This Moroccan Chicken and rice dish is a riff on my other Moroccan Chicken dish, made into a complete meal with the addition of rice. Not just any rice though- the tastiest damn rice I’ve ever made.
Moroccan Chicken and Rice with Dates & Olives
For this dish, the rice is cooked right in the skillet with the chicken, along with sautéed onions, sweet dates, and briny olives. It’s finished off with preserved lemons (or lemon zest), toasted nuts, fresh herbs, and a squeeze of lemon. The result is the loveliest balance of sweet, savory, umami, and bright.
This one skillet supper has a longish ingredients list and a bunch of steps, but please don’t let that intimidate you. It actually comes together quite easily- The chicken get marinated, and then that part is done. And then it’s just about assembling your mise en place for the rice and putting it all together.
If you need to stock your spice cabinet, my favorite sources for quality spices are Oaktown Spice Shop and Penzeys.
How to cut up a whole chicken:
Bonus: there is no need to brown the chicken, since it gets brown all by itself in the oven while it cooks with the rice.
The first time I made this, I added it to my mental list of Dishes To Make For Dinner Parties- once those are a thing again. For now, I’ll add it to the regular dinner rotation and be more than happy to have leftovers.Print
Moroccan Chicken and Rice with Dates & Olives
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings
- Category: chicken
For the Chicken:
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (use a microplane if you have one)
- zest of one lemon (reserve the lemon)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 large or 8 small bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Or one chicken, cut into 8 pieces
For the Rice:
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts or roughly chopped pistachios, or a combination
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (or ground cumin)
- 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed until the water runs clear
- 6 dates, pitted and diced
- 12–16 kalamata olives, pitted and diced
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth / stock
- 1 good pinch saffron (optional)
- lemon juice
- preserved lemon, thinly sliced, or lemon zest
- chopped parsley, mint, or a combination
- In a dish large enough to fit the chicken, mix together the minced garlic, lemon zest, sea salt, paprika, cumin, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and the olive oil. Add the chicken to the dish and rub all over with the spice paste. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- In a large (10-inch) high sided skillet, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the nuts and cook, stirring often, until golden brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the oil in the pan.
- Raise the heat to medium and add the onion and salt. Sauté until golden brown and slightly softened, stirring occasionally, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the cumin and the rice, stirring to get it coated with the oil and get a little toasty, about one minute.
- Add the dates, olives, broth and saffron, if using. Bring to a simmer.
- Nestle in the chicken, so the skin is facing up and above the broth.
- Carefully transfer to the preheated oven and roast for 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through to 165°F and the liquid has all been absorbed.
- Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then squeeze in the lemon juice, and garnish with the preserved lemon, toasted nuts and fresh herbs.
Keywords: moroccan chicken and rice, one skillet chicken and rice
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would you make any changes if you used brown basmati rice?
brown rice takes a lot longer to cook so you might need to give it a head start before adding the chicken. I’d reference a recipe that uses brown rice in a similar way to get an idea of the time necessary.
I can’t wait to try this recipe! Quick question though – I noticed that in the Moroccan chicken recipe you have us brown the chicken first, whereas here you just nestle in the marinated chicken directly before roasting. Does the longer roasting time in this recipe crisp up the skin so that it doesn’t need to be browned ahead of time? Thanks!
That’s correct, with the skin side up and the cook time, the skin will get browned without the extra step. I’m always for eliminating unnecessary steps 🙂 I hope you love it if you try it!
Tara Ford says
Quick question! If you could not do rice, would you replace it with ruced cauliflower or possibly quinoa? Thanks in advance! I’m looking forward to trying this!
That should work! Just adjust the liquid accordingly, you’d need way less for cauliflower, maybe around the same amount for the quinoa.
This sounds delicious! Quick question: if I do not have lemon, should I just not add or can I substitute with lime?
Any citrus will be great!
This is a seriously good recipe. I have chicken marinating now for dinner tonight. I rarely prepare the same dish twice in one month but this is that good.
Thanks, Christy! I’m so glad to hear it.
This is so, so delicious! It’s going in my top 10 favorites. I rarely repeat recipes, in favor of new, but this I will definitely make again!
Top 10! That’s awesome, Allie. I’m so glad you love it 🙂
I don’t eat rice and wanted to sub with cauliflower rice. Can you recommend when raw cauli rice should be added?
I would make my other Moroccan Chicken and service it Cauli rice, it’s just a few posts back 🙂
Odile V Meister says
This is amazing!! I’m definitely going to make it regularly. Even my picky teens and husband like it! Thank you Simone! Your recipes are so reliably good!
Woohoo! Thanks, Odile! So glad everyone loved it 🙂
I’m thinking about trying this in the laziest way possible – Instant Pot – in order to not heat up my kitchen even further. Obviously chicken and rice is tried and true but I’ve never added olives to the mix. Sometimes random ingredients do stupid things under pressure. Does anyone have any feedback on olives? Should I just plan on making the (boneless skinless thighs) chicken and rice and then adding the dates and olives for a final quick simmer?
I have made this twice now and ohmrrgh every time! How Simone, how??? It may have been the fact that I let the chicken marinate overnight instead of a few hours, and then took it just in time to check the internal temp but the chicken is so juicy and moist, 3 days in! I make this with a full organic chicken that I separate, so I had a chicken breast on day 3, and it was STILL juicy and delicious.
I have replaced the dates with apricots, cause that’s what I have, and this time around, I made it with jasmine rice and again – still, very good.
Thank you, Simone for feeding me 😀
Delicious!!! SO SO good!!!! I used boneless skinless thighs, Jasmine rice, and green olives and it turned out perfect. (Didn’t need quite as much cooking time.) The pine nuts are such a nice touch. I’m trying to figure out how to make a double batch without using two skillets. Do you think it would work to transfer everything to a casserole dish right before putting it in the oven? I’d love to have leftovers and freeze some for later.
This looks absolutely delicious, and I can’t wait to prepare this meal. I want to sub cauliflower for the rice due to dietary restrictions. Any suggestions on how best to do it would be greatly appreciated.
The rice absorbing the liquid is a big part of the recipe measurements, so I’d suggest cutting back on the liquid quite a bit and cooking the cauli-rice separately and just serving the chicken with it.
My hubby loved this and said it was even better as leftover. I threw in some cherry tomatoes and cilantro that was getting ready to die.