Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemon Recipe

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Moroccan cuisine is known for its bold flavors and aromatic spices, and this Moroccan Chicken Recipe is no exception. Featuring juicy chicken thighs coated in Ras el Hanout and cooked with onions, garlic, saffron, and preserved lemons, this dish is a true culinary delight. Perfect for family dinners or special occasions, this recipe will transport your taste buds straight to Morocco.

Why This Moroccan Chicken Recipe Is a Must-Try

  • Bursting with Flavor: The combination of spices, preserved lemons, and olives creates a dish that is rich and complex in flavor.
  • Easy to Make: With simple instructions and readily available ingredients, this dish is straightforward to prepare.
  • Impressive Presentation: The vibrant colors and aromatic spices make this dish as beautiful as it is delicious.

Ingredients Overview

Main Ingredients

  • Ras el Hanout: 1 ½ tablespoons
  • Chicken Thighs: 3 pounds
  • Olive Oil: 2 tablespoons
  • Yellow Onion: 1 medium, thinly sliced
  • Garlic: 3 cloves, minced
  • Saffron: A pinch
  • Tomato Paste: 1 tablespoon
  • Chicken Stock: 2 cups
  • Cherry Tomatoes: 2 cups
  • Preserved Lemon: 1, diced
  • Green Olives: ¾ cup, pitted
  • Optional Garnish: Roughly chopped parsley or cilantro

Step-by-Step Instructions

Preparing the Chicken

  1. Preheat Oven: Warm the oven up to 350 degrees F.
  2. Coat Chicken: Rub the Ras el Hanout spice blend all over the chicken thighs to ensure they are evenly coated.

Cooking the Chicken

  1. Heat Oil: In a dutch oven or other oven-safe pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Brown Chicken: Add half of the chicken, skin side down, and brown for 3 minutes. Flip and brown for another 2 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  3. Cook Onions: Add the sliced onions to the pot with the leftover chicken juices and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent and slightly browned, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add Garlic and Saffron: Stir in the minced garlic for 30 seconds, then add the saffron and tomato paste, stirring until well combined.
  5. Add Stock and Tomatoes: Pour in the chicken stock and add the cherry tomatoes. Nestle the chicken thighs back into the pot, ensuring they are covered with the juices, tomatoes, and onions.
  6. Bake: Cover the pot and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Finishing Touches

  1. Add Lemon and Olives: After 20 minutes, add the diced preserved lemon and pitted green olives to the pot. Cover and bake for another 20 minutes.
  2. Serve: Serve the chicken hot, garnished with optional cilantro or parsley, and paired with a side of rice or couscous.

Tips for the Perfect Moroccan Chicken

  • Use Fresh Spices: Ensure your spices are fresh for the most vibrant flavor.
  • Don’t Skip the Preserved Lemons: They add a unique and essential flavor to the dish.
  • Brown the Chicken: Properly browning the chicken adds depth to the overall flavor.

Health Benefits of Moroccan Chicken

  • High in Protein: Chicken thighs provide a good source of lean protein.
  • Rich in Antioxidants: Spices like saffron and Ras el Hanout are loaded with antioxidants.
  • Nutrient-Dense: The combination of vegetables and spices offers a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Serving Suggestions

  • With Rice or Couscous: The perfect accompaniment to soak up the delicious juices.
  • Fresh Bread: Use a crusty bread to mop up the flavorful sauce.
  • Vegetable Side: Serve with roasted vegetables or a fresh salad.

Variations and Add-Ins

  • Different Cuts of Chicken: Use drumsticks or a whole chicken cut into pieces.
  • Vegetarian Version: Replace chicken with chickpeas and add more vegetables.
  • Spicy Kick: Add a diced chili or more Ras el Hanout for extra heat.

Storing and Reheating

  • Refrigerate: Keep in the fridge for up to three days in a container that won’t let air in.
  • Freeze: This dish freezes well for up to 3 months. Before you heat it up, let it thaw in the fridge overnight.
  • Reheat: Warm it back up in the oven at 350 degrees F until it’s all gone.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Ras el Hanout?

Ras el Hanout is a North African spice blend typically containing a mixture of over a dozen spices including cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and turmeric.

Can I Use Other Cuts of Chicken?

Yes, drumsticks, wings, or a whole chicken cut into pieces can be used in place of thighs.

How Can I Make This Dish Spicier?

Add a diced chili pepper or increase the amount of Ras el Hanout for more heat.

What Can I Serve With Moroccan Chicken?

Serve with rice, couscous, or fresh bread to soak up the sauce.

Can I Freeze This Dish?

Yes, Moroccan chicken freezes well. Keep in a container that keeps air out for up to three months.


This Moroccan Chicken Recipe is a delicious and aromatic dish that brings the flavors of North Africa straight to your kitchen. With its blend of spices, preserved lemons, and green olives, it’s sure to be a hit at any meal. Enjoy this flavorful and easy-to-make dish with your family and friends! Happy cooking!

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