This Moroccan harissa chicken with chickpeas recipe is a fairly easy to make meal, in one pot, and tastes like it’s been slow cooking all day. The chicken and harissa go so well together and are complemented by chickpeas, tomatoes, and classic Moroccan flavors.
One Pot Meal | Less Than 45 Minutes
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Tools For This Recipe:
- UnoCasa Cast Iron Skillet – This can be made in an oven-safe dutch oven or works great in a cast-iron skillet. Buy direct from UnoCasa here.
- Le Creuset Oval Dutch Oven – This is the dutch oven we used for this recipe, which goes right into the oven.
- Mina Moroccan Harissa – One of the two main harissa brands I normally cook with
What Is Harissa Chicken?
This recipe is inspired by the cuisine we ate while traveling in Morocco on a Moroccan food tour. I can’t say, though, that this Moroccan harissa chicken recipe is uber-traditional, or something we ate while traveling the country.
I started making it while trying to find ways to add chickpeas to recipes while trying to use up a jar of harissa. I think Jamie Oliver makes a similar dish, but I am sure his harissa chicken “traybake” is different. I almost feel like this tastes like a harissa chicken tagine, without the tagine.
Check out our other recipes with chicken thighs and beans:
Using Harissa When Roasting Chicken
I love the concept of harissa spiced chicken. Harissa is a Moroccan spicy red pepper paste. As much as Moroccan cuisine is not particularly spicy, harissa is placed on the table at almost every meal. That way people can adjust the level of spiciness for their dish.
We’ve just been in love with since returning from Morocco and keep a jar or tube in the house at all times. It can be found in both a tube or a jar at most supermarkets. I look for jarred harissa, which looks almost like red pesto. I like the harissa by Mina, which you can buy on Amazon here.
A roasted harissa chicken is pretty easy to make but it tastes like it’s been slow cooking for hours. There is actually no need to marinate the chicken in harissa ahead of time. The flavors infuse pretty quickly by cooking on the stovetop and then finishing in the oven.
Check out our other dishes with Moroccan harissa:
Ingredients For Moroccan Chicken With Harissa And Chickpeas
For this recipe, I use chicken thighs. I keep the skin on, but you can also use skinless if you prefer. Chicken thighs work better than breasts because when cooking chicken on the bone, the chicken tends to stay more moist and tender and absorbs the flavors of the dish more when cooking.
The harissa chicken thighs are seasoned generously with salt and pepper and cooked in olive oil. Big yellow onion quarters and whole garlic cloves that are merely mashed are added to the oil.
The harissa chicken thighs are then seasoned with ground cumin, ground turmeric, and the harissa paste. Cumin is common in many Moroccan dishes. It has a nutty almost earthy flavor and is often the secret ingredient in many of our stews and soups.
The remaining ingredients include tomato paste and chicken broth, which creates the sauce and helps to steam the chicken. And, of course, a can of chickpeas, which should be drained and rinsed with cool water. In addition to the tomato paste, lemon slices are added for additional acidity.
Sauce For Harissa Chicken And Chickpeas
The harissa chicken thighs are served with a harissa and yogurt sauce. In this case, 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice is blended with additional harissa, salt, pepper, and greek yogurt.
While the chicken is cooking, mix the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and harissa in a small bowl. Add the greek yogurt and blend. Place in the fridge to cool while the chicken is cooking. When the harissa baked chicken is done, sprinkle with fresh cilantro. Serve with the harissa yogurt topping.
How To Make This Moroccan Chicken Harissa Recipe
Preheat the oven to 400F. Place an oven-safe skillet or oven-safe dutch oven over medium-high heat. Warm the olive oil. Add the chicken skin side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. After 2-3 minutes, turn over to brown the tops of the chicken. Cook in total 4-5 minutes on each side, until the chicken starts to brown.
The chicken doesn’t need to be cooked through. In fact, if you cook it through, it might toughen and not be as tender at the end. Remove the chicken and place to the side.
Once the chicken is removed from the pan, add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes or until it starts to brown. Add the cumin and turmeric and blend into the oil. By adding the cumin and turmeric to the oil, the spices infuse the oil and release all of their flavor and aroma.
Add the tomato paste, harissa, chicken broth, and chickpeas, and stir until blended. Place the chicken back into the pot without covering the chicken in sauce. Add the lemon pieces around the chicken (using two of the slices for the lemon juice for sauce above).
Place in the preheated oven uncovered. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with the harissa yogurt sauce and freshly chopped cilantro.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 chicken thighs
- Salt and pepper to season chicken
- 1 large onion, cut in halves or quarters
- 4-5 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons harissa
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 lemons, sliced into three wide pieces
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from the slices above)
- 1 tablespoon harissa
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 cups of greek yogurt
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Place an oven-safe skillet or oven-safe dutch oven over medium-high heat. Warm olive oil. Add the chicken skin side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. After 2-3 minutes, turn over to brown the tops of the chicken. Cook in total 4-5 minutes on each side, until the chicken starts to brown. The chicken doesn’t need to be cooked through. Remove the chicken and place it to the side.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes or until it starts to brown.
- Add the cumin and turmeric and blend into the oil.
- Add the tomato paste, harissa, chicken broth, and chickpeas, and stir until blended.
- Place the chicken back into the pot without covering the chicken in sauce.
- Add the lemon pieces around the chicken (using two of the slices for the lemon juice).
- Place in the preheated oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- While the chicken is cooking, mix the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and harissa in a small bowl. Add the greek yogurt and blend. Place in the fridge to cool while the chicken is cooking.
- When the harissa baked chicken is done, sprinkle with fresh cilantro. Serve with the harissa yogurt topping.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 680Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 191mgSodium: 796mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 13gSugar: 15gProtein: 57g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.
FAQs – Making Harissa Roasted Chicken
If you want to make harissa marinated chicken, just rub the top of the chicken thighs with the harissa chili paste and a bit of lemon juice about an hour before. But, when cooking this dish in a dutch oven or cast iron skillet on the stovetop and then placing it in the oven, there’s really no need. Plus, without the marinating, it’s quicker!
Harissa is a Moroccan chili paste made with red pepper. Dried chili pepper is reconstituted with olive oil and various spices. The blend of spices depends on the producer. Some varieties are more smoky while others are more tangy. All of them carry some level of heat, so be prepared. It’s always a good idea to add a bit and taste. You can always add more.