian, hence there is always an element of insecurity involved when I cook for the carnivores in our family as I can't "taste-test".
    This recipe was easy to make and was very flavorful (I ate the couscous and veggies...yum!) - like everything else I have tried on this website so far.
    I love that I can trust that the outcome will be great! I can't tell you how often I've followed a recipe from other websites only to come to the conclusion that the recipe must not have been a true and tested recipe (did someone actually take the time to cook the meal according to the instructions? I think not!), as it resulted in something that didn't nearly resemble the picture that went along with it. Not so with Suzy's recipes (and pictures)! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her recipes, knowing that they ALWAYS turn out well and are simply delicious. Thank you, Suzy! I'm a fan!

  7. 5 stars
    Hi Suzy,

    I don't usually jump into the comments but I just had to after making this recipe. It's a new favorite and I can't wait to make it again! The tomato paste as part of the marinade is genius, talk about umami, delicious! Thank you.

  8. 5 stars
    This is so, so good! And easy! I will definitely be making this again and again. Thank you for this delicious recipe.

  9. 5 stars
    Very simple meal to make with really great flavor. I used the pearl couscous or Israeli which was great! Definitely recommend cooking the cous cous in chicken stock instead of water for more flavor. As far as the veggies I did carrot, onion and cauliflower instead of celery. Will definitely make again!

  10. This looks amazing! I was thinking about adding more veggies—what do you think would go well with the current veggies?

    1. Hi, Marie. I'm sure that would work, but have not tried it myself with this recipe, so I can't really advise on specifics. I you give it a go, I'd love to hear your feedback!

  11. Hi Suzy. Can I use a glass baking dish, 9X13 for the oven instead of a metal baking dish. Looking forward to making this!

    1. 5 stars
      Hi, Rose! My daughter won't eat couscous either - I made Suzy's Lebanese rice (on this site!) and was it ever a HIT!!!! Hope that helps! 🙂 ~Chrissie

  12. 5 stars
    Took out chicken thighs and in a rather timely fashion this recipe was in my e-mail just as I was deciding what to make tonight. Delicious It was so moist and flavorful. The family will appreciate after working and winter prep outside. The pets were following the scent as I fixed plates. Thanks for another great recipe.

  13. Would this recipe work with chicken breasts if the vegetables were given a head start in the oven before adding the chicken? I would love to make this but we are not fans of chicken thighs. Thank you.

    1. Hi, Noni! You can absolutely use chicken breasts here. If you scroll down the article a bit, there is a section describing how best to do this .

    2. Hello Suzy,

      We've just tried this recipe today and it was amazing. The only problem was that the carrots were undercooked... I put the chicken first and the veggies after in the cooking pan. Should I do it the other way, or something else entirely ?

      Greetings !

      1. Hmmm... I've never had that issue with this recipe, so I'm not sure what could have gone wrong. You may want to just try cutting the carrots into smaller pieces next time.

      2. Got it right... Boiling the carrots for 10 minutes beforehand, along with smaller chunks, seems to be the best solution. Greetings

  14. 5 stars
    Wow, thank you so much for this recipe! It was fabulous! Every single person in my house loved it... even my picky teens. The instructions were very easy to follow and the recipe was easy to put together.