Grilled Moroccan Chicken
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The spices in this grilled chicken recipe are reminiscent of ras el hanout, a North African spice blend that usually contains over a dozen spices.
I love Moroccan food, especially how dishes often combine spicy, savory, and sweet flavors, and that’s the idea behind this grilled Moroccan chicken. The spices in the marinade are reminiscent of ras el hanout, a North African spice blend that usually contains more than a dozen spices, like cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cardamom, allspice, fenugreek, and more. This dish is a real family pleaser – even small children seem to love it – and the best part is that it takes just minutes to prepare (and there’s barely any clean-up!). Pair the chicken with plain couscous or my warm couscous salad with apricot vinaigrette.
What You’ll Need To Make Grilled Moroccan Chicken
Begin by pounding the chicken breasts to an even 1/2-inch thickness.
This both tenderizes the meat and ensures even cooking. Left in their natural shape, the thin side of the fillet dries out while the thicker side finishes cooking.
Next, make the marinade by combining the olive oil, spices, salt, garlic and sugar in a bowl or directly in a sealable plastic bag.
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.
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Grilled Moroccan Chicken
The spices in this grilled chicken recipe are reminiscent of ras el hanout, a North African spice blend that usually contains over a dozen spices.
- 1½ to 1¾ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (or chicken tenderloins)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 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.)
- Mix all ingredients except chicken together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Place pounded chicken breasts inside a 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.
- 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.
- Per serving (4 servings)
- Calories: 344
- Fat: 19g
- Saturated fat: 3g
- Carbohydrates: 3g
- Sugar: 1g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 40g
- Sodium: 798mg
- Cholesterol: 118mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Gluten-Free Adaptable Note
To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.
It was this recipe that got us hooked on to Once Upon a Chef. My hubby and I had gone to a boujee restaurant where he had a moroccan chicken dish. Wanting to make our own moroccan dishes we came across this one while surfing the net. Absolutely loved this. Amazing flavours, so delicious!!
Everyone who has had thischicken ask for the recipe. I cook it with grilled pineapples. It looks complicated but is very easy!
Nice recipe. I didn’t pound my chicken so it took longer to cook and I cooked it in the oven. 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes and then moved it to the top rack of the oven and broiled for 5 minutes. Makes great sandwich meat as well.
This is one of my go-to recipes. If I think of it last minute it still tastes great without marinating it. I typically don’t pound the chicken; I cut it in half along the thickness. In the winter I broil it. It’s also very flavorful when using chicken thighs. I serve it with sour cream or full fat plain Greek yogurt.
This recipe called for spices I don’t normally use. However, once we tried this recipe on the grill last summer it has become one of our favorites.
I love all the spices in this recipe. It gives the chicken so much flavor and also gives it that Morrocan flavor I’m looking for. All the spices go well together and the recipe is so simple. A definitely win-win.
I have made this recipe numerous times with chicken but used the marinade for pork tenderloin tonight. Equally as good! Served it with the Warm Couscous Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette. Yum, yum.
Delicious. I didn’t have enough time to marinade it as long as mentioned (3.5hrs) but it turned out fabulous. My whole family enjoyed it and would like me to make it again. Thanks for the recipe, will definitely be making it again and highly recommend anyone to try it.
Hi, I would love to try this recipe, but I only face chicken drumsticks. Can this work and how long do I need to grill if I use the legs instead of chicken breasts? Thanks. I love your recipes and they always turn out delicious.
Hi JC, Chicken drumsticks will definitely work. I’d follow the grilling instructions from this recipe.
Eating home during these days, we are always looking for different recipes to try. This was so quick and easy to make with really nice flavors. I marinated the chicken the night before and used a grill pan. A bit smokey but turned out delicious. Will be making again soon.
Jenn – my mom has been making your recipes for as long as I can remember while I lived at home. I moved out and hosted my parents for dinner for the first time and I knew that if I wanted to impress my mom I had to make an all-Jenn menu. I made this chicken, the cous cous salad, and your grilled asparagus salad with lemon and feta. It was such a hit! Everyone LOVED the meal and it certainly impressed. My family truly cannot thank you enough for your recipes, you are the absolute best there is!
How nice, Cori — I’m sure your parents LOVED coming to your place for a meal prepared by completely by you!!
A definite winner! Hands down an easy yet flavorful chicken. Loved the flavors (even at only 2 hrs marinade)….we were pleased.
Will definitely make again!
Oh my gosh!!!! This is the BEST chicken dish I’ve ever had. My husband and I were literally jumping up on our seats because of the burst of flavors!!! Thank you so much for this recipe!!
It tasted like a dish from restaurant!! I wish I could give it more than 5 stars. Thank you!!!!
I made this Moroccan Chicken for my family and it has become a regular on our dinner menu. So much flavor and so easy to make. I shared this recipe with my sister in law and at our family get together we decided to serve the chicken on pita bread with thinly sliced red onions, cucumbers and grape tomatoes. It was so good!
Delicious! We did with chicken thighs on the grill. Loved it. I had seen a similar recipe spice-wise that called for the chicken to be sauteed with sour cream and evaporated milk. I was going to try doing in pan and finishing with coconut milk perhaps next time, to create a little yummy sauce for rice. Thoughts?
Glad you enjoyed it! And what you suggested sounds like a nice twist on it. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!
Excellent! Used skinless boneless thighs because we prefer them. Served with grilled peppers and onions and grilled naan. This will part of the regular rotation as long as grilling season lasts.
Best chicken recipe ever! Made it 3 times already and we loved it. Served it with baked potato or basmati rice (Jenn, thanks to you I finally learned how to cook Basmati rise). I also made a salad with your Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (no more store bought dressings for me!).
This recipe has become a twice a month recipe for me. My whole family loves this always-moist, flavorful chicken. I serve it with mujadara as a side. When my husband ate this for the first time he declared that I was to only make this kind of chicken from here on out. Thanks so much for this delicious recipe!
Absolutely delicious! I served this for a family supper to rave reviews. Such a wonderful blend of warm spices.
This was fabulous! I live in an apartment and cannot have a grill so I used a panini press to cook the chicken. Pounding the breasts ensured even cooking and seemed to “stretch” two breasts to be enough for 3 adults (with other sides). Marinated the chicken all afternoon and it was tender, juicy and so flavorful. Wow! Will be in my regular rotation!
Love this one. One of my favourites on the site.
Hi Jenn, I wonder what was my mistake as the chicken breasts I had flattened to the required thickness returned to their original size or close to it..Hence, they had to stay on the grill for more than 10′. What do you think?
We loved the taste but as u can imagine it was dry.
Thank you for your advice.
Love all of your recipees I have done before.
Hi Josee, It’s normal for them to plump up on the grill. I’m guessing they just cooked a bit too long. Next time, try pounding them just a bit thinner.
Hi Jenn, another delicious chicken recipe! Thanks so much. Can this be frozen in the marinade to thaw and BBQ in the summer? It would be a great make-ahead and so convenient for summer. Thanks in advance! 😊
Glad you like it! Sure, it would be fine to freeze the chicken in its marinade. 🙂
I made this for lunch today and we all loved it. My daughter said, “this is delicious – let me guess, this is a Jenn Segal recipe!” Served it with the suggested warm couscous salad and that was also a hit. Thank you!
All I can say is WOW! Bursting with flavor that was a real hit with our group. Super juicy and tender even with reheating leftovers. Made this in a 7 pound recipe for our friends, and they all raved. Definitely putting this in rotation. Thanks!
This chicken is delicious! After I made it my son said it needs to be my go-to recipe for grilled chicken. It was moist, tender and very flavorful! Thank you!
Hi; thinking of spatchcock a 2kg chicken to cook on the bbq. What quantity marinade would I need for this?
I’d suggest doubling it. Hope you enjoy!
I did this. Doubling the recipe and it worked fine. If you spatchcock, your chicken will rock.
My family loves this moroccan chicken. We moved last year and have yet to purchase a grill. This will be one of the first things I make when we finally get a grill.
do you recommend these ingredients for baby back ribs?
Hi Sandra, I’ve never tried it, but I think it should work. 🙂
Hi Jen – another absolutely delicious recipe – trying it on Saturday night (might even get properly dressed and put my lipstick on). I love your idea of ‘procrastibaking’ – there is definitely a lot of that going around these parts, though our flour shortage is keeping things interesting.
Please could I make a heartfelt request – could you please discourage people from using single-use freezer bags or ziploc bags for marinades. It’s just another thing to add to the great pile of non-recyclable plastic – polythene cannot be recycled and much of it ends up in the oceans. A plastic or ceramic container does the job perfectly (use a plate if you don’t have a lid) and it can be washed up and used a squillion more times.
Lots of well-known chefs encourage people to use polythene for tasks like bashing up biscuits for cheesecake and for meat/fish marinades – yes, it’s easy and saves us the 20 seconds it would have taken to wash it up, but at a much larger long-term cost.
Whenever I see it in a recipe, I write to the author and ask them to reconsider.
Thanks again for sharing all your lovely recipes.
Hi Jayne, Thanks for your input regarding the ziploc bags for marinades. For future recipes, I will provide both the option of a bag and a bowl. And hope you enjoy the chicken on Saturday (your comment about putting lipstick on made me laugh)! 🙂
I marinate all my meats in reusable containers and encourage others to do the same. The amount of plastic that we’re throwing away is choking our planet! Please think twice.
Thank you Jayne, for caring enough to comment and inform.
My husband made this for dinner tonight using chicken thighs. It was AMAZING!! The flavor was outstanding. This recipe is definitely a keeper!!
Will the chicken be as tender if I buy chicken cutlets rather than pounding the chicken myself?
My wonderful food writer friend sent me this recipe and we looooved it. Served with rice and asparagus. Started rather late, so it only marinated for 90 minutes. No problem! So, so good.
So good, in fact, today I mixed up an extra-large batch of the marinade and have four chicken leg quarters marinating in the fridge for tonight’s dinner. I have no doubt it’ll be delicious.
AND, (let me repeat myself), so good, in fact, I just ordered the cookbook. Thanks!
🙂 Thanks for your support with the cookbook!
This came together quickly and easily. The taste was great! Will definitely cook this again. Thanks Jenn! Another ‘what to cook for dinner?!’ crisis averted.
Excellent. Used chicken thighs and threw red peppers on grill at same time. Also loved the couscous recipe….a keeper.
Is it okay to marinate for longer than 24 hrs? I was planning to cook this for dinner tonight, but plans unexpectedly changed. Now I’m wondering if I can make this tomorrow or the next day. The chicken was bought the day before and should still be good. Thoughts?
Sure, Michelle, that should be fine. Hope you enjoy!
Thank you! We had it the next night and it was great!
I made this for my picky 10 year old son who prefers real food and not sandwiches in his school lunches. I have been making him grilled chicken breasts lately. I wanted to try this recipe so he wouldn’t get bored of the rub I was using. My son liked this marinade very much. Lunch tins came back empty two days in a row. In order to reduce plastic waste I purchased thin sliced chicken breasts (no flattening the chicken required) and I marinated the chicken overnight in a glass food container with a snap seal lid. Shaking occasionally.
Absolutely delicious! My husband is Moroccan and he loved it!!
Can the chicken be pan or oven cooked? Thank you
Sure, Patsy — I’d broil it. Set your rack about 4 inches from the heat source and broil for the same amount of time specified for the grill (flipping once). Hope that helps and that you enjoy!
This is one of the best ways to prepare grilled chicken. The flavors are amazing and it couldn’t be any easier. Guest always ask me for the recipe. Serve with some crusty bread and a big salad. It can’t get any easier than that. One of my favorite grilling recipes.
Fabulous flavors and once the spices have been blended, it pretty easy to marinade and cook! We make this chicken and use it in so many ways. We even found it is incredibly tasty in Banh Mi Sandwiches. Thank you Jenn for sharing this recipe with all of us!
I made the chicken and the couscous salad and they both came out perfectly. My husband aid he would have been thrilled to get this meal at a restaurant. I can’t believe how easy the couscous was to make. Thanks Jen.
This recipe is just another reason why when I’m looking for dinner ideas, your website is the first, and usually the only, site I visit. Thank you!
Best. Chicken. Ever. I took this recipe to a BBQ at a friends house, it disappeared almost immediately, huge hit with everyone (even the kids!). I make it for myself at least once a week, prep it before work and its good to go on the grill by the time I’m home.
Question, any ideas/recommendations on modifying this marinade for use with beef? Or is this intended primarily for poultry?
Glad you enjoyed it, Mike. I think it’d work well with beef, no adjustments needed. Please lmk how it turns out if you try it!
LOVE your recipes. Looking to make the Moroccan chicken and pair with the apricot couscous for a luncheon. Can the chicken be served sliced, and at room temperature and/or chilled? I don’t want to be grilling with guests. Thanks!
Hi Chriss, You can definitely make the chicken ahead and slice it. I’d serve it at room temperature. You might want to make extra apricot dressing for drizzling over the chicken, as it won’t be quite as moist as it is fresh off the grill.
Jenn, You’re the best! I will do that. I made the apricot couscous today- I was just so eager to try. It’s amazing as are all of your recipes I have made. SO glad I found you. Chriss
Chicken is amazing! I grilled ahead of time and served it sliced on a big platter with the “Warm couscous salad with apricot vinaigrette” underneath. I did make extra apricot dressing to drizzle as Jenn suggested over chicken. Also added some extra scallions and almonds on top for garnish. Rave reviews from the ladies at my luncheon. It’s a winner no matter how you serve!!
Hi! I was wondering if a grill pan would work as a substitute instead of a grill in this recipe?
Sure! Hope you enjoy. 🙂
Hi, Jenn! Thanks so much for the delicious recipe! I made the Moroccan chicken with the apricot vinaigrette couscous, and it was a hit with my boyfriend. I made the late summer plum cake too, and it was so yummy with vanilla ice cream, he almost ate the whole cake. The detailed instructions and pictures are especially helpful! I bought your cookbook and can’t wait to try your other recipes.
Absolutely delicious! Loved by my kids aged 3 to 9 years. I will definitely make it again with double the amount.
Question regarding paprika, what type/brand do you use? I understand there are several varieties….I have a well known spice brand label in the cupboard, should I be trying something better? I’d appreciate your opinion, thank you.
Hi Mary, I just use McCormick’s brand paprika which is what my store carries. (You don’t need smoked or hot paprika for this.) Hope that clarifies!
I made this yesterday and it was wonderful!! I let the chicken marinade for 6 hrs and can only imagine the additional flavor that it would have had , had I gone the full 24 hrs as some readers suggested. Per your recommendation, I served it with the warm couscous salad with apricot vinaigrette. The salad, on its own was a bit too sweet but when pared with the chicken ….
What can I say, yet another winner! Thank-you.
I made this for dinner guests. I marinated the chicken breasts for 24 hours. It was absolutely delicious! It was moist, had a great flavor and everyone went back for seconds. I will be making this again. Thanks for a great recipe.
I made this tonight and boy was it delicious! My 16 year old picky eater even loved it. I accidentally dumped a bunch of sugar in, and despite trying to retrieve it out, I’m sure I ended up with much more than called for. The sweetness was really nice though and I’d probably do it on purpose next time!
Hi. I’m marinading these tonight for tomorrow. How do you think these would work on skewers as shish kabobs? Same result? Thanks for your advise in advance.
Hi Colleen, It will be great. Enjoy!