With fall-apart chicken and a rich, aromatic sauce, every bite of this Moroccan chicken is better than the last! Pair it with warm couscous for a memorable one-pot chicken dinner.
My Moroccan chicken is always a solid option whenever I need to change up my family’s usual chicken dinners. Everyone can’t help but indulge in the tender and juicy chicken stewed in a vibrant, full-bodied sauce. Every bite of chicken falls off the bone, while a soft bed of couscous makes this timeless dish nothing short of a masterpiece!
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What is Moroccan chicken?
This recipe is a spin on the classic tagine, which braises spice-rubbed chicken, olives, garlic, preserved lemons, and sometimes dried fruit in a heavenly stew. But instead of cooking everything in an authentic clay pot (the tagine), I’ve cooked it on the stove.
Each serving is like a warm hug in a bowl. It’s satisfying, cozy, and bursting with flavor! It’s a favorite family dinner of mine, and you’re sure to love it, too.
- It’s hearty and wholesome. I can’t get over how satisfying this dish really is. Featuring juicy chicken paired with nourishing ingredients and warm spices drenched in a luxurious sauce, it’s too good to pass up!
- One-pan dinner. Like traditional tagine, this recipe is easy to put together in just one pot. It also cooks in less than an hour.
- Versatile. In my household, we enjoy this as an everyday family dinner. However, you can easily scale it up to serve big parties or tons of hungry mouths.
- Multiple cooking options. My preferred method is the stovetop, but I know many of you like to use the oven and even a slow cooker so I’ve also tested those options out too, so no one misses out!
The beauty of this dish is that you don’t need any complicated ingredients to recreate the dimensional Moroccan flavors. Here’s everything you’ll need:
- Chicken thighs. I especially love this dish with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, but skinless thighs work, too. They’re a popular choice in authentic Moroccan chicken recipes, as are chicken drumsticks.
- Dry spice rub. I made my own Morocco-inspired spice mixture using salt, paprika, cumin, black pepper, chili flakes, ground ginger, coriander, cinnamon, and cloves. To save time, you can use Ras El Hanout instead. This is a traditional Moroccan spice blend that you should be able to find in any well-stocked grocery store.
- Olive oil. To brown the chicken.
- Aromatics. Nothing fancy here. DIced onion and minced garlic cloves are all you need to give the dish a sweet and savory depth.
- Pitted green olives. These add a burst of briny, slightly tart, and tangy flavor to every bite, but you can omit them if you don’t like olives.
- Lemon. It just wouldn’t be a Moroccan-inspired recipe without lemon. Fresh lemon slices not only add a refreshing citrusy flavor but the pop of yellow also makes this dish eye-catching!
- Chicken broth. Use high-quality store-bought broth or make your own!
- Tomato paste. This elevates the umami flavor and helps create a thick sauce with a velvety mouthfeel.
How to make Moroccan chicken
No surprise, here – this one-pot dinner comes together easily in just 5 steps! Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1 – Season the chicken. Mix the spices in a small bowl. Dredge each chicken thigh in the spice mix, adding a generous layer to each side. Set aside to marinate.
Step 2 – Sear the chicken. Sear the chicken in an oiled skillet over medium-high heat until evenly browned. Set aside.
Step 3 – Add the aromatics. Cook the onion in the now-empty pan. Next, stir in the garlic, then the lemon and olives.
Step 4 – Pour in the sauce. Whisk the stock and tomato paste in a bowl until smooth. Return the chicken to the pan, pour in the liquid, and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the chicken is tender and the sauce thickens.
Step 5 – Serve. Garnish with sliced almonds and fresh coriander, and serve with couscous. Enjoy!
Alternative cooking methods
You’re not limited to the stovetop in this chicken recipe. As mentioned above, I’ve successfully tested this in the slow cooker and the oven. Here are those options for you:
Slow cooker instructions
To make crockpot Moroccan chicken, sear the seasoned chicken in a skillet, then transfer it to a slow cooker. Next, add the onions, garlic, lemon, olives, and the broth and tomato paste mixture. Now, cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours or High for 2 to 3 hours.
Begin by searing the seasoned chicken in a large oven-safe pot or Dutch oven. Once it’s browned, surround the chicken with the onions, garlic, olives, lemons, and broth-tomato paste mixture. Now, cover and roast for about 1 hour at 375°F or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
Recipe tips and variations
- Plan in advance. The chicken tastes best when marinated for at least 1 hour before you start cooking. When I’m running low on time, I’ll let the chicken soak in the spices overnight in the fridge so I don’t have to think about it the next day.
- Don’t skip the sear! I highly recommend searing the chicken pieces in a sizzling hot pan to lock in their flavors.
- Add dried apricots. These are often added to traditional tagines, where their natural sweetness balances the bold flavors. They will rehydrate and become soft and juicy during cooking.
- Sneak in more veggies. I like to sneak extra veggies into this meal for more nutrition sometimes (the kids don’t notice!). I’ll add bell peppers, carrots, eggplant, potatoes, or any other veggies I need to use up.
- Add more lemon. You can add a splash of lemon juice or fresh lemon zest to give this dish a zingy boost. However, preserved lemons will give you a more authentic Moroccan experience.
To store: Let the leftover Moroccan chicken cool to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
To reheat: Reheat the chicken in a pan over low heat, adding a splash of water or chicken broth to keep it from drying out. Or, heat it in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until heated through.
To freeze: You can freeze the leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe container for 2 to 3 months.
More one pan chicken dinners
- Tuscan Chicken
- Chicken Florentine
- Chicken Marsala
- Chicken Caprese
- Chicken Piccata
- Honey Mustard Chicken
Frequently asked questions
You could, but you won’t get the same rich flavors as bone-on chicken cuts. Chicken breasts cook faster, too, so make sure you watch them carefully as they braise in the pan.
I’d say this recipe is moderately spicy, but you can always adjust the heat level to suit your threshold for hot and spicy flavors. Feel free to omit the chili flakes if you don’t like spicy food or add an extra ½ to 1 teaspoon for more heat. Personally, I love adding spicy ingredients like Harissa or African Bird’s Eye chili peppers for extra heat.
Plating the chicken over a bed of soft and fluffy couscous with freshly baked flatbread on the side is my favorite way to serve Moroccan chicken. It’s also delicious with rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice instead of couscous, along with a side of lentils, chickpeas, roasted root vegetables, or a simple green salad.
To complete the experience, garnish the dish with sliced almonds, fresh cilantro, and a dollop of cool and creamy garlic yogurt sauce. Or, drizzle tahini sauce on top for a creamy, nutty element.
- 6 bone in skin on chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup green olives pitted
- 1 large lemon sliced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Combine the spices in a small bowl and set aside.
- Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Dredge the chicken in spices on all sides and set aside for at least 10 minutes.
- Add olive oil to a skillet and place over medium heat. Cook the chicken until well browned from all sides.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and add the onion. Cook until it becomes translucent, then add garlic and cook for 10 seconds until it becomes fragrant. Add the lemon and olives.
- Whisk together the chicken broth and tomato paste. Add the chicken back to the skillet then pour the stock mixture over it. Bring everything to a boil, reduce the heat, and summer for up to 35 minutes, until the chicken is tender and the liquid reduces.
- Serve warm.
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