Harissa Chicken with Rice is so deliciously rich and complex, everyone will assume it took all day to make. But this easy dinner comes together in minutes, thanks to a North African condiment which does all the heavy lifting. Serve with lots of fluffy basmati rice to soak up all that wonderful sauce.

A white plate with Harissa chicken and rice.

Inspired by a Moroccan tagine, a long-simmered spicy stew with meat, vegetables, and dried fruit, this recipe is ready in a fraction of the time, but tastes just as amazing.

Harissa (pronounced ha-RISS-uh) is one of my favorite condiments. In almost no time at all, it melts into a complex, unforgettable sauce. Combined with the dates and carrots, the chicken becomes sweet, smoky, and a little bit spicy.

No surprise here: I like to make my own harissa paste. But if you already have a little jar lurking in your pantry, get it out. Once you do, you’ll have a delicious feast of a dinner on the table in under 30 minutes flat.

Ingredients:

Harissa chicken and rice ingredients in various bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Harissa paste: Store-bought or homemade. You can find store-bought harissa paste from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Aldi, or Tesco. In case you’re curious, I run you through the details of making easy harissa more in depth, in case you want to try it.)
  • Chicken: I use boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat in this recipe, but feel free to switch it up with chicken breast, too. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs will need more cooking time, obviously.
  • Dates: Add natural sweetness. If you don’t have any, use an equal amount of dried golden raisins or Zante currants.
  • Labneh: Aka Labne or labnah, this strained yogurt cheese is easy to find in Middle Eastern markets. To make your own substitute from Greek yogurt, arrange a few layers of cheesecloth over a strainer, then place that over a bowl to catch the liquid. Spoon plain Greek yogurt into the cheesecloth, then refrigerate the whole set-up for a few hours. The moisture will drain into the bowl below, drying out the yogurt to the consistency you need.

Step-by-step instructions:

Before you start, there is a little bit of easy prep work. Get the basmati rice going on the stove, and prep the dates and carrots; the rest of the cooking is smooth and fast.

  1. To begin, sauté the chicken and carrots in some olive oil in a large skillet. Brown the chicken, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes.
    Chunks of chicken and sliced carrots sauteing in a black skillet.
  2. Next, add the chopped dates, a little water, and the harissa paste. Give the mixture a stir and let the liquid thicken up as the chicken finishes cooking.
    Harissa chicken in a black skillet.
  3. Just before the chicken is finished, make the sauce. Thin out the Labneh with a bit of vinegar or lemon juice and season with a little salt and pepper. Rinse the rice in a strainer.
    Someone running water through a cup of rice.
  4. Once the chicken is ready to go, season to taste and serve with Labneh and a sprinkle of parsley.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Adding veggies: Boost your daily vegetable intake and throw in a handful of baby spinach or diced zucchini.
  • Cooking basmati rice: I prefer the pasta method for cooking basmati rice. No rice-to-water ratio to remember! Just add the rice to a generous amount of boiling water and cook it until tender. When the rice is done, drain off the excess water.
  • Extra sauce: It makes an excellent easy sauce drizzled over the chicken. You can pour it into a small bowl and pass it around the table so everyone can help themselves.
  • Leftovers: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Three white plates of Harissa chicken and rice.

More delicious dinner ideas:

 

A white plate with Harissa chicken and rice.

Harissa Chicken with Rice

Harissa Chicken with Rice is a dinner that tastes like it took all day to make, instead of minutes. Every tender bite is full of North African spices, dates, and carrots; the fragrant basmati rice soaks up the sauce. The secret? That little jar of harissa paste lurking in your pantry.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Calories 565

Ingredients 

For the rice:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • salt

For the chicken:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs chopped into bite-sized pieces (see note 1)
  • 4 carrots peeled, cut into 2-inch long matchsticks
  • 1-2 tablespoons red harissa paste homemade or store bought (see note 2)
  • 4 dates pitted, roughly chopped (see note 3)
  • 3/4 cup water

For serving:

  • 1/2 cup labneh cheese or Greek yogurt (see note 4)
  • 2-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • fresh parsley minced, for garnish

Instructions 

To make the rice:

  • Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add rice and salt to taste (I like 1 teaspoon). Stir and return to a boil. Boil uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Using a fine mesh strainer, drain rice and rinse with hot water. Return to the pot and cover to keep warm.

To make the chicken:

  • In a large non-stick pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken and carrots and cook until lightly browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. 
  • Add dates, ½ cup of water and harissa paste to taste. Cook until the liquid has thickened and the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 2 to 4 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper (I like ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). 

To serve:

  • In a medium bowl, combine the labneh, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Taste and add more vinegar if desired.
  • To serve, add rice and chicken with carrots to bowls. Top with some of the labneh mixture and garnish with parsley.

Notes

  1. Chicken: I use boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat in this recipe, but feel free to switch it up with chicken breast, too. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs will need more cooking time, obviously.
  2. Harissa paste: Store-bought or homemade. You can find store-bought harissa paste from Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Aldi, or Tesco. In case you're curious, I run you through the details of making easy harissa more in depth, in case you want to try it.)
  3. Dates: Add natural sweetness. If you don't have any, use an equal amount of dried golden raisins or Zante currants.
  4. Labneh: Aka Labne or labnah, this strained yogurt cheese is easy to find in Middle Eastern markets. To make your own substitute from Greek yogurt, arrange a few layers of cheesecloth over a strainer, then place that over a bowl to catch the liquid. Spoon plain Greek yogurt into the cheesecloth, then refrigerate the whole set-up for a few hours. The moisture will drain into the bowl below, drying out the yogurt to the consistency you need.
  5. Adding veggies: Boost your daily vegetable intake and throw in a handful of baby spinach or diced zucchini.
  6. Cooking basmati rice: I prefer the pasta method for cooking basmati rice. No rice-to-water ratio to remember! Just add the rice to a generous amount of boiling water and cook it until tender. When the rice is done, drain off the excess water.
  7. Extra sauce: It makes an excellent easy sauce drizzled over the chicken. You can pour it into a small bowl and pass it around the table so everyone can help themselves.
  8. Leftovers: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 565kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 50gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 217mgSodium: 320mgPotassium: 899mgFiber: 3gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 10271IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 91mgIron: 2mg
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  1. I feel like I have so much to catch up on here! I hope everything is going amazingly and I LOVE your site revamp. What stunning photos and awesome, mouthwatering recipes, lady!5 stars