Harissa-Spiced Chicken and Rice with Dates & Pistachios
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This one-pot chicken and rice with dates, harissa, and pistachios is a showstopper — it’s a mix of sweet and spicy, smoky and crunchy, and best of all it couldn’t be simpler to prepare. There’s no need to brown the chicken. In just about 45 minutes, it will be done! The subtle freshness or orange zest permeates the rice and the chopped dates add a nice sweetness. This is a great one for entertaining, but its minimal demands make it great for any night of the week.
A little over three years ago, I took a class at a local restaurant, Tara Kitchen, which sent me on a Moroccan-cooking bender: I stocked my pantry with ras-el-hanout and harissa, made a batch (two actually) of preserved lemons, then used them to make a tagine with chicken, green olives, and raisins.
I had known little about Moroccan cooking before taking the class, and I still know little, but everything I seem to make with Moroccan seasonings, I tend to love: see Leblebi (North African Chickpea Stew) and now this one-pot chicken and rice with dates, harissa, and pistachios.
It’s a mix of sweet and spicy, smoky and crunchy, and best of all it couldn’t be simpler to prepare. It comes from Diana Henry’s Simple.
Note: You’ll need harissa, a spicy prepared paste/sauce, which is not hard to find these days. If you’re up for making it from scratch, this is a great recipe: Homemade Harissa. Or you can use jarred. I like Tara Kitchen’s brand, which is now available at Whole Foods Market (not everywhere, see locations here).
5 Favorite No-Browning Chicken Recipes
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- One-Pan Chicken with Sherry Vinegar Sauce
- Chicken legs with white wine, parmigiano, and olive oil
- One-Pot Thai Chicken Curry with Spinach
- Spatchcocked Chicken with Za’atar and Lemon
Harissa-Spiced Chicken and Rice with Dates & Pistachios
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: Serves 6 to 8
Adapted From Diana Henry’s Simple.
I have made the recipe somewhat more fussy: the original recipe truly calls for throwing everything in the pot, sticking it in the oven, and baking it. I didn’t love the taste of the raw onion, so I added one more step, which is to sauté the onions for 5 minutes, then add the remaining ingredients one after the other.
I prefer toasting whole cumin seeds then grinding them in my mortar and pestle. Do this if you prefer as well. I also don’t love ground ginger, so I used a teaspoon of coriander seeds (not similar, but works here), which I also toasted and ground.
Harissa is spicy prepared Moroccan sauce/paste. It varies in heat level, so you may have to adjust to taste. I found the 1.5 tablespoons called for in the original recipe not spicy enough for me; 4 tablespoons is quite spicy, however.
Original recipe calls for 12 dates. I prefer fewer, but use as many as you wish.
Brown rice: several commenters tried unsuccessfully to use brown rice. It’s possible that a larger amount of water could help the brown rice cook properly, but I’ve never tried, so I can’t say for sure. I would look to the package instructions for guidance re water and time.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 8 pieces bone-in, skin-on thighs and/or drumsticks
- 2 to 4 tablespoons harissa
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin or whole cumin seeds (see notes above)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander (see notes above)
- 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed until water runs clear, do not use brown rice, see notes above
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 medjool dates, diced (see notes above)
- 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons (or more) chopped pistachios (I use roasted unsalted)
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a large skillet over high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until it shimmers. Add the onions and reduce the heat to medium. Add a pinch of salt, and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the chicken in a large bowl. Season all over with salt and pepper. Pour in the remaining tablespoon of oil and 1 to 2 tablespoons of harissa, depending on your heat tolerance. Toss to coat.
- Add the garlic to the onions, and cook for another minute more. Add the spices and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the harissa (depending again on your heat tolerance). Stir to coat the onions in the seasonings. Add the rice and stir for another minute or until each grain is glistening. Add the dates and zest the orange right into the pan. Halve the orange and squeeze the juice right into the pan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan. Stir to combine. Nestle the chicken over the top of the rice. Pour 1 and 1/3 cups water (see notes above re water) all around. Nestle in the bay leaf.
- Transfer pan to the oven (uncovered) and cook for 40 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Scatter pistachios over top. Serve immediately.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Moroccan
Keywords: chicken, rice, moroccan, one-pan, dates, Harissa
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
47 Comments on “Harissa-Spiced Chicken and Rice with Dates & Pistachios”
I made this last night. It was the perfect “One Pot Wonder” I was looking for on this snowy March evening. I used the 3 TBlsp of harissa and only 6 dates and found it to be the perfect amount of sweet/hot.I loved the crunch of the pistachios on top. I did add some sliced green olives along with the pistachios to brighten up the dish. Served with a kale salad with Lemon-Tahini dressing. This will definitely go into my permanent rotation.!
So happy to hear this, Lynn! Glad you were able to find a good sweet/hot balance. Green olives sound delicious as does the kale salad with lemon-tahini dressing. Yum!
I have not made much Moroccan food, but this recipe looks awesome. I have heard nothing but good things about harissa, and am excited to give this a try. Thanks for the recipe!
It’s a great one, Kevin!
Wow, this looks amazing! I want to cook it right now – but there’s a blizzard on the way, so perhaps next week. I can’t use the pistachios due to an allergy, so I’m wondering what you think about using peanuts (not allergic, thank goodness) vs just leaving them off. I have no idea if pistachios taste like peanuts (I’ve never been able to eat them) or if that would throw things off, or perhaps there’s something else that would lend the crunch?
So sorry for the delay here!! I think you could use any nut or just leave them off. Somehow I think pine nuts would be delicious here as would almonds and walnuts — could you use any of those? Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong, so just go for it, if peanuts are best for you!
This recipe is out of this world delicious!!!!! Make it and follow Alexandra’s Kitchen’s recommendation’s to the T. I added the 12 dates and roasted the pistachios and it bumped it up!
Yay!! So happy to hear this, Christine!!
This looks awesome!!
very nice blog but i want to know about what are different mutton recipes that we can make now a days ?
My wife and I cook similar type dishes in a tagine. Ever use one ?
Have totry this version. We have the spices.
Thx for the change of pace for us !
I don’t use my tagine enough!! You are inspiring me 🙂
Ciao Alexandra, I do not normally comment, but simply enjoy your dishes from your blog here in Chianti. I had found harissa in a small market in Siena and had been looking for a good recipe to use it, I looked at my “Simple” book which I use often (also “A Change of Appetite”)and found the recipe with eggplant, but wanted something different and found your version! It was a joy to cook and so absolutely delicious to eat. As you indicated the basmati was that combination of tender and crunchy. I love ginger, and used fresh instead of the dry, and used 4 dates and 4 apricots. Tonight we have some perfect leftovers, and the dish should be even better. Grazie mille, and a very happy holidays to you and yours. Un forte abbraccio.
Ciao Alexandra, thank you for your lovely note! I made this recipe again the other night and love it as always. I so truly enjoy reading, and then cooking the recipes in your blog. Grazie ancora, and sending baci from Chianti.
You are so sweet Olga 🙂 🙂 🙂 So happy to hear all of this. xo
This is out of this world – company worthy. And very little effort! What would you serve with it to round out a meal? I keep thinking roasted carrots with some type of yogurt drizzle, but would appreciate suggestions, as it could be cold and crunchy (salad, but not tomato-y).
I definitely think the green olives from one suggestion helped funk it up. Also loved the pistachios for crunch.
Thank you for an easy, amazing recipe!!!! (Hubby says thanks too!)
So happy to hear this, KL! Roasted carrots would be delicious. I love these twice-roasted carrots. Or a simple salad with a shallot vinaigrette is always nice.
You can filter searches now under the recipe tab. Here’s the “salads” results.
Alexandra, so glad I stumbled onto this one. I love one pot chicken recipes and I love moroccan food, so can’t wait to try this. As far as using brown rice, I think it would be ok if par-boiled. I’ve done that for other recipes. I will try and report. Cheers!!!
Great tip Susanna! Thanks. The brown rice timing is tricky. Hope you love this one xo
This recipe looks amazing! I’m dying to try it, however I’m nervous about the harissa. I was born with acid reflux disease and therefore was never really able to eat spicy food growing, so I am terribly sensitive to it. How spicy is it and would it affect the flavor terribly if I only added maybe 1/2 – 1 table spoon of the harissa? Thank you in advance!
Definitely start with 1/2 tablespoon. Harissa is something you can almost use as a condiment, adding it to taste as you eat if you want a little more kick. It’s hard to say exactly how much harissa you should use because all harissas vary in their level of heat.
Absolutely delicious. I made it with brown rice, double the water content and let it boil a little on the stovetop covered while I waited for the oven to heat up. SENSATIONAL! Thanks Alexandra.
So happy to hear this, Ewa!
This was fantastic! Didn’t have harissa so I subbed siracha. I also used fresh ginger instead of powder. Served with a side of yogurt Next time I will double the recipe. Thanks, Alexandra!
Love the idea of fresh ginger here. Thanks, Lisa!
HI Ali! I only have Harissa spice– not the paste. Would you recommend adding tomato paste to my Harissa spice to make it work? Or just add the spice to the oil? I’m so excited to try this recipe out!
I would just at the spices! It will be fine … I don’t know how spicy your spice is, so maybe start with a teaspoon? You could always add more to taste at the end.
If I double the recipe, should I put the juice of 2 oranges in the pan?
I did not like this one at all despite my love of Harrissa and Ras El Hanout. I followed the recipe as written with no changes and found it dry and a bit bland. Normally, I love all the recipes on this site so I am not sure what happened here.
Sorry to hear this, Sue! What kind of rice did you use?
I made this for my birthday since we aren’t going out to eat due to covid. I used chicken thighs and harissa seasoning Instead of paste as that is what I had on hand. It turned out so great! Could’ve tricked my bf into thinking it was take out from a restaurant 🔥🔥
Woohoo! So nice to hear this, Lia! Thanks so much for writing.
This was perfect. I love how elegant it is, but still wonderful for a weeknight. Everyone in the family raved about this. Reminds me of something my dad used to make, although his had sultanas, slivered almonds, and green olives in the rice. Next time, I’ll add green olives like some other users have suggested.
So nice to hear this, Ingrid! Green olives sound wonderful here. Thanks for writing 🙂
This was awesome. Perfect blend of spice and sweet. I had to scale back the harissa a bit as the brand I bought was super, super hot. Forgot the pistachios. I upped the rice a little bit since my family rabidly consumes rice and I knew there wouldn’t be much left. Made it in my cast iron skillet. Definitely will be making this again!
Oh yay! Wonderful to hear this, Heidi! Thanks so much for writing. My family devours rice as well. Great tip 🙂
I’ve been making this recipe since you first posted it. It’s an absolute favorite in our house! We double the rice and let it cook for 90 minutes. It’s so so delicious!
So nice to hear this, Caryn! Love the tip about doubling the rice 🙂
This dish is on heavy rotation at our house; it’s also a favorite at big gatherings. For such minimal effort, this meal has incredible payoff. I make a few pans for a large party and people always rave about the flavor combination. I do spread it in a bigger pan, though, so there would be more crispy bits of rice. I’ve got a pan in the oven right now…yum!
So great to hear this, Monika! I haven’t made this one in ages, but you are inspiring me to give it another go. Love the idea of using a bigger pan. The crispy rice is the best!
Minimal prep and a bit of time in the oven for a delicious weeknight meal. Definitely will keep this in my recipe file to make again.
Great to hear, Jeanette! Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
Hi! I want to make the Harissa Spiced Chicken soon and I have a question. You make the comment “ I also don’t love ground ginger” and explain how you replace it with coriander. But then you remove the ginger from the recipe. I do love ginger but I don’t know how much to use?
I would use 1 teaspoon ground ginger.