Cooked with onions, garlic, lemon and olives and seasoned with bold Moroccan spices, this chicken recipe is incredibly flavorful.
Ready in about an hour, the reasonable time investment in this recipe is well worth the delicious results.
But when I want to make something truly wonderful, something that's definitely company-worthy but also perfect for a family dinner, I make this Moroccan chicken. It's incredibly flavorful, and despite its complex flavor profile, it's not difficult to make.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- To season: In addition to salt and pepper, I use paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper.
- Chicken: I use bone-in skin-on chicken thighs in this recipe.
- Oil: I use olive oil. It's my favorite oil to cook with.
- Aromatics: Onions, garlic, and ginger.
- Chicken broth: Homemade chicken broth if you have some, but store-bought is fine too.
- To finish the dish: Lemon slices, pitted green olives and chopped cilantro.
Making this Moroccan chicken recipe is not difficult. Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here's an overview of the steps:
Your first step is to season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper (make sure to season them on both sides), then brown them in olive oil.
Remove the chicken to a plate and cook the onions in the same pan. Next, add the garlic, ginger, and spices.
Add the broth and use it to deglaze the bottom of the pan.
Add the chicken back to the pan, plus the lemon slices and olives. Cover the pot and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, for 20-30 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Depending on the size of your pan, you might need to brown the chicken pieces in two batches. I use a fairly small Dutch oven to make this recipe, so I brown four of them first, then the remaining ones.
Frequently asked questions
I don't recommend that. Thighs are fattier and juicier. Chicken breasts will be drier and not as flavorful. You could use chicken drumsticks. But thighs work best in this recipe.
Yes, but you'll need to brown and cook them for a shorter time. Brown them for 2 minutes per side and cook them for 20 minutes, then check to see if they're done. Their internal temperature should read 165°F.
In addition to salt, Moroccan cooking typically utilizes cumin, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, coriander, and cayenne pepper.
- Add ½ teaspoon of coriander to the spice blend. I really like the flavor it adds to the dish.
- Try smoked paprika - this is definitely nontraditional but very good, in my experience.
- Cook the chicken and onions in ghee instead of olive oil. The ghee adds richness and a slightly nutty flavor.
- Use Vidalia onions - this is a sweet variety that works well in this recipe.
- I often use Meyer lemons, which are milder and sweeter than regular lemons.
This is a saucy dish, so you'll want to serve it on top of something to absorb those yummy juices. The traditional bed for Moroccan chicken is couscous, but I often go with one of the following:
You can also serve this dish on top of raw baby spinach leaves. The hot cooking juices will wilt the spinach just enough to lightly cook it.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with serving it with no sides at all, in which case I serve two per person in shallow bowls with soup spoons in addition to knives and forks:
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days. Reheat them gently, covered (to prevent splatters), in the microwave on 50% power.
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- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 lb. chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on (6 thighs)
- 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion sliced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger root minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 lemon thinly sliced
- ½ cup green olives pitted
- 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
- In a small bowl, mix together the spices. Set aside.
- Season both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Add the chicken pieces, skin side down, in a single layer (work in batches if necessary). Cook them until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces over and brown the other side for about 3 more minutes. If the pan gets too hot, reduce the heat to medium. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set it aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion slices and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. If the pan becomes too dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of water.
- Add the minced garlic, ginger, and spice mix. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the broth, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Add the chicken back in, skin side up. Nestle the lemon slices and olives around the chicken pieces. Bring back to a steady simmer.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 20-30 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.