Moroccan-Spiced Chicken and Rice with Dates and Pistachios Recipe on Food52 (2024)

One-Pot Wonders

by: Alexandra Stafford



19 Ratings

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 6 to 8

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Author Notes

Adapted From Diana Henry's Simple.

What struck me about this recipe from the start was the method: you don't have to brown 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 skin, juicy meat, and cooked rice.

I did make 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.

The original recipe also calls for 2.5 cups of water. I found the rice to be too soft with this amount of water. I tried with 2 cups and also found that to be too soft. So I then went down to 1 1/3 cups. This yields a mix of soft and crisp rice, which I love.

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. —Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need

  • 3 tablespoonsolive 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 tablespoonsharissa
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoonground cumin or whole cumin seeds (see notes above)
  • 1 teaspoonground ginger (optional, see notes above)
  • 1 cupbasmati rice, rinsed until water runs clear, do not use brown rice, see notes above
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 to 12 medjool dates, diced (see notes above)
  • 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons(or more) chopped pistachios (I use roasted unsalted)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Transfer pan to the oven (uncovered) and cook for 40 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Scatter pistachios over top. Serve immediately.


  • Moroccan
  • Chicken
  • Grains
  • Date
  • Pistachio
  • Rice
  • One-Pot Wonders
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Gluten-Free
  • Entree

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • charles

  • MarcusPM

  • ctgal

  • Alex Wetter

  • Rhianna

I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

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76 Reviews

charles April 29, 2023

I found this really good. I took the recipe and put it into bell peppers at the end, to make stuffed Moroccan bell peppers. I disagree with the author on date quantities, as I was closer to the original recipe's quantity. I did six, but just felt it needed a little more dates for the sweetness to match the harissa spice. Instead of adding more dates at the end I added some pomegranate molasses as a finishing touch. I think if I had the 12 I would have been fine without the molasses, but either way it was still good.

This is a good quick and easy dinner. It also doesn't require a lot for dishes. I would recommend making it, and I will make it again. If you want to stuff bell peppers, the recipe filled the four I planned with plenty of spare filling. I think eight would have been pushing it, but I think six, maybe seven, would have been good.

Gail July 30, 2022

This was a last minute dinner for my husband and me. I was tired and didn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. On the other hand, I had almost all the ingredients and a defrosted package of chicken thighs from Costco that needed to be used. It took very little time to put it together and the cooking time was perfect. I didn't have an orange so I used lemon rind and 1/3 cup of orange juice. I used 6 chopped dates. I also
substituted chopped roasted unsalted almonds for the pistachios. It turned out the package of chicken thighs were 4 huge pieces which fit perfectly in my Dutch oven which I used as my "pan". It was fantastic, the chicken so crisp on the top (bake it skin side up), and the meat so juicy. The rice was sublime. This will be a new favorite which I will surely make for company.

MarcusPM May 23, 2022

A favorite to bring to potlucks. It’s easy, stays warm a longtime. And it’s always a hit.

Marjorie D. May 8, 2022

I was visiting friends who lived pretty far from a town and thought I'd bought everything to make this dish. But I forgot Harissa. They had some Mother-in-Law's Korean hot sauce, so I figured I'd give it a try. It was GREAT! I think this recipe is idiot-proof as long as you've got dates, pistachios and the will to put it all together.

Kyra May 8, 2022

This is DELICIOUS! One of my all time favorite meals. I cut up the dates in small pieces so they end up melting into the rice so it's gooey and sticky and crunchy on the bottom. I use CAVA harissa and lots of garlic. It's pretty easy to put together then just pop in the oven to cook. Love it with roasted brussel sprouts on the side. Everytime I make this for someone they love it too! YUM!

Sasha January 2, 2022

I adore this recipe (which I follow to the letter every time, and every time it's perfect). The flavors are complex and yet the meal is one-pan easy. I would love some suggestions for veggies to pair with it (I've toyed around with options, but nothing's won me over yet).

Marjorie D. May 20, 2021

This is insanely good. I do add ginger and also a quarter ton of turmeric or maybe a little more.

Margo W. February 19, 2021

I made this with fresh ginger, eggplant, and 4tbsp harissa. The rice cooked perfectly, but I think I under-salted both the chicken and the rice mixture because the flavors didn't come through as I thought they would.

NXL November 24, 2020

This is an extremely flavorful recipe. I followed the suggestion to use only 6 dates. Also added carrots to make it a one-pot meal. Used leg/thigh quarters, which were done in 45 minutes.

ctgal April 29, 2019

I made this for tonight's dinner, and it was delicious! I did use 1.5 cups of rice and 1.5 cups of water. It came out perfectly. I am with you, Alexandra. I used 10 dates and even that was too sweet for me. So some number less next time. I have a homemade harissa mix, very hot, and used a lot of it. Actually, there were so many tastes in the chicken dish that the heat was balanced perfectly. I also quickly toasted the coriander and cumin seeds and ground them. I thought that really added to the taste, so thanks for that suggestion. I cut up 3 carrots and added them at the start, and they were perfect at 40 minutes in my 400 degree oven. My husband is not always a fan of my eclectic dinner choices, but he liked this one! Many thanks!

Alexandra S. April 30, 2019

So happy to hear this! Love the idea of adding carrots here. Glad the husband approved, too!

Alex W. April 6, 2019

I did make it with a brown rice blend and it worked out well! I gave the rice a bit of a head start in the pan before putting the chicken in. Unfortunately, I read the packaging on the rice wrong and used a bit too much water, but the more nutty flavour of brown rice went with this dish very well. Overall a great success and I'll be adding this to my chicken roster!

Elizabeth February 2, 2024

do you think basmati brown rice would work then? That's all I have in the pantry today.

Rhianna January 16, 2019

Can you offer more guidance on pan size? 8 thighs is a lot to fit. E.g. how wide? how much depth? Can I use a Dutch oven or would that prevent browning? If I didn't have a big enough pan could it be transferred to a 9x13 glass dish prior to baking?

Gail July 30, 2022

I used a 6 qt Dutch oven and 4 huge chicken thighs for this recipe. A couple of days ago I made flattened chicken which called for 8 thighs and it weighed the same as the 4 thighs I used for this recipe. This recipe is very adaptable. Enjoy!

Tenely S. December 10, 2018

I loved the orange flavor in the rice. I am moving this to my "keepers" file. I didn't have dates but added a bit of tumeric-honey. I think currants or raisibs would be good. Next time I'll leave off the pistachios and top with cilantro

kara March 13, 2018

This dish is exceptional IMO. I really liked that everything is cooked in one pan, the rice is perfectly cooked based on the quantity of water suggested and overall it was so easy. Perfect for a dinner party since everything can be done in advance and in the oven. My chicken pieces must have been a bit smaller than normal because they were already at 175 degrees at only 30 min, so I would suggest checking around 20 or so for doneness but with thighs they are forgiving so it was all good. Definitely making this many times in the future and sharing with all of my friends!

msmely January 6, 2018

Added 1/2 a preserved lemon and lemon juice instead of orange zest and orange juice. Liquid ratios were on point. I added 3 carrots and 1 zucchini nestled on top of the rice with some herbs and then the chicken on top of that. The added vegetables required another 20 minutes of cooking at 400F so a total of 60 minutes at the very least for fully cooked chicken and tender-crisp vegetables. The chicken skin may still be a bit blonde at this point, I used a deeper/narrower pan so this was my experience. The broiler on high for 5 minutes smartened it up. I omitted (I forgot) the dates but the recipe was delicious nonetheless. Just be aware that if your pan shape is not shallow and wide and/or if you add chunks of vegetables to make it a one pot meal that your cooking time may extend significantly. An instant read thermometer is a good friend.

msmely January 6, 2018

I should also mention instead of the cumin and ginger I used an equivalent amount of ras el hanout plus 2tsp of whole cumin seeds fried first with the onions before spice powder was added.

Tricia December 6, 2017

Just put this in the oven and on board a few tips : honey and home made harrissa....Cant wait to try it....smells good. Thanks for this recipe idea

Fancy A. December 5, 2017

This recipe is fantastic, and SO easy!! I didn't have any Harissa so subbed a rub of spicy paprika. Also used fresh ginger instead of dried. Came out absolutely delicious. Will definitely be making it again this winter.

deborah L. October 22, 2017

Question: do you typically use dried dates or fresh ones and does that change the recipe? Thanks!

Kathy F. October 9, 2017

Just tried this, love it! I used my Lodge 15 1/4" skillet. Used 1 delicata squash, peeled and cubed. Added a touch of cloves. Used 2 cups of rice and 4.5 cups of liquid (wate + juice from orange) and it was perfect! Maybe the large surface area of my skillet promoted lots of evaporation. Can't wait to serve this to guests. Maybe add a little parsley next time.

Alexandra S. October 9, 2017

Wonderful to hear all of this. Delicata squash is my absolute favorite. Have yet to try it here. Will now!

samantha S. October 5, 2017

Can I make this a day before and re heat?

Alexandra S. October 5, 2017

Yes! I suggest reheating it covered stovetop over low heat until heated through or in the oven at 350 also covered until heated through. Once it is heated through, you could uncover it briefly in the oven to let the skin crisp up again or you could run it under the broiler briefly.

Moroccan-Spiced Chicken and Rice with Dates and Pistachios Recipe on Food52 (2024)
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