Backpacker’s Moroccan Chicken Couscous

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Blending North African flavors with lightweight ingredients, this Backpacking Moroccan Chicken Couscous is a quick and easy meal to enjoy out on the trail.

A super simple homemade backpacking meal. Takes less than 5 minutes to cook on the trail and is full of protein AND flavor!

While we’ve been known to use prepackaged backpacking meals from time to time, we prefer to build our meals from scratch. The goal is to come up with meal ideas that are lightweight, calorie-dense, shelf-stable, and quick cooking, which, admittedly, might sound daunting at first.

But, you’d be surprised how easy it is to find backpacking friendly ingredients at your local grocery store. And this Moroccan Chicken Couscous is a perfect example.

This one pot meal captures the flavors of classic Moroccan cooking, without requiring any hard-to-find specialty ingredients. The meal blends the unique flavors of apricots, almonds, and a mix of spices, but also delivers hearty basics like chicken and couscous. It’s got enough going on flavor-wise to pique your interest without throwing you for a total loop.

A super simple homemade backpacking meal. Takes less than 5 minutes to cook on the trail and is full of protein AND flavor!A super simple homemade backpacking meal. Takes less than 5 minutes to cook on the trail and is full of protein AND flavor!

Know what else? It’s an extremely fast meal to cook. After the water is boiling, couscous only takes about 5 minutes to cook, which is faster than many of the prepackaged boil-in-bag meals. So it’s pretty much ready to eat as soon as you are.

Faster cook times = less fuel = less weight = happy hikers!

To save space, we pre-portion all the dry ingredients together in a ziplock bag at home. Then when we’re out on the trail we just have to add the olive oil and a packet of chicken.

So if you’re looking for some new backpacking meal ideas to help you mix up your routine, give this one-pot Moroccan Chicken Couscous a try the next time you hit the trail.

GEAR TO GET YOU STARTED ⟶
A super simple homemade backpacking meal. Takes less than 5 minutes to cook on the trail and is full of protein AND flavor!

Moroccan Chicken Couscous

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 2 servings
Calories: 573 kcal
Author: Fresh Off the Grid
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup dried apricots chopped
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7 oz pack chicken
  • 1 cup water (on the trail)

Instructions

  1. At home: Place the couscous, apricots, almonds, and spices in a resealable bag. Place the olive oil in a small resealable container (or pack along single serving packets).
  2. At camp: Bring 1 cup water and oil to a boil in your cookpot. Add the couscous, apricots, nuts, spices, and chicken to the pot. Give it a big stir to combine, then cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork or spoon and dig in!

ESTIMATED NUTRITION PER SERVING

573 kCal // 24g fat // 69g carbohydrates // 27g protein

MAKE IT VEGETARIAN/VEGAN

This could easily be made vegetarian or vegan by replacing the chicken with a protein source such as TVP or soy curls.

A super simple homemade backpacking meal. Takes less than 5 minutes to cook on the trail and is full of protein AND flavor!

This recipe first appeared as part of our “Three Squared” column in Adventure Journal Quarterly.

Fresh Off the Grid

Fresh Off the Grid is a culinary resource for the outdoor community. We offer a collection of recipes, how-to guides, and camp cooking gear to help elevate your outdoor experience through food and drink!

6 Comments

  1. Was the chicken cut and diced prior to putting it in your pack?

    • We picked up pre-cooked, chicken chunks from Safeway.(They came in a plastic pouch) So the chicken was already in bite-sized pieces.

  2. I rarely leave reviews, but I want to save anyone from trying this. It was dry and bland and made way more food than two of us could eat, even after a long day of hiking. Leftovers are a nightmare on the trail... you either have to stuff yourself silly (ugh) or pack it out (ugh). This looked like a great idea, but trust me... skip it.

    • We are really sorry to hear this recipe didn't work out for you. It has been awhile since we've made this one, but we're going to revisit it and review it to see where we can make any improvements. Thank you for your honest feedback. Again we're really sorry it resulted in a poor experience for you, especially in the backcountry! We'll dive back and see what we can do to address some of your concerns (overall dryness, serving sizes).

  3. I made this but tweaked the recipe a bit. I used an additional cup of vegetable stock and added a handful of raisins along with some moist coconut flakes. Turned out quite well.
    I served this on a recent multi day kayak trip and loved it. Will make it again.

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