Moroccan Chicken Tagine

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Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Chicken tagine is a traditional Moroccan dish of chicken pieces braised with spices, garlic, onion, olives, and preserved lemons. It’s company-worthy yet easy to throw together.

moroccan chicken tagine

Tweaked a bit from Cook’s Illustrated, this is my favorite chicken tagine, the traditional Moroccan dish of chicken pieces braised with spices, garlic, onion, olives, and preserved lemons. It’s company-worthy yet easy enough to throw together on a not-too-busy weeknight. The word tagine refers to the shallow clay vessel with a cone-shaped lid in which the dish is traditionally cooked, but you don’t need one to make it. I use a large cast-iron braiser; a wide Dutch oven or a heavy covered skillet will work, too.

This recipe does not call for preserved lemons, a specialty ingredient that can be difficult to find. Instead, lemon zest and fresh lemon juice add tart brightness to the dish. Serve the chicken on a platter or individual plates over a bed of couscous.

What you’ll need To Make Chicken Tagine

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

While you can use a whole cut-up chicken for chicken tagine, my preference is to use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs only. They provide a good amount of meat and remain tender even if slightly overcooked, and the bones and skin add depth of flavor and richness to the sauce (though the skin is removed midway through cooking). Sometimes, I pull the meat off the bone before serving — makes it easier and more appealing for the kids to eat — but serving the chicken on the bone is traditional.

How To Make Chicken Tagine

To begin, combine the spices in small bowl.

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Mix well and set aside.

Zest the lemon. Combine 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest with 1 minced garlic clove; set aside.

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Season both sides of chicken pieces with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Brown the chicken pieces skin side down in single layer until deep golden, about 5 minutes.

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Using tongs, flip the chicken pieces over and brown the other side, about 4 minutes more. how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Transfer the chicken to a large plate; when cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard.

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and add the onion.

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Cook, stirring occasionally, until they have browned at the edges but still retain their shape, 5 to 7 minutes (add a few tablespoons of water if the pan gets too dark).

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Add the remaining minced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spices and flour.

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Stir in the broth, honey, remaining lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits.

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Add the chicken (with any accumulated juices) back in, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Scatter the carrots around the chicken, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes more.

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Add the olives, garlic-zest mixture, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice.

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Stir to combine and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.

how to make moroccan chicken tagine

Serve with couscous.

moroccan chicken tagine

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Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Chicken tagine is a traditional Moroccan dish of chicken pieces braised with spices, garlic, onion, olives, and preserved lemons. It’s company-worthy yet easy to throw together.

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 lemon
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 4 pounds), trimmed of excess skin and fat (see note)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and cut into 1/4-in-thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 large or 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick coins
  • 1/2 cup Greek cracked green olives, pitted and halved (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Instructions

  1. Combine the spices in a small bowl and set aside. Zest the lemon. Combine 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest with 1 minced garlic clove; set aside.
  2. Season both sides of chicken pieces with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or pan over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Brown the chicken pieces skin side down in single layer until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, flip the chicken pieces over and brown the other side, about 4 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a large plate; when cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard. Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have browned at the edges but still retain their shape, 5 to 7 minutes (add a few tablespoons of water now and then if the pan gets too dark). Add the remaining minced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spices and flour and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, honey, remaining lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Add the chicken (with any accumulated juices) back in, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the carrots, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes more.
  5. Stir in the olives, reserved lemon zest-garlic mixture, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice; taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Serve with couscous.
  6. Note: Don't fret too much over trimming the chicken thighs. The skin gets removed midway through the cooking process and most of the fat will cook off and get drained. I usually just take kitchen shears and quickly snip off any excess skin or fat. Cracked green olives are olives that have been ‘cracked’ or split open before curing, allowing the brine or marinade to penetrate. You can find them in your supermarket’s olive bar, or substitute any green olive that you like.
  7. Make-Ahead: After you have completed the step of cooking the carrots, the dish can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. To serve, gently warm on the stove until the chicken is heated through, then proceed to the step where the olives and remaining ingredients are added.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1 chicken thigh
  • Calories: 367
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 14 g
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 47 g
  • Sodium: 794 mg
  • Cholesterol: 215 mg

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.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Wow C ‘est magnifique! My moroccan friends love it! This is a wonderful tagine recipe.

    • — Jacques on September 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • Our favorite, local Indian restaurant closed during this past year. We were very sad until a year later when we discovered this beauty. It is better than the restaurant we were missing.

    • — Autumn on September 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • When I made this, I added a can of chickpeas and some fresh tomatoes that I needed to use up. Nice amount of heat, but I think I would increase all the spices as it was yummy but we felt it could use just a bit more. I substituted capers for the olives. I wasn’t sure if I should substitute equal amounts because I thought 1/2 cup of capers might be too much? I only added 1 tbsp. Definitely will increase those for next time too. Overall an excellent dish!

    • — Judy Dempsey on September 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Really enjoyed this. We sliced the lemon thinly and used the whole thing. Husband said even the lemon peels tasted great and he usually doesn’t like lemon. Well done! Thank you. Was excited about the green olives, but in the end, they didn’t quite fit well so will leave out next time. Maybe the kind we used.

    • — Sherri on September 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this exactly as written and it was delicious! The chicken was very tender and flavorful. My only issue was that there were so many steps so it took a long time. Also it made a greasy mess of my kitchen, but that tends to happen whenever I cook meat on the stove top. The hubby loved it too!

    • — Michelle McKeown on September 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made it for supper and it was absolutely delicious! So flavourful. Thank you so much for the recipe.

    • — Teresa on September 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • We made this with preserved lemons and omitted the honey since we’ve already been eating lots of dessert–it was absolutely delicious!! There was still a gentle sweetness from the onion and the carrot, and the olives completely mellowed out to our surprise. My husband, however, was most surprised by everything actually taking about an hour to make from start to finish as written in the recipe–that’s usually not the case!

    • — Nelson on September 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jennifer, I am planning on making this dish next week. Unfortunately, my husband doesn’t like olives. Can I omit them? Will that change the flavour too much? Or should I substitute capers instead? If so, how much?

    I always love your recipes and I’m looking forward to trying this. Oh sorry, one more question, do you think this could be done in an Instant Pot? Or would a crock pot be better? Just looking for alternative cooking methods as well. I do have a Dutch Oven I can do it in if all else fails. Thanks in advance!

    • — Judy Dempsey on September 12, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Judy, it’s perfectly fine for you to omit the olives or substitute capers for them. And based on what needs to be done on the stovetop, I don’t think it would make a lot of sense for this to be cooked in a crockpot. I don’t have enough experience with an Instant Pot to say how this would translate, but a Dutch oven would work perfectly. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 14, 2021
      • Reply
  • Lovely! Warm and complex flavors but easy to put together. Preserved lemons were a nice touch. We like carrots so we threw in more of those. YUM

    • — pat on September 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • Looking for what spices to use?! Did not see what they are.

    • — Pcuthbert on August 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi, It sounds like you are just looking at the portion of the page that has the pictures with some instructions underneath. If you scroll down a bit to under the pictures, you’ll find the full recipe. Alternatively, at the very top of the page, under the recipe name, you’ll see an orange/red button that says Jump to Recipe – if you click on that, it will take you directly to the recipe. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on August 29, 2021
      • Reply
  • Brilliant recipe. Added some dried apricots. A handful of cherry tomatoes and half a cup of peppers in last 10 mins . The seasoning and sauce is fantastic. Took the skin off chicken – exactly followed recipe and will make it again. Serving with pearl couscous and rocket pumpkin feta and salad with seeds.

    • — Michelle Donaldson on August 4, 2021
    • Reply
    • Such a fantastic recipe! Fun to make and not complicated. I’ve made the original recipe first. The 2nd time, I added eggplant and cauliflower. Over couscous is definitely a preferred addition in our house
      Bon appetit

      • — Kaye on September 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • It seems to me that it would taste better if I left the skin on the chicken. What is the reasoning for removing it?

    • — Dana on July 26, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Dana, I find the skin gets a bit soggy after cooking and so I prefer to pull it off. Feel free to leave it on if you want. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • The Dish is very good great warm flavors, like the pepper it added just the right amount of warmth. Recipe needs to be read a few times to get the set aside ingredients and main. Otherwise will definitely make this again, it is wonderful.

    • — Robert Pierce on July 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn:

    Can I make this a week ahead and freeze it? If so, would you reheat it in the oven? 350 degrees? Thaw first? So many questions. I thank you.

    Mary Munson

    • — Mary Munson on July 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, You can definitely freeze this and reheat it in the oven. I’d thaw it first then reheat it in a 350-degree oven until heated through. (Add a little chicken broth or water to thin the sauce, if necessary.) Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 8, 2021
      • Reply
      • Many thanks Jen!

        • — Mary Munson on July 8, 2021
        • Reply
  • I have preserved lemons that I’d like to use in this recipe – I assume that I could use them in place of the lemon zest. How many preserved lemons would be appropriate, and shall I slice them thin? This is my first time using this product and I need a bit of help knowing how to incorporate it! Thanks in advance!

    • — Terri on July 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Terri, I’d omit the lemon zest and juice, and use the thinly sliced rind of one preserved lemon. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on July 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this last night and it was delicious! Super easy recipe to follow and fairly simple. Will definitely make again.

    • — Jessica on July 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • I cooked this last night and it was fantastic. I used red/green/yellow fresh peppers (instead of carrots) with the onion and cooked it on low for about 30 mins then added the chicken etc. Absolutely gorgeous. A definite keeper!

    • — Julie on June 23, 2021
    • Reply
  • Amazing taste and easy to put together. Thanks so much!

    • — Susan on June 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is about as far removed from a Moroccan Tagine as a McDonalds….

    • — Jez on June 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • We made this for dinner on 06.07.2021. It was very easy to make. Preparation is the key to success. We’re adding this to our rotation.

    • — william t fisher on June 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Where’s the apricots and dates? Beldi lemons?

      • — Jez on June 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is an amazing chicken tagine. Although I have not been to Morocco I have travelled in Spain where I have enjoyed Moroccan food. This is as good as the tagine my husband and I remember from an exotic Moroccan restaurant there. The spice mix is perfect. No one flavour stands out from the rest in an “in your face” kind of way. My only changes were to substitute boneless breast (preference) cut into pieces approximately the size of a chicken thigh, and because of personal preference, omitted the cilantro. Something green added would be wonderful for presentation but we don’t enjoy the cilantro taste. Five stars!

    • — Dianne on May 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • Delicious recipe! I took your suggestion and served it with couscous and green beans. Even my children enjoyed this meal. Its a winner in this household! Thank you for sharing.

    • — Jennifer on April 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I love this recipe and cook it about every two weeks.
    I do add to it some dry apricots and it adds some more fruity flavor.

    Thank you so much!

    • — Andrea on April 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • I cooked this today. Looks delicious, cleaned the pot with a piece of bread it tasted great. Will make it again.
    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

    • — Azra Shah on April 22, 2021
    • Reply

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