Saffron butter chicken with date & couscous stuffing

Transform a simple roast chicken with a rich saffron butter and a sweet date and couscous stuffing. Serve with Greek yogurt and a green salad

  • Prep:20 mins
    Cook:1 hrs 40 mins
    plus resting
  • Serves 6
  • Easy

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 660
  • fat 37g
  • saturates 14g
  • carbs 28g
  • sugars 9g
  • fibre 3g
  • protein 52g
  • salt 0.8g


  • 30g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and chopped
  • 150g couscous
  • 250ml hot chicken stock
  • 40g dates, pitted and chopped
  • 30g dried barberries
  • 25g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 10g coriander, chopped
  • 10g parsley, chopped
  • 8 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2kg whole chicken
  • Greek yogurt and green salad, to serve (optional)
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • pinch of saffron threads


Saffron switch

If you don't like saffron but you're happy to add a bit of heat, use a little ground cayenne pepper instead. 


  1. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Melt half the butter in a pan over a medium heat and fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic, cumin, ginger and chilli, and cook for 2 mins more. Stir in the couscous, then pour over the stock and tip in the dates and barberries. Turn off the heat, cover and leave for 15 mins for the couscous to absorb the liquid. 

  2. Use a fork to stir the walnuts, herbs and spring onions through the couscous. Leave to cool.

  3. Stuff the chicken with the cooled couscous mixture, pushing it well into the cavity. Let the excess spill out into the tin, then slide it under the chicken to act as a trivet. Rub the remaining butter all over the chicken. Season, then roast for 1 hr 15 mins. Keep an eye on it and if the couscous stuffing that’s spilled out is getting too dark, cover it with foil. 

  4. To make the saffron butter, melt the unsalted butter, then add a generous pinch of saffron and let this sit for about 30 mins, to allow the butter to be properly infused. About 10 mins before the end of the cooking time, pour over the chicken. Serve with Greek yogurt and a green salad, if you like.

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