This Instant Pot Moroccan rice is so flavorful, a mix of spicy, smoky harissa with sweet dates and fresh orange. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t worry — stovetop instructions are included below as well.

A bowl of Moroccan Rice.

Diana Henry’s Moroccan chicken and rice recipe is a good one to know: a modest amount of prep produces a super flavorful, one-pan wonder of a dish that feeds a small crowd.

There’s no browning of the chicken first to render the fat and crisp up the skin — everything just gets added to the pot and baked uncovered for 40 minutes. The method yields beautifully brown chicken skin, juicy meat, and cooked rice.

But what if you don’t eat chicken? I do, but this is a dish or, rather, the flavors of this dish are something I would want to share with everyone: the combination of spicy, smoky harissa with sweet dates and fresh orange is irresistible.

Topped with roasted vegetables or sautéed greens or a poached egg, this rice could be a nice foundation for many a hearty vegetarian meal.

Recently I tried making the dish exactly as written but without chicken, and while it worked, it didn’t work perfectly: without the layer of protection from the chicken (and the extra moisture it provides), the rice, especially around the edges, got a little too crispy—too burnt, I would imagine, for many people’s liking. (Ben and I ate every kernel.) The pan, moreover, was a pain to clean.

Two Ways to Make Moroccan Rice with Dates and Harissa

  1. A traditional pilaf style: sweat an onion, stir in the rice and seasonings, add liquid, cover, and simmer over very low heat until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  2. The Instant Pot method: use the sauté function first to sweat the onion and garlic; then cover the pot, and cook the rice for 6 minutes at high pressure.

Both methods work beautifully, but if I had to pick a winner, I’d say the Instant Pot, which really excels at rice cooking, has a slight edge—the kernels were just a teensy bit more firm, which I liked.

Here’s how you make this Moroccan rice: Gather your ingredients: onion, garlic, harissa, dates (love Rancho Meladuco Date Farm), white basmati rice, orange, and bay leaf.
Ingredients to make Moroccan rice on a board.

The flavor of the freshly squeezed orange juice and zest are so nice here.
A halved orange on a board.

Chop, rinse, zest, and juice away!
Ingredients for Moroccan rice.

For the stovetop method: Sauté an onion.
A skillet with a sautéed onion.

Add the garlic and harissa.
A skillet with a sautéed onion, garlic, and harissa.

Stir.
A skillet with harissa rice ingredients all stirred together.

Add the rice.
A skillet with uncooked rice, harissa, onion, and garlic.

Stir.
A skillet with Moroccan rice in the making.

Add the dates and orange zest.
A skillet with Moroccan rice, dates and orange.

Stir.
A skillet with Moroccan rice being cooked stovetop.

Juice an orange into a liquid measure; then add enough water to create 1 1/3 cups liquid. (This is for 1 cup of rice.)
A liquid measure with fresh orange juice and water.

Bring to a simmer, cover, then simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat. Let stand at least 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.
Moroccan rice in a skillet, ready to be covered and simmered.

Ta-da!
Just-cooked Moroccan rice in a skillet on the stovetop.

Instant Pot Method: Use the sauté function to sauté the onion.
An overhead shot of an Instant Pot sautéing an onion.

Add the garlic and harissa.
An Instant Pot with onion, garlic, and harissa.

Add the rice.
An Instant Pot with rice, harissa, onion, and garlic.

Add the dates and orange zest.
An Instant Pot with Moroccan Rice with dates and orange in the making.

Juice an orange into a liquid measure; then add enough water to create 1 cup of liquid. (This is for 1 cup of rice.)
A liquid measure with fresh orange juice and water.

Add the liquid, stir, cover pot, cook using the manual, high pressure setting for 6 minutes, then let the valve release naturally for at least 20 minutes.
Instant Pot Moroccan Rice ready to be sealed and cooked.

Ta-da!
An overhead shot of just-cooked Moroccan rice with dates and orange.

I think the Instant Pot rice (left) has a slight edge over the stovetop rice (right), but the flavor of each is so good and the difference is subtle.
Two bowls of Moroccan rice, side by side.

This was the batch I made in the oven. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but there are a lot of crispy (burnt) pieces of rice, which I kind of love, but which I think many people would not.

A bowl of Moroccan Rice with dates and orange.

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A bowl of Moroccan Rice with dates and harissa.

Moroccan Rice with Harissa, Dates, and Orange (Stovetop Method)


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed until water runs clear (do not use brown rice)
  • 6 medjool dates,  pitted and diced
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet over high heat, heat 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.
  2. Add the garlic and bay leaf to the onions, and cook for another minute more. Add the harissa. Stir to incorporate. Add the rice and stir for another minute or until each grain is glistening. Add the dates and the orange zest. Squeeze the orange into a liquid measure and add enough water to create 1 and 1/3 cups liquid. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan. Stir to combine.
  3. Bring to a simmer, cover pan, turn heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork. There should be a bit of nice caramelization on the bottom of the pan — I like to scrape this up and incorporate it into the rice. Serve immediately.
  • Category: Rice
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Moroccan

Keywords: Moroccan, rice, dates, orange, harissa, stovetop

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Moroccan Rice with Harissa, Dates, and Orange (Instant Pot Method)


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish

Description

I have this 6-qt Instant Pot, which is important only because the size of the pot may affect the timing. These instructions work for my IP, but you may have to adjust with more time depending on the size of your IP.

Also, though I have not tried it, if you want to use brown basmati rice, try cooking the rice for 22 minutes at high pressure. Let me know if you give it a go, and I’ll report back if I do, too.


Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed until water runs clear (see notes if using brown basmati rice)
  • 6 medjool dates,  pitted and diced
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced

Instructions

  1. Using the sauté function of your Instant Pot, heat the oil and onions, stirring often until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt, the garlic, and bay leaf, and cook for another minute more. Add the harissa. Stir to incorporate. Add the rice and stir for another minute or until each grain is glistening. Add the dates and the orange zest. Squeeze the orange into a liquid measure and add enough water to create 1 cup liquid. Add it to the pot along with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine.
  2. Cover the Instant Pot and be sure the valve is turned to sealing. Using the manual setting, set the IP to high pressure for 6 minutes. Let the valve release naturally for at least 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork. There should be a bit of nice caramelization on the bottom of the pan — I like to scrape this up and incorporate it into the rice before serving.
  • Category: Rice
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Moroccan

Keywords: Moroccan, rice, Instant, Pot, dates, orange, harissa