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 oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Tomato paste
- 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)
- 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 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)
- 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.
- 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.