Harissa Honey Chicken Bowls are healthy and gluten free, but also packed with flavor! In this CAVA copycat recipe, chicken breasts are glazed with a harissa honey sauce for a delicious sweet and spicy combo.
If you have a CAVA in your area, you must go! The Mediterranean restaurant features healthy dishes with a ton of fresh flavors. The Harissa Honey Chicken is one of my favorites, so I had to recreate it at home.
The chicken is coated in Moroccan seasoning and a sweet and spicy sauce made from honey, harissa chili paste, citrus, and a few other ingredients. Harissa is a North African condiment with a smoky, sweet, and spicy flavor. It really has it all!
It goes great loaded in a bowl with black lentils, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, pickled onions, and feta cheese. I also love to drizzle on some tzatziki sauce and add a few dollops of hummus to bring it all together.
With a little prep ahead of time, you can have this recipe ready in no time for a busy weeknight dinner, loaded with fiber and protein. It's also great for meal prepping for healthy and filling lunches!
- Honey - being that this recipe is for Harissa Honey Chicken, I don't recommend swapping out the honey. However, if you need to for any reason, you can use agave nectar.
- Harissa paste - haven't heard of this spicy paste yet? Click the link to learn more! It's sweet, tangy, smoky, spicy and oh so delicious! You can now find it in most major grocery stores near the BBQ sauce and ketchup. Even Trader Joe's sells their own harissa paste and you can even buy CAVA branded harissa paste at Whole Foods.
- Lemon juice - freshly squeezed lemon juice will give you the best results, however bottled lemon juice may also be used.
- Garlic cloves - crushed whole cloves really go a long way for flavor, but if all you have is already minced garlic, that will do as well.
- Cayenne pepper - adjust the spice level of the sauce by increasing or decreasing the amount of cayenne used. Omit or use less cayenne pepper for a mild flavor, or add a few extra shakes to kick up the heat.
- Chicken breasts - boneless, skinless chicken breasts are what I used in this recipe, but you can also use skinless, boneless chicken thighs. If the chicken breasts are more than 1 inch thick I recommend slicing the chicken breasts lengthwise through the middle so that they cook faster and more evenly.
- Moroccan seasoning - click the link to learn how to make your own in minutes! This seasoning blend features cumin, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cayenne, and a couple other spices. If you don't have the ingredients to make the Moroccan seasoning, you can simply combine 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.
- Olive oil - I use extra virgin olive oil, but you can use any oil you have on hand. Avocado oil or vegetable oil are other good mild tasting olive oil alternatives.
- Black lentils - prepare them perfectly every time with the recipe linked here! Black lentils hold their shape better than other varieties and add a nice texture to this bowl.
- Tomato cucumber salad - this fresh recipe is ready in just 10 minutes and can be prepped ahead of time.
- Pickled onions - make your own in just 30 minutes with vinegar, onions, maple syrup and salt! The tangy flavor is perfect with the harissa honey sauce. You can also use thinly sliced red onions without pickling them.
- Feta cheese crumbles - The perfect salty finish for this bowl.
- Tzatziki sauce - purchase pre-made sauce, usually found in the deli section of most major grocery stores or use this tzatziki recipe to make your own at home.
- Hummus - plain hummus is recommended, but feel free to use your favorite flavored hummus, if you prefer.
Step by step instructions
I’ve included step by step photos below to make this recipe super easy to follow at home. For the full detailed recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Add harissa, honey, lemon juice, garlic cloves and cayenne pepper to a small saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring regularly until the honey harissa sauce is thick. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Step 2: Season chicken breasts in Moroccan seasoning. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes per side.
Step 3: Once the chicken breasts have cooked for 5-6 minutes per side, brush the harissa honey glaze evenly over the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
Step 4: Dice the cooked, glazed chicken and divide it between four bowls with the cooked lentils, tomato cucumber salad, pickled onions and feta cheese. Serve the tzatziki sauce and hummus on the side of the bowls, or drizzled and scooped on top of the bowls.
Frequently asked questions
- Is harissa sauce spicy? Because harissa is made with chili peppers, it definitely has some heat. The spice level will vary from mild to hot depending on the chilies used. Check the label on the harissa sauce that you're purchasing, it will usually be labeled "mild" or "hot".
- Where can you buy harissa sauce? Thankfully this sauce is rising in popularity, so you can now find it at stores like Trader Joe's or your local grocery store. It will likely be found with the International foods, or near the other condiments, like BBQ sauce and ketchup.
- Can you cook the chicken on the grill instead of in a skillet? Yes, you can! Simply preheat your grill to medium high heat and cook the chicken for approximately 6 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Glaze the chicken, let it cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, then remove it from the grill.
Make it vegan
- Substitute the chicken with extra firm tofu or tempeh. Season the tofu or tempeh, just as you would the chicken. Cook the tofu or tempeh over medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side, coating with the sauce about a minute before it's done. Slice or chop the tofu or tempeh and add it to the bowls.
- Zucchini can also replace the chicken. Cut one pound of zucchini into thick slices and coat with the seasonings. Cook the zucchini in the skillet over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and brush the zucchini slices with the sauce, chop it, and serve!
- Omit the feta cheese and tzatziki sauce.
- Use agave nectar instead of honey.
Make it low carb
Both honey and lentils are high in carbohydrates, so I do not recommend making this bowl if you're on a low carb diet.
Instead check out all of these delicious low carb recipes, including bowls, salads, sauces, meatballs and more!
Meal prep it
- For storage:
- Prepare the honey harissa chicken, lentils, cucumber tomato salad, and pickled onions.
- Divide the lentils and chicken between four airtight storage containers.
- Place the cucumber tomato salad, pickled onions, and feta into four separate storage containers or zipper bags.
- Keep the hummus and tzatziki sauce in their own small containers.
- Store all containers in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat.
- To reheat and eat:
- Uncover and microwave the chicken and lentil mixture for 2 minutes, if you'd like to enjoy this bowl warm.
- Add the toppings, then dig in!
More chicken bowls
Try these other flavorful bowls, made with healthy, protein-packed chicken breasts!
- Chicken and Wild Rice Bowls
- Whole30 Chicken Teriyaki Bowls
- Chicken Shawarma Bowl
- Caribbean Jerk Chicken Bowls
- Whole30 Grilled BBQ Chicken Bowls
- Chipotle Chicken Bowls
Harissa Honey Chicken Bowls
Harissa Honey Chicken
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons harissa paste
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs - sliced through the middle to 1 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons moroccan seasoning or 1 teaspoon ground cumin + 1 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Add the honey, harissa, lemon juice, garlic cloves and cayenne pepper to a small saucepan on the stove over medium high heat.
- Cook down, stirring regularly until the sauce is thick. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Coat the chicken breasts in the Moroccan seasoning.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron skillet on the stove over medium-high heat.
- Add the seasoned chicken to the skillet and cook for 5-6 minutes per side, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Brush the prepared harissa honey glaze over the chicken and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the skillet and rest on a cutting board while preparing the bowls.
- Divide the lentils, tomato cucumber salad, and pickled onions between four bowls.
- Dice the chicken and divide it between the bowls.
- Add the tzatziki sauce, hummus and feta cheese to the bowls.
- Harissa paste (or sauce) can be found at stores like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods or your local grocery store. It will likely be found with the International foods, or near the other condiments, like BBQ sauce and ketchup.
- The chicken can be cooked on a grill, instead of in a skillet on the stove. Simply preheat your grill to medium high heat and cook the chicken for approximately 6 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Glaze the chicken, let it cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, then remove it from the grill.