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 Moroccan cooking, without requiring any special cooking methods. The meal blends the unique flavors of apricots, almonds, ras el hanout, 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.

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

Other DIY Backpacking Meals You’ll Enjoy

Red Lentil Chili
Dehydrated Risotto with Vegetables
Backpacker’s Chicken Marbella
Revamped Backpacking Ramen

Maroc in chicken couscous in a backpacking pot

Moroccan Chicken Couscous

Recipe updated 10/2019 to incorporate reader feedback
Author: Fresh Off The Grid
4.30 from 27 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
2 servings



  • At home: Place the couscous, apricots, almonds, ras el hanout, and salt in a resealable bag. Pack along with the olive oil packets (or small container of oil), chicken pouch, and True Lemon.
  • At camp: Bring ~5oz water and oil to a boil in your cookpot. Add the couscous, apricots, nuts, spices, and True Lemon to the pot. Give it a big stir to combine, add in the chicken, then cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork or spoon and dig in!



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


We estimate that this recipe as written will satisfy 2 hikers. However, everyone's appetite is different on the trail, so you may need to adjust this recipe to suit. We highly recommend trying any backpacking recipe at home before taking it into the backcountry so that you can make any adjustments so it will work best for you.

Nutrition (Per Serving)

Calories: 665kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 24g | Fiber: 12g
*Nutrition is an estimate based on information provided by a third-party nutrition calculator
Main Course

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

    1. 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.1 star

    1. 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.4 stars

  4. Mackenzie says:

    What kind of chicken packet do you use?

    1. The one we see around a lot is Valley Fresh (Safeway). But Sweet Sue is another choice we’ve seen around.

  5. G. Roberson says:

    If I use soy curls instead of chicken, should I increase the amount of water? If so, how much?

    1. The water is just to cook the couscous, so you would need to adjust it if you are using a different protein source like soy curls or TVP. The packaging on the soy curls should give some indication on how much water you’ll need to add.

  6. Have you ever tried it with packaged salmon? I found some salmon that packs well and I might try it with this one instead of chicken. Just wondering if you’ve thought of it or tried it.

    1. We have not tried this recipe with salmon, but we don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I’m not sure how the fish would pair with the Ras El Hanout spices but it’s certainly worth a try.

  7. How come for 2 servings in this recipe it calls for 1c of couscous where as in the chicken marabella it is a 1/2c couscous for 2 servings?

    1. We just did a major revision of this recipe after receiving feedback that it wasn’t working out for people. (Primarily that the couscous ratio was too high) This new version simplifies the ingredients and addresses the issues with portions. We just had this for lunch and feel really proud of the way it came out. We apologize that the previous iteration of this recipe wasn’t as solid as it could have been.

  8. I just tested this recipe for a trip I’m hoping to take later in the summer. Good stuff! I included both apricots and golden raisins and used a “garlic and olive oil” couscous. Good flavors and a nice mix of textures. Recommended!5 stars

  9. rubrodisca says:

    **This is a keeper!** I make our dinners into soupy one-pot meals by always using 5-6 C water to start with. To compensate, I increased the salt quite a bit and added two chicken bouillon cubes and the spice packet that came with the couscous. I used a recipe from for ras el haout and a pinch of dried lemon peel instead of the True Lemon packet. Boil the water, add 1 oz dried veggies, the apricot pieces and the bouillon cubes. Once the veggies have rehydrated, add the chicken and simmer a few minutes to thoroughly warm it up. Then add the couscous, sliced almonds, spice mixture and oil. Remove from heat, mix well, cover and let sit 5 minutes for the couscous to rehydrate. This was the perfect amount for the two of us (we weigh 250 lbs combined).5 stars

  10. I think this recipe is promising. I had it for dinner at home last night and enjoyed it, but I’m thinking I will tweak it a bit next time. I’m inclined to add a bit more water next time.

    The big issue I had was the level of spice. I didn’t have the Ras El Hanout, so I found a recipe online and made my own blend. I thought that the 4 teaspoons was rather excessive, so I dialed it back to 2 teaspoons…. and still found it to be really quite spicy and flavorful. I’m not sure if my recipe for the spice blend was considerably different than what others use – but next time I think I will try it with just 1 teaspoon. I’m surprised to hear that another commenter found it bland….

    1. Thank you for sharing! First off, very smart of you to make this ahead of time. I’m glad you were able to catch some improvements at home before putting the meal to the test out on the trail.

      While we love using spice blends to simplify our ingredient list, each brand can taste so different from another that it makes it very hard to give precise measurements. Never mind homemade versions. On top of that, everyone has a different spice tolerance. So I think you did exactly the right thing. Try it at home first, dial it in, and then take it out with you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Hope you can make this one work for you!

  11. This recipe was perfect. Light and easy to prep. We made it with soy curls and it was so good! I’ll probably add it to my home recipe rotation. The spice blend was pretty easy to make after quick google search. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes.