Traditional recipes

Moroccan olive chicken recipe

Moroccan olive chicken recipe

  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Poultry
  • Chicken

A summery, lemony dish that goes well with rice.

31 people made this

IngredientsServes: 5

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
  • 450ml (16 fl oz) water
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 500g (1 1/4 lb) green olives, pitted

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:1hr10min ›Ready in:1hr25min

  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onions, and sprinkle with ginger and paprika. Sauté until onions are golden.
  2. Place chicken on top of onions. Add water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olives. Cook about 1 hour, or until the chicken is tender.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(22)

Reviews in English (19)

by YARDNYMPH

Something else.Delicious! The first time I prepared this recipe I followed the directions exactly and found the chicken to be a little tougher than I like. The next time, I browned the chicken in the oil after sauteing the onions, then placed everything in my slow cooker dish and baked it for an hour in the oven uncovered - then put the dish in its holder, covered it and cooked it on med for another hour. Perfect!-18 Jul 2008

by WEINREICH

Very good flavour. This has become a standard in my repertoire of chicken dishes. Easy to make too.-18 Jul 2008

by ilovemyboys

The olives were a bit strong in this dish- even for my husband who loves them.-18 Jul 2008


  • 1 chicken (skin removed and cut into pieces)
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped or pressed)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, (crumbled - optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 or 4 large potatoes
  • one or two handfuls of red olives
  • 1 preserved lemon (quartered and seeds removed - optional)

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, combine the chicken, onion, garlic, spices, parsley, and oil. Cook, covered, over medium heat, without adding water, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken is almost done. Stir occasionally to turn the pieces of chicken, and watch the heat so that the chicken doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.

Peel and quarter the potatoes. Add them to the pot, along with the olives, preserved lemon, and enough water to almost cover the potatoes. Bring the liquids to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender and the sauce is quite thick.


Easy Moroccan Chicken with Lemons and Olives

I’m in Texas this week with the kids visiting my parents. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, my mother is a wonderful cook who made many gourmet dishes in my childhood.

The first time I had Moroccan food was at my mom’s house, about 13 years ago. She was working as a volunteer prep/cook at Central Market’s Cooking Classes and was responsible for setting up for the classes as well as getting/prepping things that guest Instructors/Chefs needed.

She also took many of the cooking classes offered at Central Market. In any case, she had the opportunity to be present while Kitty Morris was instructing on Moroccan cooking. Mom ended up buying her cookbook, Cooking at the Kasbah, and prepared several authentic Moroccan dishes for me during one of my visits. Mmmmmm.

While this dish may not be authentic Moroccan, it is full of rich flavor and just enough warm flavored spice to make it interesting.

I saw a recipe for Moroccan Chicken in a magazine a while back and tried it. Although good, it did not deliver the flavor I desired. With a few adjustments and additions, I was able to bring the flavor up where I wanted without complicating the dish.

I have tried this dish with whole cut up chicken, chicken thighs and chicken breasts. I like them all. Admittedly, the whole cut up chicken and chicken thighs were a little harder for my children to eat with the bones, but my husband loved them for flavor. I have always been a chicken breast girl, so I liked that version of this easy Moroccan chicken the best. Since chicken thighs usually look nicer in pictures, I went with that when photographing the dish.

So, what makes this Easy Moroccan Chicken with lemon and olives “Moroccan”? Mainly the olives and the lemon! I think an authentic Moroccan chicken recipe would call for preserved lemons, but using fresh lemons and leaving them in the dish as it cooks helps add a but of brightness as well as some bitterness which is delectable. I opted to use garlic stuffed green olives for this dish, but use any kind of green olives you want.

Adding the tomatoes and keeping the squeezed lemon wedges in the dish while cooking kicked it up a notch. ***This is a recipe that builds on flavor so make sure to brown the chicken in the pan instead of cheating with rotisserie chicken – I know, I tried!

Thanks to convenience items (jarred olives and canned whole peeled tomatoes) this dish takes about 30 minutes to prepare, so it’s not only an easy Moroccan chicken recipe but a fast one, too. Fast and easy is always good!

To speed things up I suggest having your chicken ready to go (trimmed and/or cut up) and have the onions and garlic sliced and at the ready. If you are using fresh cauliflower, grate it in the food processor and leave it raw. A quick steaming in the microwave is all it will need.

I do the prep the night before and park everything on the fridge. It only takes 10 minutes. Consider adding toasted slivered almonds, browned onions, garlic salt and cilantro to the cauliflower rice for a nice accompaniment.

JUST A NOTE: One night I served this dish over spaghetti squash. It was so good I just couldn’t say enough about it. Spaghetti squash is higher in carbs, but if you have a higher carb tolerance I suggest trying it over the squash because it’s warm-sweet flavor is the perfect complement for this dish!


Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Juicy, lemon-y, and packed with flavor, this Moroccan Chicken Tagine is one of the most popular dishes in the country. The recipe uses preserved lemons and saffron threads so be ready for something special!

Finally, the day has come! The day when, after a grueling month of waiting, I was able to open a jar of my homemade Moroccan preserved lemons and for the first time in my life savor them. You can read about my emotions in the post mentioned earlier, while here I will talk about how I am using these little pickled guys. The possibilities are endless!

Sauces, salads, marinades, stews, tagines - preserved lemons will enhance the flavor of any of these culinary creations. When the aroma from the opened jar reached my nostrils my mind immediately started flipping through options for the usage of these bad boys. However, it wasn't until I grabbed a few Moroccan books I possess that I found a perfect idea for my very first experience with them. Moroccan Chicken Tagine!

A little explanation for those of you who are not familiar with the word "Tagine" (can be also spelled as "Tajine"). It's a special North African earthenware pot and all the stews that are cooked in this dish are named after it. Does it mean that you won't be able to make this recipe without this pot on hand? Don't worry, it doesn't. I don't have it either at the moment (I plan to get it soon, though). A Dutch oven will work just fine! I'm including a picture for you to see how it looks like. A true beauty!

Moroccan cuisine offers a big variety of various tagines (that's why it's a good idea to get that pot sooner or later) but the one with chicken, preserved lemons, and olives I made today is perhaps the most popular. Maybe that's because chicken meat is cheap and accessible (a significant number of tagines in Morocco are made with lamb) or maybe it's a combination of flavors that makes it so beloved.

Traditionally, a whole chicken is used to make the Moroccan Chicken Tagine but in many modern recipes, even those made by the famous Moroccan chefs (for example, Mourad Lahlou from whose book New Moroccan I adapted this recipe) only chicken legs or thighs are used. I agree with this one because it's less work + chicken breast can turn out dry and not so pleasant to eat.

This Moroccan stew looks good, isn't it? Check out more awesome stews from other countries!


Recipe Summary

  • 1/4 cup eucalyptus honey
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet pimentón de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 8 chicken thighs on the bone, with skin (2 3/4 pounds)
  • Boiling water
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 20 green olives, such as Cerignola or Picholine, pitted (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

In a bowl, whisk the honey with 1/4 cup of the canola oil and the lemon juice, grated ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, pimentón, cayenne, salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken in a glass baking dish. Pour the marinade on top and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 2 hours, turning once.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Drain the chicken and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet reserve the marinade. Cover with foil and bake for about 35 minutes, until cooked through. Remove the foil and discard any juices from the baking sheet.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, pour boiling water over the apricots to cover and let stand until plump, 8 minutes drain.

In a skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat until softened, 6 minutes. Add the apricots, olives and the reserved marinade and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderately high heat until the marinade is thickened and glazes the apricots and olives, 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Grill the chicken over moderately high heat, turning once, until charred in spots and the skin is crisp, 6 minutes. Transfer to plates, top with the apricot-olive relish and serve.


Moroccan-style chicken

P reheat the oven to 180°C/ fan 160°C/ gas 4. In a large, lidded flameproof casserole heat the olive oil, then add the chicken thigh fillets. Drizzle over the honey and brown the chicken on one side for 5 minutes, then turn and cook for a further 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

To the pan add the garlic and root ginger, the carrots, the chickpeas and chopped tomatoes in tomato juice. Make up 720ml hot chicken stock using the stock cube and add 300ml to the pan, setting the rest aside. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Nestle the chicken fillets into this mixture and add the tomato wedges. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven to bake for 45 minutes.

T en minutes before you remove the dish from the oven, tip the couscous into a bowl. Reheat the remaining stock until it is piping hot and pour over the couscous with the dried mixed herbs. Cover and leave for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and serve with the chicken.

Make it veggie: Try swapping the chicken for 312g Quorn fillets.


Start Cooking

Marinate the Chicken

In a large bowl, mix all the spices: saffron, turmeric, ginger, salt and pepper to taste, and one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the grated garlic and half of the chopped cilantro. Mix very well and slowly pour in the boiling water.

Rinse and dry the chicken and add it to the marinade. Cover and set aside for about an hour.

In a large pot, heat up the olive oil and brown the chicken on both sides for about 10-15 minutes. Reserve the marinade.

Remove the chicken from the pan and sautee the onions. Return the chicken to the pan, pour the reserved marinade over, and add the remaining cilantro and the olives. Cover and cook for 30-35 minutes.


Recipe Keywords

1. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels and generously season both sides with salt and pepper.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (oil will shimmer when hot).

3. Place the chicken thighs skin-side down in the hot pan and let cook without moving them for about 7 minutes or until skin is brown and crispy. Flip chicken over and cook 3 more minutes. Remove chicken from the pan and place on plate, cover the chicken loosely with aluminum foil. Discard all oil from the pan.

4. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion to the pan. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

5. Stir in the garlic and ginger cook for 15 seconds then stir in the paprika, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon.

6. Slowly stir in the chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula to release anything stuck on the pan, bring to a boil.

7. Place the chicken back in the pan skin-side up and add the lemon wedges along side the chicken. Cover the pan and reduce heat to medium-low, cook for about 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

8. Remove the chicken from the pan onto a platter skin-side up. Add the olives to the pan and stir in with the sauce. Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil and reduce sauce to desired thickness. Season sauce with salt and pepper if necessary.

9. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Notes/Tips

Goes great with rice or couscous.


What you’ll need To Make 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.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ras el hanout
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 1 (15 ounce) can can no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed
  • ½ cup chopped dried apricots
  • ½ cup pitted green olives, halved
  • ½ cup toasted slivered almonds, divided
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a clean plate.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and onion to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up any browned bits, until the onion is soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in lemon zest, garlic, ginger, tomato paste and ras el hanout. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth, chickpeas, apricots, olives, 1/4 cup almonds and the chicken. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 8 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve topped with the remaining 1/4 cup almonds and cilantro, if desired.


Recipe Summary

  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅜ teaspoon fennel seed, ground
  • ¾ teaspoon sesame seeds, ground
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound small red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 2 small lemons
  • 1 (4 pound) roasting chicken, rinsed and patted dry

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

For the spice mix: Mix together in a bowl the cloves, pepper, fennel, sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom. Set aside.

For the spice paste: Place the paprika, lemon juice, the spice mix (from Step 2), salt, chopped mint, black pepper and garlic cloves in a blender. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and blend to until ingredients are mixed, about 6 or 8 pulses. Slowly add the additional olive oil if mixture seems too thick to spread. Blend just until mixture is a smooth paste.

Spread potatoes and carrots in a roasting pan. Rub about 1/4 of the spice paste inside the cavity of the chicken. Rub the remainder of the paste on the outside of the chicken including the underside. Place the chicken directly on the carrots and potatoes. Pierce the 2 lemons all over with a fork, and place them into the chicken cavity.

Tent the chicken with aluminum foil. Roast approximately 2 hours until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F (80 degrees C) and the juices run clear. Remove from the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

When I make the spice mix, I quadruple the ingredients listed above and store the remaining 3 tablespoons in an airtight container for 3 more chickens. With a larger batch, you can use whole spices: whole cloves, peppercorns, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds and grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder. Saves work for the next time you make this spicy chicken!