Slow cooker Moroccan chicken thighs with butternut squash cook all day while you’re busy doing other things. They’re super flavorful, filling, and nutritious.
Why you’ll love it: The chicken gets very tender and the Moroccan spices are so good! It’s nutritious and filling.
How long it takes: 8 hours on low, 4 hours on high
Equipment you’ll need: sharp knife, slow cooker
You all know I’m a fan of easy to prepare meals. I’m also a fan of leftovers. I have a food blog, so it seems that there is nothing I would rather do than cook, right? Well sometimes, I’d rather sit on the couch and watch TV, er, I mean run around outside playing with my kids. So slow cooker meals and leftovers make me smile.
I like the challenge of creating a quick meal for those busy weeknights that we all have. One of my goals for this site is that the majority of my recipes are very easy to prepare.
Fall is the busiest time of year for us. My husband is a school administrator so the first few weeks of school are chaotic. Add football season and all the beginning of the year school events and we’re on the go a lot!
This is a great make-ahead dinner. Moroccan chicken thighs can be prepped the night before and cooked all day while you’re off doing fun things. The only thing left to do when you get home is to make some couscous to serve with the chicken. That takes less than 10 minutes!
About this recipe
This recipe is a winner. It’s flavorful, filling, colorful, and perfect for fall with tons of warm spices: cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, cayenne pepper, and turmeric, traditional spices used in Moroccan cooking.
The good-for-you butternut squash is naturally sweet, and golden raisins add even more sweetness. Along with the hearty chicken thighs, this filling dinner will satisfy the hungriest appetites.
I’ll run through the recipe here to get you started with lots of helpful tips.
If you prefer, skip on down to the printable recipe card with complete instructions and nutrition information. You’ll find it near the end of the post.
What You’ll Need
- Chicken Thighs: Use bone-in chicken thighs with the skin removed. If you prefer, boneless chicken thighs can be substituted but you’ll find that bone-in thighs have more flavor. Boneless skinless chicken breasts can be substituted, or a combination, if you prefer white meat.
- Butternut Squash: This winter squash is tan-colored and looks like an elongated bell. The flesh is bright orange. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants (see Healthline for more about the health benefits of eating squash).
- Golden Raisins: Raisins add lots of sweetness and flavor. If you prefer, chopped dried apricots can be substituted. Regular raisins can be used as well, if you can’t find golden raisins.
- Cinnamon, Cumin, Cardamom, Turmeric, Cayenne Pepper: This blend of warm spices is traditional Moroccan and you’ll just love it.
- Salt and Pepper: Simple seasonings that can be adjusted according to your own tastes.
- Garlic Cloves: If you love garlic, go ahead and add more; if you’re not a garlic fan, use less or none at all.
- Olive Oil: The spice mixture is stirred into the oil and rubbed all over the chicken so you can be sure it will be super flavorful.
- Chicken Broth: Choose low sodium or unsalted if you’re watching your sodium intake.
- Couscous: Simple steamed couscous is traditionally served with Moroccan cuisine. It’s a very small pasta and is super easy to make. It only takes about 6 or 7 minutes.
- Toasted Sliced Almonds: Almonds are an optional garnish. Toasting the almonds really deepens their flavor and makes them crunchier.
- Chopped Cilantro: A sprinkle of leafy green herbs makes this dish pop. Parsley can be substituted.
Butternut Squash 101
Check out my full tutorial on how to cook butternut squash that includes step-by-step photos of how to peel and cut it if you need some guidance. You’ll find storage tips and several ways to cook squash.
How To Make This Recipe
Let’s get started! Get your crockpot out and spray the inside lightly with cooking spray, if you like. I find that cleanup is a bit easier.
Prep your squash. Peeling and cutting the squash is really the hardest part of this recipe. Make sure you have a large sharp knife and a solid cutting board. I use a vegetable peeler to peel the squash.
You can take an easier (but more expensive) route and buy already cubed squash at your grocery store. You can also buy frozen squash but I find that tends to get pretty mushy when cooked.
In a small bowl, measure out the spices, salt and pepper, garlic and olive oil. Stir them up together. There’s no need to make a marinade for the chicken. These spices will add all the flavor you need.
If the chicken thighs you purchased have skin on, it’s easy to remove. Just find the side where it’s a little loose and yank it off. Trim off any extra fat or weird looking parts. Put the thighs into your slow cooker and drizzle the oil/spice mixture over them. Using your hands, work the spices into both sides of the chicken. Squishy, squishy.
Okay, now wash your hands thoroughly! They may look a little spicy, too; the bright yellow turmeric really makes an impression but it should wash off easily.
Add the squash and raisins to the crockpot and pour the broth over the whole business. Cover the slow cooker and turn it to low for eight hours or high for four hours.
Cooking times are pretty loose. Don’t worry if you go a half hour over. If you feel that it’s done but you’re not quite ready for dinner yet, just set the slow cooker on Warm.
Serve this delightful meal with couscous, and garnish it with freshly chopped cilantro and toasted sliced almonds. By the way, couscous is super easy to make and only takes about five minutes. I always have a box or two of this convenient pasta in my pantry!
If you enjoy the warm spices of Moroccan recipes, try:
- Moroccan Meatballs with Roasted Tomatoes and Chickpeas ( a one pan meal)
- Moroccan Stew with Butternut Squash and Chickpeas
- Moroccan Freekeh Pilaf with Golden Raisins and Apricots
- Moroccan Carrot Noodle Salad with Chickpeas and Walnuts
Both are dark meat chicken and are relatively similar nutritionally. If you prefer chicken drumsticks, they could be used in this recipe.
Crock-Pot is a brand name of slow cookers. Similarly to Kleenex and Band-aids, it is so common that it became synonymous with “slow cooker”.
Make It Your Own
- If you prefer, substitute boneless skinless chicken thighs or boneless skinless chicken breasts, or a combination. The recipe will easily accommodate a little more or less chicken.
- If you don’t care for squash, make this dish with carrots or sweet potatoes.
- More vegetables can be added. Add onions with the squash. Stir in frozen green peas a half hour or so before serving.
- In a hurry? Substitute a couple of tablespoons of homemade curry powder. It won’t taste exactly the same but it’s a good shortcut.
- Vegetarian: Omit the chicken, substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth, and add protein with chickpeas (2 cans), rinsed and drained.
- Whole30: Omit the couscous (try it with cauliflower rice) and use Whole30-compliant raisins.
- Gluten-free: Serve the Moroccan chicken thighs with your favorite gluten-free grain like brown rice (make it in your Instant Pot!), quinoa, or cauliflower rice.
- Looking for something a little different? Try crockpot teriyaki chicken, Instant Pot honey sriracha chicken, or baked honey mustard chicken, all very easy recipes with loads of flavor.
Butternut squash can be prepped up to three days in advance. Peel and cube the squash and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Truly, that’s the most time-consuming part of the recipe.
The spice mixture can be measured out ahead and stored in a small container.
If you prefer, prep this dinner entirely the night before and place in fridge. Put it in your slow cooker in the morning and cook it all day. Ten minutes before dinner, start the couscous and dinner is ready.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Lucky you if you have leftovers! This Moroccan chicken is almost better the next day. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up 3 days in the fridge or one month in the freezer (thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating).
To reheat, microwave in 30 second increments until heated through. If you prefer, heat it up in a skillet or in the oven at 350°F.
More slow cooker meals
- Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili (always a favorite!)
- Vegetarian Chili – Stovetop or Slow Cooker
- Slow Cooker Italian Pot Roast – tender perfection!
- Slow Cooker Pork Tacos
- Slow Cooker Marsala Beef Stew
- Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
- Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese (mac and cheese is a meal, right?)
- Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken
- Crock Pot Chicken and Gravy by Spicy Southern Kitchen
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed (about 5 pounds)
- 2 to 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (5 to 6 cups cubed squash)
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup low sodium or unsalted chicken broth
- 2 boxes (10 oz.) couscous, cooked according to package directions
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, to garnish
- ¼ cup toasted almond slices, to garnish
- In a small bowl, stir together olive oil, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, cayenne, turmeric, salt and pepper.
- Put chicken thighs into a large slow cooker and rub oil mixture all over chicken thighs.
- Add squash, raisins and chicken broth on top of chicken. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.
- About 15 minutes before serving, prepare couscous according to package directions.
- Serve chicken mixture over couscous and garnished with fresh herbs and toasted almond slices.
- Instead of couscous, substitute quinoa, rice, or cauliflower rice.
- Don’t have exactly 8 chicken thighs? This recipe will easily accommodate more or less chicken. You can also substitute boneless chicken thighs or boneless skinless chicken breasts.
- Vegetarian: Omit chicken, use vegetable broth, and add 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.