Moroccan Chicken with Couscous

by Hannah

This Moroccan chicken with couscous is one of my favorite dinner dishes of all time. It doesn’t require a lot of involvement, since it just simmers without intervention for 40 minutes. It’s delicious and unlike other recipes (like this butter chicken) it only uses three spices.

This recipe authentically would have olives in it, but if I’m being honest with you, I hate olives. So I didn’t include them. However, you are more welcome to! If you do want to add olives you will add them along with the couscous towards the end.

In this dish, I use chicken thighs and I would not recommend replacing it with breast. Chicken breast gets really dry and tough when cooked too long and since the chicken simmers in a broth for 40 minutes, chicken breast would not taste good. Whereas chicken thighs will only get more tender the more you cook them!

This recipe uses garam masala and you may be wondering why since that’s a spice blend commonly used in countries like India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, but not Morocco. The reason I use garam masala in this Moroccan chicken with couscous dish is because it’s quite similar to ras el hanout, a spice blend used in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Ras el hanout translates to “top shelf” in Arabic because the spice blend would include the best spices a seller had to offer.

Ras el hanout and garam masala use similar spices in their blends and the taste is fairly similar. Since garam masala is commonly found in grocery stores and ras el hanout is not, I wanted to make this recipe more accessible. But if you have access to ras el hanout then I encourage you to use it! You can use the same measurements I use for the garam masala used in this recipe.

Moroccan Chicken with Couscous Ingredients

  • Chicken thighs: You can use bone-in or boneless. I love the texture and taste of the chicken skin, but sometimes I don’t want to deal with bones. If you choose boneless you’ll need 1-1.5 pounds of chicken, but if you opt for bone-in and skin-on, you’ll want a pack of around 2-2.5 pounds.
  • Couscous: You’ll want to use Moroccan-style couscous, not the pearled variety.
  • Onions: Sometimes I think onions are my favorite part of a meal. This recipe uses two. I used regular, yellow onions, but I’ve also tried it with Vidalia and sweet onions and all of them work great.
  • Lemon: The acid of the lemon juice really gives this Moroccan chicken with couscous depth and brings out all the spices.
  • Garlic: So darn good. Enough said.
  • Chicken stock: This makes up the broth you simmer the chicken in and what the couscous soaks up and makes it so incredibly flavorful.
  • Spices: Garam masala, turmeric and coriander.

How to Make Moroccan Chicken with Couscous

1. The first thing you’ll do is trim your chicken thighs to get rid of any excess fat. Then pat dry and sprinkle them very lightly with salt, pepper, garam masala and turmeric. Across all of the thighs you’ll want to use even less than 1/4 teaspoon of each spice. Cook the chicken for four minutes on each side on medium heat. Then transfer to a plate until later.

Moroccan chicken with couscous browned chicken

2. You’ll add your chopped onions and garlic to the pot and add the salt, which will help draw out the water and help the onions sauté faster. Once translucent (see image below) you’ll add the rest of the spices and cook for one minute to allow the spices to toast. You’ll add the stock, bring to a boil and then add the chicken back into the pot, put the lid on and simmer for 40 minutes on medium-low heat.

sauteed onions for moroccan chicken with couscous

3. Turn the heat off, remove the chicken and put it on a plate, add the lemon juice, couscous and then cover and leave off the heat for 5 minutes. Then add your chicken and serve with any garnishes!

Storage and Reheating

To store this meal you can put it in an airtight container for up to five days. To reheat you can heat on the stove on medium heat for around 5-8 minutes or in a microwave for a couple of minutes. If you opt for the microwave make sure you cover it since it will spit and you don’t want yellow turmeric stains all over your microwave.

Did you make this recipe? Make sure to post it to Instagram and tag me

Moroccan chicken with couscous garnished with lemons and parsley

Moroccan Chicken with Couscous

This delicious dish has exotic spices but easy enough for weeknights.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 4


  • 1-1.5 pounds chicken thighs, boneless If using bone-in, aim for 2-2.5 pounds
  • 2 onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup couscous


  • Trim the chicken thighs to remove any excess fat, then pat dry and add the smallest sprinkle of salt, garam masala and turmeric to both sides of the chicken. (This is separate to the measurements you add to your onions later.)
  • Cook the chicken for 4 minutes on each side on medium heat.
  • Remove the chicken and set it aside. Add your diced onions to the pan and add the salt, which will draw out the water and help them cook faster. When translucent, after about 8 minutes, add the rest of the spices and cook for 1 more minute to toast the spices and give them more flavor. Add the stock, bring to a boil and then add the chicken back in. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 40 minutes.
  • Turn the heat off, remove the chicken and place it on a plate temporarily. Into the onions and broth, add the lemon juice and the couscous. Give it a stir and then put the lid on and let sit, off heat, for 5 minutes.
  • Fluff the couscous, add the chicken back in and then add whatever garnishes you like (lemon slices and parsley works well) and serve.

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