Authentic Moroccan Chicken Recipe

Fatima O.

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Chicken Tagine is a popular Moroccan dish made with chicken, green or red olives, and preserved lemons.

It is a flavorful and aromatic Moroccan dish that is perfect for both lunch and dinner parties.

This recipe is simple to make and can be prepared in different ways. I will show you how my mom thought me to make it. The result is a wholesome and flavorful dish. I promise!

You can serve the Chicken Tagine with Moroccan homemade bread and a simple tomato and onion salad for a delicious and classical Moroccan meal.

Moroccan chicken tagine with green olives and preserved lemon

Growing up, my mom would make Chicken Tagine at least once a week. The dish would usually be garnished with either a selection of fresh vegetables or just olives and preserved lemons.

I used to really get excited when it was with olives and preserved lemons. My favorite part of Chicken Tagine is the crispy skin on the chicken. And there is a secret to getting that skin brown and crispy. Keep reading to discover it!

What will you need to make Chicken Tagine?

To make a hearty Moroccan chicken tagine you will need chicken thighs or breasts (I like to mix both). This dish is usually made with bone-in chicken thighs or breasts, but you can also use boneless chicken.

You will also need onions. I usually use the white ones because they melt into the sauce making it thick and flavorful. But you can use the red ones as well.

You will also need freshly cut herbs (parsley and/or coriander), green olives, preserved lemons (you can make them at home), olive oil, and fresh spices of course, that includes turmeric, paprika, powdered ginger, salt, and pepper.

chicken tagine
Chicken tagine dish

It’s also common to include vegetables in Moroccan chicken tagines. And there are no limitations whatsoever on the vegetables you can use. You can get creative and use whatever is in your fridge.

You can make a chicken tagine with a mix of veggies like cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, zucchini, and eggplants, or just keep it simple with chicken and peas. It’s your choice.

A chicken tagine recipe can also call for another optional seasoning such as almonds, and dried fruits.

How to make Chicken Tagine?

To make Chicken Tagine, start by deep-cleaning the raw chicken. To do that soak it in vinegar (or lemon juice ) and salt water for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. This will help to remove the unpleasant smell of the chicken. If the chicken is frozen, make sure to thaw it completely before cleaning or cooking.

After the 30 minutes have passed, rinse the chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the clean chicken aside until needed.

Next, place a heat diffuser plate on the stove then place the Moroccan tagine pot over medium heat and add olive oil. When the oil is heated, add the chicken to the pot and add salt, chopped onion, and garlic (or garlic paste).

Note: If you don’t have a Moroccan tagine pot you can still use a deep frying pan that comes with a lid.

Sautee the chicken with the onion, garlic, and salt for about five minutes until the onions are translucent and the chicken is lightly golden.

After the chicken has cooked for five minutes, add the rest of the spices (turmeric, black pepper, Paprika) and 1 cup of water.

Bring the chicken to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes until the chicken is almost ready.

Make sure to check on the Chicken Tagine regularly and stir gently to prevent it from sticking to the surface of the tagine pot. Add water a little bit of water necessary, just enough to make a thick and zesty sauce and not to make the Chicken Tagine watery.

Note: Don’t flip or move the chicken around too much while it’s cooking.

After the Chicken Tagine has cooked for 30 to 35 minutes, add the green olives, preserved lemons (if using), and the chopped fresh herbs (parsley and/or coriander).

Cover with the lid, and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked and tender.

Once the Chicken Tagine is ready, remove it from heat let it rest, and cool for about five minutes before serving.

You can drizzle some olive oil on top and garnish with some chopped parsley or cilantro.

Tip: To get the crispy skin on the chicken, put it in the oven for about 10 to 15 mins with the top open just before serving.

Chicken Tagine is ready to be served with some fresh Moroccan bread and tomato salad on the side.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine Recipe

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: moroccan
Keyword: chicken tagine, moroccan chicken tagine, moroccan food recipes, Moroccan tagine
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 500kcal
Cost: $10


  • Tagine pot Replace with deep skillet with lid
  • Head diffuser


For the Chicken Tagine:

  • 800 g bone-in chicken pieces (thighs or a mix of parts)
  • 1 medium preserved lemon
  • ½ cup green olives (I prefer pitted olives)
  • 1 large white or yellow onion finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin Moroccan olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Butter optional, for brushing

For the Chicken Charmoula

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin Moroccan olive oil
  • Chopped pulp of 1 preserved lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves plus more for garnish
  • A pinch of saffron dissolve in ¼ cup warm water
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt to taste


Prepare the Charmoula Sauce (Marinade)

  • In a large bowl, mix together the ground ginger, ground turmeric, minced garlic, 1 tbsp extra virgin Moroccan olive oil, chopped pulp of the preserved lemon, chopped fresh cilantro leaves, saffron, ground coriander, black pepper, salt, and ground cinnamon to create the sharmoula sauce.

Marinate the Chicken

  • Add the chicken pieces to the bowl containing the chermoula sauce. Rub the sauce thoroughly into all the chicken pieces, ensuring they are well coated. Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or you can proceed to cook immediately if short on time.

Prepare the Ingredients

  • While the chicken is marinating, dice the onion finely. If using a food processor, pulse a few times to achieve a fine chop without turning it into a puree.

Cooking Process

  • Heat a large, deep skillet or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of Moroccan olive oil and the diced onions.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the marinated chicken pieces to the pan, reserving the excess sharmoula sauce for later.
  • Sear the chicken on all sides until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes per side.
  • Pour the reserved sharmoula sauce over the chicken, strips of preserved lemon peel, and green olives. If necessary, add a little water to ensure there is enough liquid to simmer the chicken in.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the skillet or Dutch oven and let the chicken cook for about 40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

Finishing Touches

  • Once the chicken is cooked and tender, if the sauce is too watery, you can remove the chicken and keep it warm while you increase the heat and reduce the sauce to your desired consistency.
  • Adjust the seasoning if necessary, then return the chicken.
  • Optional: For golden, crispy skin, brush the chicken with butter and broil in a preheated oven while the sauce is simmering.


  • Serve the chicken hot, garnished with additional chopped fresh cilantro leaves. This dish goes well with Moroccan homemade bread.


Watch out for salt: When cooking with preserved lemons and olives, don’t add more salt until you’ve tasted the dish’s sauce. Rinse the lemons and olives to cut down on their salt, keeping flavors in check.
Garnish: In addition to cilantro and lemon, we usually garnish our Chicken tagine with french fries. It’s a very tasty combination. 
Cooking Utensil: If available, cook this dish in a traditional Moroccan tagine. The unique shape of a tagine helps circulate steam and flavors, tenderizing the chicken and intensifying the dish’s aromatic qualities. If you don’t have a tagine, a low Dutch oven works well as a substitute.

About Fatima O.

Fatima, born and raised along the foothills of the Atlas mountains, in the heartland of the indigenous Amazigh peoples. She loves Moroccan tea and travel. Now, she travels and writes about the beauty of her homeland.

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