Grilled Moroccan Chicken

grilled-moroccan-chicken-platter

This is an easy and incredibly flavorful way to prepare boneless skinless chicken breasts. I can’t claim it’s authentic, but the spices — an aromatic blend of cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, paprika and coriander  – make it taste decidedly Moroccan, and it also goes wonderfully with couscous. You might think it sounds too exotic-tasting for picky eaters, but I can tell you that even small children seem to love it. The best part is that it only takes minutes to prepare, and there’s barely any clean up.

Begin by pounding the chicken breasts to an even 1/2-inch thickness. This both tenderizes the meat and ensures even cooking.

Next, make the marinade by combining the olive oil, spices, salt, garlic and sugar in a measuring cup.

To avoid getting smelly garlic hands, use a garlic press to mince the garlic.

Place the chicken and marinade in a freezer bag, press the air out and then massage the marinade into the chicken until the breasts are evenly coated. Marinate in the fridge for 5-6 hours.

When you’re ready to eat, preheat your grill to high. It’s important that the grill is very hot — you want nice grill marks and char in the short amount of time it takes to cook these. Grill just a few minutes per side for perfectly tender chicken breasts.

Serve with couscous and a refreshing carrot slaw. Enjoy!

Grilled Moroccan Chicken

Print Recipe
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (or chicken tenderloins)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Place chicken breasts between 2 pieces of wax or parchment paper and, using a meat mallet, pound to an even ½-inch thickness. (Skip this step if substituting chicken tenderloins.)
  2. Mix all ingredients except chicken together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Place pounded chicken breasts inside 1 gallon zip-lock bag. Add marinade to the bag, press air out and seal shut. Massage marinade into the breasts until evenly coated. Place the bag in a bowl in the refrigerator (to protect against leakage), and let the chicken marinate for 5-6 hours.
  3. Clean grill and preheat to high. Place chicken breasts on grill, spooning marinade over top. Grill, covered, for 2-3 minutes per side. Do not overcook.
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  • laurie

    I’ve recently discovered that grilling with grape seed oil works better than with olive oil — in every recipe I try. Just wanted to share that with you. :)

    • Brenda

      What’s the difference between the two? Also, have you tried this recipe? Is 3 minutes per side really long enough? I thought you had to cook chicken up to about 160 degrees for it to be safe.

      Brenda

      • Jenn

        Hi Brenda, When you pound the breasts thin like I do here, that’s all the time they need on a very hot grill.

    • Pete Guaron

      Olive oil is fine, as long as you don’t overheat it. If you need to cook with a higher temperature, switch to grapeseed oil.

      If you use too high a temperature with olive oil, it changes the composition of the oil and also the flavor, and it’s not good to do that to it.

      That doesn’t happen with grapeseed oil.

  • Joyce

    Once again, you saved my day! Scrumptious!

  • tucsonbabe

    Sounds yummy. I am going to experiment by adding some lemon juice and zest to the marinade and use it on a side of salmon.

  • I love how easy this seems to make – but looks so fancy. Yum!

  • Joyce

    I loved this easy recipe that made the chicken taste like you slaved all day making! haha now, I’m wondering what you all think about using this marinade on beef short ribs.

    • Jenn

      Hi Joyce, Glad you enjoyed. I think it’d be great on short ribs.

      • Dana

        What is a good substitute for cayenne pepper? Mother is allergic to cayenne.

        • Jenn

          Hi Dana, Just leave it out…you won’t miss it. Otherwise you can use a pinch of red pepper flakes or hot sauce if you want the heat.

  • Joyce

    Thank you, Jenn!! I will do that Saturday!

  • Always looking for good chicken recipes. This sounds like it could be a keeper.

  • This is the perfect recipe for the grilling season. I love how easy it is to marinate the chicken in the zip lock bag. The Moroccan flavor is wonderful, it is a fun and exotic recipe…definitely new flavors to me and I love it.

  • Cherie

    Love throwing in a ziplock in the morning, and then just throw on the grill. I like to grill romaine lettuce & peach halves to go with!

  • Amanda

    Agreed, this has been terrific for summer grilling and a new family favorite. The tumeric and cinnamon are key, I think.

  • Dorothy Ruffin

    Don’t walk away; definitely, do not overcook.

  • LaurieMac

    That you so much! I loved this! I made it exactly as you recommended except that I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of breast. It’s easier to control the moistness of the meat with thighs. I did pound them as you suggested which made for some quick grilling. This recipe was so delicious, I’ve put it into my “YUM” file (only the best make the cut).

  • Kara

    I love the simplicity of this recipe and can’t wait to try it.

  • Kathy

    Loved the spices in this.

  • Chicago Judy

    The flavor of this marinade was delicious. Big hit with my family. Will definitely make this again. Thanks!

  • Kelly

    I made this for Father’s Day and it was a huge hit! I served it with your carrot slaw (with walnuts & cranberries) and Ina’s moroccan couscous. All of the dishes went really well together – would definitely make again!

  • Christi

    I added some lemon zest and thought the whole recipe was fabulous and exotic!

  • Alicia

    I made this on Saturday and my boys LOVED it :) It was one that was saved and put in our recipe box :) Very easy to make in the morning, let it marinate and then grill that night! Thanks for sharing!

  • Daryl Ellen

    This was delicious and incredibly easy. Both of my kids (7 and 9) really enjoyed along with us. My suggestion: the longer you marinate the better! I left it all day and the flavor was fantastic. I also went very light on the cayenne (just a sprinkle) since I have kids; but i’m sure the extra spice would have made it even better.

  • Jane Park

    The chicken was so moist and tender. Not big cinnamon lovers, so I only used 1/8 tsp worked out great. Going to see how it baked in oven next time.

  • Joanne

    Is there an alternative to cooking this (in the oven possibly) on those days that I am not up to firing up the grill?

    • Jenn

      Hi Joanne, You could try an indoor grill pan.

      • Arden

        Would you suggest a George Foreman over pan-searing then finishing in the oven?

        • Jenn

          Definitely

  • kelly almasy

    can’t wait to try this.

  • Mike

    Made just as written… one of the best grilled chicken recipes I’ve ever used… will use again to make a chicken and pasta salad… served with couscous this last time.

  • Liz

    I prepared this last night. Delicious and very flavorful. Made a double batch of chicken to slice and serve on salad tonight. Also made an extra “Moroccan Chicken Dry Spice Mix” to prep even faster next time. Thanks, Jenn!

    • LaurieMac

      Extra spice mix… What a great idea!

  • Yolanda

    This looks like a great recipe! Gonna try it tonight. Yum…Yumm

  • Laura

    Yum! Can’t wait to try this one next. So far every recipe i have tried on this website have been great!

  • Emily

    I’ve made this (with a similar recipe) before to rave reviews. This time, I used your recipe and just substituted pork chops (pounded, of course). The results were amazing and delicious! My family is already asking for it again next week. I will be making this again and again! Easy and so yummy!!

  • Barb

    made recipe as is…excellent..we will make again I served with carrot slaw..

  • Adrienne Warricker

    Lovely marinade. Because I have small children who wouldn’t at this stage eat the chicken in large pieces, I cut it into slivers and stir-fried it, then added a sauce of pears stewed in cinnamon and rosé wine, pureéd it and added the sauce to the chicken stir-fry, making it a moist, fragrant dish that they would eat. Even my husband had seconds, and he’s quite fussy! Thanks for this wonderfully easy and delicious recipe!

  • Joyce

    The Moroccan chicken paired with asparagus Dijon salad was absolutely so scrumptious, it would have made the Iron Chef or Gordon Ramsey proud!!!!! Three days later I used the same recipe, only used beef shot ribs. My guests thought they were dining in a 5 ***** restaurant!!! Thank you for sharing this culinary delight.!!!

  • Emily

    I made this marinade the other day and I thought it was absolutely delicious. It’s a little spicy but also a little sweet so I think it had a nice balance to it. Although, instead of grilling it (I’m not a big fan of grilling, there’s too much smoke floating around for me) I baked it for about 45 minutes and then I broiled it for another 10-15 minutes to give more of a grilled look. My family really liked it which surprised me since they are pretty picky. I will definitely make this again someday.

  • dwana bull

    I made this on Wed.—-it was delicous! I always grill boneless skinless chicken in the summer. Great recipe for a different flair. I found that if one replaces olive oil for grapeseed oil, you will have good flavor, good health benefits, and a better heat resistance , for the high heat grilling }:>)

  • Liesel

    We made this for Father’s Day dinner, and as suggested, served with couscous and the grated carrot salad, in addition to some grilled zucchini. The chicken turned out so tender and flavorful – love the hint of cinnamon! It was a big hit with Dad and the teens! (We had very few leftovers.) I don’t have a meat mallet, so I raided my husband’s workbench and used a rubber mallet wrapped in a plastic bag. This worked like a charm and I think is key to the tenderness of the chicken. Thank you for such an easy, tasty recipe – definitely will do again!

  • Cheri Hartman

    Love, love, Love, Made it just as given and I will make this again!

  • Michelle

    Another wonderful recipe – thank you so much! I’m always looking for new chicken recipes, and this one is now one of our favorites!

  • i made this on saturday and loved the flavor of the marinade, it was perfect. we also had the carrot slaw and some tater tots heated up on the grill. tater tots are totally underrated.

  • Linda

    My daughter find this for us recently when we visited her and it was delicious!

  • Elisa

    Amazing flavor combination. Paired well with mashed sweet potatoes.

  • My girlfriend is comming in from Calif. and I am making this dish. I’ll let you know how it turned out LuvYa!

  • Regina Eberwein

    This is just perfect. My family would reject anything called “Moroccan” so it will be called simply grilled chicken with herbs. Amazing. No changes needed. This will definitively be in the monthly rotation.

  • Opps! I mixed up my cayenne pepper and paprika! Sure glad my husband likes it hot!

  • John

    it all sounds great, I can’y wait to try it.

  • Pat Rice

    Made this last night with boneless chicken thighs. The flavor was amazing! Never try Moroccan dishes, but this just looked soooo good. My husband and I really loved it. I didn’t have tumeric so I used ground mustard (looked on web to see what I could substiute and that was a choice).Can’t wait to make it again and share with friends.

  • Sheryl B

    NOM. NOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOM! I made this last night. Super easy, extremely flavorful. I had to share the link with some colleagues today at work! One thing- I made it with fresh ginger because I didn’t see it specified in the recipe….(then of course I saw the powdered ginger in the picture). No matter, it was delicious.

  • DavidB

    These were good but a little dry when I made these. I whipped up a yogurt dipping sauce (non-fat greek yogurt, garlic, salt, pepper, and dashes of the same spices in the rub for the chicken) and that did the trick.

  • Pamela G.

    so deliciously simple. even a 2 hour marinade gives great flavor. i agree with DavidB, goes well with a yogurt dipping sauce or some orzo/risotto. very flavorful; tenderized the chicken before also helps keeps it more moist. my Indian mother in law always uses a little yogurt in her marinades, too…tenderizes and makes the meat very moist.

  • Charlene

    I’ve made this several times now. Obviously, we love it. I mix the same spices into some mayo and make a great sandwich with the leftovers. I’ve used chicken tenderloins with this which cuts down on the prep time with great success. Thanks for another great recipe!

  • Jolie

    Loved the Moroccan chicken. Easy to make and my family loved it.

  • 91% Chocolate Lover

    Everybody in my family loved this recipe. It was extremely easy to throw together, and we served it with whole wheat couscous and a side salad for an extremely healthy meal. That knife set looks so much better than ours…

  • Carolyn

    Agree with Liz. Make extra so you can put in your salad the next day and extra dry spice mix for the future. This is a great, versatile recipe that I have made many times-always with chicken tenders-you don’t have to pound them and they cook faster and stay moister.

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