This meal has it all: strongly seasoned Moroccan chicken over a bed of veggie-packed couscous with a delectable apricot finishing sauce!
An Easy Moroccan Chicken
We can’t stop thinking about this lunch! It’s not only intoxicatingly aromatic, but the tastes are richly complex, with savory sweetness, a hint of smokiness, and beautiful earthy undertones. The sweet apricot sauce balances the chicken’s modest spicy bite, and the couscous foundation holds everything together well!
Never Miss A Good Deal!
What To Serve With Moroccan Chicken
The dish may appear daunting at first appearance, but bear in minds that it contains a full dinner — a veggie-packed couscous base, ultra-flavorful grilled chicken, and an apricot sauce to tie everything together. Each component is very simple and straightforward, and due to the grill, we keep the most of the mess outdoors!
What exactly is Moroccan cuisine? Morocco is a melting pot country with many distinct cultural influences; Moroccan gastronomy is no exception. Morocco is located on the northern point of Africa, thus African and Mediterranean influences are prominent, with recipes rich in spices, nuts, fruits, grains…and taste!
Starting with the marinade, we’ll break down each component of this dinner.
Moroccan Chicken Marinade
This recipe’s marinade comes together in no time! We mix a few spicess with olive oil, ginger, and garlic. If you prepare this Grilled Moroccan Chicken regularly (as we do), creating a few spice “packets” at once will save you a lot of time. While you’re at it, measure out and combine a few different batches of all the spices into little separate bags or containers for future use.
A couple of time savers on the marinade:
- We like to use Dorot® cubes for the ginger and garlic. Keep them in the freezer and use them in this (and other) recipes as required. (See if your local shop has these; they’re usually available among frozen vegetables at the grocery store.) Another approach is to use chilled garlic paste and chilled chopped garlic.
How To Cook Moroccan Chicken
- Reduced marinade time? Even marinating the chicken for 20-30 minutes is useful. To shorten the marinating period, pierce a few holes in the chicken with the tines of a fork. This will allow the marinade to enter the meat more quickly due to the reduced marinating period.
- Flip the marinated chicken. Make careful to switch the bag of marinated Moroccan Chicken onto the other side throughout the marinating duration. We don’t want only one side of the chicken to get tasty!
- Oil your grill grates generously. I accomplish this by wrapping up a few paper towels, dipping them in oil (canola or vegetable), and wiping them around the grill grates with tongs. This will help to create a lovely sear and keep the chicken from sticking to the grates.
- Use a digital meat thermometer to remove the guesswork of grilling!
- Cooking durations can vary based on various circumstances, so I always recommend testing your chicken with a thermometer while it cooks. Aim for a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. (Uncooked chicken is dangerous; overcooked chicken is dry). (Carry-over heat will bring the chicken to a safe 165°F.)
- Allow the bird to rest. Allow the Moroccan Chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it, tented with foil. This causes the liquids within the chicken to redistribute, resulting in juicier flesh!
This sauce is very delicious! It’s incredibly simple to make and serves two purposes:
- The sauce enhances the taste of the couscous foundation.
- It’s poured over the Moroccan Chicken to add the finishing touch of taste.
Here’s a short summary of the sauce’s ingredients:
- Apricot preserves: Choose the highest quality you can find; we prefer Bonne Maman®, but Smucker’s® is also excellent. (While you have these preserves in the fridge, it’s the ideal occasion to make these Mini Fruit Tarts (one of my favorite sweets!).
- Vinegar of white wine: White wine vinegar, not to be mistaken with white vinegar, is much gentler and less pungent than ordinary white vinegar.
- Dijon mustard should not be mistaken with yellow mustard; the two are not interchangeable in this context.
- Extra virgin olive oil: The higher the quality of the olive oil, the greater the flavor! Between this sauce, the couscous, and the chicken marinade, there is a lot of olive oil, thus the value of excellent oil cannot be stressed.
- Season with salt and pepper. We add flavor to this sauce since no part of this Moroccan Chicken Recipe is complete without it.
Would you want to prepare Moroccan Chicken with Raisins? When adding the chicken stock to the saucepan to bring to a boil, add 1/4 cup raisins. They will soften and plump up beautifully!
More Chicken Recipes You Might Like
- 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
- 10 tablespoons olive oil, separated
- 2 teaspoons each: paprika, honey, minced garlic, ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon each: ground turmeric, cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Fine sea salt & pepper
- 1-1/2 cups peeled and grated carrots (~3 medium)
- 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1-1/2 cups couscous (Note 1)
- 1/4 cup good quality apricot preserves
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Optional: fresh flat-leaf parsley, 1 lemon
- PREP: Cut the chicken breasts in half widthwise and cover in plastic wrap. Pound the meat to an even 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or your fist. Place pounded chicken breasts in a gallon resealable plastic bag (turmeric may stain containers, so use a bag!). Peel and grate carrots on a grater with big holes.
- MARINADE: In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoon honey, 2 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 teaspoon ginger paste, 2 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and salt to taste (I use 1 teaspoon fine sea salt). Blend until smooth. Pour over cooked chicken. Seal the bag after pressing the air out. Massage the marinade into the chicken to coat evenly. Marinate for 5-8 hours in the refrigerator (Note 2).
- Meanwhile, in a small blender bottle or food processor, combine 1/4 cup apricot preserves, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste (I use 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper). Blend or pulse for 45 seconds, or until well integrated (stir and make sure any apricot jam pieces are well absorbed). While blending, gently sprinkle in 1/4 cup olive oil and mix for 25 seconds, or until emulsified and smooth. Avoid over-blending. Place in a sealed container and chill until ready to use.
- COUSCOUS: Prepare couscous while the grill is heating up (Note 3). 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan with a cover. Turn the heat up to high. Cook for 3 minutes after adding 1-1/2 cups shredded carrots. Add 1-1/2 cups chicken broth, the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt to taste (I use 1/2 teaspoon). Bring the water to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add 1-1/2 cups couscous. Stir in the lid and set aside for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare 1/4 cup parsley. Fluff the couscous with a fork once it has stood. Mix in 1 cup frozen peas. Mix in 1/4 cup parsley and 1/4 cup of the sauce you just made. To blend, mix everything together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- GRILL CHICKEN: Place the chicken breasts on the grill, spooning any remaining marinade from the bag directly on top. Grill, covered, for 2-5 minutes each side, being careful not to overcook (time varies depending on grill temperature and thickness of chicken). Scrape up and flip the chicken to the other side with a sharp metal turner. Place the chicken on a platter and cover with foil right away; rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- SERVE: Distribute the couscous evenly among the plates. Top with grilled chicken. Drizzle the remaining sauce over top and serve. Garnish with more parsley and lemon wedges if preferred.
- Note 1: Couscous: There are various different varieties of couscous, so make sure to obtain the little couscous (sometimes branded “Moroccan-Style Pasta”) so it cooks quickly.
- i Note 2: Marinating time: 30 minutes of marinating the chicken is sufficient. If you only have a limited marinating time, make a few holes in the breasts with the tines of a fork to let the marinade enter the meat. (If marinating for more than 30 minutes, do not puncture.)
- Note 3: Grilling preparation: Preheat the grill to medium-high (400-450°F). Clean the grates and thoroughly oil the grill (I grease the grates by holding a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel with tongs and rubbing it across the grates).