Honey harissa chicken features caramelized chicken thighs with a sticky-spicy-sweet harissa honey sauce. The chicken is piled high on steamy whole grain brown rice with crispy sweet potato cubes, thinly sliced cucumber, pickled red onion, avocado and drizzled with a creamy harissa aioli. It’s dinnertime dreams come true!

bowl with honey harissa chicken, sweet potatoes, cucumber, brown rice, lemon wedge, pickled red onion, avocado

So I recently made this harissa aioli and I’m lowkey obsessed with its balanced yet bold flavor. I want it on everything. And it sparked the idea for this honey harissa chicken. When I was developing this recipe, I noticed several recipes online for “Cava Copycat harissa avocado bowl.” I don’t live anywhere near a Cava so I certainly wouldn’t call this a copycat recipe because I’ve never even tried the Cava version, but from looking at the ingredients my recipe has similar vibes! So, if you’re a fan of Cava you will love these harissa honey chicken bowls.

honey harissa chicken with harissa aioli

Why I love this easy dinner SO MUCH:

  • I cannot emphasize this enough- I am a BOWL GAL. Y’all have probably recognized that from my recipes. #sorrynotsorry. I love a bowl that features intensely flavorful protein, a satisfying complex carbohydrate, a rainbow of micronutrient-rich veggies and of course, sauce.
  • This bowl features all of the above-mentioned things: brown rice for fiber and satisfaction, chicken thighs for satiating protein, cucumber, sweet potato and fresh herbs for vitamins and antioxidants and heart-healthy fat like avocado, olive oil and a creamy sauce to help absorb all the fabulous nutrients in this meal.
  • While there are several different components, this recipe actually comes together pretty quickly. And especially if you can prep a few things in advance (ie marinate the chicken, whisk up the aioli, make the pickled onions) this is a very simple dinner to throw together.
  • Meal prep vibes: I am generally “that” person who says they could never meal prep the same exact meal to eat 4-5 times. But when I tell you, I would HAPPILY eat this every day for lunch. In fact, I have leftovers in my fridge right now and that will indeed be the best part of tomorrow.
picture of ingredients needed for the recipe

What you will need to make honey harissa chicken:

Chicken thighs: since we are thinly slicing the chicken, opt for boneless skinless chicken thighs for ease.

Harissa: harissa is a chile paste from North Africa made from roasted red peppers, hot peppers, spices like ground cumin and coriander, caraway seeds, garlic and olive oil. Although it sounds foreign it can actually be found in most grocery stores in the international foods aisle. Trader Joe’s also carries harissa.

Honey: honey provides sweetness to balance the spice of the harissa.

Lemon: another lever of flavor- acidity to balance the sweetness and spice!

Olive oil: olive oil is part of the marinade and we use it to cook the chicken as well. You can find it at your local grocery store in the vinegar, oil and spices aisle.

Spices: this recipe includes garlic powder, smoked paprika, dried thyme, sea salt and black pepper as the seasonings for both the chicken marinade and the sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes: roasted sweet potatoes pair perfectly with the flavors of honey and harissa and especially delicious with the harissa aioli!

Brown rice: a bed of brown rice provides amazing texture paired with the crispy sliced chicken thighs.

Cucumber: thinly sliced cucumber is a nice refreshing addition to these honey harissa chicken bowls.

Pickled red onions: I could put pickled red onion and nearly any “bowl” recipe. They add tang and a flavorful punch. They are super simple to make and only require a red onion, apple cider vinegar, salt and sugar.

Avocado: I think avocado goes well with sweet potatoes, chicken, cucumbers and everything else we’ve got going on!

Fresh herbs: would it even be a flavorful life recipe without fresh herbs! Fresh parsley and/or mint seem benign but add incredible flavor.

Harissa aioli: creamy, spicy and garlicky this is one of my favorite spicy sauces. It combines mayo, harissa chili paste, smoked paprika, freshly grated garlic cloves and lemon juice for a balanced aioli.

How to make:

bowl of marinated chicken

Marinate the chicken: add sliced chicken thighs to a small bowl. Combine harissa, spices, honey, salt and pepper with the chicken and toss to combine. Place in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes, up to 24 hours.

Sweet potatoes: while the chicken is marinating prep your sweet potatoes and other elements (cucumber, pickled onion, aioli) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cube the sweet potatoes and spread them in a single layer on a parchment-lined or well-greased sheet pan. Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle on the spices, salt and pepper. Use your hands to get the sweet potatoes evenly coated with seasonings and oil. Roast for 25 minutes total. During the last 3 minutes of cook time, switch your oven to broil for even better color and crispiness.

small bowl with harissa aioli with a whisk

Cook the chicken: in a large skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Use a couple paper towels to blot some moisture from the chicken. When the oil is hot add the chicken in an even layer, try not to overcrowd the pan. Increase heat to medium-high. Let the chicken cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes per side, for a total of about 8-10 minutes. When the chicken is nicely browned and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, reduce heat to medium-low.

side by side skillet of cooked chicken with and without sauce

Sauce it up: add the butter, honey and harissa to the skillet and toss to combine. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes until the sauce coats and clings to the chicken. Finish with lemon juice.

Assembly: add a big spoonful of brown fluffy rice to a serving bowl. Top with honey harissa chicken, cucumber, avocado, pickled red onions, roasted sweet potato and fresh herbs. Drizzle with harissa aioli. This is a good dinner day.

honey harissa chicken bowls with brown rice and avocado, drizzle with harissa aioli

Variation ideas:

  • Switch up the grain: use jasmine rice, quinoa, white rice, cauliflower rice, barley or farro as the “bed” of this bowl.
  • Other fun add-ins: feta cheese, a dollop of hummus, thinly sliced red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, toasted pita bread triangles, tomato cucumber salad, kalamata olives, a spoonful of Greek yogurt mixed with lemon zest, roasted corn or arugula.
  • Serve everything in a flatbread or pita wrap instead of on a bed of rice.
  • Make into an amazing salad featuring power greens or kale.

FAQs

How can I adjust the spice level?

The spiciness comes from harissa. To adjust the heat level simply use less harissa for less spicy and more harissa for more spicy.

What if I can’t find harissa?

It will alter the flavor profile a little, but you can sub chili garlic sauce, sriracha or gochujang. With all three of these, start with half the amount of listed harissa.

Can I use a different cut of chicken?

For best results, use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You can also use skinless chicken breasts or ground chicken if you want to (the ground chicken you wouldn’t marinate). You could use the delicious honey harissa sauce on chicken wings but you will not be able to follow the recipe as written using chicken wings.

How should I assemble this for leftovers/meal prep?

In airtight containers, layer in brown rice, sweet potatoes and honey harissa chicken. In another smaller airtight container put a portion of cucumbers, pickled red onion, fresh herbs, lemon wedge and harissa aioli. When read to eat, heat the rice/chicken mixture and then add the fresh toppings.

two honey harissa chicken bowls and one bowl of harissa aioli

If this meal makes your taste buds sing, you will LOVE these other yummy dinners:

Watch the recipe video to see how to make honey harissa chicken:

If you make this recipe I’d love it if you’d leave a review and star rating. Don’t forget to snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @itsaflavorfullife!

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bowl with honey harissa chicken, avocado, sweet potatoes, pickled red onions, cucumber and brown rice

Honey Harissa Chicken Bowls

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 12 reviews
  • Author: Erica
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Saute
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Sticky sweet and spicy harissa chicken, brown rice, crispy sweet potatoes, pickled red onion, avocado and creamy harissa aioli. This is NOT your average chicken dinner!


Ingredients

Scale

Marinade

  • 1.25 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons harissa
  • 1 teaspoon each smoked paprika, dried thyme and garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper

Sauce

  • Olive oil cooking the chicken
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon harissa
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Sweet potato cubes

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon each smoked paprika, dried thyme and garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper

Assembly


Instructions

Marinate the chicken: in a medium bowl, combine thinly sliced chicken thighs with the olive oil, harissa, spices, honey, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and place in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes, up to 24 hours.

Sweet potatoes: while the chicken is marinating prep your sweet potatoes and other elements (cucumber, pickled onion, aioli) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cube the sweet potatoes and spread them in a single layer on a parchment-lined or well-greased baking sheet. Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle on the spices, salt and pepper. Use your hands to get the sweet potatoes evenly coated with seasonings and oil. Roast for 25 minutes total. During the last 3 minutes of cook time, switch your oven to broil for even better color and crispiness.

Cook the chicken: in a cast iron skillet or other heavy-bottomed skillet, add a swish of olive oil over medium heat. Use a paper towel to blot some moisture from the chicken. When the oil is hot add the chicken in an even layer, try not to overcrowd the pan. Increase heat to medium/high. Let the chicken cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes per side, for a total of about 8-10 minutes. Chicken is very lean and releases quite a bit of water while cooking- you may want to blot up a little of the moisture with a paper towel so the chicken can develop a nice sear instead of steaming/boiling in its own juices. When the chicken is nicely browned turn the heat to medium low.

Sauce it up: add the butter, honey and harissa to the skillet and toss to combine. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes until the sauce coats and clings to the chicken. Finish with lemon juice.

Assembly: add a big spoonful of brown rice to a serving bowl. Top with honey harissa chicken, cucumber, avocado, pickled red onions, roasted sweet potato and fresh herbs. Drizzle with harissa aioli. This is a good dinner day.


Notes

To cook brown rice: rinse one cup brown basmati rice in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Add rice, 1 1/2 cups water, a big pinch of salt and 1/2 tablespoon butter to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer for thirty minutes, turn the heat off and without removing the lid, let it sit for another 5-10 minutes. Remove lid and fluff with a fork.

Refer to above blog post for ingredient substitute information and answers to frequently asked questions.


Nutrition information is an estimate and may vary slightly.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 recipe (nutrition calculated with 2/3 cup cooked brown rice + 2 tablespoons aioli)
  • Calories: 602
  • Sugar: 14.9 g
  • Sodium: 398.9 mg
  • Fat: 24.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 69.4 g
  • Fiber: 8.4 g
  • Protein: 28.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 121.8 mg

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