Harissa Chicken and Rice with Lemons and Dates

Harissa Chicken and Rice with Lemons and Dates

This recipe today is a full-on flavor factory! Harissa Chicken and Rice with Lemon and Dates! It’s spicy, a little sweet and tangy, and super comforting. My favorite part? The rice cooked in the chicken’s salty, hot pepper-flavored juices. Chicken Fat Rice? Juicy Chicken Rice? There’s a good term for it in there somewhere, I just don’t know what it is. Just trust me, it’s the best. 

Harissa Chicken and Rice with Lemons and Dates

This is a one pot meal, which I know we all love, and it’s a nice departure from plain old chicken and rice. Have you tried harissa before? If you like spicy food, congratulations: you are officially in a new relationship with harissa. It’s a Moroccan condiment made from hot red peppers, lemon, salt, olive oil, and earthy spices like cumin and coriander. That said, this dish is not overly spicy. The harissa mingles just perfectly with sliced lemons, red onions, garlic, and the occasional chopped date for sweet, chewy contrast. The result is well-rounded flavor, with little pops and zings of tart, sweet, heat here and there. Seriously, those dates? Amid all the savoriness in this pot, random little nuggets of sugary fruit really complete the picture and make for the perfect mouthful.  

I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, which I tossed in the harissa and a little salt and let come to room temp for about 30 minutes. You can use chicken breasts instead but thighs are super forgiving and they fit nicely in this pot. My sister-in-law gave me this pot for Christmas last year and I want to be buried with it. I love it so much. Anyway, start by searing the chicken reeeeaaallly well. 

Seared chicken thighs in a pot

I know you can see the future here and understand that the skin will get sad and soggy again when we add the rice and put the lid on. But, not to worry, we’ll fix it under the broiler later! The point of searing it now is to render all the chicken fat, which everything else will cook happily away in later. So, sear it up.

Set your chicken aside and add everything else to the pot, give it a stir and a quick bath in all the flavor left behind. Then, pop your chicken back on top of the bed of rice, add some stock, and let it bubble away with the lid on for about 30 minutes. When time’s up, your chicken will be perfectly tender and your rice will have absorbed all the spicy, lemony juices. Let it stand and settle down for about 10 minutes while you preheat your chicken-skin-rescuing broiler. Crisp that skin up and garnish the whole thing with chopped cilantro and crumbled feta! A little Greek yogurt with some harissa paste swirled in wouldn’t hurt anyone either. Sigh. I love this spicy/sweet/acidic twist on chicken and rice so much. I hope you do, too! Enjoy, guys!

Harissa Chicken and Rice with Lemons and Dates

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links to the harissa you can use in this recipe and to a Le Creuset braiser I’m in love with, from which I may earn income!


Harissa Chicken and Rice with Lemons and Dates

Harissa Chicken and Rice with Lemons and Dates

I love this spicy/sweet/acidic twist on chicken and rice and hope you do, too! It’s a one pot meal that results in crispy-skinned chicken thighs, fluffy rice, and tons of flavor from harissa paste, tart lemons, and sweet, chewy dates.

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: One-pot
  • Cuisine: Moroccan


  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 3 heaping TBS harissa 
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced into 1/2” thick rings, seeds removed
  • 1/2 a red onion, sliced
  • 6 dates, pitted and quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 C long grain rice
  • 2 C chicken stock
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • crumbled feta, for garnish


  1. Toss the chicken thighs in the harissa paste and 2 big pinches of salt and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet with a lid or in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs, skin-side down and sear for 6-8 minutes, until they release easily from the pan. Flip and cook the thighs on the other side for 2-3 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Lower the heat to medium and add the lemon, onion, and dates. Season with a little salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up the brown bits from the pan, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the rice to the pan, stirring to toast the rice a bit and to combine it with the lemons, onions, dates, and garlic. Arrange everything in a flat layer, place the chicken on top, skin-side up, and pour in the chicken stock. Bring it to a boil, place the lid on the skillet, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Once the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes with the lid on. Meanwhile, preheat your oven’s broiler. Just before serving, remove the lid and place the pan under the broiler for a couple minutes to allow the chicken skin to crisp up again. Garnish with cilantro and feta, and serve!

Keywords: One-pot chicken and rice, harissa paste, bone-in skin-on chicken thighs

One thought on “Harissa Chicken and Rice with Lemons and Dates”

  1. Made this tonight and it was amazing. I only had boneless skinless chicken thighs so I skipped the browning part. Also only had Feta for garnish which I think made the dish. I will make it again using a skin on thigh to experience that deliciousness. So glad I found this recipe!

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