Lemon Couscous with Craisins and Chicken


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Lemon Couscous with Craisins and Chicken - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Crunchy pistachios, buttery sautéed onions, chunks of chicken, sweet craisins, and plenty of citrus flavor fills each bite of this couscous “pasta” chicken salad. Served hot or cold, this is a make-ahead meal that I’ll be making all summer long.

Israeli Couscous has become “that food” for me this year. I crave it again almost as soon as I make it. I keep boxes of pearl (or Israeli) couscous on hand in the pantry at all times. Pearl couscous are tiny round balls of pasta. They are slightly chewy, slightly nutty, and nothing at all like traditional couscous.

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I’m not even a big pasta eater and I’ll eat pearl couscous all day long.

Last week, I wanted to make my sister’s recipe for Israeli Couscous and I didn’t have time to run to the store for all the ingredients. As I tend to do, I improvised with the ingredients I had on hand and I also added some leftover cooked chicken to make it a heartier main dish.

Sometimes, an empty pantry really is the best inspiration; this dish is delicious.

Lemon Couscous filled with craisins, chicken, pistachios and more - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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Lemon Couscous with Craisins and Chicken

Servings: 6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pistachios or the nuts of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small red onion sliced very thin
  • 2 cups pearl or Israeli couscous
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley or 2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked chicken chopped bite-size
  • 1/2 cup craisins or dried cranberries
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • ¼ - 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • optional: 1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley


  • Warm the oil in a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the pistachios to the skillet. Saute until toasted and fragrant. Remove from the skillet to a plate or small dish. Melt the butter in the skillet and then add the onion, couscous, and cinnamon stick. Cook, while stirring frequently, until browned.
  • Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the couscous is tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the chicken, craisins, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Taste and salt as needed. Sprinkle with fresh parsley if desired. Enjoy!


Use caution when salting the final dish. Most store-bought chicken broth will provide enough salt that you won't need to add much salt at all. If you are using homemade chicken broth, be sure to use enough salt to bring out the flavors. I typically use a mixture of pistachios and pine nuts when making this dish, but whichever nuts you like best will work fine.
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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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    • Mary Younkin says

      Hi, Joanne! The flavor of the dish will be different, but there shouldn’t be any change in the cooking methods required, so quinoa should work as a substitute. Enjoy!