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Moroccan Chicken

Savor the exotic flavors of Morocco with this aromatic and tender Moroccan chicken!

Juicy chicken pieces are simmered in a rich, spiced sauce featuring cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric.

Briny green olives and sweet, tangy lemons add a delightful depth of flavor. It’ll transport you straight to Morocco!

Chicken thighs in skillet with tomato sauce, lemons and olives.
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Every mouthful of meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. And you can make it all in a single pot! 

I recommend serving it over basmati rice with fresh cilantro as a garnish. It’s to die for!

Why You’ll Love This Moroccan Chicken

Rich Cultural Experience: Preparing this authentic Moroccan dish is like embarking on a culinary journey. Every bite will delight your senses. It brings to mind the vibrant markets and kitchens of North Africa.

One-Pot: Whipping this up in a single large pot is amazing. It saves you a ton of effort and makes cleaning up a snap. Hello, new favorite weeknight meal!

Aromatic Indulgence: The warm spices, simmering tomatoes, and fragrant herbs will fill your kitchen with an intoxicating aroma. You’ll love the comforting, inviting ambiance the scent invokes.

Versatile Serving Options: This dish pairs beautifully with a variety of sides. Try it with couscous, rice, or crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Chicken thighs seared in olive on a metal pan.

Ingredients

  • Chicken Thighs: You’ll want the chicken to be bone-in and skin-on for this recipe. Trust me; it makes all the difference. These succulent cuts stay juicy and absorb all the rich flavors. 
  • Spice Rub: Make your own with paprika, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, and salt. This fragrant blend will infuse the chicken with a terrific taste. 
  • Olive Oil: It’s the foundation of the braising liquid. It adds richness and a real depth of flavor. 
  • Onion & Garlic: My two favorite aromatics. They give the dish its signature savory taste. 
  • Tomato Paste: A concentrated dose of tomato flavor to intensify the sauce. 
  • Chicken Broth: Another key component in the braising liquid. It keeps the chicken moist and juicy. 
  • Diced Tomatoes: For extra texture and a bright acidity in the sauce. 
  • Cinnamon Stick: It’ll infuse the dish with a subtle, sweet warmth. Discard before serving. 
  • Preserved Lemon: It really elevates the Moroccan chicken to a whole new level. 
  • Green Olives: A staple in Moroccan cuisine. They’re bold and briny, adding a pop of flavor and color. 
  • Fresh Cilantro & Parsley: These vibrant herbs add freshness and a touch of color to the finished plate. 
Chicken thighs cooked in tomato sauce on top of white rice with lemons and olives.

How to Make Moroccan Chicken

Don’t worry, this recipe is a lot easier than it looks!

1. Mix the spices. Combine the paprika, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, and salt. Rub them generously onto the chicken thighs. 

2. Brown the chicken. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown it for about 5 minutes per side. Remove and set it aside. 

3. Saute the aromatics. Cook the onions in the pot for about 5 minutes. Once they’re soft, stir in the garlic and tomato paste. Cook for another minute. 

4. Add the liquids. Pour in the chicken broth, scraping the brown bits off the sides and bottom. Finally, add the diced tomatoes, and drop in the cinnamon stick and browned chicken. 

5. Simmer. Bring the mixture to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for half an hour. 

6. Finish the dish. Add the preserved lemon, olives, cilantro, and parsley. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes until the chicken is tender. 

7. Season and serve. Discard the cinnamon stick and taste the recipe. Add more salt if needed. Then, serve with extra cilantro and parsley, and enjoy! 

Plate of chicken with tomato sauce garnished with cilantro.

Tips for the Best Moroccan Chicken

To ensure your Moroccan chicken is the best it can be, incorporate these tips: 

  • Give the chicken a rest. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken. Then, let it sit and absorb the rub for at least 30 minutes. You can leave it as long as 8 hours for maximum flavor. 
  • Get a step ahead. Prepare the spice rub in advance. When stored properly (somewhere cool and dry), it will last up to 6 months! Keep some on hand so you can whip up this dish whenever you want. 
  • Low and slow is the way to go! Simmer the chicken on low heat for at least 30 minutes. This will allow the flavors to meld and the chicken to become tender.
  • No preserved lemon? Substitute lemon zest instead. 
  • Try fun variations. You can add extra veggies to the dish. Try diced potatoes, carrots, chickpeas, dried apricots or prunes. All work well. 
Moroccan chicken in tomato sauce with slice lemons and olives cooked in a cast iron skillet.

What to Serve with Moroccan Chicken

You can serve this dish with whatever you like. Just keep in mind it’s very flavorful, so pair it with something a bit more bland. 

I typically use one of the following sides: 

How to Store

This dish tastes great straight from the pot. However, storing the leftovers gives the flavors time to develop further. It’s a win-win either way. 

To Store: Transfer Moroccan chicken leftovers to an air-tight container. Refrigerate them for up to 4 days. 

To Freeze: Place the leftovers in a freezer-safe bag or container. Freeze them for up to 3 months. 

To Reheat: Let frozen leftovers thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, reheat chilled leftovers on the stove over medium-low heat. Add a splash of water or chicken broth if they’re too dry.

More Hearty Chicken Dinners Your Family Will Love

Chicken Stroganoff
Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta
Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Pasta
Chicken Fajita Casserole

Moroccan Chicken

Course: Main CourseCuisine: Moroccan
Servings

4

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servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

55

minutes
Calories

379

kcal

Moroccan chicken is an authentic dish the entire family will enjoy! It’s savory, spicy, and so full of flavor, plus, it’s an easy, one-pot meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons paprika

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • 1 can (14-ounce) diced tomatoes

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 preserved lemon, chopped

  • 1/2 cup green olives

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Mix the paprika, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken thighs.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  • Add the onion to the pot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  • Pour in the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the diced tomatoes and cinnamon stick. Return the chicken to the pot.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Add the preserved lemon, olives, cilantro, and parsley. Simmer uncovered for 10 more minutes or until the chicken is very tender.
  • Discard the cinnamon stick. Taste and season with additional salt if needed.
  • Serve the chicken with the sauce spooned over top. Garnish with extra cilantro and parsley if desired. Enjoy!

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

4 thoughts on “Moroccan Chicken”

    • Great question, Leslie! A preserved lemon is a lemon that has been preserved in water and spices. You can preserve them yourself (the BBC has a great recipe) or you can buy them. My local grocery store doesn’t carry them, so I purchase them from Amazon. Search for them as “Moroccan Preserved Lemons” for the best brands. 🙂

      Reply
    • You can, Maggie! Just keep in mind that boneless, skinless breasts will cook quite a bit faster. So you’ll need to reduce the cooking time and keep an eye on them to be sure they don’t turn out too dry. Also, breasts don’t release as much juice as thighs, so you may have to add a bit of extra broth to prevent the sauce from being too thick. 🙂

      Reply

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