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Harissa Chicken Bowls

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
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Harissa Chicken Bowls

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These Harissa Chicken Bowls are inspired by the popular bowl at CAVA! Loaded with tender harissa-marinated chicken, steamed rice, veggies, and drizzled with a tangy harissa vinaigrette.

If you love eating out but are trying to save money or cook at home more, these bowls are perfect! They’re healthy, filling, and so easy to customize for a delicious weeknight dinner or meal prep.

CAVA Copycat Harissa Chicken Bowls

As much as I love CAVA, these bowls may just be better than the recipe they’re inspired by! The chicken is so flavorful and tender and you can easily add your favorite toppings and sides.

I love a bowl recipe, and since it’s a brand new year I’m back working on some healthy bowl recipes that can be used for meal prep throughout the week. I am obsessed with these Harissa Chicken Bowls!

I’m a huge fan of Mediterranean-inspired food and these bowls bring all the fresh flavors and textures. The chicken is packed with flavor and when it’s paired with steamed rice, cucumbers and tomatoes, hummus, tzatziki, and salad with a zippy harissa vinaigrette–it’s magic!

Once you see how simple it is to make harissa chicken bowls at home, you won’t need to spend $16 on a bowl at CAVA!

harissa chicken bowls

If you love bowl dinner recipes, try my Soy-Glazed Salmon Bowls or my Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Bowls.

What is Harissa?

Harissa paste is a hot pepper paste regional to North African cuisine. It has an olive oil base and is made with roasted red peppers, chilies, garlic, and seasoned with spices like caraway, cumin, and coriander with a little citrus zest.

It’s a super flavorful paste that can be stirred into sauces and dressings and really makes these harissa chicken bowls sing with flavor. You can find harissa paste in some well-stocked grocery stores, at Trader Joe’s, or on amazon.

harissa chicken bowls

How to Make Harissa Chicken Bowls

I love how simple these harissa chicken bowls are to throw together! Perfect for an easy weeknight dinner or meal prep. I recommend grilling the chicken for best flavor.

Tools Needed

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Harissa paste. This is integral to the recipe! You can find it on amazon, at Trader Joe’s, or in some well-stocked grocery stores.
  • Chicken. Chicken thighs are best here as they have a little more fat and flavor, but you can swap in chicken breast if needed.
  • Honey. Honey adds the perfect balance of sweetness to mellow out the spice from the harissa.
  • Garlic and ginger. Garlic and ginger add such great flavor to the marinade.
  • Harissa vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is so easy to make and so flavorful. It contains harissa, olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and spices like oregano and cumin.
  • Steamed rice. Jasmine rice or basmati is great for making harissa chicken bowls.
  • Cucumber. Look for seedless english cucumber or persian cucumbers.
  • Tomato. Any tomato works, but I do like using ripe cherry tomatoes.
  • Feta. Crumbled feta adds lots of salty and delicious flavor.
  • Sauces. I usually go the store bought route and grab hummus, tzatziki, and feta sauce. Trader joe’s is a great place for picking up flavorful sauces!

The Process

  1. Marinate the chicken. In a mixing bowl, combine the harissa, olive oil, honey, ginger, and garlic and stir together. Add the chicken thighs along with salt and pepper and toss well to coat. Marinate at least 2 hours, up to overnight.
  2. Make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until the oil is emulsified. You could also put the ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and shake really well until combined.
  3. Cook the chicken. I like to grill the chicken, but you could also bake it or pan-fry it. Grill or sear the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side, until the chicken registers 165 F on an instant read thermometer. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  4. Cook the corn. While the chicken rests, melt the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is foamy and very hot, add the corn. Let the corn cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, then stir until the corn is a bit browned. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  5. Assemble the bowls. Arrange the chopped harissa chicken around steamed rice. Top with the corn, diced avocado, diced cucumber and tomato, and shredded lettuce. Add any desired sauces and drizzle with the harissa vinaigrette. Top with crumbled feta and pickled onions.

Methods for Cooking Harissa Chicken

My favorite method for cooking chicken for harissa chicken bowls is to use the grill, but there are several ways to get it done!

Outdoor grill: Grilling outside gives the chicken the smoky flavor that is so, so good. Preheat a grill over medium heat until the temp reaches 500F. Clean the grates of any debris and food. Grill the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side until cooked through.

Indoor Grill Pan: Too cold to grill? No problem! I love using a grill pan inside. Preheat a grill pan over medium heat for 5 minutes. Drizzle in a little neutral oil and add the chicken in a single layer without crowding the pan. You may need to do this in batches. Cook for 5-6 minutes per side, until cooked through.

Cast iron pan or skillet: You can use cast iron skillet or another heavy bottomed skillet to cook the chicken. Preheat the pan over medium high heat for 5 minutes. When the pan is hot, drizzle in some neutral oil and add the chicken to the pan. Depending on the size, you will likely need to do this in batches. Cook for 5-6 minutes per side until cooked through.

Oven: Preheat an oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with nonstick spray. Lay the chicken out in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 4-5 minutes, until browned on top.

harissa chicken bowls

Storage Instructions

I rarely ever store my bowl dinner recipes already assembled. In my opinion, the best way to store bowl recipes is to store the ingredients separately and assemble them right before you enjoy them. Then everything tastes completely fresh!

In the Refrigerator: Store any harissa chicken bowls leftovers in a separate air-tight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Store the harissa vinaigrette in a separate airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

To Reheat: Reheat the chicken in the microwave for about 60 seconds or until warmed through. Assemble with the warmed rice and corn and other toppings. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

harissa chicken bowls

Harissa Chicken Bowls FAQs

What does harissa taste like?

Harissa offers a spicy and zesty kick with a similar spice level to sriracha. It’s got some brightness from the preserved lemon, some smokiness from the peppers, and earthy flavors from the cumin and coriander. All in all it’s a super well-rounded condiment!

Are harissa chicken bowls healthy?

Yes! The chicken is flavorful and lean since it’s skinless. The bowls deliver balanced macros and loads of protein. If you’re making bowls to lose weight, lean heavily on the chicken and veggies and supplement with the rice depending on your carbohydrate needs.

harissa chicken bowls


Harissa Chicken Bowls are a healthy and delicious meal that you can enjoy any night of the week. If you love CAVA, you will love these bowls so much more! If you do give this recipe a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. Be sure to subscribe to my weekly newsletter and never miss a new recipe! You can also snap a photo & tag @JENNYGOYCOCHEA on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your SMF creations!

More Bowl Dinner Recipes to Try

Chicken Spring Roll Bowls
Teriyaki Chicken Bowls
Soy-Glazed Salmon Bowls
Shrimp Burrito Bowls

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Harissa Chicken Bowls
Main Dishes

Harissa Chicken Bowls (CAVA Copycat!)

These Harissa Chicken Bowls are inspired by the popular bowl at CAVA! Loaded with tender harissa-marinated chicken, steamed rice, veggies, and drizzled with a tangy harissa vinaigrette.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients

Harissa Chicken

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons harissa paste
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste or fresh grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

Harissa Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Bowl Ingredients

  • 4 cups steamed rice
  • 2 oz feta, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup pickled onions
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, diced
  • 1/3 cup hummus
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce or greens

Instructions

  • Marinate the chicken. In a mixing bowl, combine the harissa, olive oil, honey, ginger, and garlic and stir together. Add the chicken thighs along with the salt and pepper and toss well to coat. Marinate at least 2 hours, up to overnight.
  • Make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until the oil is emulsified. You could also put the ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and shake really well until combined or use an immersion blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the chicken. I like to grill the chicken, but you could also bake it or pan-fry it. Grill or sear the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side, until the chicken registers 165 F on an instant read thermometer. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  • Cook the corn. While the chicken rests, melt the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is foamy and very hot, add the corn. Let the corn cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, then stir until the corn is a bit browned. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Assemble the bowls. Arrange the chopped harissa chicken around steamed rice. Top with the corn, diced avocado, diced cucumber and tomato, and shredded lettuce. Add any desired sauces and drizzle with the harissa vinaigrette. Top with crumbled feta and pickled onions.

Notes

I’m a big fan of utilizing store bought ingredients like hummus, tzatziki, pickled onions, and feta sauce to make this recipe even easier. 

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  1. 5 stars
    DELICIOUS!!!! This recipe IS better than Cava! My daughter’s husband is insanely picky, and he really enjoyed this dish. I was shocked! I can’t wait to eat leftovers for lunch today.