Chicken Couscous Salad

5 from 1 vote
1 hour
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Easy Chicken Couscous Salad is as bright and sunny as summer itself and will surely be the hit of your next get-together! Fluffy couscous, tender chicken, crunchy almonds, sweet red grapes, and a tangy lemon honey dressing combine for a vibrant medley of flavor and textures.

Chicken Couscous Salad in gray bowl with serving spoon with bowl of sliced almonds, whole grapes and lemon wedges.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

This Chicken Couscous Salad recipe is one I’ve been making for clients for as long as I’ve been a personal chef. A couple of clients practically lived on it–especially in the summer!

Quick-cooking couscous serves as the perfect fluffy base for this visually stunning main course salad. Tender chicken baked in a sweet and savory honey mustard combination co-stars. Fresh red grapes add jewel-like color and crunchy almonds introduce nutty depth. The zesty lemon honey dressing ties everything together with a refreshing tang.

This Chicken Couscous Salad recipe:

  • Can be made ahead and holds very well in the refrigerator, even with the dressing.
  • Makes a big batch, so it’s perfect for a crowd.
  • Is easy with no complicated techniques!

Here’s how to make it!

Chicken Couscous Salad in gray bowl with serving spoon.

How to Make Chicken Couscous Salad:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this Chicken Couscous Salad recipe and instructions for preparing the ingredients. The exact quantities are on the recipe card below.

Ingredients for Chicken Couscous Salad in glass bowls.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Chicken Breasts: I prefer boneless skinless chicken breasts for this Couscous Chicken Salad, but boneless skinless chicken thighs will also work. However, expect a more dominant chicken flavor. Always use the best quality chicken you can afford–preferably a natural, antibiotic-free brand.
  • Olive Oil: I use a decent extra-virgin olive oil like California Olive Ranch.
  • Dijon Mustard: Use a good Dijon mustard. I’ve tried numerous brands, but you can’t go wrong with the widely available Grey Poupon.
  • Couscous: Couscous is a form of pasta made from semolina and water. Like pasta, its neutral flavor makes it the perfect base for many flavors. For a gluten-free option, quinoa works well in place of the couscous.
  • Turmeric: Adds vibrant color.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice makes a big difference in this salad. Avoid reconstituted, bottled lemon juice.
  • Almonds: For the aesthetic, I prefer sliced almonds in this Chicken Couscous Salad, but slivered almonds will work. If all you have are whole almonds, I recommend coarsely chopping them.
  • Scallions: Adds a delicate oniony flavor. Red or yellow onion would be overpowering.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, combine the honey, mustard, olive oil, salt, and black pepper to taste in a small bowl.
  • Place the chicken on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Pour the honey, mustard, and oil combination over the chicken. Turn the chicken to coat thoroughly.
  • Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked to at least 165 degrees. Baste the chicken once during baking with the honey-mustard combination.
  • Let the chicken cool, then cut the chicken breasts into small, thin strips. Refrigerate until needed.
  • Combine the boiling water, turmeric, olive oil, salt, and black pepper to taste in a heatproof bowl.
Water with seasoning in glass bowl for the couscous,
  • Stir in the couscous, cover and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork. Let cool.
  • Combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Adjust to taste with lemon juice, honey, salt, and black pepper.
Dressing for Chicken Couscous Salad in glass bowl.
  • Place the chicken and couscous in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the scallions, carrot, grapes, almonds, and parsley and stir.
  • Add approximately half the dressing, reserving the remainder to serve on the side.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl.
  • Garnish with a few more sliced almonds and chopped parsley.
Chicken Couscous Salad in gray bowl with serving spoon with bowl of sliced almonds, whole grapes and lemon wedges.

Chef Tip:

  • When I made this Chicken Couscous Salad for clients, it was intended to last them for several days. So, I only added about a half-cup of the dressing and left the remainder for them to add as they desired. I didn’t dress the entire salad because the almonds would soften. A small amount of dressing flavored the couscous and kept it moist.
Chicken Couscous Salad in gray bowl with serving spoon.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How far ahead can a Chicken Couscous Salad be made?

Although this couscous chicken salad lasts for several days in the refrigerator, making it a day ahead will yield the best results. You can leave the dressing off if you plan to serve it the next day.

What’s a good gluten-free substitute for couscous?

For a gluten-free option, use quinoa in place of the couscous.

Chicken Couscous Salad in gray bowl with serving spoon.

Storage:

  • Keep refrigerated. Any leftovers will be fine for up to five days.

Serve this Chicken Couscous Salad with:

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Chicken Couscous Salad in gray bowl with serving spoon with bowl of sliced almonds, whole grapes and lemon wedges.

Chicken Couscous Salad

5 from 1 vote

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Easy Chicken Couscous Salad is as bright and sunny as summer itself and will surely be the hit of your next get-together! Fluffy couscous, tender chicken, crunchy almonds, sweet red grapes, and a tangy lemon honey dressing combine for a vibrant medley of flavor and textures.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course / Dinner Salads
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 635 kcal

Ingredients
  

FOR THE CHICKEN

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

FOR THE COUSCOUS

  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups couscous

FOR THE DRESSING

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice - or to taste
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste

TO FINISH THE SALAD

  • 6 scallions - medium width, white and light green part only, halved lengthwise and sliced (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium carrot - minced
  • 1 pound red seedless grapes - halved
  • 1 cup sliced almonds - lightly toasted if desired, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley - plus more for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
 

COOK THE CHICKEN

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the honey, mustard, olive oil, salt, and black pepper to taste in a small bowl.
  • Place the chicken on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Pour the honey, mustard, and oil combination over the chicken. Turn the chicken to coat thoroughly.
  • Bake for 22-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked to at least 165 degrees. Baste the chicken once with the honey-mustard combination.
  • Let the chicken cool, then cut the chicken breasts into small, thin strips. Refrigerate until needed.

COOK THE COUSCOUS

  • Combine the boiling water, turmeric, olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste in a heatproof bowl. Stir in the couscous, cover and let stand for 10-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Let cool.

MAKE THE DRESSING

  • Combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Adjust to taste with lemon juice, honey, salt, and black pepper.

TO FINISH THE SALAD

  • Place the chicken and couscous in a large mixing bowl. Add the scallions, carrot, grapes, almonds, and parsley and stir.
  • Add approximately half the dressing, reserving the remainder to serve on the side.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with a few more sliced almonds and chopped parsley.

Notes

MAKE AHEAD:  Although this couscous chicken salad lasts for several days in the refrigerator, making it a day ahead will yield the best results. You can leave the dressing off if you plan to serve it the next day.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 635kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 28g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 167mg | Potassium: 570mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 1.766IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 2mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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5 from 1 vote

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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    So happy to finally have this recipe! I remember you brought it to one of our get-togethers and everyone loved it! This one is definitely a keeper!