One-pot Lemon Chicken Couscous

A Moroccan-inspired supper dish, this is perfect for those evenings when you want to rustle up something tasty but don’t want to spend hours standing over the stove. You can have it on the table in about half an hour.

Generally I prefer to use skin-on, bone-in chicken for the added flavour and I think thighs have more oomph than breasts (so to speak). But a skinless, boneless chicken breast is handy if you want speedy results because it cooks so quickly. I’ve added in a number of flavours more usually associated with tagines … salted lemon and green olives … but you can omit these if you don’t like them and use a dozen or so dried apricots instead.

As the liquids get soaked up by the couscous, you’ll probably want to add a dressed salad on the side and perhaps a dollop of harissa for the chilli lovers.

One-pot Lemon Chicken Couscous

Image of One-pot Lemon Chicken Couscous


2 tbsp olive oil

2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into small bite-sized pieces

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 tspn ground coriander

1 tspn ground cumin

1/2 tspn cayenne pepper

1/2 tspn ground turmeric

1/2 pickled lemon, chopped (including the inside, not just the skin)

12 pitted green olives

200g couscous

The zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tin of chickpeas, drained

200 ml hot chicken stock

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander plus more to garnish

Image of One-pot Lemon Chicken Couscous, served


Heat 1 tbsp oil in a deep frying pan or a casserole, ideally one with a lid. Fry the cubed chicken until lightly browned, removeย with a slotted spoon and keep warm.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and fry the onions until soft and turning golden. Throw in the garlic and put the chicken back in the pan. Cook gently for another five minutes, then add the spices and cook for a couple of minutes more.

Stir in the chickpeas, pickled lemon, olives, lemon juice and couscous, then add the hot stock. Season with a few grinds of salt and pepper. Give it a quick stir and clamp on a lid or cover tightly with foil. Take it off the heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes, until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid.

Sprinkle over the lemon zest and chopped fresh coriander and stir them in with a fork, fluffing up the couscous. Garnish with a few sprigs of coriander and serve.


18 thoughts on “One-pot Lemon Chicken Couscous

  1. Perfect for a week night. Do you have a recommendation for pickled lemons? I’ve never tried to buy any.

    • Mine are from Olives Et Al, Jo, bought in the supermarket. They’re quite widely available now, thanks to Ottolenghi and Sabrina. You can make your own of course, although I’ve never been particularly successful with them. Lx

  2. Looks fab – will definitely give this a go but no olives I’m afraid ( I love them, Pete can’t stand them).
    Can never understand why the BBC haven’t snapped Sabrina up for a prime time cookery programme, especially with the popularity of her sort of food.

    • Thanks, Penny. Maybe he’d prefer the apricot option? I can’t understand why Sabrina doesn’t have her own show either, though I believe she’s done Saturday Kitchen a time or two. Of course I’ve never actually asked her, perhaps she’s too busy doing other things.

  3. Lovely. Yes to all of that please. I made some preserved lemons a few years ago, before they got trendy when it was hard to get hold of them. I seem to remember the recipe was in that Diana Henry book. Anyway, they turned out surprisingly well (I’m too lazy now I can buy them from Budgens round the corner!)

    • Thanks. Was that Crazy Water Pickled Lemons? I suspect that’s the recipe I used ages ago but was a klutz with. Must have another go. Then again, supermarkets …. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I think you’re right about chicken breasts – normally not so great for flavpur, but they do cook quick and are fab at soaking up juices and flavour in a one pot meal. Sounds lovely, and like the chickpeas for extra texture. My hubby’s a bit ‘meh’ with couscous though I love it – think I could do it with pearl barley instead? Xx

    • I’m not sure pearl barley would work here as it takes so much longer to cook … unless you pre-cooked it and warmed it through. How does t’other half feel about bulgur wheat?That might work. Lx

      • yes, I think that’d work – though as you say if I par cooked the barley… I could just tell him to get his own flippin’ dinner and cook it for the rest of us!! xx

      • Lol, my husband hates pasta. Sometimes I get him a leftover curry out of the freezer, chuck a naan on top and then make myself a huge bowl of carbonara. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Blimey – thank goodness mine likes pasta: I think I’d leave him!! He’ll eat anything bar couscous and foods with more than just a couple of mushrooms in it. Come to think of it, maybe I’m not so hot at cooking it’s just that he’ll scoff almost anything indiscriminately. I may need a second opinion…. ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜

  5. OK … you had me with “one pot”. Seriously. Summer is coming and not only do I pare down the size of my meals but I reduce the number of pans required to prepare them. Beyond that, love the ingredients used here. Why, I might even forgo my dislike of cooking chicken breasts! This sounds that good, Linda. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks, John, you’re very welcome. I still prefer thighs and of course it’s important not to overcook and dry out the breasts here … but for a quick supper it works. Lxxx

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