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 festive and company-worthy yet also 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 that the dish is traditionally cooked in, 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. The 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 atop 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

  • Am I missing something? It says at the beginning that it includes preserved lemons, but they are not in the ingredient list-

    • — Dana Pehrson on January 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Dana, I mention in the intro that the recipe that I referred as the foundation for mine includes preserved lemon, but mine does not. Sorry for any confusion!

      • — Jenn on January 25, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    My husband and I just finished dinner. We had it over Israeli couscous.
    Do you have any idea how much we can’t wait to have leftovers? Beyond….

    • — EC on January 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 25, 2021
      • Reply
  • I very often reference blogs for recipe inspiration, but have NEVER taken the time to review a recipe. This recipe is so freakin’ fantastic that I have to take the time to rate it. 5 stars all the way. The flavors are awesome. Made the recipe as written and the couscous recipe- awesome, awesome, awesome! I’ve shared the recipe with friends immediately. Well, I did make just two changes, I poked holes the skin of the chicken thigh to help the fat under the skin render so that it got nice and golden brown and I left the skin on the thigh instead of removing.

    I served this with warm pita and drizzled some Trader Joe’s zhoug sauce over my portion. Will make my own pita and zhoug next time so that it is completely homemade.

    I will make some tweeks next time, but only because I’d like to up the vegetables in the dish. I’ll prolly add diced sweet potatoes or maybe butternut squash early, some red, yellow or orange bell peppers in the middle and a big handful of canned chickpeas at the end.

    I have made the Juicy Steakhouse burger from this site a few time this past summer. Also a keeper. I will be making her Indian food this week. Homemade naan and chicken tika masala, here I come!

    • — Jerry on January 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • Tonight is my second time making this recipe. I didn’t have carrots on hand the first time, so I used a large yam. It was so good that’s the way I made it again tonight. Maybe I’ll try the carrots next time.

    • — Brigette Pady on January 23, 2021
    • Reply
  • Is this too chilli for a child?

    • — Gee on January 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Gee, Do you mean too spicy? If so, I don’t think so. If you’re concerned at all about it, feel free to omit the cayenne pepper. Hope that helps and that you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on January 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • Made this YUMMY tagine with chicken and chickpeas. Added a couple of frozen cubes of lamb broth. I love the lemon-y aspect. It took a bit longer to make than you indicate, but I am in heaven. Thank you for your really interesting website with lots of international recipes, which I love.

    • — Lorna on January 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was absolutely outstanding. The flavor profile was spot on. I had to add a chicken breast because of a family member who only eats white meat and it was as delectable and moist as the thighs. Even gluten free flour couldn’t hurt it. The seasonings, the lemon and garlic, the olives, all combine to make magic. We will be making this again and again. Jenn you have yet to disappoint! Thank you !

    • — Kim Kelly on January 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is phenomenal!! I’ve made it half a dozen times and it turns out amazing every time. It takes me back to when my little French grandma from North Africa used to make it for our family on very special occasions. She used lamb in her recipe, but I’m loving it with chicken. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this recipe is better than grandma’s!!

    • — Rachel Wright on January 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I LOVED this recipe. I have tried several of your recipes and they are absolute perfection. I am an avid cook and am truly impressed with the precision of flavour in all of your recipes. In addition, the ingredient quantities are always the exact and correct amount of spice, stock, veg etc. Thank you for your wonderful inspiration.

    Jody

    • — jody macdonald on January 5, 2021
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on January 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • SO DELICIOUS!

    • — Lindsay on January 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • Have to agree – this is an amazing sauce with a real depth of flavour. I’m going to try it with lamb next

    • — Steve Bunyan on January 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • I didn’t read all the reviews but the ones I did read said the same thing I’m going to say, DELICIOUS! I prepped some of the ingredients before I started cooking the chicken and then while the chicken was cooking did more prep. The only suggestion I have is to prep everything first then start cooking the chicken. It then makes for a really easy somewhat throw together dinner. I never eat chicken skin so the thighs I had already had no skin so I used some olive oil to brown the chicken in. My husband doesn’t like couscous so I made wild rice that I seasoned with fennel seeds, cumin seeds and turmeric. I have made quite a few recipes from Jenn including desserts and they never fail. Thanks for some great eating Jenn.

    • — Naomi on December 31, 2020
    • Reply
  • Amazing recipe and love that there are recommended sides!

    • — Kim on December 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hello. Why is the skin of the chicken removed ?

    • — Alexandra on December 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Alexandra, I find that the skin gets a little soggy after cooking and so I prefer to pull it off. Feel free to leave it on if you’d like. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 29, 2020
      • Reply
  • This recipe is fantastic. Used boneless thighs but followed recipe to the T.
    Loved the flavors and everyone raved.
    Made the Pearl coucous and the green beans with Shallots. Definitely will be on my rotation.
    Thanks Jenn. Love you recipes!
    Fran

    • — Fran on December 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • Once again I made a half order and once again the result was almost exactly as shown in the recipe. Everything was good. The green olives are an interesting addition to the dish. The only variation I made is that I added the carrots when the chicken was returned to the pan. The extra ten minutes of cooking may not have been necessary, but the carrots weren’t overcooked.

    I served the tagine with Jenn’s cous-cous recipe and some steamed chard. As it turned out, even a half order was twice what we needed for dinner so we’ll be reheating the rest later in the week.

    • — Jim on December 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • I have not made this yet but checking that skin on bone in thighs are done on the stovetop in 20 minutes? I noticed as similar recipes with sauce on stovetop are twice as long. Thank you!

    • — Barbara Epperson on December 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Barbara, Yes, I’ve found it’s consistently taken about that long, but feel free to cut into the chicken before you remove it from the heat and double-check it for doneness. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 21, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    This sounds delicious, and I would love to try it. I am just curious, why are the leftovers only good for 2 days, even if the olives and garlic lemon zest are not added? I understand that the olives will make it too salty if they sit and that the raw garlic will become too potent, but I was just wondering why it keeps for such a short time without those things added.

    Thanks!

    • — Rachel on December 17, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Rachel, It may very well last longer in the fridge, but I always like to err on the conservative side from a food safety standpoint.

      • — Jenn on December 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, do you think this recipe will go well with a warm couscous salad with apricot vinaigrette and the chickpea & red onion salad?
    Or better just to have the plain couscous? Thank you.

    • — Andrea on November 29, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Andrea, I think it would work, but there’s so much flavor in the chicken, I’d probably just keep it simple with plain couscous.

      • — Jenn on November 29, 2020
      • Reply
      • Thank you! Jenn.

        • — Andrea on December 3, 2020
        • Reply
  • I made this for a first try at preparing Moroccan food at home. It was delicious. We loved the complex flavors that blended wonderfully together. It’s a definite add to our dinner rotation! Thank you for a wonderful recipe. We opted for b/s chicken tenders so the entire meal was on the table in less than 25 minutes.

    • — Nan on November 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight in a cast iron pot and it was so delicious!! Added chickpeas and dried prunes at the end.

    • — Ell on November 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • Absolutely fabulous meal. A hit with the whole family! Making it again today😊. Thank you so much!!

    • — Sarah Athanasiadis on November 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was fabulous. I often come to this site for recipes and the family loved this one.

    • — Laura A. on October 13, 2020
    • Reply
  • Tried the recipe tonight but added some apricots and this was very good. Having been to Morocco and tasted their Tagine, I have to say this was up there with them.

    Our son is a very harsh critic of food and is very well-traveled so he knows his stuff and actually said this is nice. This is an honour as he seldom comments on food unless asked so another gold medal.

    Only have to find a way of replicating Moroccan Cous Cous as it is so fine and you could blow it off your plate like dust it’s so light.

    • — Peter on October 4, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made this a few months ago and loved it. However I doubled the stock, added some apricots (but need to add them later in the process than I did) and prunes, and popped it in the oven on a low heat for a couple of hours, as I’d made it too early in the day! I couldn’t get it enough of the sauce!!

    I’m just wondering if anyone has used lamb with this recipe, or what your thoughts are on whether that would work please?

    • — Jo M on September 24, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jo, So glad you liked it! I do think this would work with lamb; just keep in mind it will likely take longer to cook. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • Wasn’t much of a fan of this recipe. The flour turned the tagine sauce into a gravy which is just too thick for a tagine.

    Plus, the tang from the lemon and olives were the main star of the show, not the chicken really.

    • — Warda on September 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • Absolutely beautiful! My only addition was apricots. So so nice. Thank you!

    • — Celene O Shaughnessy on September 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • I’ve just followed your recipe and I have to say it was utterly delicious!!
    I made just two tweaks, I added a jar of “Navarrico” chickpeas, and a tin of chopped tomatoes… the family I cook for love beans pulses etc…
    Once again thank you so much for your time and effort, I’m so grateful & will point others to your site…
    Wonderful
    Kathy x

    • — Katharine on September 2, 2020
    • Reply
  • Well, I made your dish tonight with some substitutes and man did it ever taste great.
    I used Allspice instead of coriander, used Orange juice with no zest. I threw in cauliflower instead of olives and added peas with the carrots. Everything else you called for was in and it came out fantastic. Looking forward to your next great dish!

    R.J. York, PA.

    • — Rick Julius on August 31, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made this just as written and it was wonderful, hubby and I loved it. So far, everything I’ve made from the blog and the first cookbook have been hits (glad to hear there’s another cookbook in the works). This is my go-to place for recipes that I know will turn out very well.

    • — Marilyn on August 20, 2020
    • Reply
  • These are great recipes! Thanks for sharing.

    • — Amal on August 16, 2020
    • Reply

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