Ras el hanout – a Moroccan spice blend – brings deep flavors to this pressure cooker Instant Pot dish. It’s made with chicken thighs, olives, lemon, garlic, onions and raisins.
On weeknights, I am all about the boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They’re easy to prepare and always end up juicy no matter how they’re cooked.
Elise makes a recipe for Moroccan chicken using the slow cooker that is absolutely fantastic, but I wanted to adapt it for the pressure cooker so I could make it at a moment’s notice on a busy weeknight.
What is Ras el Hanout?
In her slow cooker version of this recipe, Elise describes the spice blend used in her recipe as “more spices than you would ever think you could use at once.” She’s talking about Ras el Hanout, a typical blend of spices used in a lot of Moroccan cuisine – and she’s right!
Ras el hanout is a blend of sweet and savory spices including paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, among others. You can buy pre-mixed ras el hanout spice blends, but in the recipe below, I’ve listed out the individual spices in case you can’t find it.
Moroccan Chicken in the Pressure Cooker
To adapt Elise’s recipe for the pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot!), I started off by sautéing the onions and garlic for a few minutes, then stirring in the spices to release their complex aromas.
I also added some chicken broth to the recipe, so that there would be enough liquid for the pot to come up to pressure. (If you’re using a 6-quart pressure cooker, you’ll need at least a cup of liquid for the pot to come to pressure.)
What to Serve with Moroccan Chicken
You can do a quick pressure release and serve the chicken right away, of course, but this recipe also does fine if you need to leave it on the warm setting for a little while, although after an hour or two, the texture of the chicken might become overly soft.
Serve the chicken thighs with rice, couscous, riced cauliflower, or zucchini noodles for an easy meal.
Bonus Tip! Use the Pot-in-Pot Method to Cook Rice
This recipe works well if you want to cook the rice along with the chicken using what is called the “pot-in-pot” method! Here’s what to do:
- Combine 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups white rice in a 1 1/2-quart stainless steel bowl (like this one). Season with salt if you like (1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon).
- Set the bowl aside and proceed with the recipe.
- After stirring the chicken thighs in with the other ingredients, place a raised steam rack (like this one) on top of the chicken, making sure its legs touch the bottom of the pot. Put the bowl of rice on top.
- When the cooking program ends and you’ve opened the pot, use heat-resistant mitts to lift out the bowl of rice and the steam rack. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve with the chicken.
More Pressure Cooker Chicken Recipes
For stovetop pressure cookers: Follow the instructions as written, but decrease pressure cooking time to 12 minutes.
For pot-in-pot method of cooking rice alongside this dish: See headnotes.
Recipe tester notes: This recipe also works just as well with black olives or with golden raisins. Next time, I might sprinkle some chopped almonds on top, as well! ~Emma
For the Ras el Hanout spice blend (or substitute 2 tablespoons store-bought blend):
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Chicken:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup pitted green olives (with or without pimentos)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 lemon, sliced thinly, seeds removed
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and/or parsley
1 Make the spice blend: In a small bowl, stir together the spices and salt.
2 Cook the onions, garlic, and spices: Select your pressure cooker’s “Sauté” setting and heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions are softened and the garlic is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices and cook for one more minute.
3 Add the remaining ingredients and pressure cook: Pour in the chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pot release any browned spices. Stir in the olives, raisins, lemon slices, and chicken thighs.
Secure the lid on the pressure cooker and make sure the pressure release valve is set to its “Sealing” position. Select the “Poultry,” “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” setting, and set the time to 15 minutes at high pressure.
When the cooking program ends, either perform a quick pressure release by moving the pressure valve to its “Venting” position, or let the pressure release naturally and leave the chicken on your pressure cooker’s warming setting until ready to serve.
4 Serve: Sprinkle the chicken with chopped cilantro and/or parsley, and serve it with rice, couscous, riced cauliflower, or zucchini noodles.