December 8, 2022

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Cooking Is My World

Moroccan Chicken – Chelsea’s Messy Apron

This dish has it all — robustly seasoned Moroccan Chicken atop a veggie-packed couscous with a delicious apricot finishing sauce!

Overhead image of Moroccan Chicken

An Easy Moroccan Chicken

We can’t get enough of this meal! Not only is it intoxicatingly fragrant, but the flavors are deeply nuanced — with a savory sweetness, slight smokiness, and wonderful earthy flavors. The sweet apricot sauce balances the slight hit of spice on the chicken and the couscous base pulls everything together perfectly!

Process shots-- images of the chicken being prepped

What To Serve With Moroccan Chicken

At first glance, the recipe may seem a little overwhelming, but keep in mind that this recipe encapsulates an entire meal — a veggie-packed couscous base, ultra-flavorful grilled chicken, and an apricot sauce to tie everything together. Truly each component is simple and easy, plus we keep the majority of the mess outside, thanks to the grill!

QUICK TIP

What is Moroccan food? Morocco is a melting pot country, full of influences from many different cultures; Moroccan food is the same. Morocco is located on the northern tip of Africa, so African and Mediterranean influences are strong, with the dishes containing lots of robust spices, nuts, fruits, grains…and flavor!

Below we’ll break down each component of this meal starting with the marinade.

Process shots of Moroccan Chicken-- images of the marinade being made and added to the chicken

Moroccan Chicken Marinade

The marinade for this recipe whips together so quickly! We combine a handful of spices with olive oil, ginger, and garlic. If you find yourself making this Grilled Moroccan Chicken frequently (like we do), it’s a huge time saver to make a few spice “packets” at once. While you’ve got all the spices out, measure out and assemble a few separate batches of all the spices into small separate bags or containers to use in the future. 

A couple of time savers on the marinade:

  • For the ginger and garlic, we love using Dorot® cubes. You can keep them handy in the freezer and pop them into this (and other) recipes when needed. (Check if your local store carries them; they’re typically found with frozen veggies in the grocery store.) Another option is to use refrigerated garlic paste and refrigerated minced garlic.

Process shots of couscous being made-- images of the carrots, salt, chicken broth, oil, and couscous being added and mixed together

How To Cook Moroccan Chicken (Tips)

  • Shorter marinade time? Even 20-30 minutes of marinating the chicken is effective. If opting for a quicker marinating time, poke a few holes into the chicken using the tines of a fork. This will help the marinade penetrate the meat in the shorter marinating time.
  • Flip marinating chicken. Throughout the marinating process, be sure to flip the bag of marinating Moroccan Chicken onto the other side. We don’t want just one side of the chicken getting flavorful!
  • Generously oil your grill grates. I do this by rolling up a few paper towels, drenching them in oil (canola or vegetable), and with tongs, rubbing the drenched paper towels along the grill grates. This will contribute to a beautiful sear, and ensure the chicken doesn’t stick to the grates.
  • Use a digital meat thermometer to remove the guesswork of grilling!
    • Cooking times will vary, depending on several factors so I always recommend using a thermometer to test your chicken as it cooks. Aim to hit 160 degrees Fahrenheit. (Under-cooked = unsafe; Over-cooked = dry chicken). (Carry-over heat will take the chicken to a safe 165 degrees)
  • Let the chicken rest. Tented with foil, let the Moroccan Chicken stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting in. This allows the juices to redistribute inside the chicken; this means juicier meat!

Process shots of Moroccan Chicken-- images of the finishing glaze sauce being made

Apricot Sauce

This sauce is nothing short of addicting! It’s so quick to whip together and serves a dual purpose:

  1. The sauce adds loads of flavor to the couscous base.
  2. It gets drizzled over the Moroccan Chicken, delivering the perfect finishing touch of flavor.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the ingredients in the sauce:

  • Apricot preserves: Grab the best quality you can find; we love Bonne Maman® best, but Smucker’s® is also great. (While you’ve got these preserves in your fridge, it’s the perfect excuse to whip together these Mini Fruit Tarts (they’re one of my very favorite treats!).
  • White wine vinegar: Not to be confused with white vinegar, white wine vinegar is much milder and less pungent than plain white vinegar.
  • Dijon mustard: Not to be confused with yellow mustard– the two aren’t interchangeable here.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: The better the olive oil, the better the flavor! There is a lot of olive oil between this sauce, the couscous, and the chicken marinade, so the importance of good oil can’t be overstated.
  • Salt & pepper: No element of this Moroccan Chicken Recipe is complete without seasoning, so we add some to this sauce as well.

Process shots-- images of the couscous being fluffed, frozen peas, parsley, and sauce being poured over it all and everything being mixed through

Let’s Chat Couscous

One of my favorite things about couscous is how quickly it whips together. From start to finish it can be ready in 10 minutes or less. I like to start the prep for the couscous right before throwing the marinated Moroccan Chicken on the grill!

There are several different types of couscous, so you want to make sure to get the small couscous (also labeled “Moroccan-Style Pasta”) so it cooks up in this short amount of time. (We use large couscous in this Summer Couscous Salad or Moroccan Stew.!)

To elevate the flavor of couscous, we’ll cook it in some chicken broth with olive oil and salt. The salt is very important to the end flavor, so don’t be afraid to add a touch more if desired.

And after the couscous is cooked through, we add some of the apricot sauce to add even more flavor. The carrots and peas are a nice way to sneak in veggies, add texture, and contribute even more flavor to this meal’s base.

QUICK TIP

Want to make Moroccan Chicken with Raisins? Add 1/4 cup raisins when adding the chicken broth to the pot to bring to a boil. They’ll soften and plump up nicely!

Process shots of Moroccan Chicken-- images of the chicken fresh off the grill

Up close overhead image of the Moroccan Chicken

More Grilled Chicken Recipes

Moroccan Chicken

This dish has it all — robustly seasoned Moroccan Chicken atop a veggie-packed couscous with a delicious apricot finishing sauce!

Moroccan Chicken

This dish has it all — robustly seasoned Moroccan Chicken atop a veggie-packed couscous with a delicious apricot finishing sauce!

Instructions

  • PREP: Cut chicken breasts in half widthwise and place a piece of plastic wrap on top. Using a meat mallet or even your fist, pound meat to an even 1/2-inch thickness. Place pounded chicken breasts inside a gallon resealable plastic bag (turmeric will dye containers which is why we recommend a bag!). Peel then grate carrots on large holes of a grater.
  • MARINADE: In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tsp honey, 2 tsp minced garlic, 2 tsp ginger paste, 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, plus salt to taste (I add 1 tsp fine sea salt). Mix until smooth. Pour over prepared chicken. Press air out of the bag and seal. Massage marinade into the chicken until evenly coated. Marinate in the fridge for 5-8 hours (Note 2).

  • APRICOT SAUCE: Meanwhile, in a small blender bottle or food processor, add 1/4 cup apricot preserves, 1/2 tsp Dijon, 2 tablespoons vinegar, plus salt & pepper to taste (I add 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper). Blend or pulse until well combined, ~45 seconds (stir and make sure any apricot jam chunks are fully incorporated). While blending, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup olive oil mixing until emulsified and smooth, ~25 seconds. Don’t over-blend. Transfer to a covered jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

  • COUSCOUS: Make couscous while preparing grill (Note 3). In a medium-sized pot with a lid, add 1 tbsp olive oil. Heat to high. Add in 1-1/2 cups grated carrots and sauté for 3 minutes. Add in 1-1/2 cups chicken broth, the last 1 tbsp olive oil, plus salt to taste (I add 1/2 tsp). Bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove pot from heat and add in 1-1/2 cups couscous. Stir, add lid, and let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, dice parsley to get 1/4 cup. Once the couscous has stood, fluff with a fork. Stir through 1 cup frozen peas. Add in 1/4 cup parsley and 1/4 cup of the sauce we just blended up. Mix to combine. Taste and season with more salt/pepper if needed.

  • GRILL CHICKEN: Place chicken breasts on grill, spooning any leftover marinade from bag right on top. Grill, covered, for 2-5 minutes per side being careful to not over-cook (variation on timing depends on actual grill temp and actual thickness of chicken). Use a sharp metal turner to scrape up and flip the chicken to the other side. Right off the grill, add chicken to a plate and cover with foil; rest for 5 minutes before slicing in.
  • SERVE: Divide couscous evenly among plates. Add grilled chicken on top. Drizzle remaining sauce on top and enjoy! If desired, garnish with more parsley and some lemon wedges.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Couscous: There are several different types of couscous, so you want to make sure to get the small couscous (also labeled “Moroccan-Style Pasta”) so it cooks up in this short amount of time.
Note 2: Marinating time: Even 30 minutes of marinating the chicken is effective. If planning to marinate for short time, poke a few holes using the tines of a fork into the breasts to help the marinade penetrate the meat in the shorter marinating time. (Don’t pierce if marinating for longer than 30 minutes.)
Note 3: Preparing grill: Preheat grill to medium-high (400-450 degrees F.) Clean grates and then generously grease grill with oil (I grease grill grates by holding a vegetable oil-drenched paper towel with tongs and rubbing it across grates).

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.